Tourist destinations you want to visit in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. Rishikesh, a major centre for yoga study, was made famous by the Beatles’ 1968 visit. The city hosts the evening Ganga Aarti, a spiritual gathering on the sacred Ganges River. The state's forested Jim Corbett National Park shelters Bengal tigers and other native wildlife.

Beauty is so inherent to almost all things Uttarakhand stands for – the magnanimous Himalayas, the holiest of the rivers, the spiritual mystery, stunning landscapes, the incessantly colorful play of nature, enchanting history carved in ancient stones, a mesmerizing floral and faunal plethora and the simplest of the people. Myths, anecdotes and stories are part of every visual that unfolds itself to the eyes of the beholder.

The age-old Hindu traditions have always accorded highest esteem to the glory of the colossal and composed heights of the Himalayas which are spontaneously assumed to be the chosen consecrated residences of Gods. A whole lot of the Hindu lore sets out from this ‘Land of the Gods’.

Pilgrimages to these heights dating back to more than 1500 years are found recorded in authentic documents and Uttarakhand still attracts millions of devout people who come here with the chaste objective of spiritual emancipation and revelation.

Today, these mountains are no longer restricted to the religious or the spiritual – as a traveler one can get pleasure from mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing or simply strolling amongst the highest mountainous terrains in the world.

A description of the charismatic beauty of Uttarakhand would be incomplete without the mention of people who inhabit this blessed country – simple, willing to help and hardworking people of the state are as diversified as the elements of nature. Several indigenous tribal groups peacefully co-exist with others, simultaneously keeping their distinct cultures alive. Apart from being a unique tourism destination, Uttarakhand is a goldmine for anthropologists, historians, ornithologists, linguists, geologists … you name the discipline and the state has something on offer.

No words can ever be enough to perfectly describe this blessed land. The incredulous variety of experiences – both spiritual and sensory – goes beyond any language or dialect.


Resplendent in natural beauty and steeped in colonial charm, the horse-shoe shaped quaint hill station of Almora is perched on a steep ridge, deep inside the state of Uttarakhand. Nestled in the snow-capped Kumaon Himalayas and encircled by the Kaushiki (Koshi) and Shalmali (Suyal) rivers, Almora was the summer capital of the Chand rajas, the royals of the Kumaon region, in 1560.

With a mix of colonial-era buildings and traditionally painted wooden shops, Almora is a charming getaway that holds its heritage close to its heart. This is reflected in the forts, royal courts and historical monuments that can be seen here. Kumaon was home to several forts built by dynasties like Chands and Katyuris. Among these, the Malla Mahal, at Almora, stands offering a panoramic view of the Almora Bazaar.

The site of the 6th century Ram Shila Temple, which has exquisite sculptures, the fort was built by King Rudra Chand in the 16th century. The stone fortress was subsequently the seat of power of the Gurkhas and the British.

Surrounded by dense forests and mountains, Almora has several interesting spots nearby, including the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, famous for sightings of leopard, musk deer, Himalayan goral, jungle cat, and chital. Another unique stopover is Lakhudiyar, which has prehistoric rock paintings that highlight Almora's ancient roots. It is said Almora flourished and became a power centre during the reign of mighty Katuris (800AD-100AD) and later under the Chand dynasty (700 AD -1790 AD).

Almora is often referred to as the cultural capital of Kumaon. Kumaoni people are very proud of their traditional folk music, and the town is home to the popular Uday Shankar Academy of Music and Dance. Tourists can also sample the delectable bal mithai and singauri that are culinary favourites here.


A perfect blend of divinity and serenity, the picturesque town of Badrinath in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district, prides itself as one of the most visited tourist destinations of India. Considered as the abode of Lord Vishnu, Badrinath is among the holy shrines of the char Dham pilgrimage undertaken by devotees.

Nestled between the Nar and Narayan mountain ranges and sprawled along River Alaknanda, Badrinath is home to some of the most impressive peaks of the Garhwal Himalayas, including the majestic Neelkanth peak. An easy trek takes pilgrims to the Badrinath Temple, one of the most revered religious sites of Hindus.

A number of mythical tales are associated with the town. According to mythological belief, Lord Vishnu had come to meditate in Badrinath after sage Narada told him that he was tilting unnecessarily towards worldly pleasures. Another tale suggests that Lord Shiva was unseated by Lord Vishnu from Badrinath after which Lord Shiva was forced to move to Kedarnath.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, snow-capped peaks and water bodies, Badrinath holds rare charms and continues to be an extremely popular pilgrimage spot.


Lying at the foothills of the majestic snow-capped Shivalik range, amidst verdant and lush sal forests, the quaint hill station of Dehradun, in Uttarakhand, is the heart of the Garhwal region. Cut by two perennial rivers, Dehradun is a favourite with travellers looking for a serene natural retreat and also offers a wide array of terrains to trek through and indulge in activities like mountain climbing, paragliding, skiing, river rafting, angling and cycling, among others.

Located in the scenic Doon Valley, Dehradun is a great launching pad for exploring destinations like Mussoorie, in the Garhwal region. The city derives its name from the conjunction of two colloquial words, ‘dera’ meaning camp, and ‘doon’, a reference to the river valley.

Home to a number of spiritual sites set against the stunning backdrop of the mountains, Dehradun is believed to be one of the oldest cities in the country. Legend has it that Lord Rama, along with his brother, Lakshmana, performed penance here for killing Ravana.

The British occupation of Dehradun in 1815 left a lasting impact on the city, which is visible in its various colonial buildings, even today.


Nestled in the high and majestic Garhwal Himalayas, Gangotri, in Uttarakhand, is one of the char dhams, which are considered an important pilgrimage for Hindus. It is the highest temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga. The holy River Ganges originates from the Gangotri glacier, located here, and is called Bhagirathi. The main attraction in Gangotri is the Gangotri Temple, where Goddess Ganga is worshipped. A 20-ft-high structure, the exquisite temple is made with white granite. Gangotri exudes a surreal and pious aura that attracts devotees and tourists alike. Moreover, the beautiful snow-clad mountains in the vicinity and crystal-clear waters of the Ganges add to the serenity of the place.

Apart from visiting the temples, tourists can also visit the Bhagirathi shila, which is a piece of stone where mythological king Bhagirath is believed to have meditated to seek penance for his ancestors' sins. Head to the beautiful Gaurikund and Surya Kund near the Gangotri Temple as you explore more.

Gangotri offers trekkers and mountaineers amazing opportunities to climb the majestic Garhwal Himalayas. The most popular trek is the Gangotri-Gaumukh trek, which extends to Tapovan and Nandavan.

A short trek takes you to an ancient cave popularly known as the Pandava Gufa, where the Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata are believed to have meditated. Taking a trek to Dayara Bugyal, a charming meadow nestled at an elevation of around 3,000 m above sea level, is another great option. The meadow offers great views of the mighty Himalayas.


Bustling with devotees, its air filled with the sweet smell of incense sticks and clanging of temple bells, the city of Haridwar at the foothills of the Himalayas, is one of Hinduism’s holiest destinations.It sees thousands of people taking a dip in the holy waters of River Ganges, which emerges from the Himalayas here. Devotees, sadhus (saffron-clad men) and saints throng the river’s ghats (stepped banks), to take a dip in its sacred waters and, according to Hindu beliefs, wash away their sins. The most famous ghat, the bustling and colourful Har ki Pauri, sees a large number of bathers throughout the year, but more during festivals.

Every morning and evening, the ghat witnesses the blissful Ganga arti (a fire ritual), which also attracts devotees and tourists. The evening ritual being more popular, it makes for a mesmeric sight to see the river being venerated with loud and rhythmic chants and tall lamps, their lights lightening up the darkening waters. Soak in the spiritual fervour of the city, as you watch the spectacular sight of thousands of small diyas (earthen lamps) floating on the river.

Haridwar is among the seven Indian cities considered sacred by Hindus. It is also one of the four venues for the holy Kumbh Mela that is organised once in 12 years. A visit to the city during this time is a must. Apart from the much-revered temples, there are many ashrams as well, which provide meditation and yoga sessions.

The city is also considered a gateway to Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, which together form the Char Dham, a set of four pilgrimage sites that are considered especially auspicious by Hindus.


Lying in the lap of the snow-capped Himalayas, the picturesque hill station of Kausani, in Uttarakhand, boasts a natural splendour that leaves one in awe. The perfect example of a hilly paradise, Kausani is nestled amidst deep green forests, crystal clear skies and many quaint lakes, hidden like gems in the wilderness. One can head over to Kausani for clear views of important peaks like Nanda Devi, Trishul and Panchachuli. In fact, one can see the ranges of snow-clad mountains stretching to about 350 km around the town.

Perched at a height of 1,890 m above sea level, Kausani is a haven for trekkers, who are greeted by clear and mesmerising views of meadows, waterfalls and the many pine forests that make up the profile of the region. The best time for adventure sports is after monsoons. The climate of Kausani ranges between cool and cold and if one wishes to avoid the cold, the best time to visit is between April to June and then between September and November. Though for those who like wispy winters and snowfalls, Kausani is a treat at any time of the year.

Kausani registered its place in history as more than just an average hill station when in 1929, Mahatma Gandhi came to stay for 14 days at the Anasakti Ashram and titled Kausani as 'Switzerland of India'. He was in the process of writing his book Anasakti Yoga when he visited here. This book is a Bhagwat Gita treatise. Another famous personality associated with Kausani is the popular Hindi poet Sumitra Nandan Pant, who was born here. A number of famous poems written by Pant were inspired by the natural beauty and vibrancy of this breathtaking place.


Ensconced in the snow-capped Garhwal Himalayas, surrounded by a lush cover of alpine meadows and brushed by the pristine and holy Mandakini river, Kedarnath is a prominent pilgrimage spot. One of the char dhams, which are considered important pilgrimage destinations by Hindus, Kedarnath is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva, who is worshipped in the main shrine. Thousands of devotees from all over the country, undertake an arduous but devotional journey to reach this 3,584-m-high temple, which is the highest of the 12 jyotirlingas (devotional shrines of Lord Shiva) in India.

Crystal clear lakes, curative hot springs and colourful valley beds of rhododendrons, make Kedarnath a nature lover's delight. For those who want to hike their way into the heart of the Himalayas, there are trekking options galore. The most popular of these is the trek from the sacred Gaurikund to the temple and from the temple to the serene Vasuki Lake.


Nestled in the secluded mountain ranges of the Himalayas, Lansdowne, in Uttarakhand, is an unspoilt expanse of green. Beautiful blue pine forests and thick oaks surround this hill town that is perched at an elevation of about 1,700 m above sea level. Dotted with charming churches, overrun by flowering thickets and small ponds, Lansdowne has many quaint attractions that add to its relaxed vibe.

Named after the then Viceroy of India, Lord Lansdowne, this colonial town is connected with motorable roads, yet is remote on its own. It was established in 1887 as a British cantonment. Today, it is the headquarters of the Garhwal Rifles of the Indian Army and is dotted with temples and shrines. More importantly, it lies on the way to several significant places like Badrinath, Hemkund and Valley of Flowers, while Kedarnath and the Corbett National Park lie nearby.


A very popular summer getaway, the quaint hill station of Mussoorie, in Uttarakhand, remains shrouded in mist, and when it clears, it reveals a delightful view of the snow-capped Himalayas and the green Doon Valley. Fondly referred to as the queen of hill stations, Mussoorie's landscape boasts spectacular natural sights such as waterfalls and hills, and also invites adventure lovers and thrill seekers to explore its terrain with paragliding, trekking, camping etc. Mussoorie is dotted with temples that make for peaceful spiritual retreats. The lush locals of the hill station provide great avenues for nature walks.

Mussoorie is also reputed for brewing fine alcohol. In fact, during the British era, it was home to several well-known breweries like McKinnon’s brewery that exported wine to England in the early 1880s. It is said that as English officers flocked to its cooler climes, they brought with them their beer and wine. And then, a few of them set up breweries here, supplying to cantonments across the country. A legend says even Ghalib, a noted Urdu poet, was a connoisseur of wine from Mussoorie.

Today, while these breweries may no longer exist, Mussoorie is a good place to relax by a fire and sip a fine wine.

Mussoorie was established by the British in 1823 and imprints of colonial architecture can still be found in its various structures like churches, libraries, hotels and summer palaces. Legends say the name Mussoorie is derived from 'mansoor', a shrub that grows here. The scenic locales and pleasant weather of Mussoorie invited many to make it their home, Sir George Everest, who helped the British measure the height of the world's highest mountain peak Mount Everest (later named after him), being one of them.

After the British rule ended, Mussoorie became popular when Indian personalities, including political leaders, authors, artists and Bollywood superstars, made Mussoorie their home. The most noted among these is author Ruskin Bond, who still lives here and can often be spotted taking long walks in forested glades.


Nainital, British India's favourite summer vacation spot, is a popular hill station located in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Many believe that the area was reminiscent of the Cumbrian Lake district in England and thus led the homesick Englishmen to flock to Nainital. Today, while the bustling town, perched on a mountain top in the Great Himalayas, may have increased in size, with its high-rises mingling with colonial-style bungalows, it retains its old-world charm. Situated at a height of 1,938 m, Nainital was once a domain of 60 lakes, the most important being the Naini Lake, around which the town grew.

There are various legends associated with its name. As per one, Nainital was named after its resident deity Goddess Naina. Another legend tells the story of Sati, who immolated herself when her father didn't invite her husband Lord Shiva to his yagna (religious fire ritual). Enraged, Lord Shiva carried her body and traversed the universe. It is believed that in order to protect the universe from Shiva's wrath, Lord Vishnu shredded Sati's body with his chakra. Many believe that Sati's eyes fell at this spot and thus it has been named as Nainital, wherein 'nain' means eyes and 'tal' means lake. There are many mythological references associated with Nainital. It is referred to in the Manas khand of the Skanda Purana as Tri-Rishi-sarovar where three sages, in order to quench their thirst, dug a hole and channelled water from the holy lake of Mansarovar in Tibet. Not just a popular tourist destination, Nainital is considered holy by Hindus as well.

Jim Corbett National Park

Jim Corbett National Park is spread over an area of 520 sq km that comprises large lakes, grasslands, marshy depressions, hills and riverine belts. Renowned for sheltering the royal Bengal tigers of India, the park also houses more than 650 species of native and migratory birds, along with over 50 species of raptors, 33 species of reptiles, seven species of amphibians, seven species of fish and 36 species of dragonflies. Some rare species like the endemic fish-eating crocodiles and otters can also be spotted. A wildlife safari either in an open jeep or on the back of an elephant, proves to be a memorable experience here. The park is one of the few places in the country that allows visitors to stay overnight.

The park is a part of the Corbett Tiger Reserve and was established in 1936 as the Hailey National Park. It also has the honour of being the place where Project Tiger was first launched in 1973.


Grassy meadows, perennial streams frolicking down the mountains, a rich variety of flora and fauna and lush landscapes invite one to languish in pretty Pithoragarh, the last district of Uttarakhand, sitting on the Indo-Nepal border. Set against the backdrop of majestic and snow-capped Panchachuli peaks, Pithoragarh is endowed with enthralling natural beauty. Perched at a height of about 1,645 m above sea level, it is not just a stopover for nature lovers, but also a haven for adventure enthusiasts, who can indulge in activities like trekking, camping, hiking etc.

Pithoragarh boasts a rich cultural heritage and aipan (alpana), the popular art form of the Kumaon region is a major attraction. It involves the decoration of walls, papers and pieces of cloth by drawing various geometric designs and figures of gods and goddesses on them. Once a major centre of power during the regime of the Chand kings in Kumaon, Pithoragarh also boasts many spiritual sites. It is also a popular pit stop for devotees taking the pilgrimage to Mount Kaila


Nestled in the Himalayan foothills, Rishikesh is one of the most sacred cities in northern India. Located in the state of Uttarakhand, Rishikesh is the hub of sages, yoga practitioners and pilgrims, who throng the ghats (stepped banks of a river) and temples. In recent times, it has also become a centre point of adventure sports, offering activities like white water rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing and others. Ever since the Beatles arrived at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram here in the 1960s, looking for peace and inspiration for their music, Rishikesh has been a favourite destination for soul-seeking. Often called the yoga capital of the world, the tranquil forested slopes on the city’s outskirts are dotted with ashrams (places of spirituality and meditation), yoga institutes and luxurious spa resorts. The city sees a flurry of activity during February-March, as it plays host to dignitaries and yoga enthusiasts who come to take part in the International Yoga Week, organised by the State Tourism Department. Rishikesh is also noted for Ayurveda, and is home to several institutes offering education in the same. It is also known for its yoga schools, some of which are highly esteemed.

A city of temples, legends abound at every turn in Rishikesh. According to one such lore, the great Hindu saint Raibhya Rishi performed prolonged penance on the banks of the Ganges. As a reward to the saint’s penance, Lord Vishnu appeared to him in his incarnation of Lord Hrishikesh. Another legend says that Lakshmana, the brother of Lord Rama, crossed the Ganges river here on a bridge he built with jute ropes. It is said the Lakshman Jhula, a famous attraction, stands at the same spot. The city is also the starting point of treks to several Himalayan pilgrimage centers such as Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.


Yamunotri makes one of the four pious Hindu pilgrimage places in the Great Himalayas. The other three are Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, and all of these destinations are together called the Char Dham. Most Hindus believe that their spiritual journey is not complete without visiting all the dhams and the journey they undertake is known as Char Dham Yatra.

Yamunotri is the commencing point of the pilgrimage that proceeds to Gangotri and finally to Kedarnath and Badrinath. Thousands of devotees arrive at Yamunotri every year to start their spiritual journey. The second sacred river of the Hindus, the Yamuna, also originates from here and devotees offer prayers at the origin point, the Yamunotri Glacier (6,387 m). It is believed that bathing in the waters of the river keeps one from an untimely death. The presiding deity at Yamunotri is Goddess Yamuna, and one of the most sacred areas is Divya Shila, a dark rock from where the famed hot springs emerge. To reach here, believers undertake an arduous journey through the mighty Himalayas.

The spiritual town of Yamunotri lies in the Garhwal Himalayas at an elevation of about 3,293 m. The pristine landscape hosts lush green fields, the mighty Yamunotri glacier, hot springs and lakes. The town stands high on the deep left of the western face of the Bandarpunch Peak.

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