The best places to visit in Uttarakhand
Uttarakhand – A voyage to nature’s haven, by Aislin Cil Ashly
As I am sitting in the balcony of my room in the hotel Drive Inn, Mussoorie, I reminiscence of my journey to get here. I reached Jolly Grant airport in Dehradun from Thiruvananthapuram, and took a cab from Dehradun to the hotel in Mussoorie. The ride was about 60 km. On the way, the scenic beauty included hills, valleys, zip zag roads, and commercial streets that sell woolen materials and souvenirs. The scene from the top of this hill is a panoramic view of the snow-clad Himalayan ranges right beside the widespread Doon Valley and a full view of the hill station of Mussoorie. This balcony offers a breathtaking view of the valley perfect for nature lovers.
The district of Uttarakhand is a state in Northern India, home to 10 million residents and known as the ‘Land of Gods’. Archaeologists have found evidence of human occupations dating back to the prehistorical era. Today, it calls out to adventures sports enthusiasts, trekkers, and nature lovers, and those seeking access to its national parks and a glimpse at its unique wildlife. To sum up all the best places to visit in Uttarakhand into 1 post is a big task, so I will stick to some highlights.
Mussoorie is packed with waterfalls, lakes, rivers, temples, wildlife sanctuaries, museums, gardens, mountains, and hills. The Kempty Falls allows visitors to splash in it, all four waterfalls (Bhatta, Mossy, Jharipani, and Kempty) are set in serene surroundings with the relaxing and melodious sound of them. Boating is a major tourist attraction in Lake Mist and Mussoorie Lake which is developed artificially by the authorities to attract tourists. Both lakes are eco-friendly, present a scenic view of the gushing waters and are equally bewitching at all times of the year. Mussoorie’s highest peak that offers an outstanding view of the snow-capped Himalayan ranges, Lal Tibba’s attractions are the pristine beauty of the mountains, trekking and the famous pilgrimages, Kedarnath and Badrinath. My next destination is the Benog wildlife sanctuary.
Benog Wildlife Sanctuary is a must-visit in Mussoorie for a wildlife enthusiast. The area provides a view of rare species of flora and fauna and trekking. Said to be an extinct volcano, the Gun Hill is the second highest point in the entire area of Mussoorie standing tall at an altitude of 2024 meters! The hill was named so because of the presence of a gun at these hills during the pre-independence days. The gun was fired during the day to remind people to adjust their watches during on those days.
The cable car ride in Mussoorie is another major attraction that draws a lot of tourists. It’s a 10-minute ride that starts from Jhula Ghar to Gun Hill. The scene from the top of this hill is a panoramic view of the snow-clad Himalayan ranges right beside the widespread Doon Valley and offers a full view of the hill station of Mussoorie.
Musroorie, Photo Credit Paul Hamilton, CC 2.0
Kanatal is an unexplored city at the foot of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. It is a hidden jewel discovered by the tourists who crave serenity and tranquillity in Mother Nature’s lap. It is a small encampment that can be covered well within a day. New Tehri is a spectacular town that is blessed with uninhibited natural beauty. It is the only planned town in the state. The town is located at a dizzying height of 1950 meters above sea level provides a stunning bird’s eye view of the magnanimous Tehri Lake and the immensely popular Tehri Dam.
Surrounded by the captivating views of the mountains and the mighty, stagnant waters of the Tehri dam, this is one picturesque destination. New Tehri is mainly famous for housing Asia’s largest and highest dam- the Tehri Dam. The enormous dam rests at an elevation of 260 meters above sea level and is the 10th tallest dam in the whole world! With minimal human intrusion, Dhanaulti slowly seeps into one’s conscience like a long lost pleasant dream, bringing with it comfort and peace, and providing one, the much-needed interval from your tiring routine life.
With minimal human alteration in the topography and environment and the balanced temperatures of the area make it the perfect destination all year round. The river Ravi cuts across town and adds to the scenery. Chamba is present at the confluence of Ravi river with Chal river. The area is beautiful with its amply endowed with a variety of flora and fauna, making it a very photogenic place. There are enough lakes, wildlife sanctuaries, and temples. The mountain ranges are lined with deodar and pine trees and apple orchards.
Kanatal, Photo Credit: Guido D-90 | CC 2.0
Nainital is the city in Uttarakhand that has all tourist attractions combined in it. The town is famous for its various natural attractions and due to its favorable climate all year round. The city boasts of the most magnificent destinations in the state. Tiffin Top also is known as Dorothy Seat which is a stonework perch, built in memory of painter Dorothy Kellet – this viewpoint offers breathtaking views of the Himalayas and Nainital.
It provides splendid views of the town as it is perched at a height of 2290 meters. The Mall road is a shopaholic’s paradise, as one could stroll here for hours. The road has many street shops, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, and banks. It is a tourist’s hub and the area presents shopping in a perfect backdrop. Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant Zoo in Nainital contains various exotic and endangered species of animals and birds. The wildlife sanctuary is home to rare species such as Siberian tigers, Snow leopards, Himalayan black bears, gorillas, Himalayan martin, Tibetan wolf, palm civet cat, hill fox, barking deer, white peacock, and many others.
The state of Uttarakhand is every food lover’s dream come true, with its unbelievable collection of memorable and lip-smacking food items. Being located on the hills the ingredients and produce here is free of any sort of adulteration, mixing or impurities and hence the food here is delicious and incredibly impressive.
Although with growing tourism in these parts the foods available at restaurants are the tried and tested north Indian or Chinese however, the food that you have here cannot be tasted anywhere else making it a haven for every foodie. Garhwali preparations are rich in nutrient factor and hold a number of health benefits due to the inclusion of various herbs, lentils, cereals, and pulses. The kode ki roti, kaafuli, aloo ke gutke, arsa and singori are the must try dishes in the state.
The state has summer from March to June, monsoon from July to September and winter from October to February. With the variety Garhwali cuisine, serene gardens, panoramic hills, captivating mountains, gushing lakes, melodious sound of waterfalls and extravagant wildlife sanctuaries, Uttarakhand is one of the most beautiful and first class places in the world.
Nainital, India. Photo Credit: Ekabhishek | CC 3.0