Holy Pilgrimage – Temples in Uttarakhand State
Archaeological evidence support the existence of humans in the region since prehistoric times. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century BCE who practised an early form of Shaivism. Ashokan edicts at Kalsi show the early presence of Buddhism in this region. During the medieval period the region was consolidated under the Kumaon and Garhwal kingdom. By 1803 the region fell to the Gurkha Empire of Nepal and with the conclusion of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816 most of modern Uttarakhand was ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals, the proximity of different neighbouring ethnic groups and the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions which further strengthened during the movement for statehood in the 1990s.
The natives of the state are generally called either Garhwali or Kumaoni depending on their place of origin. According to the 2011 census of India, Uttarakhand has a population of 10,116,752, making it the 19th most populous state in India. A large portion of the population consists of Rajputs and Brahmins. More than 88% of the population follow Hinduism. Muslims are the largest minority in the state with Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains being the other major religions. Garhwali and Kumaoni are the two main regional languages, whereas Hindi is the most widely spoken language.
Two of the most important rivers in Hinduism originate in the region, the Ganga at Gangotri and the Yamuna at Yamunotri. These two along with Badrinath and Kedarnath form the Chota Char Dham, a holy pilgrimage for the Hindus. The state hosts the Bengal tiger in Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest national park of the Indian subcontinent. The Valley of Flowers, a Unesco World Heritage Site located here, is known for the variety and rarity of the flowers and plants found there
EtymologyUttarakhand's name is derived from the Sanskrit words uttara (उत्तर) meaning north, and khaṇḍ (खण्ड्) meaning country or part of a country. The name finds mention in early Hindu scriptures as the combined region of Kedarkhand (present day Garhwal) and Manaskhand (present day Kumaon). Uttarakhand was also the ancient Puranic (पौराणिक) term for the central stretch of the Indian Himalayas.
HistoryAncient rock paintings, rock shelters, Paleolithic stone tools (hundreds of thousands of years old), and megaliths provide evidence that the mountains of the region have been inhabited since prehistoric times. There are also archaeological remains which show the existence of early Vedic (c. 1500 BCE) practices in the area.
The Pauravas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Gurjara-Pratihara, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, Chands, Parmars or Panwars, Sikhs, and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns The region was originally settled by Kols, an aboriginal people of the austro-Asiatic physical type who were later joined by Indo-Aryan Khas tribes that arrived from the northwest by the Vedic period (1700–1100 BCE). At that time, present-day Uttarakhand also served as a habitat for Rishis and Sadhus. It is believed that the sage Vyasa scripted the Hindu epic Mahabharata in the state. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century BCE who practised an early form of Shaivism and traded salt with Western Tibet. It is evident from the Ashokan edict at Kalsi in Western Garhwal that Buddhism made inroads in this region. Folk shamanic practices deviating from Hindu orthodoxy also persisted here. However, Garhwal and Kumaon were restored to nominal Brahmanical rule due to the travails of Shankaracharya and the arrival of migrants from the plains. Between the 4th and 14th centuries, the Katyuri dynasty dominated lands of varying extent from the Katyur (modern day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon. The historically significant temples at Jageshwar are believed to have been built by the Katyuris and later remodelled by the Chands. Other peoples of the Tibeto-Burman group known as Kiratas are thought to have settled in the northern highlands as well as in pockets throughout the region, and are believed to be ancestors of the modern day Bhotiya, Raji, Buksha, and Tharu peoples.
By the medieval period, the region was consolidated under the Garhwal Kingdom in the west and the Kumaon Kingdom in the east. During this period, learning and new forms of painting (the Pahari school of art) developed. Modern-day Garhwal was likewise unified under the rule of Parmars who, along with many Brahmins and Rajputs, also arrived from the plains. In 1791 the expanding Gurkha Empire of Nepal overran Almora, the seat of the Kumaon Kingdom. In 1803 the Garhwal Kingdom also fell to the Gurkhas. With the conclusion of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816, the Garhwal Kingdom was re-established from a smaller region in Tehri, as the larger portion of Tehri, along with eastern Garhwal and Kumaon ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli.on 9 November 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India.
"Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi... Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi"
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
-- Old Chipko Song (Garhwali language)
Uttarakhand is also well known for the mass agitation of the 1990s that led to the formation of the Chipko environmental movement and other social movements. Though primarily a livelihood movement rather than a forest conservation movement, it went on to become a rallying point for many future environmentalists, environmental protests, and movements the world over and created a precedent for non-violent protest. It stirred up the existing civil society in India, which began to address the issues of tribal and marginalized people. So much so that, a quarter of a century later, India Today mentioned the people behind the "forest satyagraha" of the Chipko movement as amongst "100 people who shaped India". One of Chipko's most salient features was the mass participation of female villagers. Both female and male activists played pivotal roles in the movement, including Chandi Prasad Bhatt, Sundarlal Bahuguna, and Ghanasyam Raturi, the popular Chipko poet
Uttarakhand has a total area of 51,125 km², of which 93% is mountainous and 64% is covered by forest. Most of the northern part of the state is covered by high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills were densely forested till logged by British log merchants and, after independence, by forest contractors. Recent efforts in reforestation, however, have begun to restore the historical environment. The Himalayan ecosystem provides habitat for many animals (including bharal, snow leopards, leopards and tigers), plants, and rare herbs. Two of India's largest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, originate in the glaciers of Uttarakhand, where they are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams.
Uttarakhand's diverse ethnicities have created a rich literary tradition in languages including Hindi, Kumaoni, Garhwali, Jaunsari, and Bhotiya. Many of its traditional tales originated in the form of lyrical ballads and folklore chanted by itinerant singers and are now considered classics of Hindi literature.
One of the major Hindu pilgrimages, Kumbh Mela, takes place in Uttarakhand. Haridwar is one of the four places in India where this mela is organised. Haridwar most recently hosted the Purna Kumbha Mela from Makar Sankranti (14 January 2010) to Shakh Purnima Snan (28 April 2010). Hundreds of foreigners joined Indian pilgrims in the festival which is considered the largest religious gathering in the world. Kumauni Holi in forms including Baithki Holi, Khari Holi and Mahila Holi, all of which start from Basant Panchmi, are festivals and musical affairs that can last almost a month. Ganga Dussehra, Vasant Panchami, Makar Sankranti, Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Bat Savitri, and Phool Dei are other major festivals. In addition, various fairs like Harela mela, Nanda Devi Mela take place.
TransportUttarakhand has 28,508 km of roads, of which 1,328 km are national highways and 1,543 km are state highways. The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC), which has been reorganized in Uttarakhand as the "Uttarakhand Transport Corporation", is a major constituent of the transportation system in the state. The Corporation began to work on 31 October 2003 and provides services on interstate and nationalized routes. As of 2012, approximately 1000 buses are being plied by the "Uttarakhand Transport Corporation" on 35 nationalized routes along with many other non-nationalized routes. There are also private transport operators operating approximately 3000 buses on non-nationalised routes along with a few interstate routes in Uttarakhand and the neighbouring state of U.P. For travelling locally, the state, like most of the country, has auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws. In addition, remote towns and villages in the hills are connected to important road junctions and bus routes by a vast network of crowded share jeeps.
The state air transport is not very well developed, although there have been efforts to develop Naini Saini Airport in Pithoragarh district, Chaniyalisaur in Uttarkashi and Gauchar in Chamoli district. The major airport in the state is the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, which is well connected to Delhi. Another domestic airport is located in the Kumaon region of Pantnagar. There are plans to launch helipad service in Pant Nagar and Jolly Grant Airports and other important tourist destinations like Ghangharia and Hemkund Sahib.
As over 90% of Uttarakhand's terrain consists of hills, railway services are very limited in the state and are largely confined to the plains. As of 2011, the total length of railway tracks was about 345 km. Rail, being the cheapest mode of transport, is most popular. The most important railway station in Kumaun Division of Uttarakhand is at Kathgodam, 35 kilometres away from Nainital. Kathgodam is the last terminus of the broad gauge line of North East Railways that connects Nainital with Delhi, Dehradun, and Howrah. Other notable railway stations are at Lalkuan and Haldwani.
Dehradun Railway Station is a railhead of the Northern Railways Haridwar station is situated on the Delhi–Dehradun and Howrah–Dehradun railway lines. One of the main railheads of the Northern Railways, Haridwar Junction Railway Station is connected by meter gauge and broad gauge lines. Roorkee comes under Northern Railway region of Indian Railways on the main Punjab – Mughal Sarai trunk route and is connected to major Indian cities. Other railheads are Rishikesh, Kotdwar and Ramnagar linked to Delhi by daily trains.
Uttarakhand has many tourist spots due to its location in the Himalayas. There are many ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, hill stations, and mountain peaks that draw large number of tourists. There are 44 nationally protected monuments in the state. Oak Grove School in the state is on the tentative list for World Heritage Sites. Two of the most holy rivers in Hinduism the Ganga and Yamuna, originate in Uttarakhand.Uttarakhand has long been called " LAND of the gods" (Devbhumi), as the state has some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and for more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been visiting the region in the hopes of salvation and purification from sin. Gangotri and Yamunotri, the sources of the Ganga and Yamuna, respectively, fall in the upper reaches of the state and together with Badrinath (dedicated to Vishnu) and Kedarnath (dedicated to Shiva) form the Chota Char Dham, one of Hinduism's most spiritual and auspicious pilgrimage circuits. Haridwar, meaning "Gateway to God", is a prime Hindu destination. Haridwar hosts the Kumbha Mela every twelve years, in which millions of pilgrims take part from all parts of India and the world. Rishikesh near Haridwar is known as the preeminent yoga centre of India. The state has an abundance of temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or manifestations of Shiva and Durga, references to many of which can be found in Hindu scriptures and legends. Uttarakhand is, however, a place of pilgrimage not only for the Hindus. Hemkund, nested in the Himalayas, is a prime pilgrimage center for the Sikhs. Tibetan Buddhism has also made itself felt with the reconstruction of Mindroling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa, described as the world's highest, southwest of Dehradun.
Some of the most famous hill stations in India are in Uttarakhand. Mussoorie, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Sattal, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal, and Ranikhet are some of the popular hill stations in India. The state has 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries which cover 13.8 percent of the total area of the state. They are located at different altitudes varying from 800 to 5400 meters. The oldest national park on the Indian sub-continent, Jim Corbett National Park, is a major tourist attraction. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and Project Tiger run by the Government of India. In addition the state boasts Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vasudhara Falls, near Badrinath is a waterfall with a height of 122 metres (400 ft) set in a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, hiking, and rock climbing in India. A recent development in adventure tourism in the region has been whitewater rafting in Rishikesh. Due to its proximity to the Himalaya ranges, the place is full of hills and mountains and is suitable for trekking, climbing, skiing, camping, rock climbing, and paragliding. Roopkund is a popular trekking site, famous for the mysterious skeletons found in a lake, which was covered by National Geographic Channel in a documentary. The trek to Roopkund passes through the beautiful meadows of Bugyal.
DehradunDehradun (Garhwali/Hindi: देहरादून, Dehradoon) is the capital city of the state of Uttaranchal in the northern part of India. Located in the Garhwal region, it is 236 km north of India's capital New Delhi and is one of the "Counter Magnets" of the National Capital Region (NCR) being developed as an alternative centre of growth to help ease the migration and population explosion in the Delhi metropolitan area. Dehradun is located in the Doon Valley on the foothills of the Himalayas nestled between two of India's mightiest rivers - the Ganges on the east and the Yamuna on the west. The city is famous for its picturesque landscape and pleasant climate and provides a gateway to the surrounding region. It is well connected and in proximity to popular Himalayan tourist destinations such as Mussoorie, Nainital and Auli and the Hindu holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh along with the Himalayan pilgrimage circuit of Char Dham.
Dehradun is also renowned for its natural resources, publishing services and particularly for its prestigious educational institutions. It hosts some of India's best boarding schools and training institutions of national importance such as the Indian Military Academy. It is also home to national foundations such as the Ordnance Factory Dehradun and Opto Electronics and other factories and institutions.
tymologyDehradun is made up of two words Dehra and doon. 'Dehra' is derived from the word "dera", meaning camp, and "doon" is a term for the valley that lies between the Himalayas and the "Shivaliks". When Guru Ram Rai, son of Guru Har Rai, came to this region along with his followers, he established a camp here for their stay. It was around this time that the modern city of Dehradun started to develop. This is when the word Dehra was linked to doon, and thus the city was named Dehradun. Some historians also believe that the word Dehra cannot be regarded as a term for camping.
HistoryThe history of the capital of Uttaranchal, Dehradun (sometimes written as Dehra Doon, nicknamed "Doon Valley") is linked to the story of Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is believed that after the battle between Ravan and Lord Ram, Lord Ram and his brother Laxman visited this site. Dronacharya, the legendary royal guru to the Kauravas and Pandavas in the epic Mahabharata is also believed to have been born and resided in Dehradun. Evidence such as ancient temples and idols have been found in the areas surrounding Dehradun which have been linked to the mythology of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These relics and ruins are believed to be around 2000 years old. Furthermore, the location, the local traditions and the literature reflect this region's links with the events of Mahabharata and Ramayana. Even after the battle of Mahabharata, the Pandavas had influence on this region as the rulers of Hastinapur along with the descendants of Subahu ruled the region as subsidiaries. Likewise, Rishikesh is also mentioned in the pages of history when Lord Vishnu answered the prayers of the saints, slaughtered the demons and handed the land to the saints.
In the seventh century this area was known as Sudhnagar and was described by the Chinese traveler Huen Chang. It was Sudhnagar that later came to be recognised as the name of Kaalsi. Edicts of Ashoka have been found in the region along the banks of river Yamuna in Kaalsi indicating the wealth and importance of the region in ancient India. In the neighbouring region of Haripur, ruins were discovered from the time of King Rasala which also reflect the region's prosperity.
Dehradun itself derives its name from the historical fact that Shri Guru Ram Rai Ji, the eldest son of the Seventh Sikh Guru Har Rai Ji, set up his "dera" (camp) in "dun" (valley) in 1676. This 'Dera' 'Dun' later on became Dehradun. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb was highly impressed by the miraculous powers of charismatic Guru Ram Rai Ji. Hence he asked the contemporary Raja of Garhwal, Fateh Shah to extend all possible help to Shri Guru Ram Ji. Initially a Gurudwara(temple) was built in Dhamawala. The Construction of the present building of Darbar Sahib was completed in 1707. There are portraits of gods, goddesses, saints, sages and religious stories on the walls. There are pictures of flowers and leaves, animals and birds, trees, similar faces with pointed noses and big eyes on the arches which are the symbol of the colour scheme of Kangra-Guler and Mughal art. High minarets and round pinnacles are the models of the Muslim architecture.(The huge Talab in the front measuring 230 x 80 feet which had dried up for want of water over the years and in which people had been dumping rubbish, has now been renovated and revived. Now whoever pays a visit to the Shri Darbar Sahib would definitely notice this change.)
Dehradun was invaded by Mahmud of Ghazni during his campaigns into India followed by Taimooralang in 1368, Ruahela Njibuddulo in 1757 and Ghulam Qadir in 1785. In 1806 Nepali King Prithvi Narayan Shah united Nepal and many of the Indian territories now fell under Nepal such as Almora, Phatankot, Kumaon, Garhwal, Simur, Shimla, Kangra and Dehradun itself.
On the western front Garhwal and parts of Himachal Pradesh up to Punjab and on the eatern front the state of Sikkim up to Darjeeling became parts of Greater Nepal for a brief period until the British East India Company went on war with Nepal from 1814 to 1816. The war ended with signing of the Treaty of Sugowli where almost a third of Greater Nepal was ceded to British East India company. The British got Dehradun in 1816 and colonised Landour and Mussoorie in 1827-1828.
Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, was quite fond of the city and often visited the city and spent his last few days here before passing away in Delhi in 1964 Another leader from the independence movement, Rash Behari Bose, who was one of the key organisers of the Ghadar conspiracy and later, the Indian National Army was based in Dehradun in his early days before he was forced to move to Japan in 1915 to continue the freedom struggle.
Post independence Dehradun and other parts of Garhwal and Kumaon were merged with United Provinces which was later renamed to the state of Uttar Pradesh. In 2000, Uttaranchal (earlier called Uttaranchal) state was created from the north-western districts of Uttar Pradesh under the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000 and Dehradun made its provisional capital. After becoming the capital the city has seen continuous development.
Tourismourist destinations include the Tapkeshwar temple, Malsi Deer Park, Kalanga monument, Laxman Siddh, Chandrabani, Guchhupani, Forest Research Institute, Tapovan, Santala Devi temple and Wadia Institute.
The tourist destinations in Dehradun can be divided into four or five areas: nature, sports, sanctuary, museums and institutions. The nearby hill stations are well known for their nature, temples for its faith dimensions, sanctuary for animal and bird lovers. Hill stations include Mussoorie, Sahastradhara, Chakrata, and Dakpathar. Famous temples Tapkeshwar, Lakhamandal and Santala Devi are located here.
In regards to sports tourism, the Doon Ice Rink at Maharana Pratap Sports Complex, Raipur is the first full-sized ice arena in India, and it has hosted both ice skating competitions and ice hockey tournaments, including the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia.
TransportationTransport options include:
- By air: Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet offer weekly flights from Delhi to Dehradun's Jolly Grant Airport, 25 km from the valley of Dehradun.
- Railways: Dehradun has a railway station with services to major cities including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Varanasi. High-speed trains running through Dehradun include the Shatabdi, Mussoorie Express, Jan Shatabdi and Doon Express.
- Road: Dehradun is linked to all parts of the country by road. Deluxe buses are easily available from Delhi to Dehradun. Deluxe and semi-deluxe buses run to Shimla and Mussoorie from Dehradun Interstate bus terminal (ISBT) near Clement Town. A deluxe bus service is offered by UPSRTC to and from Delhi (Gandhi Road). From ISBT there are bus services to Dehradun and Mussorie every 15–70 minutes. There are also buses available to and from cities neighbouring Dehradun starting at the Parade Ground. The distances to Dehradun from some of the major cities are Delhi 255 km, Haridwar 54 km, Risikesh 42 km, Agra 382 km, Shimla 221 km, Yamunotri 279 km, Kedarnath 270 km and Nainital 297 km.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )