Uttarakhand (, ), formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Land of the Gods" () due to the many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai, the state was carved out of the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000, becoming the 27th state of the Republic of India. It borders the Tibet Autonomous Region on the north; the Mahakali Zone of the Far-Western Region, Nepal on the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the northwest. The state is divided into two divisions, Kumaon and Garhwal, with a total of 13 districts. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, which is also a railhead and the largest city in the region. The high court of the state is in Nainital.
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 Kumaoni or Garhwali 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 is Rajput and Brahmin. More than 80% of the population is Hindu. 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 with Hindi being 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 also hosts the Bengal tiger in Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest on the Indian subcontinent. There is also the Valley of Flowers, a Unesco World Heritage Site known for the variety and rarity of the flowers and plants found there.
Uttarakhand's name is derived from the Sanskrit words uttara ( ) meaning north, and kha ( ) 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 term for the central stretch of the Indian Himalayas.
However, the region was given the name Uttaranchal by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led central government and Uttar Pradesh state government when they started a new round of state reorganization in 1998. Chosen for its allegedly less separatist connotations, the name change generated enormous controversy among many activists for a separate state who saw it as a political act. However, they were not quite successful in thwarting the move. Nevertheless, the name Uttarakhand remained popular in the region, even while Uttaranchal was promulgated through official usage.
In August 2006, India's Union Cabinet assented to the demands of the Uttaranchal state assembly and leading members of the Uttarakhand movement to rename Uttaranchal state as Uttarakhand. Legislation to that effect was passed by the State Legislative Assembly in October 2006, and the Union Cabinet brought in the bill in the winter session of Parliament. The bill was passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President in December 2006.
The historical temples at Jageshwar, preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India Ancient 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 haunt 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.
Kingdom of Garhwal]] By the medieval period, the region was consolidated under the Garhwal Kingdom in the west and the Kumaon Kingdom in the east. From the 13th to the 18th century, Kumaon prospered under the Chand monarchs who had their origins in the plains of India. 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, a rump portion of the Garhwal Kingdom was re-established from Tehri, and eastern Garhwal and Kumaon ceded to the British as part of the Treaty of Sugauli.
United Province]], 1903 After India attained independence from the British, the Garhwal Kingdom was merged into the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Uttarakhand composed the Garhwal and Kumaon Divisions. Until 1998, Uttarakhand was the name most commonly used to refer to the region, as various political groups, including the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (Uttarakhand Revolutionary Party), began agitating for separate statehood under its banner. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal and Kumaon were traditional rivals the inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two regions. These bonds formed the basis of the new political identity of Uttarakhand, which gained significant momentum in 1994, when demand for separate statehood achieved almost unanimous acceptance among both the local populace and national political parties. The most notable incident during this period was the Rampur Tiraha firing case on the night of 1 October 1994, which led to a public uproar. On 24 September 1998, the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill, which began the process of creating a new state. Two years later the Parliament of India passed the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000, and thus, on 9 November 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India.
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.
Nanda Devi, the second-highest mountain in India Uttarakhand has a total area of 53,566 km , 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 lies on the southern slope of the Himalaya range, and the climate and vegetation vary greatly with elevation, from glaciers at the highest elevations to subtropical forests at the lower elevations. The highest elevations are covered by ice and bare rock. Below them, between are the western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. The temperate western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests grow just below the tree line. At elevation they transition to the temperate western Himalayan broadleaf forests, which lie in a belt from elevation. Below elevation lie the Himalayan subtropical pine forests. The Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests and the drier Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands cover the lowlands along the Uttar Pradesh border in a belt locally known as Bhabhar. These lowland forests have mostly been cleared for agriculture, but a few pockets remain.
Garhwali]] lady in traditional attire The native people of Uttarakhand are generally called either Kumaoni or Garhwali depending on their place of origin in either the Kumaon or Garhwal region. According to the 2011 census of India, Uttarakhand has a population of 10,116,752 comprising 5,154,178 males and 4,962,574 females, with 69.45% of the population living in rural areas. The state is the 20th most populous state of the country having 0.84% of the population on 1.69% of the land. The population density of the state is 189 people per square kilometer having a 2001 2011 decadal growth rate of 19.17%. The gender ratio is 963 females per 1000 males.   The crude birth rate in the state is 18.6 with the total fertility rate being 2.3. The state has an infant mortality rate of 43, a maternal mortality rate of 188 and a crude death rate of 6.6.
Uttarakhand has a multiethnic population spread across two geocultural regions: the Gahrwal, and the Kumaon. A large portion of the population is Rajput (various clans of landowning rulers and their descendants) including members of the native Garhwali, Gujjar, and Kumaoni communities, as well as a number of immigrants. Approximately one-fifth of the population belongs to the Scheduled Castes (an official term for the lower castes in the traditional Hindu caste system). Scheduled Tribes (an official term for natives outside the Indian social system), such as the Raji, who live near the border with Nepal, constitute less than 5 percent of the population. More than four-fifths of Uttarakhand s residents are Hindus. Uttarakhand comprise of Hindus 81.6%, Muslims 13.8%(Mostly concentrated in plains areas of Haridwar, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital District), Sikhs 2.3% (Mostly in Udham Singh Nagar District, also called "Mini Punjab") Christians 1.5% and Others including Buddhist, Jains, Parsees comprise a total of 0.8% out of total population. According to a 2007 study, Uttarakhand has the highest percentage of Brahmins of any state in India, with approximately 20% of the population being Brahmin.  Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jains make up the remaining population with the Muslims being the largest minority.
The Kumaoni and Garhwali dialects of Central Pahari are spoken in Kumaon and Garhwal regions, respectively. Jaunsari and Bhotiya dialects are spoken by tribal communities in the west and north, respectively. The urban population, however, converses mostly in Hindi, which is an official language of the state. Uttarakhand is the only Indian state to give official language status to Sanskrit.
Government and politics
Following the Constitution of India, the State of Uttarakhand, like all Indian states, has a parliamentary system of representative democracy for its government.
The Governor is the constitutional and formal head of the government and is appointed for a five-year term by the President of India on the advice of the Union government. The Chief Minister, who holds the real executive powers, is the head of the party or coalition garnering the majority in the state elections. The Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly consists of elected members and special office bearers such as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker that are elected by the members. Assembly meetings are presided over by the Speaker, or the Deputy Speaker in the Speaker's absence. A Council of Ministers is appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister and reports to the Legislative Assembly. Uttarakhand has a unicameral house with 70 Members of the Legislative Assembly or MLAs. Auxiliary authorities that govern at a local level are known as panchayats in rural areas and municipalities in urban areas. All state and local government offices have a five year term. The state also contributes 5 seats to Lok Sabha and 3 seats to Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament. The judiciary consists of the Uttarakhand High Court, located at Nainital, and a system of lower courts. The present Chief Justice of the High Court is Barin Ghosh.
Politics in Uttarakhand is dominated by the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Since the formation of the state these parties have ruled the state in turns. Following the hung mandate in the Uttarakhand State Assembly Election in 2011, the Indian National Congress, having the maximum number of seats, formed a coalition government and Vijay Bahuguna became the Chief Minister.
Districts of Uttarakhand
There are 13 districts in Uttarakhand which are grouped into two divisions, Kumaon and Garhwal. Four new districts named Didihat, Ranikhet, Kotdwar, and Yamunotri were declared by the then CM of Uttarakhand, Ramesh Pokhriyal, on 15 August 2011.
The Kumaon division includes the following districts:
The Garhwal division includes the following districts:
Each district is governed by a district commissioner or district magistrate. The districts are further divided into sub-divisions, which are governed by sub-divisional magistrates; sub-divisions comprise blocks containing panchayats (village councils) and town municipalities.
According to the 2011 census, Haridwar, Dehradun, and Udham Singh Nagar are the most populous districts, each of them having a population of over one million.
Sumitranandan Pant museum, Kausani
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. Ganga Prasad Vimal, Manohar Shyam Joshi, Shekhar Joshi, Shailesh Matiyani, Shivani, Mohan Upreti, and Jnanpith awardee Sumitranandan Pant are some of the major literary figures from the region. Prominent philosopher and environmental activist Vandana Shiva is also from Uttarakhand.
The dances of the region are connected to life and human existence and exhibit myriad human emotions. Langvir nritya is a dance form for males that resembles gymnastic movements. Barada nati folk dance is another famous dance of Dehradun, which is practised during some religious festivals. Other well-known dances include hurka baul, jhumeila, chaufula, and chholiya. Music is an integral part of the Uttarakhand culture. Popular types of folk songs include mangals, basanti, khuded and chhopati. These folk songs are played on instruments including dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora, and masakbhaja. Music is also used as a medium through which the gods are invoked. Jaagar is a form of ghost worship in which the singer, or jagariya, sings a ballad of the gods, with allusions to great epics, like Mahabharat and Ramayana, that describe the adventures and exploits of the god being invoked. Narendra Singh Negi is a popular singer of the region.Architectural details of a Dharamshala, estb. 1822, Haridwar Abhisarika nayika, a painting by Mola RamAmong the prominent local crafts is wood carving, which appears most frequently in the ornately decorated temples of Uttarakhand. Intricately carved designs of floral patterns, deities, and geometrical motifs also decorate the doors, windows, ceilings, and walls of village houses. Beautifully worked paintings and murals are used to decorate both homes and temples. Pahari painting is a form of painting that flourished in the region between the 17th and 19th century. Mola Ram started the Garhwal Branch of the Kangra school of painting. Haripur Guler was famous as the cradle of Kangra paintings. Kumaoni art often is geometrical in nature, while Garhwali art is known for its closeness to nature. Other crafts of Uttarakhand include handcrafted gold jewellery, basketry from Garhwal, woollen shawls, scarves, and rugs. The latter are mainly produced by the Bhotias of northern Uttarakhand.
The primary food of Uttarakhand is vegetables with wheat being a staple, although non-vegeterian food is also served. A distinctive characteristic of Uttarakhand cuisine is the sparing use of tomatoes, milk, and milk based products. Coarse grain with high fibre content is very common in Uttarakhand due to the harsh terrain. Other food items which are famous are madua (Buck wheat) in the interior regions of Kumaun. Generally, either pure ghee or mustard oil is used for the purpose of cooking food. Simple recipes are made interesting with the use of hash seeds as spice. Bal mithai is a popular fudge-like sweet. Other popular dishes include dubuk, chains, kaap, churkani, bhatt ki churdkani, sei, and gulgula. Jhoi, a regional variation of kadhi, is also popular.
Bathing ghat on the Ganges during Kumbh Mela, 2010, HaridwarOne of the major Hindu pilgrimages, Kumbh Mela, takes place in Uttarakhand. Haridwar is one of the four places in India where this mela is organized. 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.
Winnowing rice, an important food crop in Uttarakhand. Like most of India, agriculture is one of the most significant sectors of the economy of Uttarakhand. Basmati rice, wheat, soybeans, groundnuts, coarse cereals, pulses, and oil seeds are the most widely grown crops. Fruits like apples, oranges, pears, peaches, litchis, and plums are widely grown and important to the large food processing industry. Agricultural export zones have been set up in the state for leechi, horticulture, herbs, medicinal plants, and basmati rice. During the year 2010 the wheat production was 831 thousand tonnes and rice production was 610 thousand tonnes, while the main cash crop of the state, sugarcane, had a production of 5058 thousand tonnes. As 90% of the state is hilly the yield per hectare is not very high. 86% of all croplands are in the plains while the remaining is from the hills.
Net State Domestic Product at Factor Cost at Current Prices (2004 05 Base) figures in crores of Indian Rupees
||Net State Domestic Product
Other key industries include tourism and hydropower, and there is prospective development in IT, ITES, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and automobile industries. The service sector of Uttarakhand mainly includes tourism, information technology, higher education, and banking.
During 2005 2006, the state successfully developed three Integrated Industrial Estates (IIEs) at Haridwar, Pantnagar, and Sitarganj; Pharma City at Salequi; Information Technology Park at Sahastradhana (Dehradun); and a growth centre at Siggadi (Kotdwar). Also in 2006, 20 industrial sectors in public private partnership mode were developed in the state.
Uttarakhand is one of the fastest growing states in India. The Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) (at current prices) has almost doubled from Rs 20,438 crore in FY04 to Rs 40,159 crore in FY09. The real GSDP grew around 9% (average) during the FY2004 FY2009 period. The contribution of the services sector to the GSDP of Uttarakhand was around 50% during FY2001 09. Per capita income in Uttarakhand is (FY2010) which is slightly lower than the national average of (FY2010). According to the Reserve Bank of India the total foreign direct investment in the state from April 2000 to October 2009 amounted to US$ 46.7 million.
Flora and fauna
Uttarakhand has a great diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 34651 km2 which constitutes 65% of the total area of the state. Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals, many of which are protected by sanctuaries and reserves. National parks in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, and Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A number of plant species in the valley are internationally threatened, including several that have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand. Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District are some other protected areas in the state.
Little green bee-eaters]] at Jim Corbett National Park
Leopards are found in hilly areas but may also venture into the lowland jungles. Smaller felines include the jungle cat, fishing cat, and leopard cat. Other mammals include four kinds of deer (barking, sambar, hog and chital), sloth and Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongooses, otters, yellow-throated martens, ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and langur and rhesus monkeys. In the summer, elephants can be seen in herds of several hundred. The Indian python found in the Jim Corbett National Park is a dangerous species, capable of killing a chital deer. Marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris), gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) and other reptiles are also found in the region. Local crocodiles were saved from extinction by captive breeding programs and subsequently re-released into the Ramganga river. Several freshwater terrapins and turtles like the Indian sawback turtle (Kachuga tecta), Brahminy river turtle (Hardella thurgii), and Ganges softshell turtle (Trionyx gangeticus) are found in the rivers. Butterflies and birds of the region include red Helen (Papilio helenus), the great eggfly (Hypolimnos bolina), common tiger (Danaus genutia), pale wanderer (Pareronia avatar avatar), jungle babbler, tawny-bellied babbler, great slaty woodpecker, red-breasted parakeet, orange-breasted green pigeon and chestnut-winged cuckoo.
Geranium flowers in valley of flowers
Evergreen oaks, rhododendrons, and conifers predominate in the hills. Shorea robusta (sal), silk cotton tree (Bombax ciliata), Dalbergia sissoo, Mallotus philippensis, Acacia catechu, Bauhinia racemosa, and Bauhinia variegata (camel's foot tree) are some of the other trees of the region. Albizia chinensis, the sweet sticky flowers of which are favoured by sloth bears, are also part of the region's flora. A decade long study by Prof. C.P. Kala concluded that the Valley of Flowers is endowed with 520 species of higher plants (angiosperms, gymnosperms and pteridophytes), of these 498 are flowering plants. The park has many species of medicinal plants including Dactylorhiza hatagirea, Picrorhiza kurroa, Aconitum violaceum, Polygonatum multiflorum, Fritillaria roylei, and Podophyllum hexandrum.
Uttarakhand 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 in Uttaranchal.
Because over 90% of Uttarakhand's terrain is hilly 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 Uttarakhand is at Kathgodam, 35 kilometers 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 famous railway stations of Uttarakhand are at Lalkuan and Haldwani. Dehradun Railway Station is a railhead of the Northern Railways.
Uttarakhand has many tourist spots due to its location in the scenic 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 "abode 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 recent reconstruction of Mindroling Monastery and its Buddha Stupa, touted as the world's highest,southwest of Dehradun.  Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib, an important pilgrimage site for Sikhs 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 locating 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 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.
As of 30 September 2010 there were 15,331 primary schools with 1,040,139 million students and 22,118 working teachers. As of the 2011 census the literacy rate of the state was 79.63% with 88.33% literacy for males and 70.70% literacy for females. The language of instruction in the schools is either English or Hindi. There are mainly government-run, private unaided (no government help), and private aided schools in the state. The main school affiliations are CBSE, CISCE or the state syllabus defined by the Department of Education of the Government of Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand is home to several important educational institutions including the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture & Technology in Pantnagar, and the Indian Military Academy and Forest Research Institute in Dehradun. Uttarakhand also has several prominent day and boarding schools including G D Birla Memorial School, Ranikhet, St. Joseph's College (Nainital), Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC) (Dehradun), The Doon School (Dehradun), Welham Girls School (Dehradun), Welham Boys School (Dehradun), Birla Vidya Mandir (Nainital), and Sherwood College (Nainital). Several Indian luminaries have attended these schools including prime ministers and film stars such as Rajiv Gandhi and Amitabh Bachchan.
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ace:Uttarakhand ar: bn: zh-min-nan:Uttarakhand be: be-x-old: bh: bg: br:Uttarakhand ca:Uttarakhand cs:Uttar khand cy:Uttarakhand da:Uttarakhand de:Uttarakhand dv: et:Uttarakhand el: es:Uttarakhand eo:Utarakando eu:Uttarakhand fa: hif:Uttarakhand fr:Uttarakhand gu: ko: hi: hr:Uttarakhand bpy: id:Uttarakhand it:Uttarakhand he: kn: pam:Uttarakhand ka: sw:Uttarakhand la:Uttarakhand lv:Utarakhanda lt:Utarakhandas hu:Uttarakhand mk: ml: mr: ms:Uttarakhand nl:Uttarakhand ne: new: ja: nap:Taragand no:Uttarakhand nn:Uttarakhand oc:Uttarakhand or: pa: pnb: pl:Uttarakhand pt:Uttarakhand ro:Uttarakhand ru: sa: simple:Uttarakhand sk:Uttar khand sr: sh:Uttarakhand fi:Uttarakhand sv:Uttarakhand ta: te: th: tg: tr:Uttarakhand uk: ur: vi:Uttarakhand war:Uttarakhand yo:Uttarakhand zh: