Although relatively small as Indian states go, Uttarakhand has a great deal of attractions: from white-water rafting on the Ganges to yoga and meditation at an Ashram. The combination of the mighty Himalayas, with its scenic beauty and leisure activities, and the holy Ganges, with its colourful bathers and nightly procession of floating lights, is a spellbinding mix of culture and natural splendour.
Two of the most important rivers in Hinduism originate in the region, the Ganga at Gangotri and the Yamuna at Yamunotri. Serene forested hills, intimidating snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes and glaciers surround the sacred rivers, and the towns along its banks line the lapping waters with ghats, temples, ashrams, forts and palaces.
Many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres are found throughout the state. The pious believing that the land is touched by the footprints of the Gods, while archaeological evidence supports the existence of humans in the region since prehistoric times. Ancient rock paintings and rock shelters are hidden in the hills. Trade routes with its neighbours have also paved the way for outposts of Tibetan Buddhism and Kashmiri crafts.
The Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for the diversity and rarity of its botanicals. The cool climate that attracted Rajs and colonists of times gone by still make the hill stations a popular retreat for modern visitors.
Ananda spa, voted best spa in the world 2012 | Watching the bathers in the Ganges | Taking a yoga class in an ashram in Rishikesh | The blooms in The Valley of Flowers | The array of holy Hindu architecture | Watching the brilliant nightlights of an Aarti
− 88% of the population follow Hinduism
− 13.8% of the state is made up of wildlife reserves