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Uttarakhand is the places of many Hindu temples and pilgrimage often called the Land of the gods.

About Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand, also known as the abode of gods (dev bhoomi) has a long and rich past. Uttarakhand literally means the North Country or part in Sanskrit, the name being found in ancient literature as well. The majestic Himalayas, the origin of many holy rivers, Ganga being one of them and having a large number of pilgrimages, uttarakhand seems a perfect choice for the gods to choose their home.

But it's not just religion that defines this beautiful state. Being the recipient of the 2007-08 state tourism awards, it has great adventure sports like: trekking, rock climbing, white water rafting, skiing and attractions like wildlife and unique flora and fauna amongst its best things.

Early History
The earliest mention of Uttarakhand dates back to the writing of Mahabharata by the Vyasa rishi, who chose this land as the place for writing the great epic.

Among the first settlers of this region were the Kols, an aboriginal people of the Dravidian type. The Kols were later joined by the Indo Aryan Khas tribes from the northwest.

The major dynasties that can be traced include the Kunindas in the 2nd century BC, Naga dynasties in around 4 BC, Katyuri dynasties between 7th and 14th century. The other tribes that are thought to have settled in the highlands were Tibetan Burmese, known as the Kiratas.

The Medieval Period
The Medieval period saw the consolidation of the area into two distinct areas: The kumaon region and the Garhwal region. The kingdoms in both these areas were of the rulers from the plain: the Chand Rajas in the Kumaon and the Parmar or panwar rajas in Garhwal.

The region saw great prosperity in this period however in the late 18th century and earlier 19th Century, the land fell into the hands of the Gurkhas. With the conclusion of the Anglo Nepali war, the region was restored, however the eastern garhwal and Kumaon were possessed by the British as part of treaty of sugauli.

Uttarakhand - After Independence
After India got independent from the British rule in 1947, the princely state of Uttarakhand was merged in Uttar Pradesh and the term Uttarakhand referred to the hill regions of the predominantly plain state.

It was with the establishment of the Uttarakhand Kranti dal (Uttarakhand revolutionary Party) in 1979 that the people of Uttarakhand began asking for a separate state. The agitation went on for many years until the Rampur Tiraha firing in 1994, which led to Public uproar. The state of Uttarakhand was thus formed in 1998. However, the name of the state was chosen as Uttaranchal by the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the activists saw it as a political act, which led to great controversy. Finally, in 2006, India's Union Cabinet agreed upon the long awaiting demand of the state assembly as state activists to change the state’s name. Finally, the bill was passed by the President in December 2006. The state is now called Uttarakhand with Dehradun as its capital.

Uttarakhand, formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Land of Gods due to the many holy Hindu temples and cities found throughout the state, some of which are among Hinduism's most spiritual and auspicious places of pilgrimage and worship. Known for its natural beauty and wealth of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai, the state was carved out of the Himalayan and adjoining north-western 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, Nepal on the east and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, Haryana to the west and Himachal Pradesh to the north west.

The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhand in Hindu scriptures and old literature, a term which derives from Sanskrit uttara meaning north, and khand meaning country or part of a country. It has an area of 20,682 sq mi (53,566 km²).

In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, which is also a rail-head and the largest city in the region. The small hamlet of Gairsain has been mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but controversies and lack of resources have led Dehradun to remain provisional capital. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.

Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state government to capitalise on handloom and handicrafts, the burgeoning tourist trade as well as tax incentives to lure high-tech industry to the state. The state also has big-dam projects, controversial and often criticised in India, such as the very large Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi-Bhilangana rivers, conceived in 1953, the phase one of which has already been completed. Uttarakhand is also well known as the birthplace of the Chipko environmental movement, and other social movements including the mass agitation in the 1990s that led to its formation.

Literally North Country or Section in Sanskrit, the name of Uttarakhand finds mention in the 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. It is well known for the presence of a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage spots. The Pauravas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, the Chands, and Parmaras or Panwars, Sikhs and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns. The historical temples at Jageshwar, preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India

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. At that time, present-day Uttarakhand also served as a haunt for Rishis and Sadhus. It is believed that Sage Vyasa scripted the Mahabharata here as the Pandavas are believed to have traveled and camped in the region. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century B.C. who practiced an early form of Shaivism. They 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 of Khas origin 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 remodeled 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 believed to be the ancestors to the modern day Bhotiya, Raji, Buksha, and Tharu peoples.

Uttarakhand has a total geographic area of 51,125 km², of which 93% is mountainous and 64% is covered by forest. Most of the northern parts of the state are part of Greater Himalaya ranges, covered by the high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills were densely forested till denuded by the British log merchants and later, after independence, by forest contractors. Recent efforts in reforestation, however, have restored the situation to some extent. The Himalayan ecosystem plays host to a large number of 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, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams in the region.

Indian National Parks in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District, and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District.

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 3,000 and 5,000 metres (9,800 and 16,000 ft) are montane grasslands and shrublands: the western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows. Temperate coniferous forests, the western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests, grow just below the tree line. At 3,000 to 2,600 metres (9,800 to 8,500 ft) elevation they transition to the temperate western Himalayan broadleaf forests, which lie in a belt from 2,600 to 1,500 metres (8,500 to 4,900 ft) elevation. Below 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) 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. This belt is locally known as Bhabhar. These lowland forests have mostly been cleared for agriculture, but a few pockets remain.

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