Uttarakhand- Uttaranchal Pradesh-India

Land of untouched natural beauty and spirituality, Uttarakhand is a Himalayan state of North India, famously known as Devbhumi (or the Land of the Gods). Carved out from Uttar Pradesh, the state, formerly known as Uttaranchal, is a place that not only boasts of a scintillating view of the Himalayas but also exhibits a cultural ethos which speaks of a harmonic coexistence with nature.

Uttarakhand is mainly separated into two regions, Garhwal and Kumaon, consisting of 13 districts. The districts under Garhwal region are Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal, Tehri Garhwal, Rudraprayag and Uttarkashi, whereas Almora, Champawat, Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital come under the Kumaon region. Each division and each district has its own charm; a charm that will compel you to return to Uttarakhand – Simply Heaven!

Simply Heaven Uttarakhand or Uttaranchal is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai grasslands and savannas. The Simply Heaven on earth, Uttarakhand is often referred to as the Devbhumi or Land of the Gods due to the many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centre.

The top things to do in Uttarakhand are Nainital, Rishikesh, Auli, Mussoorie, Badrinath, Kedarnath.

Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. Rishikesh, a major centre for yoga study, was made famous by the Beatles’ 1968 visit. The city hosts the evening Ganga Aarti, a spiritual gathering on the sacred Ganges River. The state’s forested Jim Corbett National Park shelters Bengal tigers and other native wildlife.

Rig Veda, the most ancient of the scriptures says, ‘there is no happiness for him who does not travel. The fortune of him who is sitting sits, it rises when he rises, it sleeps when he sleeps, it moves when he moves. Therefore, Wander!’

The age-old Hindu traditions have always accorded highest esteem to the glory of the colossal and composed heights of the Himalayas which are spontaneously assumed to be the chosen consecrated residences of Gods. A whole lot of the Hindu lore sets out from this ‘Land of the Gods’.

Pilgrimages to these heights dating back to more than 1500 years are found recorded in authentic documents and Uttarakhand still attracts millions of devout people who come here with the chaste objective of spiritual emancipation and revelation.

Today, these mountains are no longer restricted to the religious or the spiritual – as a traveller one can get pleasure from mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, rock climbing or simply strolling amongst the highest mountainous terrains in the world.

The winter months lay vast and expansive snow-carpets as the slopes, which turn into playgrounds for adventurous snow-revellers to ski amongst the most beautiful of surroundings. Come spring and the land begins to ooze of nascent life with frozen springs making way for the singsong of unsullied streams, waiting buds coming to full blossom creating an outburst of million hues with as many colourful butterflies and insects joining in the chorus. The spring season of Uttarakhand would make you comprehend and probably redefine the word Harmony.

The streams that originate in the deepest hideaways of the glorious Himalayas of Uttarakhand flow on to feed rivers which have nourished a civilization that has been born and brought up in the Indo-Gangetic soil of the country. These rivers are not just water bodies of enormous proportions but are also impressive streams commanding worship and reverence with their source in the holy crevices where gods and goddesses reside. The water from the holiest of all Hindu rivers, the Ganga, is believed to wash away and purge the body, mind and soul of all impurity.

The lush green forests of this region are home to an astounding multiplicity of flora and fauna, some of which fall into the category of endangered species. The wildlife bursts with hundreds and thousands of species, making an exploratory trip to Uttarakhand even more exciting, in the light of the fact that many species are yet to be discovered.

World-renowned mountains and wildlife institutes, national parks and forest reserves in this region pursue scientific research putting in enormous efforts to preserve and protect the land’s bounty, encouraging people to participate in this noblest of causes.

Uttarakhand is endowed with a unique and diverse range of biodiversity. From the snowbound peaks of the Himalayas to the moist Alpine scrub, sub-Alpine forests, dry – temperate and moist- temperate forests to moist deciduous forests, the state possesses wide biodiversity that in return nurtures a large multiplicity of floral and faunal forms.

The state is home to nearly 4048 species of Angiosperms and Gymnosperms belonging to 1198 genera under 192 families. Of these nearly 116 species are specific to Uttarakhand i.e. their geographical distribution is limited to the boundaries of the state. 161 species of flora found in Uttarakhand are recognized as rare or threatened under the categorization of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Out of the 223 species of Orchids reported from the North-Western Himalayas, over 150 have been reported from the State.

This great floral diversity supports a wide variety of faunal forms too. It includes about 102 species of mammals, 623 species of birds, 124 species of fish, 69 species of reptiles and 19 species of amphibians. Highly endangered species like the Snow Leopard, Musk Deer, Tiger, Asian Elephant, Bharal, Himalayan Monal, Cheer Pheasant, King Cobra etc. find suitable habitat in the forests of Uttarakhand.

This precious natural wealth is our common heritage. In order to conserve this heritage, the state has declared twelve areas as ‘Protected’ including 6 National Parks and six Wildlife Sanctuaries. Nearly 65% of the geographical area of the State is under forest cover, of which over 12% comes under the Protected Area network. This exceeds the national average by a fair margin and is a reflection of the state’s commitment to conservation. The Corbett National Park, established in 1936 is the first National Park of the Asian mainland. The Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve, established under the “Man and biosphere” programme of UNESCO has the honour of being Uttarakhand’s only and the country’s second Biosphere Reserve. This biodiversity wealth is the pride of Uttarakhand.

The natural vegetation of forests may be divided into:

Trans- Himalayan zone

Sub- Alpine and Alpine zone

Montane or temperate region

Sub- Montane and sub-tropical region

Tropical wet Evergreen and semi Evergreen region.

Protected areas like Nanda Devi Biosphere, Corbett National Park, Rajaji National Park, Valley of flowers, Govind Pashu Vihar are well – explored area while the under-explored protected areas include Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary, Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary.

Group Species General Families
Angiosperm 3320 950 160
Dicot 780 240 28
Monocot 48 8 4
Gymnosperm 4048 1198 192

More than 350 species of plants are threatened and endangered in the state. Most of these threatened plant species are to be found on the hills and have been over-exploited for medicinal, aromatic or commercial ends. The most threatened among the tree species are members of the family Aceraceae. All members of the family Orchidaceae are indeterminate, rare or endangered. Species of the family Woodsiaceae such as Wooddia Andersonii and Woodsia Cyaloba are believed to be extinct or extremely highly endangered. The status of more than 80% of plants is either indeterminate or their id hardly any information about them, necessitating long-term research for area-wise profiling of plant species of the state.

STATE FLOWER: Brahma Kamal (Saussurea Obvallata)

Buransh is an all-season medium-height tree found at altitudes ranging from 1500 to 3600 meters in the Himalayan region. The leaves of the tree are thick and it flowers are bell-shaped and blood-red, white, pink and purple. The flowers bloom in bunches and a rhododendron tree in full blossom presents a striking visual. The extract from the flowers has vital medicinal values.
The Beautiful Bugyals.

Uttarakhand is possibly one of the few regions in the world where all the life zones from sub-tropical hot to Arctic cold exist within a telescopic distance of 100 Km, thus providing an astoundingly rich floral and faunal diversity. The State has 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries that cover 13.8% of the total area of the state. The various parks and sanctuaries are located at different altitudes varying from 800 meters to the high altitude protected areas at 5400 meters. Apart from these, there are two Conservation Reserves– The Asan Barrage and Jhilmil Tal conservation Reserves, two World Heritage sites – the Nanda Devi Biosphere reserve and Valley of Flowers National Park. The state boasts of the first national park of the Indian Sub-continent – the Corbett National Park, with its major attractions being tiger, elephant and leopard. It also homes an extensive variety of birds and shares its boundary with the Rajaji National Park.

Almost 300 species of wild flowers bloom here and attract nature lovers, botanists, ecologists, zoologists, ornithologists and trekkers. Other National Parks and Sanctuaries include Binog Wildlife Sanctuary near Mussoorie, Govind Pashu Vihar and National Park, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary, Binsar Wild Life Sanctuary near Almora and Gangotri National Park.

A-NATIONAL PARK AT A GLANCE

National Parks Date of Formation The area in Sq. km Wildlife Contact
Corbett National Park 11th May 1936 521 Home to around 600 species of birds, 50 mammals and at least 25 species of reptiles in the Ramganga. Known as the land of trumpet, roar and songs! Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve
Ph: (05947) 251376, 251489
Gangotri National Park 16th September 1989 2390 The source of the Ganga-‘Goumukh’ is situated here. Bharal population is remarkable. Musk deer, snow leopard and Himalayan tahr are also found. Divisional Forest Officer, Uttarkashi
Ph: (01374) 222444
Govind National Park 26th February 1990 472 Famous for trekking destination of Har-ki-dun. The preferred habitat of Snow Leopard and Western Tragopan is also found. Deputy Director Govind National Park, Purola
Ph: (013732) 23438
Director Rajaji National Park
Ph: (0135) 2621669
Nanda Devi National Park 18th August 1980 630 Core zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Home to 800 identified species of herbs, shrubs and trees and 29 species of mammals. Division Forest Officer, Joshimath
Ph: (01389) 222179
Rajaji National Park 12th August 1983 820.42 Nestled in the Shiwalik opening out to the vast Indo- Gangetic plains, blessed with 315 species of mammals with the elephants as the flagship species. Director Rajaji National Park
Ph: (0135) 2621669
Valley of Flowers National Park 6th September 1982 87.50 A natural botanical park with over 300 species of wildflowers. Division Forest Officer, Joshimath
Ph: (01389) 222179

B-SANCTUARIES

Sanctuaries Date of Formation The area in Sq. km Wildlife Contact
Askot Wildlife Sanctuary 30th July 1986 600 Famous for musk deer,  Snow Leopard and manal pheasant. Division Forest Officer, Pithoragarh
Ph: (05964) 225234
Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary 25th May 1988 45.59 Offers stunning panorama of the Himalayas, rich in oak forest probably the largest in Kumaon hills and rich diversity of several endangered species. Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve
Ph: (05947) 251376, 251489
Govind Wildlife Sanctuary 22nd March 1955 485.56 Forms the upper catchment of Swarga- Rohini, Black peak and Bandar Punch lie north of the Sanctuary. Deputy Director Govind National Park, Purola
Ph: (013732) 23438
Director Rajaji National Park
Ph: (0135) 2621669
Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary 21st January 1972 975.24 Lush green oak forest, temples of Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath and Madmaheshwar popularly called Kedarnath. Divisional Forest Officer, Kedarnath Wildlife Division, Gopeshwar
Ph: (01372) 252149
Mussoorie Wildlife Sanctuary 2nd September 1993 10.82 Mountain Quail will someday return to this sanctuary where it once occurred. It has pristine oak forests. Director Rajaji National Park
Ph: (0135) 2621669
Sonanadi Wildlife Sanctuary 9th January 1987 301.76 It is a protected area between Rajaji and Corbett National Parks and hence has biodiversity similar to both. Director, Corbett Tiger Reserve
Ph: (05947) 251376, 251489

C- CONSERVATION RESERVES

Conservation Reserve Date of Formation The area in Sq. km Wildlife Contact
Jhilmil Tal 14th August 2005 37.83 Falls under the subtropical climatic zone and probably the only Swamp deer habitat in Uttarakhand. Divisional Forest Officer, Haridwar
Ph: (01334) 226271
Asan Wetland 14th August 2005 4.44 A paradise for migratory birds. Divisional Forest Officer, Kalsi Forest Division
Ph: (01360) 275052

D- High Altitude Zoo

Name & Place Date of Formation Area in Heq. Wildlife Contact
Bharat Ratan Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo Nainital 01st June 1965 4.699 Siberian Tiger, Panther, Wild Cat, Hill Fox, Hill Black Bear, Deer, Sambhar, Monal Pageant Director, Bharat Ratan Pt. Govind Ballabh Pant High Altitude Zoo, Nainital
Ph. No.  05942-236469
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