How blessed is our country with the Himalayas? Translating to north-land, Uttarakhand is one such state that is gifted mostly with the Himalayas. It is often referred to as ‘Devabhumi’ which means ‘land of the Gods’ owing to the number of Hindu temples found throughout the state. You’re likely to feel a divine presence wherever you are in the state. The holy rivers of Ganga and Yamuna originate in the glaciers of Uttarakhand too.
It is home to Nanda Devi, the highest mountain in the state and second highest in the country. It also has the Jim Corbett National Park, the oldest national park of the Indian subcontinent, and the Valley of Flowers National Parks, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Basically, it’s got enough for one to explore for months. How about we make it simple for you? Here are a handful of cities to explore, and places to visit in Uttarakhand.
With the best views of Nanda Devi, Auli is easily the most stunning place in the state. Located at nearly 3 kilometers above sea level, Auli is full of snow blankets, making it one of the world’s best skiing destinations in the world. The artificial lake up there may not be real, but the views around it sure are surreal. Amongst the highest man-made lakes in the world, it was built by the government to provide for snow if and when the snowfall wouldn’t be enough for skiing purposes. If skiing isn’t your thing, trek to the Kuari Pass to see it all.
The state capital, Dehradun is nestled between the Ganga in the east and the Yamuna in the west. The town has interesting places like Robber’s Cave, Mindrolling Monastery and Clock Tower. Sahastradhara, which means ‘thousand fold spring’ is a waterfall that is also worth a visit, especially during the rainy season. Tapovan Temple will leave you spellbound with all its colors. If you’re looking for a place to stay, outside the town is Dudley Manor, which is as grand as it gets.
Built around the eponymous eye lake, Nainital is one of the finest hill stations in the state. Being surrounded by Naina peak and others, this 180-year-old town offers sceneries everywhere you look. To get the best views, check out Tiffin Top, Nainital Ropeway or Cheena Peak, the choice is yours! Apart from the views, the best thing about Nainital is of course, the lake. You can enjoy a stroll by the lake or even go boating. Nearby, you can visit Naina Devi, a temple by the lake, or Hanuman Garhi, another temple in the area. If nature and wildlife interest you, check out Nainital Zoo, Corbett National Park or Pangot & Kilbury Bird Sanctuary. Other gems include the royal palace of Raj Bhawan, the Tibetan market and Cave Garden. Stay at Garbyang Homestay for the perfect trip!
Bhimtal may be older than Nainital, but its population is just a sixth of Nainital’s. While Nainital remains the more popular one, Bhimtal offers just as much. Just 22 kilometers away from its sibling, it also has a lake with an island at its center. You can go boating and fishing there, or go camping and stargazing nearby. The Bhimeshwar Temple is a must-visit, in addition to other temples like Bhimeshwar Mahadev Temple, Hanuman Garhi temple and Nag Temple. Check out Victoria Dam and other lakes in the area. For the sporty people, there’s trekking, but one can also go paragliding and dirt biking. Properties like Estate 15 are conveniently located for you to explore the hill station.
A place with repeat value, Mussoorie has spots like Gun Hill and Nahata Estate which are the highest points of the town, providing the best views you could ask for. The town also offers trekking and all other adventure activities under the sun. The Kempty Falls are stunning, while the road toward it is also strewn with other smaller waterfalls. A certain Cottage in the Clouds is the perfect hilltop villa to stay at, while you enjoy the splendour of Mussoorie. Watch as the clouds roll by your window and witness the panoramic view of mountains as they make way.
Last but not the least, we have a lot to say about Ranikhet, which literally translates to queen’s fields. It is a hidden gem of a town which is blessed with beautiful hills and spectacular panoramic views of the snowy Himalayas. Lush green meadows with beautiful fruit orchards and soaring forests together make Ranikhet a hilly paradise. Head to Chaubatia Gardens to enjoy views of Himalayan peaks like the Nanda Devi, Neelkanth and Trishul, after you walk through blooming gardens of rhododendrons and lilies, as well as fruit orchards of peaches, plums, apples, apricots, and 150 more such varieties of fruits. Once you’re done with the gardens, head to the nearby Bhalu Dam which also offers great views of the Himalayan peaks and makes for an ideal place for a picnic or camping with family and friends. Amongst the highest golf courses in Asia, Upat is a sprawling course with perfectly manicured lawns maintained by the Indian Army. Literally translating to queen’s lake, Rani Jheel is a vast artificial lake that is located amidst natural ridges and woods, making it a prime tourist attraction for boating and simply the tranquil setting. Additionally, the village of Dwarahat near Ranikhet is home to 55 ancient temples built by Katyuri kings – with majestic shrines of all important Hindu deities. Offering the finest views out there, Morning Bliss is the perfect stay option in Ranikhet.
Make sure you check out the room listings for the properties mentioned, in case you’re looking to travel in smaller groups. Uttarakhand offers something for everyone, which is why it’s great for families, couples, and even solo travellers. Please make sure that wherever you visit, you have figured out the logistics beforehand. The spontaneous explorer in you might need to be prepared for 2020. For current COVID advisories, please check the official tourism website before visiting. Stay smart, stay safe!