Of­ten known as the Land of Gods, Ut­tarak­hand is in­deed a di­vine gift to mankind. With an un­mis­tak­able ter­rain that caters to the com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern life, this state of North­ern In­dia is the per­fect des­ti­na­tion to un­wind and re­lax amid the va­garies of

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With a rich her­itage in Ayurveda, Yoga and med­i­ta­tion, Ut­tarak­hand, has lately come to be known as the Yoga Coun­try. The ashrams, health-cen­tres and re­treats in the state have re­tained age-old wis­dom while also cater­ing to the needs of a dy­namic, evolv­ing so­ci­ety.

WELL­BE­ING: At the heart of bub­bling spir­i­tu­al­ity is the town of Rishikesh. With the vig­or­ous Ganga flow­ing through it, the city pro­vides the per­fect to­pog­ra­phy to arouse one’s in­ner spirit. A walk down the wind­ing roads, one would be wel­comed with sev­eral in­sti­tutes teach­ing a va­ri­ety of prac­tices such as yoga, med­i­ta­tion, reiki, crys­tal heal­ing, Ayurvedic learn­ing, to name a few. Rishikesh has at­tracted tourists from across the globe, who come to the city in search of their in­ner peace.

Rishikesh, with the gush­ing Ganga flow­ing through it, beck­ons you as the per­fect des­ti­na­tion for cleans­ing your sys­tem of tox­ins and re­liev­ing the stress of ev­ery­day life.

Trav­el­ling has quenched the thirst of never-end­ing hu­man cu­rios­ity; val­leys, moun­tains, seas and plains nur­tur­ing spa­ces that pro­vide timely so­lace. The moun­tains of Ut­tarak­hand too have at­tracted trav­ellers from across the globe who have come to ex­plore the lesser-known trails and tracks that mark the seren­ity of North­ern In­dia.

NELONG VAL­LEY: The val­ley which is in close prox­im­ity to the Indo-china bor­der was closed for visi­tors post the 1962 In­dochina war. It was re­opened in 2015 to the delight of en­thu­si­as­tic tourists who now flock in large numbers to wit­ness the breath­tak­ing beauty of the bar­ren moun­tains and high peaks of Nelong. Ini­tially, a pop­u­lar In­doti­bet trade route, its seclu­sion since the 1960s has left it with lit­tle in­fra­struc­ture that would com­ple­ment mod­ern civil­i­sa­tion. Yet, the bar­ren lands, and vir­gin beauty of Nelong, have at­tracted tourists from far and wide.

The at­mos­phere is akin to a cold desert, and the ab­sence of hu­man in­va­sion has al­lowed wildlife to thrive. Lucky trav­ellers have been greeted by glimpses of snow leop­ards, the Hi­malayan blue sheep, and musk deer. De­spite its open­ing, there are still cer­tain re­stric­tions that gov­ern tourist ac­tiv­i­ties in the area- each day there is a per­mis­si­ble limit of al­low­ing six ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing four pas­sen­gers each to en­ter. Lo­cated near Bha­iron Gati, on the Gan­gotri Road, prior per­mis­sion is re­quired to ac­cess the Val­ley, which is lim­ited only to In­dian

cit­i­zens. Gyp­sies from Bah­i­ron Gati are pro­vided to as­sist tourists, also pro­vid­ing con­ver­sa­tional in­sight into the tales of the re­gion.

The breath­tak­ing view at the end of the jour­ney has in­spired trav­ellers to visit the mag­nif­i­cent Nelong Val­ley.

DAYARA BUGYAL: Lo­cated at a height of 3048 me­tres Dayara Bugyal is lo­cated in the Ut­tarkashi dis­trict. A 9km trek from Barsu vil­lage, this is a less con­sum­ing trail that could be availed ama­teurs too. At the end of the walk, trekkers are greeted with lush green alpine mead­ows that are a high­light of the moun­tains of Ut­tarkashi. In win­ters these same green mead­ows turn white with glis­ten­ing snow.

The trek-route is com­pli­mented by dense forests with in­ter­mit­tent glimpses of the Hi­malayas in­still­ing un­so­licited calm with breaths of re­spite. On reach­ing the des­ti­na­tion one is wel­comed with lush mead­ows and a panoramic view of the en­tire range.

Barsu vil­lage is the last habi­ta­tion be­fore the fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. Here, tourists can ex­plore the lives of ru­ral res­i­dents, watch them lead their day-to-day lives and even en­gage in dis­cus­sions about their cul­ture, and fes­ti­vals.

With green mead­ows, rugged moun­tains, gush­ing rivers, and ad­ven­tur­ous routes; trav­ellers must ex­pe­ri­ence the charm and di­ver­sity of the moun­tains of Ut­tarak­hand.

DRONAGIRI: The vil­lage of Dronagiri is only vil­lage on the Hi­malayan range that is named af­ter a peak- the Dronagiri peak. Also, Dronagiri has leg­endary as­so­ci­a­tions as it has been recorded in the an­cient Hindu epic, Ra­mayana. Once when Lax­man was wounded, Hanu­man was ad­vised by a Her­bol­o­gist to pro­cure medic­i­nal herbs from the Dronagiri Peak. Hanu­man on reach­ing was un­able to recog­nise the herb. He then

chopped off the lush top of Dronagiri to bring it back, which even­tu­ally saved Lax­man’s life. From the vil­lage of Dronagiri, the top of the peak does ap­pear to be chopped off. Fur­ther­ing the myths of Hanu­man, Patan­jali has un­der­taken re­search to lo­cate medic­i­nal herbs that could be dis­cov­ered atop Dronagiri, so far they claim to have gained some suc­cess.

Lo­cated at a height of 3610 me­tres, Dronagiri is the gate­way to the Bagini glacier. The Dronagiri trek is a beau­ti­ful, rugged trek that takes trav­ellers through the myr­iad of iso­lated ham­lets tucked in the heart of the Garhwal Hi­malaya. The jour­ney of­fers panoramic views of the Hathi Par­vat, Rishi peak, Grarur and Tr­ishuli. Aside from the moun­tains the rapid streams of Dhauli­ganga and Bagini Nala, also gush by, whis­per­ing wel­com­ing words to pass­ing trav­ellers.

Ut­tarak­hand has been rightly termed as the Abode of the Gods. The hills of the State are home to sev­eral tem­ples of the Gods and God­desses rev­ered by Hin­dus across the coun­try. SURKUNDA DEVI TEM­PLE: Ded­i­cated to God­dess Bha­vani, an ag­gres­sive in­car­na­tion of Par­vati, Surkunda Devi tem­ple is lo­cated at a short dis­tance from Mus­soorie, at an el­e­va­tion of 2757 me­tres. Le­gend has it

that as Sati’s body was mu­ti­lated her head dropped at this spot, which was later wor­shipped as a ‘Sidh­peeth’. Sur­rounded by dense forests pro­vid­ing a panoramic view of the moun­tains, the Ganga Dussehra fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated here ev­ery year be­tween May and June, at­tract­ing sev­eral tourists.

CHANDRABADNI: Chandrabadni Devi tem­ple lo­cated at a height of 2277 me­tres is del­i­cately placed on a moun­tain at the bor­der of De­vap­rayag and Prat­ap­na­gar. Myth­i­cally, it is be­lieved that Sati’s torso along with sev­eral weapons landed at this very spot. There­after, a tem­ple was com­mem­o­rated to wor­ship the supreme de­ity. Even to­day, one can wit­ness sev­eral Tr­ishuls(tri­dents) ly­ing around in the tem­ple com­plex. The quaint tem­ple does not host any idols, in­stead, it places a stonecarved Shri-yantra which is wor­shipped by all. Once a year a cloth is tied over this Shri-yantra and a priest wor­ship­ping it does so blind­folded- ex­em­pli­fy­ing the vi­cis­si­tudes of Hindu tra­di­tion.

KUNJAPURI: The Kunjapuri Devi tem­ple is of im­mense im­por­tance in Hin­duism as the burnt chest of God­dess Sati had landed here. Lo­cated at a short dis­tance from Rishikesh, the tem­ple is sit­u­ated at a height of 1676 me­tres. The tem­ple re­ceives a large num­ber of devo­tees dur­ing the months of Navra­tri and Dussehra. It also of­fers panoramic views of moun­tains and peaks such as Gan­gotri, Swarga Rohini, Ban­der­punch and Chaukhamba. To reach the tem­ple a devo­tee must as­cend 80 steps from the road. Kunjapuri tem­ple com­pletes the tri­an­gle of Sidh­peeths atop the Tehri-garhwal moun­tains—kunjapuri- Surkunda De­vichan­drabadni.

KALIMATH TEM­PLE: The beau­ti­ful and greatly ven­er­ated Kalimath Tem­ple is lo­cated on the banks of Saraswati River, at a height of 1800 me­tres in the Ru­draprayag dis­trict. As leg­ends say, af­ter killing the de­mon Rak­tabeej, God­dess Kali had hid­den un­der­neath the ground here. The place that marks the be­gin­ning of the tun­nel is de­mar­cated by a sil­ver plate with a Shri-yantra. This re­mains hid­den for most of the year. This Sil­ver plate is taken out and wor­shipped only on the eighth day of Navara­tri by the chief priest of the tem­ple at mid­night.

Rightly known as the Land of the Gods, Ut­tarak­hand pro­vides a ful­fill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to all devo­tees who seek to sa­ti­ate their in­ner­most prayers.

Ut­tarak­hand pro­vides av­enues for all wan­der­ing souls to re­plen­ish their thirst and quench their souls. Whether in the laps of the moun­tains or in the calm of reli­gion and spir­i­tu­al­ity, the open arms of Ut­tarak­hand wel­come all into a warm em­brace.

Nelong Bridge

Yoga at Rishikesh

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