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List of State in Central India

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Uttarakhand at a glance

The combined region of Kumaon and Garhwal has been known as Uttarakhand since the time of the Puranas, the ancient Hindu scriptures.
Uttarakhand, the 27th state of India, is often referred as the Land of Gods. It is a place blessed with the beauty of heaven and the grace of Gods. This is the place where the rivers passing through the huge rocks and wind passing through large pine trees produces a natural melody by itself. It was carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh on November 9, 2000. It is one of the most beautiful state in the Indian union. Apart from the beautiful views of Himalayas, it is also home of the point of origin of Ganga and Yamuna. Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath are some of the places regarded sacred by Hindus.
Uttarakhand borders China in the north and Nepal to the east, while its neighbour states are Himachal Pradesh to the west and Uttar in the south. The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhand in old literature and scriptures which derives from the Sanskrit for North Country. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehra Dun which is also a rail-head and the largest city in the region. The small hamlet of Gairsen has been mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but controversies and lack of resources have led Dehra Dun to be the provisional capital. The High Court of Uttarakhand is situated in Nainital though most of the litigation is in Dehra Dun or Haridwar.
Uttarakhand is a region of outstanding natural beauty. 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 forest contractors after independence. Recent efforts in forestation, however, have been sucessful in restoring the situation to some extent. The unique 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 mightiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna take birth in the glaciers of Uttarakhand, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams in the region.
The tourism industry is a major contributor to the economy of Uttarakhand, with the Corbett National Park and Tiger Reserve and the nearby hill-stations of Nainital and Bhimtal and several other hill-stations like Mussoorie, Almora and Ranikhet being among the most frequented destinations of India. To this region also belong some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and for almost 2000 years now, pilgrims have been visiting the temples at Haridwar, Badrinath, Kedarnath and Jageshwar in the hope of salvation and purification from sin. Rishikesh near Haridwar has the major spiritual and yoga centers of India. Gangotri and Yamnotri, the sources of the Ganges and Yamuna also fall in this region and are revered by many. Besides these most popular pilgrim centers, the state has an abundance of temples and shrines, references to most of which can be found in Hindu scriptures and legends. The architecture of most of these temples is typical of the region and slightly different from other parts of India, the ancient temples at Jageshwar being the most popular for their architectural importance.
Uttarakhand is comprised of two regions, the western half known as Garhwal and the eastern region going by the name of Kumaon, the two having different chieftains in history and different lingual and cultural influences due to proximity and neighbourhood of different cultures. Inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language and traditions, however, have formed strong bondages between the two regions.
Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state government to capitalize on 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 and about to to reach completion

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  • Area 53,483 km2
    Capital Dehradun
    Population 10,116,752
    Official Languages Hindi, Garhwali, Kumaoni
    Boundary Located in the foothills of the Himalayas, the State has international boundaries with China (Tibet) in the north and Nepal in the east. On its North-West lies Himachal Pradesh, while on the south is Uttar Pradesh.
  • Basant Panchami

    Basant Panchami festival not only gives a welcome break but also adds colors to our life. Basant Panchami is the festival celebrating spring season which comes accompanied by a huge variety of flowers presenting a riot of colors to the environment. Basant Panchami is also referred to as Sripanchami. Goddess Saraswati is worshipped all over India on the occasion of Basant Panchami. One is supposed to wear yellow cotton clothes, eat yellow food like Turmeric cooked with Rice or Saffron Semolina Pudding. People also put yellow tilaks on their foreheads to welcome the spring season. The people welcome spring or Basant singing and dancing. The atmosphere resounds with the jingles of the pounding drums. Chounphula and Jhumelia dances are performed on the occasion of Basant Panchami by them. A fair At Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is held within the grounds of the Bharat temple on the occasion of Vasant Panchami. An extremely grand procession of the idol of Lord Bharat is carried through the town demonstrating lots of pomp and splendor. This idol was installed in the temple on this day by Jagat Guru Shankaracharya.

  • Bat Savitri

    This festival is celebrated on the Krishna amavasya (last day of the dark half of the month) of Jyestha and on the day married women worship Savitri and the Bat or banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) and pray for the well being of their spouses. Women observe fast in honour of Savitri and Satyavan and remember how Savitri through her intense devotion saved her husband from the claws of death.

  • Chhipla Jaat

    The people of 15 - 20 villages of Dharchula and Gorikhal regions reach Kedardwe and Najurikote every third year (last 2002, next 2005) on Bhado Purnmasi. The principal yatra starts from village Khela near Tawaghat. It goes through thick forests, rocky lands and Bugyals. People go there barefoot even in these days. The dhami burha or bonia (folk priest) finalizes the dates of the jaat. With folk drums, bhankaras (metallic pipe instrument) and neja (the flag of red cloth pieces collected from all the families of the villages) the jaat goes to Barmano, which is 6 km from Khela. On the second day the yatris go through a thick oak forest. After crossing Bunga, Garapani, Mangthil gwar, Ganbhujdhura (the blooming bugyal) comes Brahmkund (18 km). Around 100 people can stay at the udiyar (cave) of Brahmkund. From this point one can have a glimpse of Chaudans region and the peaks of W. Nepal. On the third day the route is on the back of Najurikote, which is full of buggi grass and brahmkamals (Saussurea obvallata). At Kedardwe pond sacred dips are taken and the worship is performed. For the night, the yatris have to come back to Brahmkund. On this day one has to trek about 35 km. On the fourth day after seeing Jyulital and Patojkund the Jaat reaches Bhaiman Kund (16 km). This small lake is like Brahmkund. A night stay is possible in the cave. On the fifth day, one can reach Baram in Gori valley after seeing the Kanar devi temple. If some one wants to remain with the jaat, he can come back to Khela and participate in the village fair. Chhipla Jaat expresses different aspects of human faith. The bare foot journey, worship, bath, collective food, songs and dances and the possession of the body of Bonia by the folk god are the essential parts of Chhipla Jaat.

  • Ganga Dussehra

    Ganga Dussehra,UttarakhandGanga Dusshera is celebrated in Uttarakhand with lot of enthusiasm. This festival starts on the tenth day of Jaishtha (May-June) according to the Hindu calendar. It begins on the Amavasya night (dark moon night) and continues till Dashami tithi or the tenth phase of the moon. The 'Aarti' is held in Haridwar and thousands of people attend it. The festival of Ganga Dusshera or Dasar sees the River Ganges worshipped for ten days by the people. During this period people douse themselves in the sacred river of the Ganges to wash themselves from all their past and present life sins. Ganga Dusshera is celebrated in the month of May-June (Jaishtha) when people take a dip in the waters of Ganga. Everybody puts up posters called 'Dwarpatras' or 'Dasar' with geometric designs on them. Once these posters were made exclusively by the Brahmins for everybody but now this practice has been discontinued.

  • Hilljatra

    The Hilljatra, which is being celebrated in some parts of Pithoragarh district, is essentially the festival of pastoralists and agriculturalists. In the developmental process, the aathon (eighth day of bhado) and Gawra Visarjan also became the part of Hilljatra. The festival, which basically came to the Sor valley from the Sorar (Mahakali) region of West Nepal, was first introduced in Kumaour village. The Jatra was also accepted by the people of Bajethi, another village near Pithoragarh town and with some modifications it was introduced in Kanalichhina and Askot regions as Hiran Chital. The Hilljatra, which is being celebrated in some parts of Pithoragarh district, is essentially the festival of pastoralists and agriculturalists. In the developmental process, the aathon (eighth day of bhado) and Gawra Visarjan also became the part of Hilljatra. The festival, which basically came to the Sor valley from the Sorar (Mahakali) region of West Nepal, was first introduced in Kumaour village. The Jatra was also accepted by the people of Bajethi, another village near Pithoragarh town and with some modifications it was introduced in Kanalichhina and Askot regions as Hiran Chital.

  • Janopunyu

    The people of Kumaon celebrate Janopunyu, the day on which people change their janeu (sacred thread). On this day the famous Bagwal fair is held at Devidhura in district Champawat.

  • Kandali

    In the Chaudans region of Pithoragarh district, a flower - Kandali (Strobilenthes wallichii) - blooms once every 12 years (last in 1999) and the people celebrate Kandali festival between the months of August and October. The Chaundas Valley is remote in the Dharchula tehsil of Pithoragarh. It lies between the Kali and the Dhauli rivers. In the week long festival the local people - Shaukas or the Rangs participate with gaiety and enthusiasm in different villages of the region. Some stories are associate with this festival, which express the martial tradition of the Shaukas. In the first story, it is said that by tasting the poisonous flower of the Kandali the only son of a widow died. In the second story, this flower the symbol of famine and poverty. According to the third and most popul< story, the region was once attacked while the menfolk were away for trade. Th brave women repelled the enemy, who hid in the Kandali bushes, and the attacked the bushes and destroyed the enemy. The festival commemorates thei bravery and the women therefore destroy the plant ceremonially to remind th local people of the incident and to prevent further mishaps. The festival begins with the worship of a Shiva Linga made of barley and buck wheat flour mixture. Local liquor is traditionally used during this festival. Every household performs it in a decorated comer of the courtyard. People pray for prosperity. The individual pujas are followed by a community feast. Then, the women and men, in their traditional dresses and laden with gold and silver ornaments, assemble around a tree on the sacred ground of the village. Strips of white cloth are tied to the tree and a flag is raised.

  • Khatarua

    Khatarua is essentially the special festival of pastoral- agricultural society and celebrated on the first day of the month of Ashwin in mid September, and signifies the beginning of the autumn. On this day people light bonfires, around which children dance, holding aloft colourful flags. People take special care of their animals and feed them fresh grass. Cucumbers are offered to the fire of Khatarua, which is said to destroy all evil influences. The victory of the king of Kumaon is also said to be one of the reasons for the celebration of Khatarua.

  • Kumaon Holi

    This is one of the most unique festivals of Uttarakhand and its uniqueness lies in the fact of it being a musical affair. The festive celebrations begin in the premises of the temples where the professional singers gather to sing traditional lyrics to the accompaniment of the classical music. This festival is known by two different names, Baithki Holi and the Khari Holi. The former one is celebrated with much vigor in the temple premises while the later one is celebrated in the rural areas of Kumaon.

  • Makar Sankranti

    Makar Sankranti, UttarakhandSankranti or Sankrant is derived from a Sanskrit word meaning 'to move' and usually symbolizes a harvest festival not only in India but in many South-East Asian countries as well. Makar Sankranti is one of the major festivals of the Indian subcontinent. The festival usually falls in the middle of January, generally on / around the 14th of the month. This festival is celebrated in Uttarakhand for countless raison d'être depending on the atmosphere, agricultural setting and cultural background of India. People take a dip in the holy Ganges (or any other holy river) since this day is considered very auspicious for washing away one's sins. It is also said that if one does not take a holy dip then he might turn into a donkey in his next birth. People distribute traditional foods like Khichdi (a semi solid gruel made with pulses and rice) and Til ke laddoo (Sesame sweets made with jaggery) to the needy and destitute. The Uttarayani Fair is also held in Uttarakhand around this time and the young participate in it with great enthusiasm.

  • Nandadevi Rajjaat Yatra

    The three week long Nandadevi Rajjaat is one of the world famous festival of Uttarakhand. People from entire Garhwal-Kumaon as well as other parts of India and the world participate in Nandadevi Raj Jat Yatra. Goddess Nanda Devi is worshipped at dozens of places in Kumaon, but the region around Mt. Nanda Devi and its sanctuary, which falls in the districts of Pithoragarh, Almora and Chamoli, is the prime area related to Nanda Devi. In Chamoli Nanda Devi Rajjaat is organized once in 12 years. The jaat starts from Nauti village near Karnprayag and goes upto the heights of Roopkund and Haemkund with a four horned sheep. After the havan-yagna is over, the sheep is freed with decorated ornaments, food and clothings and the other offerings are dischared. People also celebrate the annual Nanda jaat.

  • Olgia / Ghee Sankranti

    This festival is celebrated on the first day of the Bhado month of the Hindu lunar calendar. It is throughout this point in time that the yield is abundant and green and vegetables grow in profusion. It is regarded as a very significant festival of the farming community, celebrating this festival with much pageantry and showiness. A variety of agricultural tools are swapped on this day. People put ghee (clarified butter) on their foreheads and eat special chapattis stuffed with ghee and 'Urad Dal' (a type of lentil). This festival is also celebrated by the people of Tripura who believe that walnuts become sweeter after this festival. In olden times the sons-in-law and nephews would give presents to fathers-in-law and maternal uncles respectively but these days this ritual is seldom followed.

  • Phool Dei

    The land of Uttarakhand is known for numerous fairs and festivals. All the festivals celebrated here have an immense deal of ceremonial grace and magnificence. Both the festivals of Phool Dei and Olgia/ Ghee Sankranti have a relation with nature and people pray for abundant crops and general well being of their families. People sing, dance and prepare special ceremonial dishes to please gods and their palates. Phool Dei is celebrated on the first day of Chaitra or in mid March (according to Gregorian calendar). On this day young girls carry out most of the rituals and they are the most eager participants. In some places though, this festival is like a carnival and the celebrations goes on throughout the month. This festival shows the advent of spring. Dei, a special ceremonial pudding made of Jaggery, white flour and curd is offered to the visitors. On Phool Dei young girls go to every house in their villages with plates full of rice, jaggery, coconut, green leaves and flowers.

  • Nanda Devi Fair

    Nanda Devi fair is held at many places in the state of Uttarakhand, like, Almora, Nainital, Kot, Ranikhet, Bhowali, Kichha, and on many villages like Lohar and in valleys of Pindar. This fair was first started in the Kumaon region, during the time of Kalyan Chand, back in the 16th century. This fair is very important and gets visitors from far away places. Nanda Devi fair is also important from a commercial and historical point of view as well. The Nanda Devi fair is dedicated to the Goddesses Nanda and Sunanda. This festival is of very high religious importance. The term 'Nanda' in literal sense means prosperity and well being. This fair is symbolic of the prosperity of the whole region. During the festival, the place is filled with tourists and it becomes a hub of activity. One can buy a lot of hand made products prepared by the village craftsmen here. Many artists come and perform here during the fair as well. It is a very good chance for them to show the folk traditions of the place. It is celebrated during the month of September.

  • Jauljibi

    The Jauljibi fair is held each year during the month of February. This place also holds significance because it is at this place where the Rivers Kali and Gori converge. It is also the meeting place of various cultures, like Shauka, Nepali and Kumaoni. Jauljibi also acts as the getaway to places like Johar, Darma, Chaudans and Byans. This fair is not only important from a cultural or commercial point of view, it also holds importance because each year, many visitors come from as far as Nepal, to sell horses, ghee and take back food grains and jaggery in return.

  • Uttarayani

    The Uttarayani fair is a very important fair of Uttarakhand. It holds significance in the cultural and social aspect of the state. This fair is not organized at only one but many places throughout the land of Uttarakhand. Places like Bageshwar, Rameshwar, Suit Mahadev, Chitrashila and Hanseshwar hold this fair. But, among all these places, it is Bageshwar where maximum number of people gather. People, on this day take a holy dip at the Ganges. The sight on this day is a visually enthralling one. The mood, during this festival is just terrific. All night long people sing and dance. One is sure to enjoy the impressive performances by the folk artists. They sing Jhoras, Chancharis and Bairas. The fair is also connected to the rich history of the state, as in the past too; this fair has played a very important role during the freedom movement. In 1929, Mahatma Gandhi came to Bageshwar. At present, it is an important commercial hub and various items like iron and copper pots, baskets, casks, bamboo articles, mats, matresses, carpets, blankets, herbs and spices are traded here during the fair. During the night, local music and dance festivals are organized here, which go on the whole night.

  • Heritage & Culture of Uttrakhand

    Culture and people are very closely associated with each other. The term ‘culture’ refers to the complex collection of knowledge, folklore, language, rules, rituals, habits, lifestyles, attitudes, beliefs, and customs that link and give a common identity to a particular group of people at a specific point in time.
    All social units develop a culture. Thus it is the inhabitants of a specific region that collectively contribute to form that extraordinary cornucopia of life we call culture.
    In case of Uttarakhand, the Land of Gods, natural diversity and the element of the Himalaya’s unparalleled beauty and sanctity add a new dimension to the word ‘culture’. The people of the state are as diverse as the landscape. Uttarakhand is blessed with a whole multiplicity of culture greatly influenced and inspired by its geo-social factors. The ancient cultural traditions of Uttarakhand are deep rooted primarily in religion. Music, dance and arts are a manifest for the firm religious bonds of the people with the awe-inspiring Himalayas.
    “In those lovely valleys there is still the romance and poetry of life: each tree has its god, each bush its spirit” – So wrote the 19th century British anthropologist and surveyor Charles A. Sherring, describing a fair part of Uttarakhand, in his great research ‘Western Tibet and British Borderland’.
    All the local traditions of the state are determinedly attached to nature and its bounty. No legends or myths are complete without nature, seasons or the Himalayas being integral part of them. The people spare no opportunity to celebrate this bountiful natural, social and religious diversity.
    Collective celebrations become the order of the day – the many fairs and festivals bear testimony to this. These fairs have now become remarkable stages for all sort of uncluttered social, cultural and economic exchange. Visitors from far and wide are drawn to these events in multitudes.
    The state offers journey-options to both – the religious and the spiritual.
    There are a number of religious events attached to River Ganga - the holiest of all the rivers. Daily aartis performed every evening at the banks of the Mother-River in Haridwar andRishikesh present a memorable sight to behold when the star studded sky seems to be reflecting the serene waters of the river upon the surface of which float countless diyas offered to the goddess. The Kumbh Mela that is held every twelve years witnesses some of the largest gatherings of devotees to be seen anywhere in the whole world.
    Overwhelming natural panoramas accompany the pilgrims taking part in the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat and Kailash Mansarovar Yatras. The shrines of Hemkund Sahib and Nanakmatta Sahib are visited by thousands of Sikh devotees while a symbol of national integration - the Dargaah at Piran Kaliyar Sharif, holds a significant religious rank for Muslims and people from other faiths alike.
    Several indigenous tribes and communities flourish in this state today maintaining their distinct cultural heritage and traditions. The several fairs and festivals celebrated by the tribes such as Bhotias (Shaukas), Tharus, Buxas and Jaunsaris are opprtunies for the locals and the visitors to witness these events as opportunities to keep the traditional modes of life and art alive apart from providing them the recognition they so strongly deserve.
    Legends, myths and anecdotes galore in the state of Uttarakhand which has in turn been bestowed by the richest, holy rivers and the most esteemed mountains. Series of legends and tales are intricately woven around the sacred shrines, temples and rivers by simple hearted, god-fearing people that simultaneously reflect the socio- cultural diversity of the state.

  • Cuisine of Uttrakhand

    Food habits vary across the length and breadth of Uttarakhand, and are governed largely by the accessibility of the area concerned. Higher villages rarely have access to fresh vegetables and fruit, so meat- often sundried- is an important constituent of the diet, along with plenty of locally brewed liquor to ward off the winter chills. Coarse, local grains such as mandua and barley are consumed more than wheat or rice, both of which are scarce. In the lower hills, vegetables and lowland grains like wheat, rice and lentils are consumed more commonly; the incidence of vegetarianism is also much higher than in the colder parts of the state. The use of dairy products is fairly limited, and you’ll usually see it only in the endless glasses of tea which make up a normal day in the life of a Pahari villager.

    Food is often cooked in pure ghee- where it can be afforded- and is high in hot spices such as red chillies. Popular dishes include chainsoo (a dish of black gram dal), ras (a mixture of dals), jholi (a thick gravy with potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables), kafuli (a spinach dish), and local breads such as chapattis, mandua ki roti and gahat ke paranthe. Chutneys made from sesame seeds, hemp seeds and other local ingredients help perk up meals. Popular sweets include the famous baal mithai of Almora, studded with tiny globules of sugar and made from milk cooked till it’s brown and semi-solid; and singhodi, made from desiccated coconut and khoya, and wrapped in a fragrant leaf.

  • Aipan

    Rangoli, a traditional Indian art displayed in front of the house, makes up a sacred and age-old practice. Aipan is one of the conventional forms of rangoli, mainly practiced in the state of Uttarakhand. The art has cultural as well as religious implication in the life of the Kumanois.

  • Murals

    The fine arts of Uttaranchal are decidedly geometric with a natural grace and simplified complexity. One will find almost every home and place of worship decorated with some kind of mural done either as a proper wall painting or in the form of Aipan and Peeth.

  • Paintings

    Uttarakhand is interspersed with lush green trees, towering mountains and a clear blue sky. These things are enough to make someone a poet or an artist. This is just a fraction of the beauty of the hilly territory. Uttaranchal or specifically, Garhwal is home to one of the most beautiful and defining ‘Gharanas’ of miniature paintings known as the Garhwal School of Painting.

  • Temple Architecture

    Temple architecture in any part of India has always been patronized by the kings and people ruling there as a way to leave an imprint on the pages of history. The rulers of yesteryears built some of the intricately carved and exquisite places of worship.

  • Wood Carving

    The people of Uttaranchal are very creative in nature and the fact testifies itself in the beautiful temples that dot the entire land. The wood carvings of Garhwal and Kumaon are renowned for their simple yet delicate and attractive designs. The tradition of wood carving has almost come to a standstill today as a result of the depleting tree population and environmental concerns. Nevertheless, one can still enjoy the carved architecture in the religious places like temples and homes of affluent people.

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