Uttarakhand’s genesis is a curious one. It was carved out of the State of Uttar Pradesh and declared as the 27th State in the Indian Republic in the year 2000. It has the lion’s share of the Himalayan districts of former Uttar Pradesh, and borders the disputed area of China on one side, and Nepal, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh on the other.

The State of Uttarakhand is referred to as Land of the Gods, because it has many temples and naturally created holy sites. In the prehistoric times, it was said to be an amalgamation of Manaskhand (present day Kumaon) and Kedarkhand (present day Garhwal region). Historians believe that the Mahabharata epic was drafted in Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand is divided into two distinct divisions: Kumaon and Garhwal. It has 13 districts, and its capital is Dehradun. Dehradun is the largest city in Uttarakhand, with a railway station. Uttarakhand’s High Court is located in the hill station of Nainital. The locals are known as Uttarakhandis, or Garhwalis. The population is multi ethnic, with the majority being Hindus.

This article explains the best time to visit Uttarakhand, the best places to visit in the state and how to reach it from your hometown.

The Best Time to Visit Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand has varying climatic conditions in various parts of the state. But most people normally visit Uttarakhand for its hill stations, like Mussoorie, Nainital and Dehradun, for example.

When it comes to visiting the hill stations, the summer season are the best time to visit Uttarakhand. You can get a respite from the high heat that the rest of India suffers from. The summer season is often the best time to visit Uttarakhand’s hill stations. The summer season in the state spans the months from March to June. This is the tourist season in Uttarakhand’s hill stations, so book your travel and Uttarakhand resort accordingly. The summer in the rest of Uttarakhand can be quite severe and humid.

The monsoon season can be quite severe in Uttarakhand, so it might not be the best time to visit Uttarakhand if you have an extensive sightseeing itinerary planned. You might need to change your sightseeing plans at the last minute in case of a sudden downpour. The hill stations are prone to landslides, so drive carefully.

Often the best time to visit Uttarakhand is the start of the winter season. There are several adventure activities you can participate in. This is also a tourist season in Uttarakhand, so there will be a lot of people out and about. This season spans the months from October to start of December. The weather turns extremely cold after mid-December, and it might snow in certain parts of the state. The hill stations sometimes get snow and frost. This might not be the best time to visit Uttarakhand if you don’t enjoy the cold weather. But you can plan many activities in the snow, and enjoy snow games with your family.

How to Reach Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is well connected to the rest of the country. There are many modes of travel to reach Uttarakhand. You can consider any of these three:

* By Air: Uttarakhand has three airports. The Jolly Grant airport is located in Dehradun, Pant Nagar Airport in Kumaon, and Naini Saini Airport in Pithoragarh. Of these, Jolly Grant airport is bigger than the other two and services more flights daily. However, there are very few direct flights from the country’s metros and major cities. You can easily get connecting flights via Chandigarh and New Delhi. The frequency of connections is low during the monsoon and winter months, so book your tickets accordingly.

* By Road: Uttarakhand is well connected to other states by road. There is a dense network of highways and major roads that lead to Uttarakhand from other cities. Consult an updated Uttarakhand tourism guide to know the best routes to Uttarakhand from your home town. The major highways are NH123, 72A, 109, 108, and 121. If you don’t want to drive, you can take a state transport bus. Or you can hire a private car or taxi.

* By Railway: There are a number of big and small railway stations in Uttarakhand, located at Dehradun, Rudrapur, Pant Nager, Tanakpur and Kathgodam. These service trains from Delhi, Kolkata, Lucknow, etc. Please find the best trains from your hometown to reach Uttarakhand.

What You Should Know About Visiting Uttarakhand

The monsoon season is often quite severe in many parts of Uttarakhand. Places like Kaladhungi, Nainital bypass, Wan Village, Corbett Waterfalls and Chopta become hazardous during the monsoon season. Do not venture into these areas during the monsoon season, and always look at the weather advisories for the day before venturing into unknown areas.

Uttarakhand is largely safe to visit. However, foreigners are often gawked at, as are people wearing short and skimpy clothing. Though the local residents are quite relaxed about how others should dress and behave, you must also be respectful about local customs and traditions. Since there are so many places of worship in Uttarakhand, make sure that you are always modestly dressed when you visit temples. Cover your head, shoulders and knees, and be quiet inside the temple precincts. Photography is often not allowed inside most places of worship, so don’t take pictures and videos unless allowed to do so.

When visiting the home of a local resident, be on time and stay for a meal if they insist. It is customary to take a box of fresh fruit for the family you are visiting. Do not talk to those you have not been formally introduced to, and be polite and smiling in your interactions.

Women travelling alone should be a little circumspect about whom they mingle with during their travels. When hiring a local guide, make sure to give the car and guide details to somebody you are in touch with, and who can contact the concerned authorities in case of distress. Do not leave your food and drink unattended, and do not let any strangers drop you back to the resort or accompany you on the next leg of your trip.

Be sure to try the authentic Garhwali recipes that you can find in some of the best restaurants in Uttarakhand. Also check out the shopping bazaars and places of recreation in whichever part of Uttarakhand you travel to – they are sure to be worth your while.

The Best Places to Visit in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand is filled with some of the most gorgeous and world-famous tourist spots. A list of the places to visit in Uttarakhand reads like a veritable Who’s Who of the best spots in India. Here are our suggestions for the must-visit spots in this wonderful state:

#1 Dehradun: Dehradun is the capital of Uttarakhand and one of its most developed cities. It is known for splendid architecture of the colonial era. It also has the Himalayan ranges on one side and the Rivers Ganga and Yamuna on the other. This picturesque location is further enhanced by the presence of such lovely tourist spots like Mindroling Monastery, Robber’s Cave, Sahastradhara, Lachchiwala and Malsi Deer Park

#2 Mussoorie: This pretty hill station has long been known as the ‘Queen of the Hills’. You can see the snowy Himalayan peaks from most parts of Mussoorie, head down to the market for cake and coffee, go to the bazaars to shop, and also hire tour guides to take you and your family around. Mussoorie is full of beautiful tourist spots like Kempty Falls, Mussoorie Lake, Lal Tibba, Happy Valley, Gun Hill and Camel Back’s Road. A popular thing to do in Mussoorie is to go to the market and take a look at the bookshops on Saturday morning for a chance to spot the legendary writer Ruskin Bond, who lives here.

#3 Nainital: Nainital is a town that has come up around the Naini Lake. It has the gorgeous teardrop shaped Naini Lake on one side and a high valley on the other. The terrain is mostly mountainous, and mountain climbing is a favourite activity here. When in Nainital, do go boating on the lake or horse riding on Cheena or China Peak. Other attractions include Tiffin Top, Snow View, Gurney House, Kilbury Bird Sanctuary, and Land’s End.

#4 Kedarnath: One of the holiest pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Kedarnath is a wonderful spot for a visit. It was wrecked by unseasonal floods a couple of years ago, with the entire surrounding villages wiped out. However, it has now recovered from the aftermath of that devastation. It is a small town in the Garhwal Range, and has the holy Kedarnath Temple set high up in the mountains. Apart from the temple, you can visit Vasuki Tal, Triyuginarayan Temple, Gauri Kund, Chorabari Tal and Vasuki Tal.

#5 Almora: The little-known Almora is one of Uttarakhand’s best kept secrets. Full of natural beauty, it is known for its authentic cuisines, and some of the best restaurants in Uttarakhand. It is also quite picturesque, affording the best views from the hills and some wonderful photo ops. Other attractions include places of worship (Katarmal Sun Temple, Kasar Devi Temple, Chitai Golu Devta Temple), museums (Kumaon Regimental Centre Museum and Govind Vallabh Pant Museum), Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Zero Point, Martola, and Kalimut.

#6 Rishikesh: This little town stands where the Rivers Chandrabhaga and Ganga meet. It is known as a holy town for this reason, but also because it has several famous temples like the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and the Swarg Ashram. It also has many opportunities for adventure sports, like rafting and trekking. Some popular spots to visit include the Beatles Ashram, Parmarth Niketan, Kaudiyala, Shivpuri and Narendra Nagar.

#7 Kausani: Kausani is known all over the land for its stunning sunset views and naturally created walking and trekking trails. It is a small hill station with a tiny population, but it is packed with natural beauty. You can see up to 350 km of the Himalayan Range from here, a true miracle of nature! Also check out nearby spots like Baijnath Temple, Rudhradhari Waterfalls and Caves, Kausani Tea Estate, Anashakti Ashram and Lakshmi Ashram.

#8 Haridwar: Haridwar has the lion’s share of Uttarakhand’s temples and ashrams. It is visited by thousands of pilgrims from around the world, practically all year round. The tourist footfalls are heaviest during the Kumbh Mela held here once every 12 years. Apart from the temples, other attractions here include Pawan Gunj, Har Ki Pauri, Vishnu Ghat and Shanti Gunj.

#9 Badrinath: One of Uttarakhand’s most popular pilgrim sites, visiting Badrinath is one of the most important things to do in Uttarakhand. Located between the mountain ranges of Naryana and Nar at 3133 metres above sea level, it is by turns charming and mysterious. The biggest tourist attraction here is the Badrinath Temple. However, there are other equally wonderful places to visit as well, such as Charanpaduka Point, Badrinath Hot Springs, Valley of Flowers and Neelkanth Peak.

#10 Pithoragarh: Located in the Eastern tip of Uttarakhand, this charming locale is a famous trekking point. Both amateur and experienced trekkers like to visit this area for the views and the charming trails. It is most visited by those making a pit stop here for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. There are a number of other spots to visit within it as well, such as Thal Kedar, Ralam Glacier Point, Chandok, Dhwaj Temple, Pithoragarh Fort, Jhulaghat, Gangolihat, etc.

Where to Stay in Uttarakhand

The best way to enjoy your stay is to book yourself into a superb Uttarakhand resort. We recommend staying at the Club Mahindra resorts in this beautiful state – they are located at Binsar Valley, Almora, Mussoorie, Summit By The Ganges at Rishikesh and Naukuchiatial near Nainital. All of them are prized properties with excellent rooms, luxury amenities, activity areas for children and adults, sprawling acres of land to explore, and exquisite restaurants. You should book yourself into any of these properties for the best Uttarakhand holiday of a lifetime.

About Mahindra Holidays

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Limited (MHRIL), India’s leading player in the leisure hospitality industry, offers quality family holidays as also stated by Club Mahindra Resort Reviews, primarily through vacation ownership memberships. While Club Mahindra Membership Fees gives you opportunity to explore your holidays across world, the other brands offered by the company are – Club Mahindra Resorts Fundays and Svaastha Spa. As on Mar 31, 2019, MHRIL has 61+ resorts across India and abroad and its subsidiary, Holiday Club Resorts Oy, Finland, a leading vacation ownership company in Europe has 33 resorts across Finland, Sweden and Spain. Visit us at www.clubmahindra.com

About Club Mahindra

Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd. (MHRIL), a part of Leisure and Hospitality sector of the Mahindra Group, offers quality family holidays primarily through vacation ownership memberships and brings to the industry values such as reliability, trust and customer satisfaction. Started in 1996, the company's flagship brand ‘Club Mahindra’, today has over 290,000 members , who can holiday at 140+ resorts in India and abroad.

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