Uttarakhand - the land of gods, the home of Himalayas and truly a paradise on earth, allures everyone from everywhere. The fresh air, the pure water, the chilling snow, the adverting mountains, the scenic beauty, the small villages, the simpler people and a tougher lifestyle is what that distinguishes Uttarakhand from rest of the world. It was known as Uttaranchal. Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000. In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand, Uttarakhand is both the new and traditional name of the state that was carved out of the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh. Literally called 'North Country' in Sanskrit, the name of Uttarakhand finds mention in the early Hindu scriptures as the combined region of Kedarkhand and Manaskhand. History of UttaranchalUttarakhand was also the ancient Puranic term for the central stretch of the Indian Himalayas. Its peaks and valleys were well known in ancient times as the abode of gods and goddesses and source of the Ganges River. Today, it is often called "the Land of the Gods" (Dev Bhoomi) because of the presence of a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage spots. Uttarakhand is known as Dev Bhoomi from ancient times. The Pauravas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Katyuris, Palas, the Chands, and Parmars or Panwars and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns. Uttarakhand is a 'paradise' for nature lover's and adventure sports like river rafting, trekking, paragliding, Corbett jungle Jeep safari, enthusiasts. Mussoorie, the 'Queen of Hills'; Nainital, the 'Lake District'; Almora, the 'Switzerland of India'; Ranikhet, Pithoragarh, Pauri and Munsiyari are just few highlights for the nature lovers. For adventure and excitement, one may choose Mountaineering (Bhagirathi, Chowkhamba, Nanda Devi Kamet, Pindari, Sahastrataal, Milam, Kafni, Khatling, Gaumukh), Trekking, Skiing (Auli, Dayara Bugyal, Munsiyari, Mundali), Skating, Water Sports like rafting, boating and angling and Aero Sports like Hand Gliding, Paragliding (Pithoragarh, Jolly Grant, Pauri). Uttarakhand is composed of two words, "uttar" meaning "north" and "aanchal" meaning "blessings." Earlier known as "Devbhumi" meaning "the land of god," Uttarakhand also nourishes a diverse and rich culture and monuments of historical importance. Uttarakhand is broadly divided into two zones Kumaon and Garhwal.

Uttarakhand Geography

Uttarakhand, located in Northern India is formed from north western districts of Uttar Pradesh. It borders Nepal on the east, Tibet on the north, Himachal Pradesh on the west, Uttar Pradesh on the south and Haryana in the northwest.

51,125 km (93% is mountainous and 64% is covered by Forest) Uttarakhand is situated on the southern slope of the mighty Himalayas. The climate and vegetation of different cities of this state vary with the altitude of its location. Glaciers being located at the highest elevations have coolest weather and are covered by ice and bare rock. However there is dense tropical forest at the lower elevations. The Western Himalayas between 3000-3500 meters are covered with Alpine Shrub and Meadows. Two of India's mightiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna start off from the glaciers of Uttarakhand. There are also several other perennial lakes and many streams in the region. The geography of Uttarakhand is so much varied that it has been geographically divided into two parts, the western half known as Garhwal and the eastern region as Kumaon.

Uttarakhand is a mountainous state with only about 10 per of its total geographical area in the olains. Of the 13 districts , haridwar,udham singh nagar ,and some part of dehradun and nainital districts are in the plains while remaining areas are hilly. 90 per of the total population dependent on agriculture for the livelihood. And the economy is dependent on mountain agriculture.

The state has traditionally been divided into two parts:-

  • The western half known as Garhwal
  • The eastern region as Kumaon

Uttarakhand Forest Cover

The total Forest area under various classes of the State is 37999.53 Km², which is 71% of the geographic area. Forest area under forest department is 24418.67 Km². In state According to FSI-2011 the Very dense forest is 4,002 Km², moderately dense forest, 14,396 Km², and open forest, 6,044 Km². Scrub is 320 Km². About 19% area of the Stateis under permanent snow cover, glaciers and steep slopes where it is not possible to grow trees due to physical limitations .

The forest department of uttarakhand has 13 circles, 44 divisions, 284 ranges and 1569 beat..The human population of the State is 101.167 lacs (2011) compared to 25.18 lacs in 1951 and that of livestock is 76.16 lacs in 2007 as compared to 41.68 lacs (1993) and 38.692 in 1972. The human and livestock population is largely dependent on forests due to Agrarian economy and age old pastoralism leading to heavy pressure on forests and consequent degradation of ecology and environment of the area. Although the State of Uttarakhand is well endowed with biological resources, the past decades have seen an increase in pressure on the state’s natural ecosystems. The entire Shiwalik ecosystem of Uttarakhand has been virtually degraded of its forest cover, and forested landscape has been pushed to the Upper reaches of the State.There are four major river systems viz. Ganga, Yamuna, Ramganga & Sharda originating from the state along with their tributaries which are major source of water for drinking, irrigation and hydropower. The major wealth of the state is its forests with very rich biodiversity. The state ranks sixth among the other states in terms of percentage of recorded forest area.

State Animals, Birds, Trees and Flowers of Uttarakhand

Name of state animal of Uttarakhand is Musk deer(कस्तूरी हिरन). They prefer meadows, shrub lands and fir forests on high altitude plateaus above 2000 meters. The weight of adult White-bellied musk deer is between 11 to 18 kg. Head to body length measures about 80 to 100 cm. They are about 35 to 50 cm high at the shoulder. They are shy and secretive in nature, and hide in the dense forest cover during the day. They come out at night into open areas and graze till dawn. Antlers are absent in White-bellied musk deer, but they have a pair of tusks that project out of their mouths. Scientific name : Moschus chrysogaster.

Name of state bird of Uttarakhand is Himalayan monal(हिमालयी मोनाल).The Himalayan monal, also known as impeyan pheasant and danphe, belongs to the Phasianidae family. They prefer open, coniferous or mixed forests resplendent with rhododendron and bamboo. Himalayan monal is a colorful bird. Size of adult Himalayan monal is between 60 to 72 cm. The weight of adult is between 1.70 to 2.40 kg. The male is slightly larger than the female. It is rather large in size and the male is about 70 centimeters long and weighs about 2000 grams. The male has multicoloured plumage with metallic green crest, coppery feathers on the back and neck. The female has a prominent white strip on the tail as well as a white patch on the throat. Scientific name : Lophophorus impejanus

Buransh(बुरांस) is Uttarakhand's State Tree. The generic name, ‘Rhododendron’ has been derived from two Greek words, ‘rhod’ means ‘rosy red’ and ‘dendron‘ means ‘tree’ referring to the rosy red flowers of the species. The specific epithet ‘arboreum’ refers to ‘tree-like’. This honour has rightfully been bestowed upon this tree, because it is a highly useful tree and has so many medicinal properties. It grows at a height of 5 to 7,500 feet and blooms in various colours. It is a plant in the family of Ericaceae with over 1000 species throughout the world and most have showy flower display. It is a dense, suckering shrub growing to 5 m tall, rarely 8 m. The leaves are evergreen, 6-18 cm long and 2-5 cm broad. The flowers are 3.5-5 cm diameter, violet-purple, often with small greenish-yellow spots or streaks. The fruit is a dry capsule 15-25 mm long, containing numerous small seeds. In Uttarakhand normally Buransh is available in dark red colour. It is however found in pink colour at some places. White Buransh is rare and is rich in medicinal properties. Buransh has a dominant role in the folk lore and folk songs of the hills. The women folk can be seen singing the folk song, Pare bhira buransh fuli go...(In the far away hills, Buransh has bloomed...). The daily chores of the women in the hills include a visit to the Jungle for procuring grass and wood for their daily requirements. After finishing off their jobs they enjoy singing the Pahari folk songs in small groups, some times with their male counterparts, who happen to be there as Cow Keeper. This makes their monotonous life enjoyable. Scientific name : Rhododendron arboreum

Brahma Kamal,(ब्रह्म कमल) the state flower of Uttarakhand in India is one of the most famous flowers seen in the Himalayas. It is scientifically known as Saussurea obvallata which comes under Sunflower family, Asteraceae. This flower is the best example of the flowers and plant life in the alpine habitats at the upper reaches of the mountain ranges.Scientific name : Saussurea obvallata