Saturday, September 17, 2011

India Hill Stations to visit | Mystique Himalayan Tour | Massoorie-Nainital-Almora Tour | Gangotari - Badrinath Tour | Places to visit in Uttarakhand | Places of visit in Himalaya | Himalaya Hill Stations Tour

Uttarakhand, formerly Uttaranchal State is located in Northern part of India. It is often referred to as Land of Gods ‘Dev Bhumi’ due to the many holy Hindu’s temples and cities found throughout the state, some of which are among Hinduism’s most spiritual and auspicious places of pilgrimage and worship. Uttarakhand, with its snow covered hills, clean air, presents a rich and panoramic view of Himalayas to the visitors. Adding to this, the simple pastoral lifestyle, blooming happiness on the faces of local Inhabitants and alpine vegetation belt lends a fabulous view that makes Uttarakhand stand unique from rest of places in the world.

The state of Uttarakhand is not only abode to nature’s best forms, but also, offers good pilgrimage destination to the tourists. Uttarakhand hold’s some of the best shrine in its hilly folds, which are praised and lauded for some or the other kind of legendary associations.

The State also offers water sports, trekking, mountaineering, Skiing, rafting and many other sports. The state is gradually also becoming centre for Yoga.

Almora District

Almora Township

The township of Almora, a picturesque district in the northern region of Himalayan Hills, east of Uttarakhand in India, is situated over a horse saddle shaped ridge of a mountain between the river Kosi and Suyal. The city was settled by Chand Rajas and was nurtured by the British. Almora hill Station is located at height of 1,650 m above the sea level and is reputed for its healthy climate. Famous for its rich cultural heritage, sumptuous cuisine and magnificent wildlife, coupled with an easy accessibility, Almora promises its tourists a visit full of fun and unforgettable moments. The hills around Almora are forested with fir and pine, with a panoramic view of the snowy peaks of Himalayas on any clear day, makes it perfect place for choice of tourists.

The main attraction of the township is its market, which is 1.25 miles (2.01 km) long and is covered with stone slabs and is a experience to go through it when most of the inhabitants of city comes for strolling in the evening. The market is around 200 years old. The river Koshi flows silently behind Almora city. The city is also called the Cultural Capital of Uttranchal and is famous for its unique handicrafts.

The Township of Almora is the district headquarter and has all the facilities for a tourist of twenty first century. This ancient hill station is reputed for it's health giving climate and is perched on a five Kms long horse saddle shape ridge in between the river Kosi and Suyal and has been a cultural and political region of Kumaun for almost four hundred years, settled by Chand Rajas and nurtured by the British.

"In these hills, Nature’s hospitality eclipses all that man can ever do. The enchanting beauty of the Himalayas, their bracing climate and the soothing green that envelops you, leave nothing more to be desired. I wonder whether the scenery of these hills and the climate are to be surpassed, if equalled, by any of the beauty spots of the world. After having been for nearly three weeks in the Almora hills, I am more than ever amazed why our people need to go to Europe in search of health. Mahatma M.K.Gandhi

"These mountains are associated with the best memories of our race: Here, therefore, must be one of centers, not merely of activity, but more of calmness of meditation, and of peace and I hope some one to realize it." – Swani Vivekanda  (replying to the address given to him by the people of Almora)

In the Almora city there are many places of interest in the township. Bright End Corner is 2 km from the city main centre and present unforgettable sunset and sunrise from end to end of the Himalaya peaks. The Chitai temple is 8 kms away from city centre and passage to the temple is through a beautiful pine forest.  The view of the Himalaya from the Chitai is tremendously stunning. The main attraction of the temple is the collection of tiny brass bells of all sizes, gifted to the temple by devotees since centuries, upon fulfillment of devotees wish.  The other place, Kasar Devi is located at a distance of 6 kms from the main town, here the temple was made in the second centuries and houses many Europeans who fell in love with the place so much that they settle down here.  Nanda Devi Temple the cultural and religious center of Almora is of hundreds of years and is in Lala Bazar, a unique market of more than two hundred years old with paved streets of stone. There are many other place which could be visited during tour to Almora.

Places of Interest around Almora


Ranikhet, a quiet mesmerizing city, maintained by the cantonment, is located at the height of 1829 mts, about fifty (50) Kms from Almora, is famous for its salubrious climate, balmy breeze captivating and panoramic Himalayan View and soothing and pollution free greenery of pines and oaks. It is also famous as the regimental center of the Kumaun Regiment of Indian Army- one of the most prestigious and the most decorated of Indian Armies. The Kumaun Regimental museum and amicably maintained grassy and green golf course are memorable experiences even for the most experienced tourists.

The pleasing hill station was out of world’s touch for quite some time, until it was rediscovered by the Britishers in the year 1869, and who later transformed the tiny hill station into headquarters of the Kumaon Regiment. The hill station was used as an ideal retreat against the hot weather of the plains. At present, Ranikhet is a cantonment town and place for Kumaon Regimental Centre (KRC) and Naga Regiment.

From Ranikhet four Kms sojourn takes you to the Chaubatiya gardens famous for its sprawling orchards of delicious apples, plums, peaches and apricots. It is result of the pioneering efforts of a British settler 150 years ago. In and around Ranikhet there are some famous temples of the Hindus for religious minded like Jhoola Devi Mandir, Ram Mandir, Herakhan Mandir, Kalika Temple and Binsar Mahadeva.


Kausani a tiny and serene hill station positioned at 6, 075 ft above sea level and located around 52 KMs from Almora is famous for its well preserved natural beauty. The Kausani is also famous for its breathtaking unforgettable 250 kms wide view of the Himalayan snow peaks. The wide expanse of the bottomless famous Katyur Valley lies in front of it full of dark pine forest. At Kausani the mountains rise so spectacularly as if to get in touch with the heavens. Not just Kausani the complete Kumaon Hills have been well-known for their heavenly beauty with the enormous mountains silhouetted against the sky.

Kausani's beauty arrested the feet of even Mahatama Gandhi, who stayed for some time at this place. The memory that brief stay of that great man lingers behind in the Anasakti Ashrama. Another great man of India the famous Hindi poet Sumitra Nandan Pant was born here. There is small museum to earmark that sacred spot. The famous folk singer Gopidas was also inspired by the beauty of Kausani. Pinnath (10KMs), Bura Pinnath (5KMs) and Bhakot are the highest points near Kausani.


Situated only 30 KMs away from the township of Almora lies Binsar nestled amongst thick forests of Oak and Rhodendron and yet offers surprisingly close views of the Himalayan peaks. The entire region is now a wildlife sanctuary and has a host of wildlife like Panther and Barking Deer. The temple of Binsar lies nearby. One of the many legends concerning Binsar states that 'Should anyone take away anything belonging to the God or his worshippers and avenging spirit and compels him conscience stricken to restore it twenty fold. Even the faithless and the dishonest are said to be reformed by a visit to Binsar.'


Situated around 90 KMs from Almora, Bageswer is now a new district headquarter and the centre of administration for the entire region called Danpur. The place is significant from both religious and tourist point of view. Situated at the confluence of the rivers Saryu and Gomti, Bageswer is the seat of the famous Uttaraini fair which is held every year in January. The famous and ancient temple of Bagnath from which the township gets its name has been attracting thousands of devout Hindus year after year since the birth of history. It is believed that Markandey sage has lived at the place and that Lord Shiva, one of the most important gods of Hindus had wandered about as a tiger. Even for the adventurous tourist Bageshwer is a necessary destination from the point of view to reach the glaciers of Sunderdunga, Kafni and Pindari one has to mandatorily cross Bageshwer.


Situated around 35 KMs from Almora, Jageshwer one of the most important religious places of Hindus in Kumaun and is believed to be the abode of the one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas'. It is even mentioned in the great epic of 'Mahabharata'. The great temple complex is situated in a narrow and beautiful valley covered with Cedar trees. Two streams Nandini and Surabhi flow down the hills and meet near the sacred spot. Dense grove of Cedar trees, perpetual verdure, and sweet murmur of the riverlets give a peculiar charm and sanctity to this place. Their are 124 temples and hundreds of magnificent statues of exquisite craftsmanship. The oldest shrine is of the 'Mrityunjaya' and the biggest shrine is of the 'Dindeshwara'. During the monsoons a huge fair is held here every year at Jageshwer.

Besides the above nearby places there are many other places of interest as Patal Bhubneshwer Katarmal Manila Dwarahat, Baijnath etc.

Musoorie District

Mussoorie Township

Mussoorie, the famous queen of hill stations, is located around 34 kms from Dehradun and 290 kms north of Delhi. The hill station is positioned at an average height of 1, 880 meters above the sea level in the Garhwal hills, and peeps down the verdant and luxuriant Doon valley in general and the city of Dehradun. Mussorie with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, is a fascinating hill resort. Mussoorie is one of the beautiful hill stations in India and is frequently visited by tourists. Commanding snow ranges to the north-east and glittering views of the Doon Valley and Shiwalik ranges in the South, the town was once said to present a ‘fairyland’ atmosphere to tourists. Due to its proximity to the the national capital Delhi for a weekend trips and holidays, it provides excellent respite to people who want relief from the hot sultry conditions of the plains. Also, major Hindu pilgrimage sites like Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Haridwar, Rishikesh are not far from this place.

There are many places of interest in the Mussoorie where the tourist could visit, like the Gun Hill which is treated as the second highest peak of Mussoorie, is a 20-minute walk from the Mall Road or ropeway ride could be taken to reach this place. The sheer thrill of ropeway ride is memorable.  The name is given to the tourist spot because during the pre Independence times, a gun was mounted on the hill which was fired during mid-day to make the people adjust their watches. The peak presents a spectacular view of the Himalayan ranges vis-à-vis, Bunderpunch, Shrikanta, Pithwara and Gangotri group respectively. Gun Hill also presents bird eye view of the fabulous Mussoorie town, and the rich Doon valley. The other place of interest, Kempty Falls a natural water falls is situated at an altitude of 4500 feet, is 15 kms from the town on the Yamnotri Road. The beauty of Kempty Falls can be attributed to the high mountainous ambience. The Mughal Garden gives the tourists natural and idyllic experience altogether. The garden has an artificial mini lake and one can even go for boating. The garden is quite close from Mussoorie, at a distance of 4 kms. from the main road, and almost 2 kms. via foot from the Convent road. The Camel’s Back Raod a 3kms road stretching from Kulri Bazar near Rink Hall and ending at Library Bazaar, gives a great sunset view, and also provides great scope for horse riding lovers. The name of the road descends from the fact that it seems to be similar in shape as Camel’s Back, if seen from Mussoorie Public School.

Nainital District

Nainital Township

Nanital is 34 kms from Kathgodam, the nearest railway station located in the foothill, the gateway of the Kumaon Hills, and is around 336 Kms from National Capital Delhi. Nainital is also known as Lake District of India. Nainital is a glorious hill station for tourism in Uttranchal, which was discovered by Lord Barron, a Britisher in 1841 and is located at a height of 6, 350 feet. In winter Nainital has freezing cold temperature which falls sometimes even below zero. It is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The first one is Naina (2615 meters) the second is Deopatha (2438 meters) and the third is Ayarpatha (2278 meters). Naina is the highest mountain among the three. Every year during December to February Nainital hill station gets its annual snowfall. Summer season is also very cool in Nainital. The highest temperate is not more than 26 degrees centigrade. Thus most tourists prefer to come at summer to explore Nainital tourism.

Nainital is named for its beautiful lake Naini and it is the base for tourism at here. This lake is called Naini because it look like eye shape. This Lake is famed among the visitors, tourists and nature lovers for yachting and boating. The southern end area of the lake is called Tallital and the northern end area is called Mallital. Both the areas have pretty cottages, luxuries hotels, villas, restaurants, food jones, shopping centers, game parlors and luxury shops. Other place, Naina Peak (6 kms) an other popular picnic spot is at a height of 2,610 metres. Fron the Naina Peak one can have breathtaking view of the Himalayas and entire lake region down the hill. Among the various temples, Naina Devi Temple is most famous and is situated on the northern shore of Naini Lake. The presiding goddess of this temple is “Maa Naina Devi”. Tourists visiting Nainital could also enjoy the Ropeway which is established by Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam. It is one of the advanced ropeways of India. The Ropeway is controlled electronically and mechanically both. It is used to carry 12 persons in a single time. Hanumangarhi located at distance of 3.2 kms from the city is famous for the Hanuman temple and the spectacular sun-set view from here.

Places of Interest around Nainital

Bhimtal Lake

Bhimtal is 25 kms far from Nainital. The famous five Pandavas of ‘Mahabharata’ came there and one of them named “Bhim” killed a devil on this place. So it is called Bhimtal. The main attraction of this place is an island in the center of the lake. This lake offers Boating, swimming and fishing. All luxuries facility for the tourist is available here.

Naukuchia Lake

It is 4 kms far form Bhimtal and 26 kms from Nainital. This lake is called so because of its nine corners. Migratory birds flock to the lake. This is an ideal place for relaxation and to spend your holidays

Mukteshwar (50 kms)

This small hill station amidst thick wooded forest affords majestic view of the Himalayas. Nearby is a stone hole of Chauli Ki Jali, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Corbett National Park

 The magnificent park established way back in 1936, is one of the best known sanctuaries of India. It is named after Jim Corbett, the famous hunter author and conservator.

Pilgrimage and Temples in Uttarakhand

Gangotari Temple

Gangotari, the origin of the River Ganges and seat of the goddess Ganga, is one of the four sites in the Char Dham, pilgrimage circuit. Gangotari is located at at distance of 99 kms from Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, approximately 300 kms from Dehradun and 250 kms from Rishikesh. Couched in the magnificent Garhwal hills, Gangotri is at an altitude of 3048 meters above sea level. It is on the northernmost part of the state of  Uttrakhand and is very near the Indo-Tibetan border. The summers are relatively cool and winters are freezing cold, with rains in the months of May and June. For the devotees and tourists, the gates of the temple are open only in the months of May to November

The river Ganges originates from here and is called Bhagirathi at the source and acquires the name Ganga (Ganges) from Devprayag onwards where it meets the Alaknanda. The origin of the holy river is at Gaumukh, set in the Gangotri Glacier , and is a 19 km trek from Gangotri. Gangotri can be reached in one day's travel from Rishikesh, Haridwar or Dehradun, or in two days from Yanunotri, the first site in the Char Dham circuit. More popular and important than its sister site to the east, Gangotri is also accessible directly by car and bus, meaning that it sees many more pilgrims than Yamunotri.

This small town is centered around a temple of the goddess Ganga , which was built by the Nepalese General, Amar singh Thapa in the early 18th century. It is visited by lakhs of pilgrims every year. A number of ashrams are located on the other side, some of which provide accommodation facilities to the visitors. Ritual duties are supervised by the Semwal family of priests. The aarti ceremony at the Gangotri is especially impressive, as is the temple, a stately affair that sits on the banks of the rushing Ganges. Adventurous pilgrims can make an overnight 18 km trek to Gaumukh, the actual current source of the river Ganges. For a large number of tourists, Gangotri town serves as the starting point of the Gangotri-Gaumukh - Tapvan and Gangotri- Kedartal trekking routes.

Badrinath Temple

The Hindu’s holy Badrinath Dham is located in the state of Uttarakhand of Himalayan Mountains. It has an average elevation of 3,415 metres (11,204 feet). Badrinath is above the Alaknanda River, headstream of the holy Indian River ‘Ganges’. The town lies between the Nar and Narayana mountain ranges and in the shadow of Nilkantah peak (6,560m). Badrinath is located 301 km north of Rishikesh. From Gaurikund (near Kedarnath) to Badrinath by road is 233 km.

Badrinath town has cropped on the basis of Badri Van, where the lush green Badri trees grows. Badri refers to a berry that was said to grow abundantly in the area and Lord Vishnu survived on during his reparation at Badri Van, and nath means "Lord of". Badri is also the Sanskrit name for the Indian Jajube tree, which has an edible berry. Some scriptural references refer to Jujube trees being abundant in Badrinath.

Badrinath is an 8th century monastery and a temple to the Hindu god Shiva. Badrinath was re-established as a major pilgrimage site by Adi Shankara in the ninth century. Millions of devotees visit this place every year. The temple in Badrinath is also a sacred pilgrimage site for Vaishnavites.

Badrinath has been mentioned as a holy place in scriptures and legends for thousands of years. According to the Bhagavata Purana, "There in Badrikashram the supreme being (Vishnu), in his incarnation as the sages Nara and Barayana, had been undergoing great penance since time immemorial for the welfare of all living entities." (Bhagavata Purana 3.4.22)

The Badrinath Temple is the main attraction in the town. According to legend Shankara discovered a black stone image of Lord Badrinarayan made of Saligram stone in the Alaknanda River. He originally enshrined it in a cave near the Tapt Kund hot springs. In the sixteenth century, the King of Garhwal moved the deity  to the present temple.

The temple has undergone several major renovations because of age and damage by avalanche. In the 17th century, the temple was expanded by the kings of Garhwal. After significant damage in the great 1803 Himalayan earthquake, it was rebuilt by the King of Jaipur.

The temple is approximately 50 ft (15 m) tall with a small cupola on top, covered with a gold gilt roof. The facade is built of stone, with arched windows. A broad stairway leads up to a tall arched gateway, which is the main entrance. The architecture resembles a Buddhist vihara (temple), with the brightly painted facade also more typical of Buddhist temples. Just inside is the mandapa , a large pillared hall that leads to the garbha griha , or main shrine area. The walls and pillars of the mandapa are covered with intricate carvings.

The area around Badrinath was celebrated in Padma Purana as abounding in spiritual treasures.

Glaciers of Uttarakhand

Gangotri Glacier

Gangotari, the origin of the sacred river Ganges, is a famous glacier in Garhwal division of the Uttarakhand, located in Uttarkashi district. Gangotri glacier originates at the northern angle of Chaukhamba range of peak. This Glacier is one of the largest in the Himalayas with an estimated volume of over 27 cubic kilometers. The Glacier is about 30 kilometers long and 2 to 4 kms wide. Gangotri Glacier is not a solitary valley glacier, but it is a grouping of various other glaciers that are feed to it and form a huge accumulation of ice. Around the glacier are the peaks of the Gangotri Group, including several peaks notable for extremely challenging climbing routes, such as Shivling, Thalay Sagar, Meru, and Bhagirathi III. It flows roughly northwest, originating in a cirquie  below  Chaukhamba, the highest peak of the group.

It is one of the most significant glaciers in Garhwal district as it is dependable for feeding the head tributary of the holy river Ganga.

The terminus  of the Gangotri Glacier is said to resemble a cow’s   mouth, and the place is called Gomukh or Gaumukh. Gomukh, which is about 18 km (11.2 mi) from the town of Gangotri, is the precise source of the Bhagirathi River, an important tributary of the Ganges. Gomukh is situated near the base of Shivling; in between lies the Tapovan meadow.

The Gangotri glacier is a traditional Hindu Pilgrimage site. Devout Hindus consider bathing in the icy waters near Gangotri town to be a holy ritual, and many make the trek to Gomukh and Tapovan.

Gangotri glacier flows at a moderate gradient apart from for a few ice stockade and crevices developed in the higher regions of the glacier where, as in the lower part of the glacier is roofed by fragments, which imparts a grubby emergence to its surface. Gangotri glacier is straightforwardly accessible. It is well linked by motor able road up to Gangotri temple and from there a 17kms, long restrain path follows along the right bank of the Bhagirathi river to Gaumukh, the nose of the glacier.

Pindari Glacier

The Pindari Glacier is a glacier found in the upper reaches of the Kumaon Himalayas in the Bageshwar constituency of Almora District, is placed between the Nanda Devi and Nandakot Peaks. The Glacier is placed at an altitude of 3627 meter. The glacier flows to the south for a short distance of about 3 km (1.9 mi) and gives rise to the Pindari River which meets the Alakananda at Karnaprayag in Garhwal District. The trail to reach the glacier crosses the villages of Saung, Loharkhet, crosses over the Dhakuri Pass, continues onto Khati village (the last inhabhited village on the trail), Dwali, Phurkiaand, finally Zero Point, Pinder the end of the trail. Though most of the trail is along the banks of the Pindari River, the river is mostly hidden until after Khati.

The Pindari Glacier trail provides for a 90 km (56 mi) round-trip trek that most people find comfortable to complete in five days.

As one trek down the route encircled by the majestic Himalayas, every movement becomes a spanking new tune of nature and at every arc the eyes hold a new countryside more striking than before. It is one of the most effortlessly reachable of all the Himalayan glaciers. Pindari's jagged loveliness offers a remarkable sight, particularly for the trekker who is in be in love with nature in all its immaculate beauty.

Trekking in Pindari Glacier is well within the ability of any trekker, amply compensated by splendor of the majestic dignity of the Himalayas, the attractiveness of mountain flora and fauna, the snowy ranges, gurgling hill torrents and thunderous water-falls and the rays of the morning sun splitting into diverse shadowy hues, making evident every drop of dew on every blade of grass while in the distance, over the mountains, come the melancholic notes of a shepherds’ flute. The incredible wealth of colour and attractiveness never ceases to amaze, as with every curve of a twisty stream, and every corner rounded is present a new scene.