Uttarakhand ( उत्तराखंड), is
a state located in
the northern part of India.
carved out of Himalayan and adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000, becoming the 27th state of the Republic of
India . It borders Tibet on the north, Nepal on the east,
the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, Haryana on the west
Pradesh on the north west.
The region is traditionally referred to as
in Hindu scriptures and old
literature, a term which derives from Sanskrit uttara
(उत्तर) meaning north, and khaṇḍa
(खंड) meaning country or
part of a country. It has an area of 20,682 sq mi
In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from
Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand. The provisional
capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun which is
also a rail-head and the largest city in the region.
hamlet of Gairsen has been
mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but
controversies and lack of resources have led Dehradun to remain
provisional capital. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.
Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state
government to capitalise on handloom
, the burgeoning tourist
trade as well as tax incentives to lure high-tech industry to 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 reach completion.
Uttarakhand is also well
known as the birthplace of the Chipko
environmental movement, and a myriad other social movements
including the mass agitation in the 1990s that led to its
Uttarakhand is both the new and traditional name of the state that
was formed from the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh, India.
Literally North Country
, the name of Uttarakhand finds mention in
the early Hindu scriptures as the combined region of Kedarkhand and
Manaskhand. Uttarakhand 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 Ganga River.
Today, it is often called "the Land of the
Gods" (Dev Bhoomi) because of the presence of a multitude of
pilgrimage spots. The Pauravas
, Palas, the Chands
, and Parmaras
and the British
have ruled Uttarakhand in turns.
The region was originally settled by Kols
, an aboriginal people of the austro-asiatic
physical type who were later
joined by Indo-Aryan Khas
tribes that arrived from the northwest by the
. At that time, present-day
Uttarakhand also served as a haunt for Rishis
. It is believed that Sage Vyasa
scripted the Mahabharata
here as the Pandavas
are believed to have traveled and camped
in the region. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and
were the Kunindas
in the 2nd century B.C. who
practiced an early form of Shaivism
traded salt with Western Tibet
. It is evident
from the Ashokan
edict at Kalsi in Western
Garhwal that Buddhism
made inroads in this
region. Folk shamanic
from Hindu orthodoxy also persisted here. However, Garhwal and
Kumaon were restored to nominal Brahmanical
rule due to the travails of
and the arrival of
migrants from the plains. Between the 7th and 14th centuries, the
of Khas origin
dominated lands of varying extent from the Katyur (modern day
) valley in Kumaon. Other peoples
of the Tibeto-Burman
group known as
are thought to have settled in the
northern highlands as well as in pockets throughout the region, and
believed to be the ancestors to the modern day Bhotiya
, Raji, Buksha, and Tharu
By the medieval period, the region was consolidated under the
in the west and the
in the east. From the
13th-18th century, Kumaon prospered under the Chand Rajas
who had their origins in the plains
of India. During this period, learning and new forms of painting
school of art) developed.
Modern-day Garhwal was likewise unified under the rule of
Parmar/Panwar Rajas, who along with a mass migration of Brahmins
arrived from the plains. In 1791, the expanding Gurkha Empire of Nepal, overran
Almora, the seat of
the Kumaon Kingdom.
In 1803, the Garhwal Kingdom also fell
to the Gurkhas. With the conclusion of the Anglo-Nepalese War in 1816, a rump
portion of the Garhwal Kingdom was reestablished from Tehri, and eastern
British Garhwal and Kumaon ceded to the British as part of
the Treaty of
post-independence period, the Tehri princely state was merged into
Pradesh state, where Uttarakhand composed the Garhwal and
Until 1998, Uttarakhand was the name most
commonly used to refer to the region, as various political groups
including most significantly the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal
Revolutionary Party est. 1979), began agitating for separate
statehood under its banner. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of
Garhwal and Kumaon
rivals with diverse lingual and cultural influences due to the
proximity of different neighbouring ethnic groups, the inseparable
and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture,
language, and traditions created strong bonds between the two
regions. These bonds formed the basis of the new political identity
of Uttarakhand, which gained significant momentum in 1994, when
demand for separate statehood (within the Union of India) achieved
almost unanimous acceptance among the local populace as well as
political parties at the national level. Most notable incident
during this period was the Rampur Tiraha firing case
night of 1 October 1994
, which led to public uproar . On September 24, 1998
Assembly passed the 'Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill', 1998,
which eventually led to the creation of the state , eventually the
Parliament passed the Indian Federal
Legislation - Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000, and thus
on 9 November, 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state in the
However, the term Uttaranchal
came into use when the
-led central and Uttar Pradesh state
governments initiated a new round of state reorganization in 1998
and introduced its preferred name. Chosen for its allegedly less separatist
connotations, the name change generated enormous controversy among
the rank and file of the separate state activists who saw it as a
political act , however they were not quite as successful as
Jharkhand state that successfully thwarted a similar move to
impose the name Vananchal.
Nevertheless, the name
Uttarakhand remained popular in the region, even while Uttaranchal
was promulgated through official usage.
In August 2006, India's Union Cabinet assented to the four-year-old
demand of the Uttaranchal state assembly and leading members of the
Uttarakhand movement to rename Uttaranchal state as Uttarakhand.
Legislation to that effect was passed by the State Legislative
Assembly in October 2006, and the Union Cabinet brought in the bill
in the winter session of Parliament. The bill was passed by
Parliament and signed into law by the President in December 2006.
Since then, Uttarakhand denotes a state in the Union of
According to 2001 India census, Uttarakhand had a population of
approximately of 8.48 million. A population exceeding 10 million is
expected by the next census of 2011. The native people of
Uttarakhand are generally called either Kumaoni
depending on their place of origin in either the Garhwal or Kumaon
region.Another well known category is Gujjar
cattle herders in the southwestern Terai.
dialects of Central Pahari
spoken in Kumaon
and Garhwal region
respectively. Jaunsari and Bhotiya dialects are
also spoken by tribal communities in the west and north
The urban population however converses mostly
Hindus form the majority of the population at 85.0%, Muslims form
10.5%, Sikhs 2.5% and Christians, Buddhists, Jains and others about
0.5%. It has male-female ratio of .964 and has a literacy rate
of 72%. The largest cities in
the state include Dehradun (530,263), Haridwar (220,767), Haldwani (158,896), Roorkee (115,278) and Rudrapur (88,720).
The state government recognizes
15,620 villages and 81 cities and urban areas.
Historinas of Kumaun and Garhwal say that in the beginning there
were only three casts Rajput, Brahmin and Shilpkar. Main occupation
of Rajput were jamindari and law enforcement. Occupation of
Brahmins were to perform religious rituals in temples and religious
occasions. Shilpkar were mainly working for rajputs, in their lands
and were expert in handcrafts. We can still see that surnames of
these origin people are associated with the name of village like
Bahuguna from Bahugani and Pandey from Pandeygaon. Surname doesn't
exactly tells about the cast of Uttarakhandi people. Like two
famous surnames Bisht and Bhandari are used by both Rajputs and
Uttarakhand has a total geographic area of 51,125 km²
, of which 93% is mountainous and 64% is
covered by forest
. 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
later, after independence, by forest contractors.
efforts in reforestation, however, have been successful in
restoring the situation to some extent. The unique Himalayan
ecosystem plays host to a large number of animals (including
), 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.
Uttarakhand lies on the south slope of the
Himalaya range, and the climate and vegetation vary greatly
with elevation, from glaciers at the highest elevations to tropical
forests at the lower elevations.
The highest elevations are
covered by ice and bare rock. The Western Himalayan Alpine Shrub
and Meadows ecoregion
3000-3500 and 5000 meters elevation; tundra and alpine meadows
cover the highest elevations, transitioning to Rhododendron
-dominated shrublands below.
The Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests lie just below the
tree line; at 3000-2600 meters elevation they transition to the
Western Himalayan broadleaf forests, which lie in a belt from 2,600
to 1,500 meters elevation. Below 1500 meters elevation lies western
end of the drier Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands belt, and the
Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests. This belt is locally
known as Bhabhar
. These lowland forests have
mostly been cleared for agriculture, but a few pockets
Indian National Parks in Uttarakhand
include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in
District, Valley of Flowers National
Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
National Park in Haridwar District, and Govind Pashu Vihar National
Park and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District.
Government and politics
The Chief Minister of Government of Uttarakhand
Bhuwan chand khanduri
appointed as the fifth Chief Minister of Uttarakhand by Governor B.
L. Joshi on 27 June 2009. The last state elections in Uttarakhand
were held on 21 February 2007. The Bharatiya Janata Party
emerged as the
largest party with 34 seats in the 70-seat Uttarakhand Legislative
. One seat short of forming a majority, the BJP have
had to rely on support from the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal
independents to form the government. The Indian National Congress
official opposition, holding 21 seats.
There are 13 districts in
which are grouped into two divisions. Kumaon division includes Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh, Rudrapur -
Udham Singh Nagar. Garhwal division includes Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri
Garhwal (commonly known as Garhwal), Rudraprayag, Tehri
Garhwal and Uttarkashi.
Uttarakhand's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at
$6 billion in current prices. Born out of partition of Uttar
Pradesh, the new state of Uttarakhand produces about 8% of the
output of the old Uttar Pradesh state. Consolidated Finvest and
Holdings, a S&P CNX 500
conglomerate has its corporate
office in Uttarakhand. It reported a gross income of Rs.137 million
In 2003, a new industrial policy for the state with generous tax
benefits for investors was initiated that has led to a massive
upsurge of capital investment. SIDCUL, the State Industrial
Development Corporation of Uttaranchal (sic) has established seven
industrial estates in the southern periphery of the state, while
dozens of hydroelectric dams are being built in the upper reaches.
However, hill development remains an uphill challenge as out
migration of local peoples continues from the highland
adventure, and religious tourism play a prominent role in
Uttarakhand's economy, with the Corbett
National Park and Tiger Reserve and the nearby hill-stations of Nainital, Mussoorie, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal and Ranikhet being amongst the most frequented destinations of
India. The state also contains numerous peaks of
interest to mountaineers, although Nanda Devi, the highest and best-known of these, has been
off-limits since 1982. Other national wonders include the Valley of
Flowers, which along with Nanda Devi
National Park, form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To Uttarakhand, long called "abode of the gods"
), belong some of the holiest Hindu shrines, and
for more than a thousand years, pilgrims have been visiting the
region in the hopes of salvation and purification from sin.
Gangotri and Yamunotri, the sources
of both the Ganges and
Yamuna fall in the
upper reaches of the state and together with Badrinath (dedicated to Vishnu) and
Kedarnath (dedicated to Shiva) form the
Dham of Uttarakhand, one of Hinduism most spiritually
auspicious pilgrimage circuits. Rishikesh near Haridwar is known as the preeminent yoga
centre of India, which along with Haridwar is an important Hindu pilgrimage, in addition
Haridwar hosts the Kumbha Mela every
twelve years, in which millions of pilgrims take part from all
parts of the India. Hemkund
the Himalayas is of special significance to Sikhs
. In addition, the state has an abundance of
temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or
manifestations of Shiva
, references to many 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
prominent for their distinct architectural features. Tibetan Buddhism has also made itself felt
with the recent reconstruction of Mindroling Monastery and its Buddha
Stupa, touted as the world's highest, southwest of Dehradun.
The state has always been a destination for Mountaineering
and rock climbing
in India, a recent
development in adventure tourism
in the region has been white water rafting
and other adventures sports. Eco
and Rural tourism
have also found new grounds in
many villages of the state.
Uttarakhand has educational institutions of major importance to
India and the world. It is home to one of the oldest engineering
colleges in Asia, the Indian Institute of
Technology at Roorkee (formerly University of Roorkee).
universities and institutes of prime importance include, Indian Military Academy
in Dehradun ,
[Forest Research Institute]] in Dehradun, H.N.B.
University in Srinagar, Kumaun
University in Nainital and Almora, Govind Ballabh Pant University of
Agriculture & Technology in Pantnagar, Uttarakhand Technical University,
Dehradun, Gurukul Kangri
University in Haridwar, Gyani Inder
Singh Institute of Professional Studies, Dehradun Institute of
Technology, University of
Petroleum and Energy Studies, and the new Doon University in Dehradun, Govind Ballabh Pant
Engineering College in Pauri,Amrapali Institute in Haldwani,
Omkarananda Institute of Management and Technology, Rishikesh and
Garhwal and Kumaun Universities were
founded in 1973 as part of the upsurge of regional sentiment that
led to the Uttarakhand statehood.
Uttarakhand is home to several reputed day and boarding schools
including Welham Girls' School (Dehradun),Welham Boys' School
(Dehradun),the Doon School (Dehradun), ST. Thomas
college(Dehradun), St. Joseph Academy (Dehradun),Woodstock School
(Mussoorie), Birla Vidya
Niketan (Nainital), Sainik School Ghorakhal near Bhowali, Rashtriya
Indian Military College (RIMC) at Dehradun, The Asian School
(Dehradun),The Heritage School(Dehradun), G D Birla Memorial
(Ranikhet), St. Joseph's
(Nainital), Selaqui World School (Dehradun) and
Sherwood College (Nainital). Several Indian luminaries attended
these schools including former prime ministers and film
Historically, Uttarakhand is believed to be the land where the
and the Shastras
were composed and the great epic, the Mahabharata
, was written. Rishikesh is widely considered the Yoga
capital of the world.
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- Nationalistic part of Greater