Yes, we are indeed talking about Uttarakhand, the hill state of north India that is also known as Devbhoomi, the land of Gods, that is! The beauty of this hill state is that it has something in store for every kind of traveller, be it the hippie backpacker, history buff, one looking to witness the magnificence of Hindu pilgrim sites, or just the nature enthusiast wanting to soak in the sublime beauty of the meadows and forests.
We bring to you an exhaustive list of all kinds of travel destinations of Uttarakhand.
Haridwar, literally translates as Hari ka dwar, doorway to God, or heaven that is. This holy city is known for its colourful and vibrant Ghats (river banks). The mere sight of thousands of devotees taking a dip into the holy Ganges River at these Ghats would leave one spellbound. The best time to visit the Ghats is early morning. At that time, you can witness the surreal beauty of the sun rising from the river.
The most famous of the Ghats in Haridwar is the “Har ki Pauri” Ghat. One must not miss the evening aarti at the Ghats. With the chanting of hymns, ringing of bells, and the light of flaming diyas and aartis, the whole spectacle is a sublime sight, one that makes you forget all your concerns and feel one with the spiritual universe of that fine moment.
You can also go temple hopping. The most popular is the Mansa Devi temple that is situated at the hilltop. The Maya Devi temple on the riverbank, and the Chandi Devi temple on Neel Parval are also worth a visit.
- Rishikesh – Rishikesh is well known for its yoga retreats and adventure trails. Known as the “Yoga Capital of the World,” Rishikesh is known for hosting many yoga festivals and retreats throughout the year.
For the adventure sport lovers, white water rafting and bungee jumping are both very popular in Rishikesh. For whitewater rafting, you can choose the grade (ranging from 1 to 4) based on your age and adventure level!
Most popular places to visit in Rishikesh are Lakshman Jhoola (the iconic bridge named after Lakshman, the brother of lord Ram from the Hindu epic of Ramayana. The specialty of this bridge is that it gently rocks while you walk, just like a swing!), Triveni Ghat (point of confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythic Sarasvati), Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, Trimbakeshwar Temple, Bhootnath Temple, and Shatrugna Temple.
Rishikesh is also a shopper’s paradise. You can buy some beautiful wall paintings and wooden furniture from the Laxman Jhoola market.
Haridwar and Rishikesh are both well known for delicious, vegetarian north Indian cuisine. While in these places, you should definitely try out meals like the chole bhathhure; spicy aloo puri; crispy kachoris; hot frothy kulhad milk; as well as the quintessential kulhad vaalee chai, a delightful concoction of black tea with milk and various aromatic herbs and spices!
How to get there
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun
Nearest Railway Station: Haridwar Railway Station
By road: buses are easily available from Delhi for both Haridwar and Rishikesh. One can also book a cab.
- Mussoorie – Known as the “Queen of Hills,” Mussoorie is the quintessential tourist destination of Uttarkhand. This beautiful hill town was set up during the time of the British.
There is a lot to see and do in Mussoorie. There is the iconic Mall road – a paradise for foodies and shopping lovers alike! From English food to south Indian to typical north Indian fare, the upmarket cafes and restaurants on the Mall road offer all. You could purchase woollens, artifacts, and handicrafts from the hundreds of shops dotting the legendary mall road.
Enveloped in lush greenery, Mussoorie is THE place for nature walks. Company Bagh, a lush green garden in Mussorie, complete with a boat ride and swings, is a must visit. It is the perfect place for a laid-back picnic.
Then, you can’t miss the wondrous Cloud’s End in Mussoorie. Located about 7 kms from the main city, this is a picturesque location from where you can get an amazing view of clouds and mountains around Mussoorie. A heritage building built by the British in 1838 is an added attraction.
Other must-visit places on Mussoorie include Gun Hill (the 2nd highest peak of Mussoorie, it is a favourite spot for viewing the magnificent Himalayan range and the Doon valley), Lal Tibba (the highest point of Mussoorie), and Dhanaulti, a stunning hill station located about 24 kms from the main city.
How to reach Mussoorie
Mussoorie is easily accessible from both Delhi and Dehradun. You could take a direct cab from the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun to reach Mussoorie. It would take you approximately 2 hours to reach Mussoorie. Alternatively, you could take a direct cab from Delhi or reach Dehradun from Delhi via bus or train and, from there, take a cab to Mussoorie.
- Char Dham – A visit to Uttarakhand is incomplete without visiting the Char Dham yatra. According to Hinduism, a journey to these holy pilgrimages is necessary for attaining moksha or salvation and breaking free of the vicious cycle of life and death.
These char dhams are Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri. All 4 offer a unique insight into the age-old belief system of Hinduism. The shrines of Gangotri and Yamunotri are dedicated to Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, respectively. The Badrinath shrine is dedicated to lord Vishnu and the Kedarnath shrine to lord Shiva.
Each of these dhams is located at a height of 3,000 metres above sea level. Out of these 4 holy shrines, Badinath and Kedarnath can be paired together while Gangotri and Yamunotri can be paired together. Badrinath and Kedarnath lie toward the northeast of Rishikesh, while Gangotri and Yamunotri are north of Rishikesh.
Usually, the tourists first reach Badrinath from Haridwar and then travel to the other dhams. Rishikesh is easily accessible by road from the nearest airport, Jolly Grant in Dehradun.
The Char Dham yatra can also be visited by helicopter. This is an ideal option for those who have a tight schedule, since visiting the 4 pilgrimage sites by road would take a lot of time. The helicopter takes off from the helipad in Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand.
- Auli – If you are looking for a travel destination that is a perfect blend of history, scenic beauty, adventure, and tranquility, then this is the place for you.
Auli is an offbeat travel destination that offers some incredible views of the lofty mountain ranges of the Himalayas, like Nanda Devi, Mana Paravat, and Kamat Kamet.
Auli is a visual treat for the artistically inclined, especially during winters when the snow-covered mighty Himalayan peaks, in the different hues and shades of sunlight at sunrise and sunset, look like they have just emerged from a painting. Close your eyes as you take in the views of the mighty Himalayas and you can probably visualize a Sadhu sitting somewhere on these peaks. Such is the spiritual and sublime pull of Auli.
Auli is best known for skiing. With its glittering slopes and clean environment, it is the ideal skiing destination. Many skiing championships and events are organized here throughout the year. Auli has something in store for biking lovers, as well! It offers some of the most wonderful mountain biking trails.
Auli offers a rich and enchanting past that dates back to the 8th century, when the renowned Guru Adi Shnakarcharya is said to have stepped on its fields.
How to reach Auli
The nearest airport is Jolly Grant Airport, Dehradun, about 298 kms away. If you want to travel by road, routine service is offered from Delhi, Dehradun, Rishikesh, as well as Haridwar, to Joshimath. From Joshimath, one can hire jeeps for Auli.
- Kausani – Well known for its divine beauty, Kausani is the ideal hill station for flaring up the imagination of poets and musicians. It is the place where famous Hindi poet Sumitra Nandan Pant was born. Some of his most famous poems are like odes to the natural and sublime beauty of this paradise on earth. There is a museum dedicated to this famous poet, called the Sumitra Nandan Pant Museum, which is a must visit.
One must also visit the Anasakti Ashram, where Mahatma Gandhi stayed for 14 days in 1929 while he was writing his book Anasakti Yoga. There is a small prayer room in this ashram where prayers are held every morning and evening.
Kausani is also great for shopping. While checking out the local market in Kausani, watch for the handmade Kausani shawls. They have intricate embroidery patterns that have been done in traditional designs, passed down by craftspersons from generation to generation. These shawls are made in the Kausani shawl factory.
Other items worth buying are tea of Kausani from Kausani Tea Estate, as well as locally made pickles, marmalades, and jams from the Kausani market.
How to reach Kausani
By air: the nearest airports are Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun, located at a distance of 160 kms, and the Pantnagar Airport, located at a distance of 162 kms.
By road: Regular bus service to Uttarakhand from various other states. If you are travelling from Delhi or via Delhi, private buses are also available.
By train: The nearest railway station is Kathgodam, located at a distance of 132 kms from Kausani.
- Katarmal – The village of Katarmal is home to one of the most incredible temples of Uttarakhand. The Katarmal Surya temple was built in the 9th century by Katarmalla, a king of the Katyuri dynasty. The temple, with a rare architectural style and historically important carvings on walls and panels, was declared a monument of national importance under India’s Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.
The main deity of the temple is the old Sun God, known as Burhadita or Vraddhaditya. There is a primary shrine surrounded by 45 other shrines. Besides the Sun God, the temple structure also has statues of other deities.
It is said to be the only sun temple located in the hills.
How to reach
By Air: the nearest airport is Pantnagar, about 142 kms from Katarmal Sun Temple
By Train: the nearest railway station is Kathgodam, about 90 kms away
- Mana Village – This iconic village is the last village of Indian territory, just 24 kms away from the border of India and Tibet/China in the Himalayas. Located at an altitude of 3,118 meters above sea level, the village is connected to the holy town of Badrinath via a smooth road.
This picture-postcard-pretty village has been designated as a “Tourism Village” by the government of Uttarakhand. The village is barely 3 kms away from Badrinath town, making it an ideal destination for those who are undertaking the Char Dham yatra or just visiting Badrinath.
The most notable tourist attraction of this heavenly village is the Neelkanth Peak, which stands at a height of 6,597 meters above sea level! The natural spring of Tapt Kund, believed to be the abode of Lord Agni, is also worth visiting. Vyas Gufa and Ganesh Gufa are also interesting places to visit.
Mana village is also an ideal trekking destination, with many amazing trekking routes from there to various other places.
If you go to Mana village, don’t forget to pay a visit to this iconic tea stall, known as “India’s Last Tea Shop”!
It is a village of weavers and a great place to buy winter clothing and carpets. You can directly buy exquisitely crafted, beautiful handmade carpets directly from the villagers. Weavers here specialize in the weaving of little square carpets known Aasan. These carpets come in a variety of colours and patterns.
How to reach Mana
Nearest Airport: Jolly Grant Airport, Dehrdaun, about 300 kms.
Nearest Railway Station: Haridwar, 275 kms
It is easily accessible by road from Haridwar/Rishikesh.
- Chaukori – The beautiful, dreamy town of Uttarakhand is just the right mix of nature, culture, and history. With its fruit orchards, pine forests, and the rhododendrons and oak forests, Chaukori is a nature lover’s paradise. And, of course, it’s like a dream come true for those who wouldn’t mind spending hours gazing at the magnificent Nanda Devi and Panchakuli peaks!
If you are looking for the kind of holiday destination that would make you feel like you are stuck in a beautiful time warp, away from the usual hustle bustle of the more obviously touristy places, then Chaukori is the place for you.
Legend has it that the most beautiful sunrise and sunset can be seen from this place. While in Chaukori, you must check out the luscious green tea gardens. These were established by the British during the pre-independence period.
There are several Hindu shrines located near Chaukori that are definitely worth visiting. One specialty of Chaukori is the beautiful local homestays, which provide you an authentic local experience. They allow you to experience local culture and also provide you with local food!
How to reach
Nearest Airport: Pantnagar
Nearest Railway Station: Kathgodham
Connected by bus to all major Indian cities.
- Nainital – One of the most visited hill stations of north India, Nainital is also known as the lake city of India. Visitors to Nainital are mesmerized by the sight of the majestic Naini Lake.
If you are planning a trip to Nainital, do keep at least a day reserved for the Naini Lake and the Mall road. Taking a boat ride on this stunning lake is a wonderful ritual every tourist to Nainital has to enjoy! After the boating, roaming around the mall road with its vibrant shops, cafes, and restaurants, is a must.
There are many local markets in Nainital where you can shop. The markets there are especially known for key chains, scented candles, books, and artificial jewelry.
The Nainital Zoo is also a must visit place. You can find rare species of steppe eagle, snow leopard, and the Himalayan black bear here. The Eco Cave Garden in Nainital is a new attraction. The garden offers a majestic view of 6 caves, all formed in the shape of animals.
How to reach
Nearest Airport: Pantnagar
Nearest Railway station: Kathgodham
Connected by bus to all major Indian cities