Uttarakhand formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the Devbhumi (literally "Land of the Gods") due to the many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabar and the Terai. Uttarakhand was formed on the 9th November 2000 as the 27th State of India, when it was carved out of northern Uttar Pradesh. Located at the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges, it is largely a hilly State, having international boundaries with China (Tibet) in the north and Nepal in the east. On its north-west lies Himachal Pradesh, while on the south is Uttar Pradesh. It is rich in natural resources especially water and forests with many glaciers, rivers, dense forests and snow-clad mountain peaks. Char-dhams, the four most sacred and revered Hindu temples of Badrinath,Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are nestled in the mighty mountains. It’s truly God’s Land (Dev Bhoomi). Dehradun is the Capital of Uttarakhand. It is one of the most beautiful resort in the submountain tracts of India, known for its scenic surroundings. The town lies in the Dun Valley, on the watershed of the Ganga and YamAlmora rivers.
It is blessed with a rare bio-diversity, inter-alia, 175 rare species of aromatic & medicinal plants are found in the State. It has almost all major climatic zones, making it amenable to a variety of commercial opportunities in horticulture, floriculture and agriculture. It has a vast tourism potential in adventure, leisure, and eco-tourism.
The State is rich in mineral deposits like limestone, marble, rock phosphate, dolomite, magnesite, copper, gypsum, etc. The number of small scale industries is 25,294 providing employment to 63,599 persons. As many as 1802 heavy and medium industries with an investment of Rs 20,000 crore employ 5 lakh persons. Most of the industries are forest-based. There is a total of 54,047 handicraft units in the state.
With levels of literacy higher than the national average, the State has abundant availability of quality human resources. Within a short span of its existence, Uttarakhand has emerged as a significant destination for investments in manufacturing industry, tourism and infrastructure. Emphasis is on stimulating all three sectors of its economy (agriculture, industry and services),to their fullest potential in tandem with the geographic profile of the state. The Government of Uttarakhand has undertaken several policy measures and incentives in order to encourage inflow of investment into the various sectors of its economy.
Culture of Uttarakhand :
Uttarakhand's diverse ethnicities have created a rich literary tradition in languages including Hindi, Kumaoni, Garhwali, Jaunsari, and Bhoti. Many of its traditional tales originated in the form of lyrical ballads and chanted by itinerant singers and are now considered classics of Hindi literature. Ganga Prasad Vimal, Manohar Shyam Joshi, Prasoon Joshi, Shekhar Joshi, Shailesh Matiyani, Shivani, Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee Mohan Upreti, B. M. Shah, Sahitya Akademi awardee Manglesh Dabral and Jnanpith awardee Sumitranandan Pant are some major literary figures from the region. Prominent philosopher and environmental activist Sundarlal BahugAlmora and Vandana Shiva are also from Uttarakhand.
The dances of the region are connected to life and human existence and exhibit myriad human emotions. Langvir Nritya is a dance form for males that resembles gymnastic movements. Barada Nati folk dance is another famous dance of Dehradun, which is practised during some religious festivals. Other well-known dances include Hurka Baul, Jhora-Chanchri, Jhumaila, Chauphula, and Chholiya. Music is an integral part of the Uttarakhandi culture. Popular types of folk songs include Mangal, Basanti, Khuded and Chhopati. These folk songs are played on instruments including dhol, damau, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora, mandan and mashakbaja. "Bedu Pako" is a populor folk song of Uttarakhand with international fame and legendary status within the state. It serves as unofficial state song of Uttarakhand. Music is also used as a medium through which the gods are invoked. Jagar is a form of spirit worship in which the singer, or Jagariya, sings a ballad of the gods, with allusions to great epics, like Mahabharat and Ramayana, that describe the adventures and exploits of the god being invoked. Narendra Singh Negi and Mina Rana are popular folk singers of the region.
Among the prominent local crafts is wood carving, which appears most frequently in the ornately decorated temples of Uttarakhand. Intricately carved designs of floral patterns, deities, and geometrical motifs also decorate the doors, windows, ceilings, and walls of village houses. Beautifully worked paintings and murals are used to decorate both homes and temples. Pahari painting is a form of painting that flourished in the region between the 17th and 19th century. Mola Ram started the Garhwal Branch of the Kangra school of painting. Guler State was famous as the cradle of Kangra paintings. Kumaoni art often is geometrical in nature, while Garhwali art is known for its closeness to nature. Other crafts of Uttarakhand include handcrafted gold jewellery, basketry from Garhwal, woollen shawls, scarves, and rugs. The latter are mainly produced by the Bhotiyas of northern Uttarakhand.
The primary food of Uttarakhand is vegetables with wheat being a staple, although non-vegetarian food is also served. A distinctive characteristic of Uttarakhand cuisine is the sparing use of tomatoes, milk, and milk based products. Coarse grain with high fibre content is very common in Uttarakhand due to the harsh terrain. Another crop which is associated with Uttarakhand is Buckwheat (locally called Madua or Jhingora), particularly in the interior regions of Kumaon and Garhwal. Generally, either Desi Ghee or Mustard oil is used for the purpose of cooking food. Simple recipes are made interesting with the use of hash seeds "Jakhiya" as spice. Bal Mithai is a popular fudge-like sweet. Other popular dishes include Dubuk, Chains, Kap, Chutkani, Sei, and Gulgula. A regional variation of Kadhi called Jhoi or Jholi is also popular.
Kumbh Mela :
One of the major Hindu pilgrimages, Haridwar Kumbh Mela, takes place in Uttarakhand. Haridwar is one of the four places in India where this mela is organised. Kumauni Holi, in forms including Baithki Holi, Khari Holi and Mahila Holi, all of which start from Vasant Panchami, are festivals and musical affairs that can last almost a month. Ganga Dashahara, Vasant Panchami, Makar Sankranti, Ghee Sankranti, Khatarua, Vat Savitri, and Phul Dei are other major festivals. In addition, various fairs like Kanwar Yatra, Kandali Festival, Ramman, Harela mela, Nauchandi mela, Uttarayani mela and Nanda Devi Raj Jat Mela take place.