Uttarakhand formerly Uttaranchal, is a state in the northern part of India. It is often referred to as the "Land of the Gods" due to the many holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is mainly known for its natural beauty of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. On 9 November 2000, this 27th state of the Republic of India was carved out of the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh.
It borders the Tibet Autonomous Region on the north; the Mahakali Zone of the Far-Western Region, Nepal on the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the northwest. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city in the region, which is a railhead. The high court of the state is in Nainital.
The Uttarakhand state has been one of the fastest growing economies in India. Its gross state domestic product (GSDP) (at constant prices) more than doubled from INR24,786 crore in FY2005 to INR60,898 crore in FY2012. The real GSDP grew at 13.7% (CAGR) during the FY2005–FY2012 period. The contribution of the services sector to the GSDP of Uttarakhand was just over 50% during FY 2012. Per capita income in Uttarakhand is INR82,193 (FY 2012) which is higher than the national average of INR60,603 (FY2012). According to the Reserve Bank of India, the total foreign direct investment in the state from April 2000 to October 2009 amounted to US$ 46.7 million.
Other key industries include tourism and hydropower, and there is prospective development in IT, ITES, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and automobile industries. The service sector of Uttarakhand mainly includes tourism, information technology, higher education, and banking.
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, jhumeila, chaufula, and chholiya. Music is an integral part of the Uttarakhand culture. Popular types of folk songs include mangals, basanti, khuded and chhopati.
These folk songs are played on instruments including dhol, damoun, turri, ransingha, dholki, daur, thali, bhankora, and masakbhaja. Music is also used as a medium through which the gods are invoked. Jaagar is a form of ghost 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 is a popular singer of the region.
Uttarakhand has many tourist spots due to its location in the Himalayas. There are many ancient temples, forest reserves, national parks, hill stations, and mountain peaks that draw large number of tourists. There are 44 nationally protected monuments in the state.Oak Grove School in the state is on the tentative list for World Heritage Sites. Two of the most holy rivers in Hinduism the Ganga and Yamuna, originate in Uttarakhand.
Some of the most famous hill stations in India are in Uttarakhand. Mussoorie, Nainital, Dhanaulti, Lansdowne, Sattal, Almora, Kausani, Bhimtal, and Ranikhet are some of the popular hill stations in India. The state has 12 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries which cover 13.8 percent of the total area of the state. They are located at different altitudes varying from 800 to 5400 meters. The oldest national park on the Indian sub-continent, Jim Corbett National Park, is a major tourist attraction. The park is famous for its varied wildlife and Project Tiger run by the Government of India.
In addition the state boasts Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vasudhara Falls, near Badrinath is a waterfall with a height of 122 metres (400 ft) set in a backdrop of snow-clad mountains. The state has always been a destination for mountaineering, hiking, and rock climbing in India. A recent development in adventure tourism in the region has been whitewater rafting in Rishikesh. Due to its proximity to the Himalaya ranges, the place is full of hills and mountains and is suitable for trekking, climbing, skiing, camping, rock climbing, and paragliding. Roopkund is a popular trekking site, famous for the mysterious skeletons found in a lake, which was covered by National Geographic Channel in a documentary. The trek to Roopkund passes through the beautiful meadows of Bugyal.
Flora and fauna:
Uttarakhand has a great diversity of flora and fauna. It has a recorded forest area of 34651 km2 which constitutes 65% of the total area of the state. Uttarakhand is home to rare species of plants and animals, many of which are protected by sanctuaries and reserves. National parks in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital District, and Valley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park in Chamoli District, which together are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A number of plant species in the valley are internationally threatened, including several that have not been recorded from elsewhere in Uttarakhand. Rajaji National Park in Haridwar District and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Sanctuary and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District are some other protected areas in the state.
Leopards are found in areas which are abundant in hills but may also venture into the lowland jungles. Smaller felines include the jungle cat, fishing cat, and leopard cat. Other mammals include four kinds of deer (barking, sambar, hog and chital), sloth and Himalayan black bears, Indian grey mongooses, otters, yellow-throated martens, ghoral (goat-antelopes), Indian pangolins, and langur and rhesus monkeys. In the summer, elephants can be seen in herds of several hundred. Marsh crocodiles (Crocodylus palustris), gharials (Gavialis gangeticus) and other reptiles are also found in the region. Local crocodiles were saved from extinction by captive breeding programs and subsequently re-released into the Ramganga river.