What to do and see in Uttarakhand, India: The Best Places and Tips

January 29, 2018 Merry Kessler

Uttarakhand (English: /ˌʊtəˈrɑːkʌnd/), officially the State of Uttarakhand (Uttarākhaṇḍ Rājya), formerly known as 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 many Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres found throughout the state. Uttarakhand is known for the natural environment of the Himalayas, the Bhabhar and the Terai. On 9 November 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India, being created from the Himalayan and adjoining northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh. It borders Tibet to the north; the Province No. 7 of Nepal to the east; and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south and Himachal Pradesh to the west and north-west as well as Haryana on its south-western corner. The state is divided into two divisions, Garhwal and Kumaon, with a total of 13 districts. The interim capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun, the largest city of the state, which is a railhead. The High Court of the state is located in Nainital.

1. Kedarnath Mandir

Garhwal Himalayan range | Near Mandakini River, Kedarnath, India +91 88949 15059
Excellent
89%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 202 reviews

Kedarnath Mandir

Reviewed By Anshumanafsa - Kurseong, India, Asia

Wonderful trek. Don't miss Gauri Kund.The temple was built around the 8th century. The Sumeru peaks are just opposite .The Mandakini river flows by the trekking route. Tents are available and so are ponies and guides. It's a religious place of attraction. But the trek is a nature lovers delight. Open from April to Nov. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

2. Badrinath Temple

Badrinath Road, Chamoli District | Near Sarshwati River, Badrinath 246422, India +91 88944 04523
Excellent
81%
Good
16%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
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Overall Ratings

5 based on 350 reviews

Badrinath Temple

Reviewed By SandipOct2015 - New Delhi, India

Badrinath can be reached from Rishikesh which is just half an hour from Haridwar. One can choose to split the journey and stay midway at Rudraprayag as its a long trip .At Badrinath the most memorable sight is that of the first rays of sun hitting on Trishul peak .Also the hot water spring /kund just outside the temple. The valley of flowers is on the way and Auli the skiing destination is near Joshimath the last town before Badrinath. Best time to visit can be early October when there are no crowds just before the temple shuts down for winter.

3. Tungnath Temple

4 Kms From Chopta, Uttarakhand | 2 Km Below the Chandrashila Peak, Chamoli 246419, India +91 96347 86662
Excellent
84%
Good
15%
Satisfactory
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5 based on 185 reviews

Tungnath Temple

Reviewed By AlokYad - Gurugram (Gurgaon), India

Introduction
We are group of three friends who loves to visit Mountains during last week of December and able to keep up the tradition from last 8 years continuously. We have already been to most of the commercial hill stations and few offbeat locations; and chose Chopta for our this year endeavor largely due to distance from Delhi (Expecting less crowds as we need population detox), High altitude (expecting pure oxygen and excellent air for body detox) and plan to do some easy on feet treks (Not mountain expeditions).

Trek Information
The first stop we chose was Deoria taal (*feel free to read mine/others detailed review on Deoria taal and stay option on TripAdvisor) where we stay for overnight stay. Next was trek to Tungnath temple and Chandrashila peak. We stayed in Magpie camp in Chopta (Detailed review in another post). Ideally it is advised to start your Tungnath/Chandrashila trek as early in morning as possible in Winter due to multiple reasons like black ice condition deteriorate as day progress, sunset early (around 5.30 pm) makes decent extremely dangerous and hard if there is dark, hard to find trek shoes suitable to your requirement and size as they were taken up by early groups etc (more on each point in below). All the pts above we learned in hard way as despite we had information, we started late largely due to one more group requested to join us.

We reach starting point/gate of trek crossing extremely beautiful dense forest area laden with very good freshly laid tarmac which is filled with snow in patches. The drive was relatively uneventful which is good thing considering decent snow on road to give you some panic attack or adrenaline rush depending on your mindset. The parking on Tungnath gate is limited but we manage to find parking space right on gate. The amount of vehicles or tourist was in absolute contrast of our need to avoid crowd as there was more than 4K+ people in various phases of trek. Big letdown for me personally. The entry gate is guarded by forest department though primarily there for ticketing purpose (Rs 150/- per Indian, Sorry fail to register cost for Foreigners). The trek to Tungnath is around 4 km and 5.5 km for Chandrashila peak. The route/trek is covered 70-80% with snow in December end week (when we travelled) in which 50% snow become Black/Dark ice (Due to huge number of people walking on them and snow melting in wake of fresh snow). This scenario made walking on trek extremely hard and dangerous as most of the tourist slipping while walking despite trek shoes and support sticks. No such issues during summer as learned from local/fellow trekkers. It also takes 3-4 hours to reach Tungnath template {Highest Shiva template on earth/ 3,680 m (12,073 ft)} depending on the trekker's physical ability. The view from route and especially from temple of adjacent peak is breath taking and worth the effort. One can see Chowkhamba, Nanda Devi, Neelkanth and Kedarnath peaks. Temple is ancient and small with simple architecture. It was closed as temple remain closed in Winter. I along with one of my friend decided to decent back to base/parking due to smaller time window before sunset and due to complexity involves in decent/walking down on snow laden trek which is much hard to climb down then up. Rest of the group was more courageous and decided to trek to Chandrashila peak. Decent though very hard but I manage to reach to base location without even a single fall/slip (Pat on my back) though not everyone face same fate and most of the people fall without major injuries and I find mostly people enjoyed it baring few.

In conclusion, trek is middle difficulty level in Winter and low difficulty level in summer. Views and ambiance is amazing. If one can start early and go slow, he/she can enjoy excellent flora of region as well as nature at its best.

Things to remember
1. Shoes – It is one of the most important tool in Trek especially in Winter. Try at least waterproof ones. One can bring their own as well as it is available on rent for Rs 200/- day. The quality of rented one is basic but will serve purpose. During high snow condition, try to find metal spikes which can be attached to shoe which will make ascent/decent very easy. Lot of camps in area can arrange them as part of your package so check and agree with them in advance during your package negotiation stage. Also, don't forgot to carry good quality stick especially one with sharp metal fitment as it will help a lot in trek.
2. Water & Food – In entire trek route especially in winter, there is not a single vendor/shop serving any water or food to anyone. I came to know that they do exist in summer when temple is open. Due to high altitude and steep ascent/climb, one can easily get thirsty or Hungary. Eating snow/ice for thirst is not a good idea as it may be adulterated/contaminated with fungus or bacteria. So, take plenty of water and some food with you. Also, do take lip balm with you as well as your lips will be dead dry in few hours due to temp, less oxygen and effort. NOTE – Oxygen is less due to high altitude (3800 meter) but will not cause any breathlessness or any high altitude sickness at least in any normal or healthy individual. Do check with doctors if you have any history of same.
3. Electricity/Light – The entire Chopta region still has no electricity supply (YES! in 2018) hence no lighting post in trek/route. So, please your trip accordingly as I strongly suggest not to decent in darkness in any time of year especially winters. My travel mates who chose to go to Chandrashila without respecting time frame had very hard time coming back to base location as one losing camera (broke during slip on snow) and other losing their bums/cloths while skidding on ice instead walking which is very hard if not impossible. So, please carry high intensity torches if you plan night travel as part of your trip to support you well better then mobile limit LED lights. Also, carry extra power banks for your mobiles as no enroute charging station.
4. Vehicle Parking – There is huge amount of snow in parking lot. Don't park you vehicle ever on snow especially engine bay area on it as due to snow melting during day and cold, it make your engine above it very cold as well and oils/lubricant can also affect badly leads to engine not able to start.
5. First aid – Carry your first aid with you as Shameless garhwal govt charges Rs 150/- per person for trek but there is not a single person/medical practitioner available in case of any mis-happening. I have seen worst on route (avoiding details so not to discourage others) so better prepared for any condition.
6. Mobile connecting/Internet – The mobile connection is available in patches and especially in upper part of trek. Internet connection is limited to 2G and sparsely available.

How to Ascent/Decent on Snow
Though I am not an expert and you can read on net to find better experienced trekkers guide but if it can help – Always walk in Penguin style on snow i.e. Very-2 small steps and lower feet of first leg touching firm and first on snow before lifting another leg. Use stick for balance. Never panic as it will increase anxiety and make your fall even worse. Chose to walk on fresh snow lying on side of path wherever available & possible. While decent, you can chose some off roading/mountain path but chose it carefully as if you fall, it will create greater injury then slipping on ice.

4. Gangotri Temple

Gangotri Village, Gangotri, India +91 44 6531 5613
Excellent
81%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
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5 based on 115 reviews

Gangotri Temple

Reviewed By Lalbahadur - Mumbai, India

Gangotri is among the four dhams of uttarakhand. Comes second in order sequence to do proper chardham yatra. It comes in uttarkashi region and approx 100 kms from uttarkashi. Temple in white marble looks very beautiful. One can reach easily to temple by road. Need to walk for 5 mins from parking lot to reach temple area. Just beside of temple, there is a way to reach bhagirathi river bank. Pilgrims used to bath there before entering in temple. Very cold water , as it comes from gangotri glaciers.
There are 2 ways to do darshan, by standing in normal dashan Q, other is in VIP Q. For VIP darshan, one need to take the receipt after donation. Counter is on the left side of temple.
Government runs buses till gangotri from uttarkashi, haridwar/dehradoon.
A divine experience and must visit.

5. Deoria Tal Lake

Ukhimath-Chopta Road, Rudra Prayag, India
Excellent
73%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
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4.5 based on 135 reviews

Deoria Tal Lake

Reviewed By Dinesh S

Saari village is between Ukhimath and Chopta (30 mins drive from Ukhimath). Deoria Tal is 2KM trek from Saari village. It's a decent trek that can be complete in 2 hrs with frequent breaks. At the top, you can also stay in tents and that can be arranged easily in village. There are some basic stay option also available in Saari village. You don't need to plan much ahead and this can be arranged once you reach there (at least that's what locals told me). The Chaukhambha view is the prize at the top. The lake isn't big but it's clean and you can see a clear reflection of Chaukhamba in the lake. The top is really green and you can spend some time just absorbing the beauty. There isn't much to do so you can complete the whole thing in 4-5 hours. Staying at night is a different experience and that depends on personal taste.

6. Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple

Lansdowne, India +91 89798 33364
Excellent
69%
Good
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Satisfactory
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Poor
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4.5 based on 383 reviews

Tarkeshwar Mahadev Temple

Reviewed By Abhay J

An exceptionally brilliant and peaceful place with magnetic charm for holiness. No pandas and any kind of commercial people around . No good quality hotels around and makeshift restaurants serving knick knacks like Maggie are available. Must visit place if holiness attracts one , nothing much available for children except running around in open glades of grass . Majestic indeed.

7. Chopta

Ukhimath, India +91 97586 67755
Excellent
75%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
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4.5 based on 218 reviews

Chopta

Reviewed By Bharat A - Kuwait

Chopta is one of the beautiful location of Garhwal region that is still undisturbed by human beings. Its single lane roads will take you to beautiful places offering panoramic views of Himalayan ranges.

8. Jageshwar Dham

Near Nainital, Almora, India
Excellent
70%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
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4.5 based on 248 reviews

Jageshwar Dham

Reviewed By ak_chatterji - Kolkata (Calcutta), India

Nestled in the folds of the Kumaun hills, lies hidden in a narrow valley with dense deodar Forests, the venerable temple cluster of Jageshwar Dham.It is just 35km from Almorah. We on our way back from Chaukori, made it to this place in about 7 hours (about 100km). Road is good but with many bends.
The ambiance of the place is extraordinarily captivating, with the Deodar trees lining the background of the temple complex, which imparts great beauty to the place. It is said to be the seat of one of the 12 Jyotirlings, hence of great religious importance. The 8th century temple complex, comprises of a cluster of temples of great beauty.
The main temple is the Jageshwar Mahadev temple of lord Shiva. The monsoon festival (sawan mela) is during July/August and also during Maha Shivratri.
A small township with all amenities and comfortable places of stay,(includin KMVN Rest House) is there on the 3km long road leading to the temple complex, off the National Highway, connecting Almorah and Pithoragarh. A visit to the temple town is a very satisfying experience.

9. Ganga Aarti at Haridwar

Har Ki Pauri, Haridwar 249401, India +91 1334 229 479
Excellent
67%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
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4.5 based on 1 reviews

Ganga Aarti at Haridwar

Ganga Aarti Means Prayer for the River Ganges. The Ganga is holy river in India. It is worshiped as a goddess. It is providing life in the form of water to India. Every day Morning and Evening Ganga Aarti is organized at Har Ki Pauri. Morning time is approximately 05:30 AM in winter and 06:30 AM in Summer according to Sunrise. Evening time for Ganga Aarti is approximately 05:30 PM in winter and 06:30 in summer. Evening Ganga aarti is widely visited by people in stead of morning. There is no entry fees or charges for the ceremony. Evening at sunset priests perform Ganga Aarti here, when lights are set on the water to drift downstream. This is the most amazing and soul touching spectacle. A large number of people gather on both the banks of river Ganges to sing its praises. The priest hold large fire bowls in their hands, the bells in the temples at the Ghat start ringing and the chants flowing out of lips fill the air. People float diyas (candle), with burning flickers and flowers in them as a symbol of hope and wishes .The golden hues of floral diyas reflected in the river Ganges present the most enchanting sight. Note: 01. Reach little early to get good place to view the ceremony. Best place to view the ceremony is little island type of place called Malviya Dwip. From there you can view the ceremony from front side. 02. If you do not want to sit on the floor (which is free) there are some wooden platform are there which is run by local families. They will charge you Rs.50 Per person. 03. Some fake people may come to you and ask for donations. You are not supposed to give any donation to any one. However the place and ceremony is maintained by Ganga Sabha so if you want you can donate them. 04. Try to avoid priests if you dont want to do any Pooja (prayers) because after little prayer they expect money from you.

Reviewed By FLworldwanderer - Florida

We were fortunate to experience the AARTI (03/11/17) during sunset, along the River Ganges, across the river from the priests (pujaris). The chanting begins before sunset, and you can view several worshipers bathing in the river, as well as many people placing floating lit candle offerings in the river. Expect to be there early, as large crowds will be there to compete for good Seating. We had a bit of rain during our stay, but was able to secure Seating under a vendors tarp (for a small fee, of course). Later, large bundles of stacked wood are put on fire, for further celebration and to ward off evil spirits. I always carry small currency denominations for offerings, tips, etc. I was able to fill bottles of water, directly from the Ganges, and give them to all my Indian friends, back in the USA.

10. Nainital Lake

Nainital 244715, India
Excellent
56%
Good
35%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
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Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Nainital Lake

Reviewed By Shantu7 - New Delhi (Delhi), India

I have been to Nainital round about 20 times and the star attraction of this place has always been the beautiful Nainital Lake. The surroundings are romantic, the Mall road runs on one side from where you can just sit and admire the beautiful surroundings. Of course a visit to Nainital is never complete without taking a boat ride on the lake.The boats are generally well maintained and colorful and the price has now been fixed by the government

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