District/Area Committees in Uttarakhand

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General Info about Uttarakhand



Prince Bhagirath in penance for the salvation of 60,000 of his ancestors.

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 or Section in Sanskrit, 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 Hindu pilgrimage spots. The PauravasKushanasKunindasGuptasKatyurisRaikas, Palas, the Chands, and Parmaras orPanwars and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns.[4]

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 Vedic period. At that time, present-day Uttarakhand also served as a haunt for Rishis and Sadhus. It is believed that Sage Vyasascripted the Mahabharata here as the Pandavas are believed to have traveled and camped in the region. Among the first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century B.C. who practiced an early form of Shaivism. They traded salt with Western Tibet. It is evident from the Ashokanedict at Kalsi in Western Garhwal that Buddhism made inroads in this region. Folk shamanic practices deviating from Hindu orthodoxy also persisted here. However, Garhwal and Kumaon were restored to nominal Brahmanical rule due to the travails of Shankaracharya and the arrival of migrants from the plains. In the fourth century, the Kunindas gave way to the Naga Dynasties. Between the 7th and 14th centuries, the Katyuri dynasty of Khas origin dominated lands of varying extent from the Katyur (modern day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon. Other peoples of the Tibeto-Burman group known asKiratas 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 peoples.[5]


Uttarakhand as a part of theUnited Province, 1903.

By the medieval period, the region was consolidated under the Garhwal Kingdom in the west and theKumaon Kingdom 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 (the Paharischool of art) developed.[6] Modern-day Garhwal was likewise unified under the rule of Parmar/Panwar Rajas, who along with a mass migration of Brahmins and Rajputs, also arrived from the plains.[7] 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 Sugauli.

In the post-independence period, the Tehri princely state was merged into Uttar Pradesh state, where Uttarakhand composed the Garhwal and Kumaon Divisions.[8] 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 (Uttarakhand Revolutionary Party est. 1979), began agitating for separate statehood under its banner. Although the erstwhile hill kingdoms of Garhwal andKumaon were traditional 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.[9] 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.[10] Most notable incident during this period was the Rampur Tiraha firing case on the night of 1 October 1994, which led to public uproar [11]. On September 24, 1998 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed the ‘Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Bill’, 1998, which eventually led to the creation of the state [12], eventually the Parliament passed the Indian Federal Legislation – Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2000, and thus on 9th November, 2000,[13] Uttarakhand became the 27th state in the Republic of India.

However, the term Uttaranchal came into use when the BJP-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 [14], 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,[15] 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 India.


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 or Garhwali 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.

Kumaoni and Garhwali dialects of Central Pahari are spoken in Kumaon and Garhwal region respectively.Jaunsari and Bhotiya dialects are also spoken by tribal communities in the west and north respectively. The urban population however converses mostly in Hindi.

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.



The Nanda Devi is the second-highest mountain in India.

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. Recent 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 bharalsnow leopardsleopards and tigers), 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.[17]

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 lies between 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 remain.[18]

Indian National Parks in Uttarakhand include the Jim Corbett National Park (the oldest national park of India) at Ramnagar in Nainital DistrictValley of Flowers National Park and Nanda Devi National Park inChamoli DistrictRajaji National Park in Haridwar District, and Govind Pashu Vihar National Park and Gangotri National Park in Uttarkashi District.

[edit]Government and Politics

The Chief Minister of Government of Uttarakhand is B.C. Khanduri. The last state elections in Uttarakhand were held on 21 February 2007. TheBharatiya Janata Party emerged as the largest party with 34 seats in the 70-seat Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly. One seat short of forming a majority, the BJP have had to rely on support from the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal and three independents to form the government. The Indian National Congress is the official opposition, holding 21 seats.


There are 13 districts in Uttarakhand which are grouped into two divisions. Kumaon division includesAlmoraBageshwarChampawatNainitalPithoragarhUdham Singh NagarGarhwal division includesChamoliDehradunHaridwarPauri Garhwal (commonly known as Garhwal), RudraprayagTehri Garhwal and Uttarkashi.

[edit]Important Cities



Evening prayers at Hari-ki-pairi (known for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall) in Haridwar

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 for 2005.[citation needed]

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 hinterlands.


Leisure, 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 NainitalMussoorieAlmoraKausani,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 withNanda Devi National Park, form a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Shree Bheem Shankar (Moteshwar) Mahadev Mandir, Kashipur.

To Uttarakhand, long called “abode of the gods” (Devbhumi), 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 theGanges and Yamuna fall in the upper reaches of the state and together with Badrinath (dedicated to Vishnu) and Kedarnath (dedicated to Shiva) form the Chardham 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 nested in the Himalayas is of special significance toSikhs. In addition, the state has an abundance of temples and shrines, many dedicated to local deities or manifestations of Shiva and Durga, references to many of which can be found in Hindu scriptures and legends.[19] 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[20], southwest of Dehradun.

The state has always been a destination for Mountaineeringhiking and rock climbing in India, a recent development in adventure tourism, in the region has been white water rafting and other adventures sports. Eco tourismAgritourism 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). Other universities and institutes of prime importance include ,Forest Research Institute University in Dehradun, H.N.B. Garhwal University in Srinagar, Kumaun University in Nainital and Almora, G. B. Pant University in Pantnagar, Gurukula Kangri University in Haridwar, Gyani Inder Singh Institute of Professional Studies, Dehradun Institute of Technology, University of Petroleum & Energy Studies, and the new Doon University in Dehradun, Govind Ballabh Pant Engineering College in Pauri, and Kumaon Engineering College, Dwarahat. 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 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), G D Birla Memorial School(Ranikhet), St. Joseph’s College (Nainital), Selaqui World School (Dehradun) and Sherwood College (Nainital). Several Indian luminaries attended these schools including former prime ministers and film stars.

Historically, Uttarakhand is believed to be the land where the Vedas and the Shastras were composed and the great epic, the Mahabharata, was written. Rishikesh is widely considered the Yoga capital of the world.

[edit]Further reading

State symbols
State animal Musk Deer
State bird Monal
State tree Rhododendron
State flower Brahma Kamal
  • Husain, Z. (1995). Uttarakhand movement: the politics of identity and frustration, a psycho-analytical study of the separate state movement, 1815-1995. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot. ISBN 8185897174
  • ?arm?, D. (1989). Tibeto-Himalayan languages of Uttarakhand. Studies in Tibeto-Himalayan languages, 3. New Delhi, India: Mittal Publications. ISBN 8170991714
  • Fonia, K. S. (1987). Uttarakhand, the land of jungles, temples, and snows. New Delhi, India: Lancer Books.
  • Mukhopadhyay, R. (1987). Uttarakhand movement a sociological analysis. Centre for Himalayan Studies special lecture, 8. Raja Rammohunpur, Dt. Darjeeling: University of North Bengal.


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