uttarakhand

The Land of Gods is not an exaggeration for the serenity and tranquillity that the state of Uttarakhand offers. Nestled in the ends foothills of the mountainous ranges of the Himalayas, this young state is a cultural and religious hub of India. From its many hubs of pilgrimage to the ecological shrines, Uttarakhand has to offer a place for all types of tourists. The numerous hill-stations and mountainous peaks offer the thrill of trekking to backpackers and adventurists. The lush green meadows, valleys and forests have a plethora of flora and fauna making it a paradise for all those whose hearts seek nature.

Uttarakhand offers the best of both worlds as it stays true to its historical past, ruins and remains while developing its tourism to a standard where it has a reputation globally. From decades ago, when the Beatles found their way to Rishikesh to the 21st century, the Land of Gods, Hub of Yoga and Tranquility has grown tremendously. A back-packer’s trip across the state, a honeymoon for newly-weds or a family trip to rejuvenate; Uttarakhand has the power to enchant everyone.

Here are the top 20 best places to visit and things to do in Uttarakhand in 2020

1) Dehradun

Himalaya View Dehradun
Photo – Paul Hamilton, Flickr

Set in the foothills of the Himalayas is the state capital of Uttarakhand. Dehradun, meaning camp (Dera) valley (Dun) is known for its scenic beauty and is one of the most popular cities that are part of the sub mountainous tracks of the nation. The city is well known for its temples, water bodies and numerous tourist spots, thereby making it one of among the must visit places in Uttarakhand. In spite of being one of the oldest cities in India, it is a hotspot for young tourists, honeymooners and more because of its cultural and ecological values.

If adventure soars through your veins then you must visit the Robber’s Cave. After a small trek, you will reach this pristine spot that feels like its straight out of a movie. A plate of hot Maggi after this trip is a must! Trekking at Nag Tibba is yet another adventure activity in Uttarakhand.

As tired as one may be, shopping is a must-do during every vacation. Dehradun has an abundance of great markets for you to splurge in. Everything from Paltan Bazaar, Tibetan Market to Connaught Place and Arhat Bazar, Dehradun has it all. If you’re looking for malls, then Pacific Mall is the way to go.

A visit to Dehradun is incomplete without taking in the scenic beauty and the serenity that the city can offer. A day out at Malsi Deer Park, a dip in the Shastradhara and enjoying the serene peace at the Buddhist Mindrolling Monastery are all entrancing places to visit. Every itinerary to Dehradun must make space for a visit to the Rajaji National Park as well. These are only some among the must visit places in Dehradun.

2) Mussoorie

Kempty Fall Waterfall Mussoorie
Photo – Himadri Karmakar, Flickr

Popularly known as the Queen of the Hills, Mussoorie is one of the most popular hill stations in India. The hills and mountains call out to adventure enthusiasts and the serenity seeks out leisurely travellers from all over the globe. The cherubic beauty, air of romance and the hidden charm of this city make it one of the honeymoon centers of India. Although it was never a formal summer capital, it has the hearts of many.

One of the best places to visit in Mussoorie is Kempty Falls. Its cascading waters, numerous vantage points that allow one to take in the scenic beauty and activities like boat rides, it is easily one of the best experiences. The Happy Valley, also known as the Dalai Hills is a part of the Tibetan Buddhist Temple is another must-see of Mussoorie. The aura of happiness, beautiful orchids and the monastery are important aspects of the Happy Valley. A nature walk along the Camel’s Back Road, named so because the hill is shaped like a hump, is one among the many activities to do in Mussoorie.

Some lesser known places in Mussoorie include Landour Bazaar, Char Dhukaan and Gun Hill.

Must Read: Top 20 tourist places to visit and things to do in Mussoorie

3) Nainital

Naini Tal Lake Nainital
Photo – Christian Lanciai, Flickr

In the Kumaon region of the State lies the Himalayan resort town of Nainital. Popularly known as the Lake District of India, this hill station is one among the most beautiful ones in the country. The Naini Tal Lake, mountain ranges around and myths and legends make this town a tourist hotspot. Although there are many must visit places in Nainital, a trip here is incomplete without visiting the Nanda Devi Temple. This temple, near the Naini Lake, is said to be where the eye of Goddess Sati fell as she remains as a mortal was carried to Kailash by Lord Shiva. The Nanda Devi Mahotsav is conducted here.

Some adventure activities in Nainital include a visit to the Tiffin Top as well as Snow View Point. Trekking has a whole new definition when you can take in the breathtaking views from the vantage points here. The Eco Cave Gardens in the Mallital area of Nainital which is famous for its interconnected caves, hanging gardens and the famous musical fountain is yet another place you cannot miss out on.

The Jim Corbett National Park needs no explanation. A visit to Nainital must extend to the National Park and one must take in the beautiful sights that it has to offer. Although the best time to visit Uttarakhand is between March-April or mid-September to mid-October, the best time to visit the Jim Corbett National Park would be during the winter, where all the zones will be open.

4) Rishikesh

River Rafting Rishikesh
Photo – Siddharth Negi, Flickr

The Beatles largely popularized Rishikesh and brought it to global attention and made it one of the most famous places in Uttarakhand. This holy town in India is a religious hub due to its numerous ashrams as well as for being a center for yoga. Lying in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain ranges as well as near the holy Ganga River, the city is renowned for its spirituality.

There are numerous avenues for adventure activities in Rishikesh including river rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, cliff jumping and so much more. Other things to do in Rishikesh include gifting yourself an ayurvedic therapy/massage in any of the world-class centers or café hopping! Rishikesh has numerous varied and budget-friendly eateries.

Among the numerous things to see in Uttarakhand, the Ganga Arti in Rishikesh is an itinerary must! The vibrancies of the Hindu culture can be seen during the ceremony at the Triveni Ghat.

5) Ranikhet

Beautiful Hill View Ranikhet
Photo – subrata dassharma, Flickr

The best places to visit in Ranikhet, the Queen’s Land, include the Chaubatia Gardens, Jhula Devi Temple, Upat Kalika Temple and so much more. This beautiful town in Uttarakhand is said to have had Queen Padmini of Kumaon entranced. Thus, a palace was built in her honour and the name Ranikhet fell into place. Although the palace no longer remains, the beauty and enchantment of the land remained. The best time to visit Uttarakhand if you have Ranikhet in your itinerary is surprisingly all through the year! With great charm across all seasons, this tourist spot is perennial.

One of the best things to do in Ranikhet will be to take part in a game of golf! The town is famous for its 9 hole hill golf courses; one of the best in the country.

Must Read: Top 50 most beautiful tourist places to visit in India in 2020

6) Haridwar

Temple in Haridwar
Photo – Tautvaldas Tumenas, Flickr

The ancient city of Haridwar is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Hindus, located where the Ganga exits the Himalayan mountain ranges. It is one of the important places to visit in Uttarakhand. The city is the gateway to the five pilgrimages including Gangadwara and Bilwa Thirtha. Some of the best places to visit in Haridwar include Chandi Devi Temple, Piran Kaliyar and Bharat Mata Mandir.

The serenity and air of spirituality have the capacity to clear your mind and bring peace to any tired city soul. The numerous Ayurvedic Centers will enable you to rejuvenate your heart and mind, thus making it an important part of the things to do in Haridwar. The city is in close proximity to Rishikesh as well as Rajaji National Park, thus enabling a tourist to travel with ease and efficiency.

7) Chamoli

Valley of Flowers Chamoli

Chamoli is the land where the popular Chipko Movement broke out. This is the largest district of Uttarakhand and has numerous places under its list of best places to visit in Chamoli. Yogyan Badri, Adbadri, Vasu Dhara and Gopeshwar are some of the must see places of this district. You must not miss out of the Valley of Flowers on your visit here. It has been declared as a World Heritage Site due to its wild blossoms.

For all adventure lovers, the Rudranath trek will be a must-do. This high adrenaline trek is generally completed over two days and is one among the Panch Kedar. The route of the trek will take you through many serene and pristine locations like the Luithi Bugyal, Pitradhar, Narad Kund etc, thereby making it one of the best things to do in Chamoli.

The Sri Hemakunt Sahib is a popular Sikh pilgrimage center and is accessible only during the summer. At Gowindghat there are places for the pilgrim to stay and rest during their journey as there are no sleeping arrangements at Hemakund.

8) Binsar

Snow Covered Himalaya Mountain Ranges Binsar

This snow-laden town in Uttarakhand is set amidst beautiful forests, meadows and has numerous sites to see. Its temples as well as the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary are some of the best places to visit in Binsar. To fill the hearts of any passionate trekker, Binsar has a zero point that enables you to catch a 360-degree view of the mountain ranges of Himalaya, making it one of the best tourist places in Uttarakhand.

Some of the other things to do in Binsar include a visit to the Kasar Devi Temple, Bineshwar Mahadev Temple and Golu Devata Temple. A visit here is definitely incomplete without trekking experience.

Must Read: 20 best adventure activities or sports activities to do in India

9) Almora

Beautiful View Almora
Photo – Allan Hopkins, Flickr

This culturally diverse hill station is a favourite for backpackers. Its scenic beauty is completed by the gracefully snow-capped mountain peaks of the Himalayas. Jageshwar, Katarmal Sun Temple, Kasar Devi Temple and Chitai Temple are some of the religious centers here. Almora also has wonderful handicrafts, Himalayan woolen wear and copperware, all of which makes shopping a fun experience. Lal Bazar is one such shopping market that you must not miss. These are some of the many things to do in Almora.

As a tourist, it is hard to find the lesser-known spots in a city. Dunagiri is one such hill town that is situated away from the popular crowd, thus allowing visitors to take away a special and unique experience. Therefore, it becomes one of the best places to visit in Almora.

10) Chopta

Evening Sunset View Chopta
Photo – Anuj Malik, Flickr

Chopta is a land of meadows and ever green forests, set in the Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary area. It is known as the Mini Switzerland of Uttarakhand and is most often unbeknownst to many travellers, thereby leaving it pristine. Chopta is the base for treks to Tungnath and Chandrashilla and offers a clear view of the Trishul, Nanda Devi and Chaukhamba peaks. Some of the best places to visit in Chopta include Ukhimat, Deoria Tal, Sari Village and Devariya Naag Temple.

Some of the best things to do in Chopta are trekking, visits to temples and also a trip down to Kanchula Kharak Musk Deer Sanctuary. Chopta is also known for its bugyals. One of the best things to do in Uttarakhand will be to travel to one of these as they are the most accessible ones in the state. Rohini Bugyal is one of the most popular ones.

11) Kanatal

View From Top Kanatal
Photo – Bhavesh Pandey, Flickr

Kanatal neighbours Mussoorie, and due to its neighbour’s popularity amongst tourists, it is often left untouched. Although tourists don’t flock towards it, local folk consider Kanatal as the perfect weekend getaway. Some of the best things to do in Kanatal include walking through the Kodia Jungle, visiting the Tehri Dam and taking part in Valley Crossing. This adventure sport in Kanatal is one of the best that can be enjoyed by both a beginner as well as a seasoned professional.

During a visit to Kanatal, getting down to basics can be a lot of fun. To capture the essence of this quaint suburb, staying at homestays or Pahadi Houses will be a unique experience.

Must Read: 15 delicious street food of India everyone must taste

12) New Tehri

Tehri Dam New Tehri
Photo – Anil Bisht, Flickr

This modern town situated on the hill-top overlooks the gigantic lake and Tehri Dam. The location is such that on clear days you can see the glorious Himalayan ranges from here. The best places to visit in New Tehri are the Tehri Dam, which is one of the largest hydro-electric projects, Chandrabadni Temple, the Pantwari Village and Ghansali.

This town is the only planned project of the state of Uttarakhand- making it a developing spot for tourism. Water and lake sports activities are some of the best things to do in New Tehri.

13) Kausani

Himalayan Peak View Kausani
Photo – Prayash Giria, Flickr

This quaint hill-station is the dream spot for backpackers who are seeking serenity. Kausani provides its visitors with a 300-degree view of many of the Himalayan peaks. Rising quickly as a hotspot for young tourists, the hill-station offers many fun activities for them to do- including leisurely activities like bird watching or village walks to adventure activities like hiking to Rudrahari Cave Temple. Amongst the best places to see in Kausani are Sarla Ashram, Baijnath, Kausani Tea Estate and Sumitranandan Pant Gallery.

14) Pangot

Bird Paradise Pangot
Photo – gkrishna63, Flickr

Located near Nainital, this scenic beauty is a world away from the usual hustle and bustle. It is said to be like an entering a Himalayan village. One of the best things to do in Pangot is bird watching! It is also called as The Bird Paradise in Nainital Hills. With over 300 different species of words, this is truly a paradise for nature enthusiast and bird-watchers. Trekking and camping are both popular activities that can be tried by you during your time at Pangot.

The Guano Hills is one of the best places to visit in Pangot. The Tranquility treks are also a popular part of amazing tours of Pangot and Nainital.

15) Lansdowne

Snow Covered Hill And Cottages Lansdowne
Photo – Gaurang Satija, Flickr

Owing to the popularity of hill-stations, they are often ruined by tourists. One hill-station that remains pristine and unspoiled by man is Lansdowne. Often compared to look like it is straight out of a painting, this popular tourist spot is situated far from the deafening crowds. This hill-station is truly the best of both worlds due to it being accessible with its well-connected roads; however, it remains remote.

Some of the best things to do in Lansdowne include trekking, boating, bird-watching and more. A trip here must ensure that you have in your itinerary place like Garhwal Rifles Regimental War Memorial, Garhwal Mess, Regimental Museum and Bhula Thal. These are only some of the best places to see in Lansdowne.

Must Read: Top 10 necessary things to carry in your travel bag

16) Kedarnath

Kedarnath Temple Kedarnath
Photo – Jamir Sayyad, Google

The best places to visit in Kedarnath will definitely include the Kedarnath Temple. This ancient temple stands tall in the Rudra Himalayan ranges. The temple we see today was built by Adi Shankaracharya. Kedarnath is a hotspot for Hindu pilgrims as well as travel enthusiasts. Some of the best things to do in Kedarnath are a visit to the Vasuki Tal, Shankaracharya Samadhi, Agastyamuni, Chorbari lake and Bhairavanth Temple.

17) Badrinath

Valley and River View Badrinath
Photo – Cyberian8, Flickr

In the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand lays this pilgrim centre. Entwined in myths and legends, Badrinath is a must-see for travel and history enthusiasts. It is not hard to seek out the best things to do in Badrinath as it is available in abundance. To those who seek spirituality, this is a pilgrim’s hub. However, it also offers the serene beauty of snowy mountain peaks and the large landscapes of Garhwal.

Some must visit places in Badrinath are the Tapt Kund, Vasudara falls and the last village of India- Mana.

18) Munsiyari

Snow Covered Hill Trekking Munsiyari
Photo – Manav Singh, Flickr

In the Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand lays Munsiyari. Its name translates to ‘place with snow’ and is fondly called Little Kashmir. Adventurists and trekking enthusiasts find themselves drawn here as it is the base of Milam, Ralam and Namik Glaciers. One of the best things to do in Munsiyari is trekking, bird watching and shopping at the Munsiyari markets. Tourists have to note the must visit spots in Munsiyari such as Birthi Falls, Thamri Kund and Khaliya Top.

Must Read: Best ways to explore the cities in India

19) Naukuchiatal

Naukuchiatal Lake Naukuchiatal
Photo – Vasco Travel, Flickr

Naukuchiatal is nature’s gift to those who seek the blissful tranquillity that it can offer. This lake-village is famous for the nine cornered lake that it has. Far from the crowds of Nainital, this village has a scenic beauty that can entrance its visitors. The best places to visit in Naukuchiatal include the Kaukuchiatal Lake, Hanuman Temple, Jungliagaon and Mukteshwar.

During a holiday, the best things to do in Naukuchiatal are boating and other water and lake activities.

20) Yamunotri

Valley and River with Homes Yamunotri
Photo – ranjan agrawal1, Flickr

The Yamunotri is the beginning of the holy river Yamuna. This is a popular destination for pilgrims as well as devotees. Some of the best places to visit in Yamunotri include the hot springs of Janki Chatti, Surya Kund, Divya Shilla and Kharsalli.

Trekking is easily one of the best things to do in Yamunotri if you are looking for adventure. Visiting Badkot is also another popular activity due to the many temples and shrines present here.

Uttarakhand may be a fairly young state; however, it has much to offer to its people as well as the ones who seek her. The scenic beauty, tranquillity and serenity of this state and all its tourist spots makes it a bucket list-worthy destination.

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