The foothills of the Himalayas
In the year 2000 the northern state of Uttaranchal was carved out of the hill areas of Uttar Pradesh. It is a small state filled to the brim with religious sites, wildlife reserves and cool hills that invite escape.
You can visit temples, ashrams and yoga centres at the holy cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, float on a rubber raft along the Ganges, go on wildlife safaris in Corbett National Park, and follow trekking trails or relax in picturesque hill stations like Nainital and Ramgarh or Dehra Dun and Mussoorie.
From being a fairly isolated hill station famous only for the Indian equivalent to Eton, the Doon School, has grown into a busy state capital with half a dozen schools, an army training institute and the wonderfully informative Forest Research Institute. It is best however, to enjoy Dehra Dun from the quiet of the hills that surround it, and the home-stay of Shaheen Bagh offers just that.
But the state is most famous for its sacred cities of and . Colourful bazaars sell the flowers, powders and material required for the elaborate evening ceremonies that are performed in both cities. These cities were the focus for all those interested in Oriental philosophy and religion in the glory days of the 70's and even today they continue to weave their particular tantric magic on visitors.
Located in the hills above Dehra Dun, attracted the British for its salubrious climate. Mussoorie's restorative powers may have faded just that little bit but there are still charming corners to be found in the Tibetan settlement of Happy Valley and along the mist shrouded paths of Landour.
The other favourite hill station of the British Raj, also features many colonial buildings and Gothic churches. Nainital's famous lake is said to be the emerald green eye of goddess Sati, wife of Shiva. Today however, it's better known for it horse-riding and boating activities than its mythical importance.
Ramgarh and its surrounding areas are famous for their fruit orchards. Fruit grown here includes plums, peaches, pears and apples. Many writers and thinkers have been drawn to the beauty of Ramgarh and some of India's leading industrial families continue to own sprawling orchards.
National Park protects part of the wooded forests bordering the Shivalik Mountains in the south. It is home to over 100 tigers, 600 odd species of birds, wild elephants and a variety of deer. The varying vegetation and clear water rivulets of the park help to make Corbett is one of the most beautiful wildlife reserves in India.