A Brief Introduction of Uttarakhand

The 27th state of Republic of India, Devbhoomi Uttarakhand that was formed in the year 2000 after being separated from the large state of Uttar Pradesh, is a destination to explore the riches of Indian culture, history, and natural beauty. The state that borders Tibet to the north; Nepal to the east; the state of Uttar Pradesh to the south; and Himachal Pradesh to the west and north-west, is divided into regions, Garhwal and Kumaon, which further break into 13 districts. Earlier, the state was named Uttaranchal by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) led central government and Uttar Pradesh State Government when they started a fresh round of state reorganisation in 1998. However, in 2006, Union Cabinet of India to the agreed to the demands of the Uttaranchal Legislative Assembly and leading members of the Uttarakhand Statehood Movement and renamed Uttaranchal as Uttarakhand. The state also finds its mention in history as a part of the Kuru and the Panchal kingdoms (mahajanpads) during the Vedic age. In Hindu mythology also, Uttarakhand has been recognized as a part of the famed Kedarkhand (Now Garhwal) and Manaskhand (Kumaon). It is also believed the famous sage Vyas composed the epic of Mahabharata in Uttarakhand. The signs of the practise of Shaivism in ancient times along with Buddhism and Folk Shamanic religion was also found in the state.

Famed for their simple lifestyle, honesty, and humility, the people of Uttarakhand reflect a sincere bond with nature and gods. Although, the state has a fair amount of cities that are plush with all state-of-the-art amenities and crowd from other parts of the country, however, this could not take the people of Uttarakhand away from their culture and traditional values. The culture of Uttarakhand still revolves around its traditional ethics, moral values, the simplicity of nature and a rich mythology.

People are divided into regions and are thus better recognized as Kumaoni (Inhabitants of Kumaon Region) and Garhwali (Inhabitants of Garhwal Region).

Apart from these two major inhabitants, Uttarakhand is also home to ethnic groups like Bhotias, Jaunsaries, Tharus, Bokshas, and Rajis. Although the major part of the region is seen speaking native languages like Kumaoni and Garhwali, Hindi, Urdu, and Punjabi are also widely spoken. Various tribal communities are both nomadic and those hailing from the Indo-Aryan descent are part of the ethnicity of Uttarakhand. Constituting of Proto-Australoid, Mongoloid, Nordic races and the Dravidians, the state is amongst one of the most historically affluent places in India. The ethnic groups like Jaunsari and Bhotias are further divided into small groups that corroborate the diverse population and culture in Uttarakhand.

The people of Uttarakhand indulge in vivid celebrations and performing of rituals around the year due to their deep-rooted collection with nature and the rich mythology. Like their simple lifestyle, the festivals and fairs in Uttarakhand are also simple yet culturally rich. Each season is welcome with hearty folk songs and dance and so are the agricultural periods. The ancestor spirit worship is exclusive to the state, Jaagar, as it is locally called, is held to wake the Gods and the local deities up from their inactive stage to solve their problems and shower on them many blessings. Dances like Barada Nati, Bhotiya Dance, Chancheri, Chhapeli, Choliya Dance, Jagars, Jhora, Langvir Dance, Langvir Nritya, Pandav Nritya, Ramola, Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances, Thali-Jadda, and Jhainta are performed on various occasions in Uttarakhand. The primary role of women is seen during the festivals as they are involved in preparing traditional dishes and singing folk songs. Dressed traditionally in Ghagra-Choli with a Rangwali (veil), these women look beautiful and their beauty is further enhanced by the big Nose Rings that are made of gold. Truly, every day in Uttarakhand is a day of the festival; the noble and humble people take immense delight in celebrating even a small success with a grateful heart.

About Religion

A major section of the people in Uttarakhand are Hindus. However, the state maintains a secular ambience with significant number of people belonging to other faiths like Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism and Christianity. According to the census conducted in 2011, there were Hinduism about 82.97% of the total population of Uttarakhand, whereas people following Islam were 13.95% and those following Sikhism were 2.34%, Christianity (0.37%), Buddhism (0.15%), and Jainism (0.09%).

About Art & Craft

The land of Uttarakhand is full of artisans and variety of art and craft. Both the rural and urban people indulge in producing/manufacturing some incredible crafts that are worth witnessing. Woodwork is a significant art form that the locals of Uttarakhand practise, apart from it, paintings from Garhwal School of Paintings and murals like Aipan demonstrate skills of the natives. The Ringaal Handicraft that is practised by a backward community named the same, is quite appreciable. The Rambaan Handicraft done by using Jute and Hemp also reflects the rich art and craft of Uttarakhand. Apart from it the woollen knitted wear and embroidered cushion covers, carpets, bedsheets and curtains by the rural women or urban women groups are a must buy from Uttarakhand. The candle making skills in the state are also at par excellence, there is an entire market in Nainital that is dedicated to this art.

About Literacy

The literacy rate of Uttarakhand is 79.63% with 88.33% literacy for males and 70.70% literacy for females according to the census in 2011. The state stands at 17th position in India when it comes to literacy.


The lifestyle in Uttarakhand is heterogenous and one can mark the difference between the urban and rural life in the state. Since Uttarakhand comprises of both hilly and plain terrains that eventually demarcate the lifestyle in the state, and then there are areas in the hill that are remote and difficult to access, where obviously the way of life is entirely different. The urban areas like Dehradun, Nainital, Haldwani, Haridwar and a few others enjoy access to most of the modern facilities like top notch schools, hotels, shopping areas and restaurants with better job offers and economic status. The people are often seen engrossed in trying out the new technology, building better infrastructure and also working towards social reforms. Whereas, in the rural areas, life moves at its own pace, women here are seen taking care of their household  as well as the agricultural work and collecting of woods from the forest. With the interference of NGOs and Government aid, many rural areas in Uttarakhand are making their living by selling organic products, handicrafts and homestays. While the urban people in Uttarakhand entertain themselves by going to the cinema or watching tv or indulging in modern sports, the rural gentry still enjoys organizing fairs, performing folk dance and devoting time in traditional art and craft.

Source of Economy

Uttarakhand is largely dependent on its agriculture for the revenue. Basmati rice, wheat, soybeans, groundnuts, coarse cereals, pulses, and oil seeds are the most widely grown crops in the state. There are also fruits like apples, oranges, pears, peaches, litchis, and plums that are widely grown in the state and bring a good amount of revenue. Other key industries for the source of economy include tourism and hydropower, and recently development in IT, ITES, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and automobile industries can also be seen in the state.

About Old & New Generation Dresses/Costumes

The traditional dress for women in Uttarakhand remains Sarong, a mantle-type dress, tightened with a blouse and an Odani and Khorpi. Whereas in the weddings or special occasion, native women are seen wearing the attractive Rangwali Pichora or Ghagra Choli. A significantly large nose ring (nath) and necklace called Galoband are also worn by the women during festivals/special occasion. The Rangwali Pichora is the dress worn by married women as it represents prosperity. There is also a region wise  dress demarcation, in Garhwal Region, the tribal women living in the upper ranges of Uttarkashi and Chamoli wear warm woollens while those in lower regions or valleys can be seen wearing cotton clothes. The Rajput women of the region wear woollen garments  made of Angora for most part of the year along with cotton Pagras and colourful Lehengas with silver necklace.
The Garhwali men wear Kurta Pyjama or Kurta dhoti and tie a turban specially in the colder months. They can also be seen wearing long necklaces made of silver and kadas on their hands. In Kumaon Region, the dresses are slightly different for women and so is the choice of colours. Ladies in Kumaon also have a different neck piece called Hansuli. Kumaoni men can be seen wearing same Kurta and Dhoti like the Garhwali men but they seem to be more fond of jewellery and often seen wearing a variety of it in neck and hands. There are different dresses of Jaunsari and Bhotiya tribes in the state. However, in the recent time, the people in Uttarakhand for daily life wear the modern jeans/trousers and t-shirt/shirt irrespective of gender. The women can also be seen in sarees and ladies suit.

  • Popular Local Food

    Daal, Bhaat, Kafuli, Phaanu, Baadi, Ras, Bhatt Ki Churdkani, Arsa, Gulgula, Gahat ke Paranthe, Bhang Ki Chutney, Aalu Ka Jhol, Chainsoo, Aalu Gutook, Kumaoni Raita, Sisunak Saag, Thhatwani, Dubuk, Singodi, Jhangora Ki Kheer.

  • Local Folk Music & Dance

    Chhopati, Chounphula, Jhumeila, Basanti, Mangal Barada Nati, Bhotiya Dance, Chancheri, Chhapeli, Choliya Dance, Jagars, Jhora, Langvir Dance, Langvir Nritya, Pandav Nritya, Ramola, Shotiya Tribal Folk Dances, Thali-Jadda, and Jhainta.

  • Popular Local Music Instruments

    Dhol, Damoun, Daur, Dholki, Turri, Thali, Bhankora, Ransinghla, Masakbeen.

  • Popular Local Fairs

    Devidhura Mela, Nanda devi Mela, Ardh Kumbh Mela, Gauchar Mela, Purnagiri Mela,

  • Popular Local Festivals

    Harela, Diwali, Basant Panchami, Raksha Bandhan, Ganga Dasseera, Bitauli, Holi, Navratri.

  • Art and Craft

    Aipan/Alpana, Bar Boond, Patta, Rangwali, Rock Arts, Wood Carving.

Uttarakhand Travel Information at a Glance