The Land of Gods, also known as Devbhoomi, Uttarakhand was declared as a state and separated from Uttar Pradesh in the year 2000. With the Chaar Dham pilgrimage at the helm of all the religious sites in the state, Uttarakhand is also home to the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers. The state offers astounding views of the Himalayas and serene valleys with unparalleled beauty and scenery. One of the most unique natural phenomenon the Winter Line occurs in the hills of Mussoorie and Dehradun. It is the only place in the world to observe this phenomenon, apart for certain parts of the Swiss Alps. We’ve compiled a list of 22 off-beat laces in Uttarakhand where nature is at its best, read on to find out more.
Weekend Getaways from Delhi
Situated in the Dehradun district, Chakrata is a cantonment town which lies between the Tons and Yamuna rivers. It is about 100 km from the capital city of Dehradoon. The route to Chakrata from Dehradoon passes through lush coniferous forests along with an abundance of rhododendrons and oaks. The Tiger Falls is one of the most frequently visited destinations in Chakrata. It is one of the highest waterfalls in the country. The picturesque Chilmark plateau is visited by nature lovers for the placid sunsets that are seen from here.
Chakrata to Tiger Falls trek: 5 kms
Chakrata Altitude: 2,118 m
Image Source – Ashwini_Bhat (Flickr)
2. Nag Tibba Trek
A relatively unexplored trek route near Mussoorie, Nag Tibba Trek is a trekkers dream come true. Perfect for a weekend getaway, this trek route will take through enchanting forests and offer stunning views of Bandarpoonch peak, along with the Gangotri and Kedarnath ranges. One of the advantages of Nag Tibba trek is the fact that you can access the base camp on a vehicle which makes it doable over a weekend.
Nag Tibba Trek Base camp: Panthwari Village
Panthwari Village to Nag Tibba trek: Approx 10 kms
Nag Tibba Altitude: 3,022 m
Image Source – Madhava Reddy (Flickr)
Off-Beat Hill Stations
Bageshwar in Kumaon is situated at the confluence of the rivers Gomti and Saju. It is located at around 470 kms from Delhi and 134 kms from Nainital. Bageshwar used to be an important trade center between Tibet and Kumaun. The city has been one of the most important religious, political and historically significant sites. It also finds mention in some of the religious texts like the Puranas and is associated with Lord Shiva.
The many temples in and around Bageshwar are frequented by Hindu pilgrims around the year. The most prominent among these are the Bairav Temple, Dattatreya Maharaj, Ganga Mai temple, Hanuman temple, Durga temple, Kalika temple, Thingal Bhirav temple, Panchnam Junakhara and the Vaneshwar temple.
Altitude: 1,004 m
Image Source: Sriparna Ghosh (Flickr)
This serene hill station located in the Pithoragarh district is a sublime town among the soaring snow capped Himalayan peaks. Tibet lies to the north of Chaukori and to its south lies the Terai, and the Mahakali River runs along the eastern end of the town, which also forms the border between Nepal and India. The place also offers some of the most staggering views of the Himalayan peaks and ranges. At dawn and dusk, the golden yellow rays of the sun paint a tranquil picture on the snow-capped Himalayan peaks and it is at these times that the Chaukori resonates beauty and gorgeousness in all its glory.
Altitude: 2,010 m
Image Source – Nityananda Mukherjee (Flickr)
View of the Nanda Devi from Chaukhori
Image Source – siddhartha das (Flickr)
Popularly know as the Mini Switzerland of India, Harshil is a quaint valley town located along the banks of the Bhagirathi river. It was the setting for the Raj Kapoor blockbuster Ram Teri Ganga Maili, and the locals still take pride of this fact. The town lies on the old caravan trial between Tibet and India. The valley town is known for the alluring apple orchards, winding roads and the roaring Bhagirathi which adds a dash of magic to the natural beauty of this place. Harshil lies at the head of the Baspa valley and is well connected through roads. It falls on the route to Gangotri an is about 95 km from the district headquarters, Uttarkashi. Harshil is where you should head to if you are looking for a typical leisure holiday in the lap of nature.
Altitude: 2,620 m
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Located along the banks of Lohawati River in Champawat district, a few kilometers beyond Pithoragarh. This ancient town attracts visitors around the year; pilgrims and devotees drop by to pay their respects to the ancient Shiva temples scattered around the town. It is one of the least explored Himalayan retreats, which has retained its charm and grandeur over the different eras of time. The historical and mythological tales of Lohaghat unravel themselves to the visitors and these narratives continue to fascinate people visiting this place.
Altitude: 1,754 m
Image Source – Gopi Verma (Flickr)
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6. Johar Valley
The Johar valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in Uttarakhand. It is located along the river, Gori Ganga. It is a popular valley and tourist destination which is visited by people from all across the world. This valley has attained immense significance due to its tourism. It also served as one of the main trade routes between Tibet and erstwhile India. Munsiyari and Milam are the most popular villages in the valley.
Image Source – Lopamudra Barman (Flickr)
Khirsu is a quaint village nestled between oak, deodar forests and apple orchards. It falls in the Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand. The place offers some of the most picturesque panoramic views of the Himalayan landscape. It is a relatively unexplored place with an ancient temple dedicated to the Ghandiyal Devi. This placid hill town embodies the most typical aspects of being a Himalayan village. If you wish to rejuvenate your soul and energy, then this is the destination that you should blindly choose to visit.
Altitude: 1,700 m
Image Source – Joe Athialy (Flickr)
8. Dharchula, Uttarakhand
Image Source – Uttarakhand Tourism
9. Neolong Valley
This picturesque valley had been closed to tourists and visitors after the 1962 conflict between India and China. Recently it has been reopened for visitors and nature enthusiasts. The Neolong Valley is part of the Gangotri National pass and the entry is still restricted, with about three dozen people being permitted to visit the valley.
Altitude: 3,352 m
Image Source – Amar Ujala
Located in the Uttarkashi district, Barkot lies on the banks of the river Yamuna. It is located at a distance of around 135 km from Dehradun and 370 km from Delhi. This snoozy hill town is tucked away among the magnificent Himalayas and offers some of the most stunning views of the Banderpoonch Peak and other Himalayan peaks. This hill town has not been yet been tainted by the skid marks of commercialisation and urbanisation. It is an ideal holiday destination where one can relax and rejuvenate one’s peace of mind, also you can visit this place to de-stress and chill with your loved ones.
The place offers of the most picturesque trek routes of the area, through dense forests along the hills and across smothered hamlets sparsely spread around Barkot. It also offers nature and adventure activities like rock climbing, mountain climbing, and rappelling. At Barkot you will find yourself in the very lap of nature right from waking up to the songs of the Himalayan birds to friendly mountain dogs accompanying you on the various trek routes.
Altitude: 1,220 m
Image Source – Wikipedia
Nestled in the snow-capped and lush hills of the Himalayas, Munsiyari is the base of many treks into the interiors areas of the Himalaya ranges around the area. The treks to Milam Glacier and Ralam Glacier are the most famous treks that begin here. One of the key attractions at Munsiyari is the Birth Waterfall, a gurgling and gorging white spray of water that adds a sense of magic and enchantment to that area. The sunsets at Munsiyari are some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, to try and express the beauty of the sunsets with words would be in vain, as our mortal words are not strong enough to capture the everlasting beauty of this place.
Altitude: 2,200 m
Image Source – Krisnendu Sar (Flickr)
Image Source – siddhartha das (Flickr)
1. Hari Ki Doon Valley
This is one the most preferred summer trek routes which will take you through some of the most serene forests and lush meadows. Lined with orchids and rhododendrons the trek route is one of the most colorful routes in the entire world. This moderate trek can be attempted by beginners too, and it is one of those regions which is still untainted by urbanization.
Base camp: Sankri village
Sankari to Hari Ki Doon Valley trek: 54 kms
Hari Ki Doon Valley Altitude: 3,566 m
Image Source – Vrinda Ramanan (Flickr)
2. Chopta – Tungnath – Chandrashila Trek
This is one of the most interesting trek routes in the entire state and one of the best for beginners. This 6 km trek but takes you through beautiful landscapes with breathtaking views of the Himalayan ranges. The trek route is paved with stones and needs no guide.
Chopta, a hamlet located on the Rudraprayag – Gopeshwar road in Garhwal around 450 kms from Delhi serves as the base of this trek. Chopta is often referred to as the “Mini Switzerland Of India” owing its exquisite natural beauty. There are small local eateries here to have your meal, keep excess baggage and park your vehicles. Basic accommodation options are available here for a few hundred rupees.
Chopta – The Base Of The Trek
Image Source: Anuj Malik (Flickr)
A 3.5 km trek takes you to Tungnath, the world’s highest Shiva Temple which is perched on the hills at a height of 3600 m. The Tungnath temple is set amidst lush green hills with Himalayan peaks in the background. The trek is easy and takes around 2-3 hours. A number of small dhabas on the trek routes are perfect to rest and have food. There is a guest house at Tungnath managed by the temple and a few accommodation options by the locals.
Tungnath – World’s Highest Shiva Temple
Image Source: Sunrider007 (Flickr)
View of the meadows from Tungnath
Image Source: Chopta-Tungnath Destination Article
Another 2.5 km of trekking from Tungnath takes you the 4000-meter high Chandrashila peak. The views from the peak are probably the highlight of the trek. There’s a small temple devoted to Ganga Maa on the peak. It is best advised to visit the peak early in the morning during sunrise.
Base camp: Sari Village
Sari Village to Chandrashila trek: 23 km
Chandrashila Altitude: 4,000 m
Chandrashila peak located at an altitude of over 4000 meters
Image Source: Praveen Purohit (Flickr)
3. Kuari Pass
This historic trail dates back to the 1880’s and is one of the more moderate treks that is friendly towards beginners. From the base camp of the trek to Kuari Pass, one is greeted by staggering views of Mt Nanda Devi peak. As you go further into this trek, traversing the meadows of Gorson Bugyal, forests of Chitrakantha the peaks of Garhwal.
Base camp: Lata
Kuari Pass Altitude: 2,316 m
Image Source – Niels Hendriks (Flickr)
Image Source – Carolina & Nathan Hale (Flickr)
4. Valley Of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers National Park is located in the Western Himalayas in the Chamoli district. The trek to the valley is about 17 km and it is not a difficult trek either. It is known for the endemic vegetation and alpine flowers. The rich biodiversity of this spot attracts thousands of visitors annually. The Valley of Flowers is a high-altitude Himalayan valley that has long been acknowledged by renowned mountaineers, botanists, and in literature.
Ghangaria to Valley of Flowers trek: 17 km
Valley of Flowers Altitude: 3,250-6,750 m
Image Source – Rohit . (Flickr)
5. Saryu Valley – Sahastradhara Valley
Tucked away from the noise and commotion of civilization, Saryu Valley lies in the heart of the Kumaon Hills near the border between Tibet, Nepal, and India. The astounding valley, with verdant meadows and abounding in rhododendrons, alpine vegetation, waterfalls, and snow-capped Himalayan peaks. The Saryu Valley trek is a moderate trek and can be attempted by beginners.
Base camp: Supi Village
Saryu Valley Altitude: 3.048 m
Image Source – Chinmaya K (Flickr)
Image Source – Matthew Stuttard (Flickr)
1. Dayara Bugyal – Dodital Trek
The trek between Dayara Bugyal and Dodital is one of the most fabled treks in the entire state. The trek starts at the Barsu village and ascends through ravishing alpine forests to reach Dayara meadows, which is one of the most gorgeous places on this trek. Walking on the meadows, one feels like one is walking on royal silk carpets. The trek then leads you to the next campsite which is Lambi Dhar, a valley that is covered in dense forests of bamboo and oak. Beyond Lambi Dhar campsite, falls the Dodital lake is a placid and gorgeous lake which makes you fall in love with it in the very first glance. The lake harbors many rare species of fish and the Himalayan golden trout. This trek is one which will keep calling you back with is enchanting and mesmerizing nature. It is here, where nature becomes synonymous with beauty and tranquility.
Base camp: Barsu village
Dayara Bugyal – Dodital trek: 74 km
Dodital Altitude: 4,150
Image Source – Scott S (Flickr)
Image Source – Shandy Banerjee (Flickr)
2. Hemkund Sahib
Located in the Garhwal hills, at the border between Tibet and Nepal, Hemkund Sahib is a Sikh shrine, associated with the 10th Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh. The name Hemkund literally translates to ‘Lake of Snow’. This pilgrimage site is perched at a height of 4329 m above sea level, and you can reach the shrine on a wonderful trek across waterfalls, dense forests and staggering views of the might Himalayas. The gurudwara at Hemkund is the highest gurudwara in the world. The trek route is accessible only between the months of May and October.
Basecamp: Govind Ghat
Govind Ghat to Hemkund Sahib trek: 15 km
Hemkund Sahib Altitude: 4,329 m
Image Source – Niladri Adhikary(Flickr)
Image Source – deeltijdgod (Flickr)
3. Satopanth Taal & Trek
This high altitude trek is located at an elevation of 4600 m above sea level. This onerous trek promises an experience of a lifetime. It is situated at the base of the Nilkantha peak and the Narayan Parbat Peak. The climb is steep and difficult but also breathtaking at the same time. The pristine landscape around the Satopanth Taal offers unbridled views of the majestic Himalayan peaks around the area.
Base camp: Laxmivan
Laxmivan to Satopanth Taal trek: 25 km
Satopanth Taal Altitude: 4,600 m
Satopanth Taal Lake
Image Source – Shawn DeGroot (Flickr)
Image Source – Chinmaya K (Flickr)
4. Vasuki Taal
The trek to Vasuki Taal begins at Gaurikund, near a hot water sulfur spring. As one approaches the temple at Kedarnath, one passes through stately forests and gurgling waterfalls. The trek is a continuous ascent which offers majestic views of the Himalayan peaks and valleys.
Base camp: Nandanvan
Nandanvan to Vasuki Tal trek: 6 km
Vasuki Tal Altitude: 4,880 m
Image Source – Steven House (Flickr)
One of the most revered temples of Lord Shiva lies at Rudranath, the trek route offers awe-inspiring and magnificent views of the deep gorges and valleys. It is one of the most difficult treks in the region but the hardships faced on the arduous journey is worth the effort as you are enchanted by the mystical Nanda Devi, Nanda Ghunti, and Trishul peaks. The trail takes one through undulating meadows, dense woodlands and offers some of the most scenic views of the Himalayas in all its glory.
Base camp: Panar
Panar to Rudranath trek: 10 km
Rudranath Altitude: 3,596 m
Image Source – Arun Singh Bisht (Flickr)
View at Rudranath
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Enroute Rudranath Trek
Image Source – Himanshu Dutt (Flickr)
6. Roopkund Trek & Bugyals Enroute
The trek to Roopkund is one of the most renowned trek routes in India. From lush meadows and dense forests to breathtaking campsites you will never run out of things to see and immerse yourself in. The trek to Roopkund is a rigorous 6-day long hike. But it is worth the effort, and all your fatigue will be washed away at the mysterious Roopkund lake where the trek culminates.
Base camp: Lohajung
Lohajung to Roopkund trek: 35 km
Roopkund Altitude: 5,029 m
Image Source – Soham Sarkar (Flickr)
Image Source – Madhujith Venkatakrishna (Flickr)
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These are some of the more offbeat destinations in the state, where you can get closer to the heart of nature. If you cant decide where to start exploring, list down the places in the list above and throw a dart at it. Pack your bags and head to wherever the dart lands Tell us what you think in the comments below.