Uttarakhand, a state in northern India crossed by the Himalayas, is known for its Hindu pilgrimage sites. Rishikesh, a major centre for yoga study, was made famous by the Beatles’ 1968 visit. The city hosts the evening Ganga Aarti, a spiritual gathering on the sacred Ganges River. The state’s forested Jim Corbett National Park shelters Bengal tigers and other native wildlife.
Garhwal, the western region where the Ganges arises, draws Hindu pilgrims and trekkers to high Himalayan temples at Badrinath, Kedarnath and Gangotri. Mussoorie is a onetime British Raj hill station with views of Doon Valley, home to state capital Dehradun. In Kumaon, the eastern region, the resort town Nainital is set around picturesque Naini Lake. Nainital’s Snow View observation point (at 2,270m) has views of Nanda Devi, Uttarakhand’s highest peak. Across the state there are numerous areas for hiking, mountain climbing and whitewater rafting.
When to visit: Many visitors come in summer (May–Jun) for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing. The monsoon season is Jul–Sep. Climate varies widely depending on altitude, with winter (Nov–Feb) cold and snowy in mountain areas. Key events include the International Yoga Festival (Rishikesh, Mar); the Ardh Kumbh Mela and Kumbh Mela, which draw millions of Hindu pilgrims to bathe in the Ganges (Haridwar, Jan–Apr, every 6 & 12 years); and the Nanda Devi Fair (Almora, Sep), honouring a Hindu goddess with cultural celebrations.