The state of Uttarakhand has been divided into two distinct regions, Kumaon and Garhwal. The regions of Kumaon and Garhwal are known for their rich tradition and unique customs. Garhwal, on the other hand has been a region that has seen many rulers and thus many battles. The very word ‘Garh’ otherwise known as fort bears testimony to the various struggles that have taken place to wrest control of the province.
Though it is historically evident that the Garhwal province was ruled by the Panwar Dynasty, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Uttarakhand was once a part of the Mauryan dynasty. That Garhwal should find a mention as Kedarkhand in the Skanda Purana (the Mahabharata) can give an estimate of the age from which this province has been in existence!
Garhwal today is not known either fierce battles that have been fought to gain control from the Rajputs to the Mughals to the Gorkhas and finally the British. It is gained fame the world over for the divine temples of Kedarnath and Badrinath for whose establishment, Adi Shankaracharya played a crucial and vital role.
Geographically, Garhwal occupies a larger area than the Kumaon, starting from Pauri Garhwal and extending all the way up till Uttarakashi comprising of the major districts of the state including the capital Dehradun and the holy Haridwar. Other than the holy places of Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, it is also home to the Tehri Dam, which is soon to be the key attraction of the state.
Historical records indicate that Garhwal or Uttarakhand was ruled by the Katyuri dynasty till the eleventh century. After this period, Garhwal was put under the command of a chieftain appointed by the Katyuri King. This however led to a situation where Garhwal was subject to different rulers at different times. It was however the Pal dynasty that ruled Garhwal for a long period. The name of Kanak Pal is the one name that has attained utmost recognition. The Gurkhas from Nepal have been singularly notorious for laying siege to the fort of Garhwal and wresting control of the province from the rulers.
The menace of the Gorkhas prompted the intervention of the British Empire that paved the way for the Gorkha British war. The British finally won this hard fought struggle and appointed a nominated ruler who represented the British until the Indian independence.
Garhwal is a region in which pristine beauty is everywhere to be seen. From the tumbling waterfalls, to the gorgeous river basins, from the snow capped mountains to the green covered vales, beauty is ever present and can be experienced all through the year. The snow-capped mountains transcend the entire region of Garhwal and make for an enchanting view all across. Some of the rarest flora and fauna can be seen in the plains and the hills of one of the most amazing regions of India.
Chamoli, a district that lies in the Garhwal region is home to several Himalayan peaks and is therefore hounded by adventure lovers. With the peak of Kedarnath that lies at a height of 6940 meters above sea level to the highest peak Nanda Devi that lies at 7816 meters, there are several peaks that are to be scaled by the mountaineers. Dunagiri, Karnet, Trisul and a few more add to complete the long list of peaks that can be found in the notebooks of the professional mountain climbers.
Garhwal is also home to the sacred and divine Ganga. The Alaknanda River that originates in the hills of Garhwal meets the Bhagirathi at Devprayag and thence continues its journey as the unified Ganga.
The population of Garhwal is primarily Hindu and consists of Rajputs, Brahmins and Shilpkaars. The surnames of Garhwalis like Semwal, Nautiyal, Pant etc. indicate that they belong the respective villages. Garhwalis also get their surnames from the profession that they have been in for several generations like Joshi, Bisht, Rawat, Bagiyal etc. The community of Shilpkaars has been designated as schedule caste in the Indian Gazette.
The language spoken in the region from Pauri Garhwal to Uttara Kashi is Garhwali. This falls among those 300 and odd languages in India that does not follow any script.
There is also a significant presence of Garhwalis in the Indian Army and the Garhwal Rifles bears testimony to the contribution of the inhabitants of this region in safeguarding the nation’s frontiers.
Garhwal City Attractions
The major Garhwal city attractions are Mussoorie, Dehradun, Haridwar and Rishikesh. Mussoorie is popularly known as the Queen of the hills, whereas Dehradun is famous for its quality education. Rishikesh and Haridwar are the godly places where tourists can easily take a holy dip in the blessed water of Ganga River and take off their all sins.
Adventure Sports in Garhwal
Trekkers may avail an extraordinary experience in Garhwal Himalayas. Some of the major trek spots of this region include Kedarnath-Vasuki Tal, Gangotri-Kedarnath Trek, Gangotri- Gaumukh-Nandanvan-Tapovan etc. You may also enjoy mountain climbing, rock climbing, boulder hopping and glacier navigating.
The Garhwal hills of Uttaranchal are snow-capped with slopes creating an ideal for skiing during winter seasons. The region provides you with the perfect opportunity for a superb skiing experience in the pristine spot of Himalayan heaven.
White Water Rafting
Garhwal regions boast many of white water rafting routes. With rivers flowing through a mix of different colored rocky ravines, forests, flowers and lofty mountain villages, the Garhwal hills provide an ideal location for exciting water adventure sport.
Garhwal is renowned worldwide as the "abode of gods" because of the divine temples situated here. Temples including Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri are visited by the devotees every year. Panch Badri of Lord Vishnu and Panch Kedar of Lord Shiva are situated in the Garhwal region. Prayag is a place where two rivers join to unite and flow together. There are Panch Prayags (5 confluences) in Garhwal region of which Devprayag clutch immense importance.
Garhwal has rich and exotic flora and fauna to appeal the wildlife seekers. The forests here are copious with pine, oak, rhododendron, juniper and birch trees. The wildlife tourism is strengthened with tigers, leopards, elephants, Himalayan bear, wolves, snow leopards and varieties of deer which are seen in the wild life sanctuaries and national parks here. Some of the popular national parks and wildlife sanctuaries of Garhwal include the Corbett national park, Rajaji national park, Govind wild life sanctuary, Nanda Devi wild life sanctuary, Kedarnath wild life sanctuary, Assan barrage and Chilla wildlife sanctuaries.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Garhwal is between July to September when the flowers are in boom.
The major fairs and festivals of the Garhwal region are Hatkalika fair, Tapkeshwar fair, Kunjapuri fair, Surkhanda Devi mela, Lakhawar village fair, Mata Murti Ka mela and many more.
The destination offer excellent accommodation facilities in and around Garhwal. Many of hotels and resorts allow you enjoy a range of superb services like yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. You can visit Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam's Website (Click Here To Visit) for more details.