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Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi was originally a part of district Tehri Garhwal. Soon after independence, when Tehri Garhwal kingdom merged with India, it was made a border district with the district headquarter at Uttarkashi. Uttarkashi district was created on February 24, 1960 out of what then constituted the parganas of Rawain and Uttarkashi of Rawain tehsil of erstwhile Tehri Garhwal district. It sprawls in the extreme northwest corner of the state over an area of 8016 sq. km in the rugged terrain of the mystic Himalayas. On its north lie Himachal Pradesh State and the territory of Tibet and the district of Chamoli in the east. The district is named after its headquarters town Uttarkashi, an ancient place with rich cultural heritage. The district acquires importance because of the two very significant pilgrimage-centre viz. Gangotri and Yamunotri, the source of the two holy rivers, Ganga (Bhagirathi) and Yamuna. Irrigating a large part of northern India, these rivers finally unite at Allahabad, also known as Prayag Raj. Topographically, the district is mountainous but a network of roads has made all parts easily accessible.

Forests


Forests occupy a place of pride in the environment of the district not only for the sheer bulk of the area they occupy but also for the richness of variety of vegetation. As much as 88 percent of the total area of the district is administered by the Forest Department. Pine forests occur between the altitude of 900-2000 m, Deodar forests between 2000-3000 m, Fix and Spruce forests over 3000 m and Kharshu, Birch and Junipers forests upto the height of 4000 m. Above the Fir and Spruce forest zone, alpine pastures are found throughout the district between the height of 3500 m to 4877 m above sea level. Rich varieties of grass, shrubs and herbs come up during June- September while during the remaining part of the year these areas remain covered with snow. A large number of medicinal plants of great commercial value grow spontaneously in the forests. Some of these grow in the valleys, some in sub-montane tracts while some other on higher altitudes. Forestry too does play an important role in the economy of the district. It employs persons both in preservation and propagation of forests as well as in their exploitation. Herbs are the most important minor forest produce. A large variety of herbs grow wild. They are of a great commercial importance for their rapeutic value. The herbsare collected through co- operatives.

Rivers, Canals and Waterways

It is the land of Uttarkashi district, that gives rise to two great and reverent rivers of India the Bhagirathi, called the Ganga in the plains and the Yamuna. The Ganga coming up in the glaciers `gaumukh' traverses 128 km in Uttarkashi district before flowing down farther. Hardly ten km away from Gaumukh is the place `Gangotri' of great from the west of Bandarpuch peak and revered highly is the place `Yamunotri' situated nearby visited by pilgrims. The third important river of this district is Tons besides host of tributaries that drain these areas.

Towns and Villages

The district at present comprises of 4 tehsils and 6 Community Development Blocks. It has 3 towns and 686 villages (678 inhabited villages and 8 uninhabited villages).

Agriculture and Irrigation

Agriculture in these areas suffer from many constraints. The availability of cultivable land itself is the greatest restricting factor on the development of agriculture. It can be seen from the fact that as much as 88% of the area is either covered by forests or is barren and uncultivable. The land is low in fertility except in the valleys and even land is too few and far between. Shorter agricultural season, low temperature, high altitude, smallness of land holding, perpetual problem of soil erosion due to steep gradients etc. are other inhibiting factors effecting agriculture. The agriculture, therefore, does not offer too much hope for bringing about well being to the people of the area. Sheep rearing for production of wool and meat, orchard raising, spinning and weaving of wool and other cottage industries etc. offer much scope and their potential be exploited to the fullest extent. The cultivation in these areas are carried on largely by making terraces on the sloping hillsides. Some cultivation is done on steep hills also where terracing and tilling cannot be done and the place is cleared by burning scrubs and bushes. The seeds are sown with the help of a hoe. This practice of cultivation is known as `Katil'. Both Rabi as well as Kharif crops are harvested. The main Kharif crops are paddy, small millets and potato and chief Rabi crops are wheat and barley. These crops account for over 80 percent of the total cropped area. Horticulture is another field that can boost up the economy of the district. However, it has not made much headway due to difficulties in marketing the produce, due to poor communications and remoteness of areas.

Animal husbandry

Animal husbandry is an important source of supplementing income of the rural population. Of the total live-stock, bovine population and that of sheep accounted for almost one third each. The production of milk per milch animal is very low. Efforts are under way for introducing high yielding strain. Sheep rearing is an important industry in the district. Yet it does not provide full time employment and it is only avocation for those who are engaged in its pursuit. As many as sixteen sheep development centres are functioning.

Industries

The knowledge regarding occurrences of minerals in the district is scanty. As per stray surveys, soap stones, iron, graphite, lime stone, kyanite and mica deposits occur in the district. There has been hardly any industrial development in the district. The cottage and village industries play an important role in the economy of the district. The most important cottage industry is the production of wool and woolen goods. Sheep are reared in a large number and the industry flourished at an altitude between 1525 metres and 2440 metres. Carpets (namdas), tweeds, blankets etc. are produced. Other cottage industries are basket-making mat weaving and wood craft.

Lifestyle

The houses are made of mud, stone and wood. The lower part of the house is used for the animals and fodder and the upper part is utilised by the people. Stone slates are used for roof of the house. The houses in the urban areas including Uttarkashi town are made using cement, bricks, iron rods etc. In the entire district including the Uttarkashi town people take general food like Dal (pulse), rice, vegetables, wheat, milk, curd etc. apart from the local foodgrains of Jhangora, Koda, Kauni, China , Marsu etc. Men generally wear pant, shirt, coats, woolen sweater, woolen coats, trouser, Topi(cap), Kurta, Mirjhai and women wear Dhoti, Sari, Blouse, Pankhi, Dawla etc. Women in the rural areas wear ornaments like golden Nath, Bulak , Murkhle, Har, Churi(bangles), rings etc.

District Uttarkashi at a glance
Geographical Area 8016 Sq km.
Total Population 295013
Male Population 152016
Female Population 142997
Rural Population 272095
Urban Population 22918
SC Population 67467
ST Population 2685
Literates - district 161161
Male (54.6 % ) 105663
Female (69.5 % ) 55498
Rural ( 38.8 % ) 143685
Urban ( 52.8 % ) 17476
District (76.2 % ) 54.6%
Tehsils 6
Blocks 6
Nyay Panchyats 36
Gram Panchayat 427
Revenue Villages 677
Towns 3
Nagar Palika 1
Nagar Panchayat 2
Police Stations  
Rural 3
Urban 2
Post Office  
Rural 124
Urban 5
Telegraph Office 15
Telephone Connections 7163
Banks  
Nationalised Bank Branches 23
Rural Bank Branches 3
Co-operative Bank Branches 12
Fair Price Shops  
Rural 319
Urban 15
Biogas Plants 422
Agriculture and Industry  
Net Sown Area 27 Thou. Hectares
Net Irrigated Area 5 Thou. Hectares
Total Irrigated Area 9 Thou. Hectares
Length of Canals 657 Km.
Primary Agriculture Societies 44
Members of Societies 48
No. of Small Scale Industries 123
Transport  
Length of Pakka roads 1029 Km.
Animal Husbandry  
Total Livestock 304860
Livestock Service Centre 31
Artificial Breeding Centre 10
Education  
Junior Basic School 768
Senior Basic School 212
Higher Secondary School 73
Degree College 4
I.T.I. 4
Polytechnic 1
Hospitals  
Veterinary Hospital 25
Allopathic 40
Ayurvedic 46
Homeopathic 4
Primary Health Centres 10
Family Welfare Centres 4
Family Welfare Subcentres 64
Electricity  
Electrified Villages 628
Water Supply  
Villages 661
Towns 3

Uttarkashi - The City

99 Km away from Gangotri, Uttarkashi is an important pilgrimage centre, equated with Varanasi or Kashi in divinity. It is located in a wide stretch of a valley. Situated at a distance of 145 Km from Rishikesh, the last rail head and at an elevation of 1158 m on the bank of river Bhagirathi, this picturesque town is also the district headquarter. Uttarkashi as its name suggests is Kashi of north(Uttar). It is also called the land of gods and goddesses. Like Kashi(Varanasi) it has many temples devoted to different gods and goddesses. Uttarkashi Town has 32 temples at present. Every year on the occasion of ''Magh Mela'' ( January 14), people from far and near visit Uttarkashi to take a holy dip in Bhagirathi along with the idol of their local deities.

How to reach

By Air

Nearest airport is at Jollygrant 162 Km away.

By Train

Nearest railway station is at Rishikesh 145 Km away.

By Road

Uttarkashi is well connected by motorable road to Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and other major towns of the state and region.

Important Telephone Numbers District Magistrate Ph: 2280 (O), 2101 (R)
Supdt. of Police Ph: 2116 (O), 2102 (R)
Chief Medical Officer Ph: 2106
Nagar Palika Parishad Ph: 2265
Police Station Ph: 2219
Search & Rescue Cell,NIM Ph: 2123
Police Station (LIU) near Vishwanath Marg Ph: 2224

Places of Interest in and around Uttarkashi


Temples


The Vishwanath Temple

The Vishwanath Temple devoted to Lord Shiva is situated approx. 300 meters away from the local bus stand at Uttarkashi. This temple was renovated by Maharani Khaneti, wife of Sudarshan Shah in 1857. The temple has a Shivling (60 cm. high and 90 Cm. Circumference). People from all over India do also visit the Vishvanath temple during their visits to Uttarkashi ,Gangotri and Yamunotri.

Shakti temple

Right in front of the Vishwanath temple is Shakti temple. It has a big 'Trishul' of about 6 meters in height and a circumference of 90 cms. at bottom. Though there are different views about the making of this, the upper part of it seems to be made up of iron and the lower one is of copper. As per the epics this Shakti was thrown on the devils by the Goddess Durga(Shakti), hence it gets its name. Since then this Shakti is erected over here.

Other Temples

The other temples in Uttarkashi are : Hanuman Temple
Sakhsi Gopal Temple
Markandey Rishi Temple
Dundiraj temple
Kuteti Devi Temple
Ganesh temple
Gopeshwar Mahadev temple
Gopal temple
Koteshwar Mahadev temple
Ma Kali temple
Sitaram Temple
Kedareshwar Mahadev temple
Jaipur Temple
Ganga Temple
Varneshwar Mahadev Temple
Gyanwapishwar Mahadev temple
Kali Mandir
Kaleshwar Mahadev
Gangoti temple
Pundeer Nag Temple
Kandar Devta
Bhairav temple
Annapurna temple
Dattatreya temple
Parasuram temple
Ma Mahishasur Mardini temple
Onkareshwar temple
Durga Devi Temple
Lakheshwar temple

Nehru Institute Of Mountaineering Uttarkashi

The Nehru Institute of Mountaineering was established at Uttarkashi on 14 Nov, 1965 to honour the desire of a great mountain lover late Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. The new campus is situated 5 kms. away from this rapidly developing town atop a hill on the south bank spur of HOLY BHAGARATHI at an attitude of 1300M./4300ft amongst whispering pine trees and overlooking the sacred river and the valley of Gods. The sylvan environment of the Institute is the "sanctum sanctorum" of the mountaineers and nature lovers. Late Shri Y.B. Chavan, the then Defence Minister of India , was the first President of the Institute and late Smt. Sucheta Kriplani , the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh , was the first Vice President of the Institute.The Institute is an autonomous body and is registered societies Registration Act No.XXI of 1860. Functioning of the Institute is governed by the Executive Council Chaired by the Chief Minister of Uttaranchal. General Body meeting of the Institute is chaired by the Defence Minister. Excutive Council and General body meeting are held once in a year. There are 31 life members and 64 ordinary members of the Institute. The aim of the Institute is to impart theoretical and practical training to young men, women and children in mountaineering and Adventure courses. Specical emphasis is laid on instilling the concept of adventure sports without causing environmental degradation. For further and up to date information about courses etc. please contact :


NIM Uttarkashi Ph. 91-1374-222123

Nachiketa Tal

There is greenery all around and a small temple at the bank of the lake gives a serene look to an otherwise beautiful surroundings. Nachiketa, the devout son of saint Uddalak, is said to have created this lake hence the name. There is no accommodation facility and visitors have either to come back to Uttarkashi or stay at the PWD Inspection House at Chaurangi Khal.

Maneri

On way to Gangotri at a distance of about 13 kms. from Uttarkashi, Maneri has lately emerged as a place of tourist interest as a result of the construction of a dam across the Bhagirathi river, from where the water is fed to the turbines through an 8 km long tunnel at Tiloth in Uttarkashi. The resultant lake at Maneri has added to the charm of the place.

Dodital

The road from Uttarkashi to Gangotri, bifurcates at 4 km from Uttarkashi and vehicles can go upto Kalyani, 7 km further up, from where, Agoda is 5 km away at an altitude of 2288 m. The trek from there ascends gradually through thick forest and beautiful mountainous scenery. Dodital is 16 km further situated at an elevation of 3307 m. The lake is sparkling and crystal clear, surrounded by forests. The famous Himalayan trouts are found in abundance in the lake. Permit for fishing can be had from the Divisional Forest Officer, Uttarkashi. There is a forest rest house and a Log Cabin by the site of the lake. From there one can trek down to Hanuman Chatti (27 kms.) and then to Yamunotri.

Dayara Bugyal

Bugyal in the local language means "high altitude meadow". The road to Dayara Bugyal branches off near Bhatwari a place on Uttarkashi - Gangotri road about 32 km from Uttarkashi. Vehicles can go up to the village of Barsu from where one has to trek a distance of about 8 kms to reach Dayara. Situated at an elevation of about 10,000 feet above sea-level this vast meadow is second to none in natural beauty. During winter it provides excellent ski slopes over an area of 28 sq.kms. The panoramic view of the Himalayas from here is breath taking. There is a small lake also in the area, and to camp by its side would be a memorable event. From this spot one can trek down to Dodi-Tal which is about 30 km away, through dense forests.

Harsil

The Bhagirathi valley is most enchanting and preserves many colourful spots in its lap. Situated at a distance of 72 kms. from Uttarkashi on the main highway to Gangotri at an elevation of 2623 meters, this sylvan hamlet is famous for its natural beauty and delicious apples. Tourist Bungalow, PWD and Forest Rest Houses exist here for the travelers.

Sat Tal

Sat Tal meaning seven lakes, is situated just above Dharali, 2 km beyond Harsil. The trek of about 7 km is rewarding as this group of lakes is situated amid beautiful natural surroundings. It also provides lovely camp sites.

Kedartal

This spectacular and enchanting lake is situated at a distance of about 18 km from Gangotri, negotiable through rough and tough mountain trail. The trek is very tiring and there are testing moments even for a hardy trekker. There is no facility of any kind on the way and one has to make all arrangements in advance. A local guide is a must. The lake is crystal clear with the mighty Thalayasagar (spahatikling) peak forming a splendid backdrop. The place is about 15000 feet of sea level and is the base camp for trekking to the Thalayasagar, Jogin, Bhrigupanth and other peaks.

Nandan-Van Tapovan

These two spots are situated opposite the Gangotri glacier further up from Gaumukh, at a distance of 6 km from where visitors can have a superb view of the majestic Shivling peak. There are ideal spots for camping and also provides base camps for Bhagirathi, Shivling, Meru, Kedardom, Kharchakund, Satopant, Kalindi Khal and many other snow peaks.

Harkidoon

Harkidoon is famous for its natural beauty and is a popular destination for trekkers. A convenient route is from Mussoorie via Yamuna bridge - Naugaon- Purola- Saur- Sankri, Taluka and Osla. Accommodation facilities are available at the above in the form of Forest Rest Houses and Tourist Bangalows. At Harkidoon too there is a small rest house at an altitude of 3506 m. A trek is satisfying experience, moving through dense forests and mountainous landscape. The Ruinsara lake which is about 8 km from Osla, is yet another attractive place for trekkers.

Gangotri

The district is mentioned in Kedar Khand of Skand Puran as "Kedar Kshetra" (sacred region) and contains the origins of the most sacred rivers of India, the Ganga and the Yamuna. The Ganga is believed to have first descended to earth at Gangotri ('Ganga' + 'Uttari' which means descended) 99 km from Uttrarkashi, situated at height of 3140 m. A shrine dedicated to the Goddess was built some 250 years ago by Amar Bahadur Thapa, the Gorkha Commander. Near the temple is a great stone slab-the 'Bhagirath Shila' dedicated to Bhagirath, whose penance is believed to have brought the Ganga down from the heavens. Other spots to watch nearby are Surya Kund, Gauri Kund, Patangna, Bhairav Jhap etc. At Gangotri, the confluence of the Bhagirathi with Kedar Ganga takes place. Gomukh(4200 meters), the identified source of the holy river Ganga, is 18 km further uphill from Gangotri. The trek to Gomukh is gradual and several pilgrims undertake the journey to pay homage the river at its known source. Enroute accommodation is available at Bhojwasa in Tourist Rest House. Further up from Gaumukh are Tapovan, Nandanvan, Chaukhamba - where famous peaks like shivling, Bhagirathi I,II,III, Kalindi are located and are scaled by mountaineers. The Gangotri temple is visited by roughly 2.50 lakhs Hindus annually. It opens on the auspicious day of "Akshay- Tirth", generally in the first week of May, and closes on Diwali. During the winter, Gangotri is snowbound and so the deity is taken 25 km downstreams, to Mukhva, home to the main Pandas of Gangotri. Furhter downstream,10 km from Gangotri, is the picturesque forested halting place of Bhaironghati. There exists a small temple of Bhairon, appointed by Shiva to safeguard this region which gives the place its name. The bridge over the Jhanvi river at Bhaironghati is said to be the highest in Asia. Another 16 km downstream lies the township of Dharali, where again is told that Bhagirath had undergone penance. There one may see the submerged remains of a temple, termed Kedar Kund. Hot springs are encountered at Gangnani, 56 km from Gangotri on the road to Uttarkashi, near the tank called Rishi-Kund is a temple dedicated to the Parasher, believed to be the father of Ved Vyas, author of the Mahabharat. After crossing the tehsil headquarters at Bhatwari, one arrives at Uttarkashi a pilgrim center of great importance.

Yamunotri

The shrine of Yamunotri, source of river Yamuna is situated in the direction opposite to Gangotri and the road bifurcates and goes to Yamunotri from Dharasu, a place between Rishikesh - Uttarkashi. Another 55 km away is Barkot, affording a fabulous view of the Banderpunch Range. Barkot is also approachable by road directly from Delhi (334 km ) via Saharanpur, Harbartpur, Nainbagh and Naugaon.8 km from Barkot is Gangani, a place of pilgrimage, on the left bank of Yamuna. The holy tank here is called Gangayan Kund. Water from the tank is taken for puja purposes to the opposite village of Than, housing the imposing temple of Rishi Jamdagni. 2 kms. from Gangani is Kharadi a place known for its roaring waterfall. The motorable road continues till Phulchatti via Syanachatti, Ranachatti and Hanumanchatti, 42 km from Barkot. From here to Yamunotri is 8 km trek via Janakichatti for which ponies, dandies and kandies (baskets for carrying children) are available. Janakichatti known as "Beef" in the revenue records, the village has a small temple dedicated to Narain Bhagwan. From Janakichatti to Yamunotri is a steep, continuous climb of 5 km. The temple of Yamunotri falls on the left bank and was originally constructed by Maharaj Pratap Shah of Tehri Garhwal. Near the temple are three hot springs. The most important, Surya Kund, is a tank full of boiling water into which rice and potatoes are dipped to be cooked and taken as "prasad". Near the Kund, a rock slab, the "Divya Shila" is worshipped before puja is offered to the black marble idol of Yamuna. The shrine of Yamunotri is one of the "four dhams" of Uttarakhand. The source of Yamuna lies above 1 km ahead at an altitude of about 4421 m. The approach is extremely difficult and pilgrims therefore offer puja at the temple itself. Pilgrims can find accommodation in the houses belonging to the "Pandas" or the sole Dharamshala. On the way one can stay at Janaki Chatti 8 km from Hanuman Chatti. There are tourist bangalow, PWD and Forest Rest Houses and Dharamshalas.