The Land of the Gods, Devbhoomi Uttarakhand has always been the land of spirituality, religion and something beyond the realm of human consciousness. Even today, the state of Uttarakhand never ceases to amaze us with its unparalleled natural beauty and supernatural mysteries. Here are the 10 amazing facts about Uttarakhand that will surely blow your mind.
It is widely believed that the Kedarnath disaster that took more than 5,000 lives in 2013 was because of the shifting of revered Dhari Devi statue from its original location – a small island on the Alaknanda River. As per the locals, Uttarakhand had to face the Goddess’ ire as she was shifted from her ‘moolsthan’ (original abode) to make way for a 330 MW hydel project that lay in ruins after the flood. Few hours after the idol was removed to its location, the cloud burst in Kedarnath unleashed the wrath of Gods as the entire valley was swept in colossal floods.
Roopkund is one the many mysteries that lurk in the high reaches of Uttarakhand Himalayas. The high-altitude lake is situated at a height of 5,029 meters and is famous for hundreds of unexplained skeletons lying in the edge of the lake. The presence of mass grave at an isolated location amidst the lofty peaks is intriguing and several theories have been posited for it.
Also known as the Skeleton Lake, researchers have concluded that the skeletal remains date back to 9th century (1200 years old). Subsequent DNA studies have revealed that these remains are of an Iranian group who wandered to find a land for settlement. Various hypotheses have been made to learn the identities of the people who lost their lives at the edge of the lake.
Nestled at an elevation of 3,658 mts above sea level in the upper reaches of Pushpawati valley in the Chamoli district, Valley of Flowers has been a subject of interest for botanists, nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. With over 500 different species of alpine flowers and shrubs, the one of a kind valley has been attracting lot of attention for its ethereal beauty.
Valley of Flowers was accidentally discovered in 1931 by three British mountaineers Frank S. Smythe, Eric Shipton and R.L. Holdsworth when they lost their way returning from the successful expedition to Mount Kamet. Declared a national park in 1982, the immense popularity of Valley of Flowers resulted in the site being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 for its special cultural or physical significance.
When it comes to spooky locations, Uttarakhand is home to some the scariest places on the planet. The Lambi Dehar Mines are located on the outskirts of Mussoorie at a distance of 10 kms. According to the locals, as many as 50,000 mine workers died an agonizing death due to the wrongful mining practices at the Dehar Mines in 1990. Locals have reported sinister cry and wailing at night, presumably of those dead workers who haunt the now-abandoned Dehar Mines.
Apart from the cursed Dehar Mines, Abbott Mount in Champawat district is another haunted place in Uttarakhand. It is believed that in one of the bungalows at Abbott Mount a doctor by the name of Morrison used to perform some dreadful and horrifying experiments on the locals in the 1920s. The locals believe the spirits of those patients haunts in ‘Mukti Kothri’ (Bunglow of Salvation) – one of the rooms of the old bungalow.
Sanskrit is one the oldest language in the world and the sacred language in Hinduism and lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. Apart from religious texts, Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of poetry and drama as well as scientific, technical, philosophical texts. Uttarakhand is the only state in India that has Sanskrit as one of the two official languages (other being Hindi) of the state. This makes sense as Uttarakhand, often called Devbhumi, is home to various revered temples and shrines from the ancient and medieval era including the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage.
Champawat Tiger was a notorious man-eater female tiger that roams the forest of Champawat and is responsible for claiming more than 450 lives in Nepal and Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The tigress killing spree earned her a spot in Guinness Book of Records as the highest number of fatalities from a tiger.
Starting her killing spree during the 19th century in Nepal, the tigress got bolder with each kill and preyed on unsuspecting villagers as they walked through the jungle. Eventually, the Nepalese army drove her across the border and the tigress ran rampant in the Champawat region. The man-eater was finally shot dead by Jim Corbett in 1907.
The legend of Madho Singh Bhandari still lives in hearts of every resident of Maletha village in Tehri district of Uttarakhand. The 17th century valiant commander-in-chief is probably best known for the construction of 400 year-old irrigation canal (famous as Maletha ki Kool) that brought water to the once arid and barren lands of Maletha village. He, along with other villagers, carved a 2-km long tunnel through two massive rocks from the nearby river to his village.
Even after 400 years, the canals are still in working condition and provide water to the fertile land of Maletha village. To honor the bravery and sacrifices of Madho Bhandari, a statue has been erected in the village and is revered especially during the harvest season.
Goddess Nanda Devi (Goddess of Bliss) is the one of the most revered deity in Uttarakhand and is worshiped in both Garhwal and Kumaon region. The pilgrimage takes place once every 12 years and is undertaken by large number of devotees. With 230 km distance covered via trekking in a 3-week arduous journey, Nanda Devi Raaj Jaat is the longest pilgrimage on foot. The pilgrimage commences from Nauti village near Karnaprayag and concludes near Roopkund at an elevation of 5,000 meters amidst the snow-clad Himalayan peaks.
Latu Devta Temple is situated near Wan village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Dedicated to Latu Devta, adopted brother of goddess Nanda Devi, it is one of the most unique temple in the state. Why? Because no devotees are allowed inside the temple. Even the priest enters the temple blindfolded to light the lamp. The temple is open for devotees only once every year who offer prayers from a distance.
According to the beliefs, Latu Devta escorts the palanquin of Nanda Devi from Wan village to higher altitudes of Homkund during the Nanda Devi Raaj Jaat Yatra which comes once every 12 years.
With an elevation of more than 7,816 meters, Nanda Devi is one of the highest peaks in Uttarakhand as well as in India. The beauty of the majestic peak attracts trekkers and backpackers from around the world. However, there is something more about the Himalayan peak than meets the eye.
It is believed that on October 1965, United States’ CIA and India’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) joined hands in a secret mission to install a nuclear-powered sensing device on the summit of Nanda Devi to keep a tab on China’s military might. India’s loss to China three years ago and growing tensions between Western Bloc and Eastern Bloc prompted agencies to undertake this daring mission.
In the effort to install the surveillance device, and then retrieve it, nearly a dozen ascents were made from 1965-68 on Nanda Devi. In 1966, when the team reached the summit to retrieve the plutonium-powered surveillance device, they found the device was missing. The plutonium capsules, with a longevity of over a hundred years, could still be buried somewhere in the snow.
With a meager population of 10.08 million, Uttarakhand is the state that sends the highest numbers of officers in the Indian Army per capita of the population. This is a clear indication about the love for motherland and eagerness to protect the nation’s integrity and sovereignty. Uttarakhand, along with every other states, have been instrumental in contributing to the Indian Army. While Uttar Pradesh may have the highest number of officers in Indian Army, when divided by the state population, Uttarakhand tops the chart.