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The mountainous districts and some flat land of Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar, districts were carved out of the state of Uttar Pradesh to make a new state  called Uttaranchal  on 9th Nov. 2000. In 2006 it was renamed as  Uttarakhand which is the traditional nomenclature  for the stretch of land dotted with places of pilgrimage with Haridwar as its gateway. Kailash, Mansarovar and Tholingmath are all in Tibet or China today, but for the people of yester years, these were some of the most important landmarks in Uttarakhand.

The name Uttarakhand therefore is associated with divinity, austerity, meditation, penance and attainment.  It knew no definite political or geographical limits, but in the minds of the devout, the general idea of its location could not be mistaken when the term Uttarakhand was used. This is largely true even today.

Uttaranchal on the other hand was a name with definite political and geographical connotation. This name was meant to convey that a new state has arrived on the map of India without loosing any of the mystical appeals of Uttarakhand, and yet being much more than its mystic image as it  includes vast areas of flat-land in the foothills known for agricultural wealth and industrial strength. But in 2006 for political reasons Uttaranchal was renamed as Uttarakhand, which comprises of 13 districts and had a population of 84,79,562 people, as per 2001 census which has gone up to 1,01,16,752 as per 2011 census.

District Area ( sq.km) Population 2001 Population 2011
 1 Uttarkashi 7951 294179 329686
2 Tehri Garhwal 4085 604608 616409
3 Dehradun 3088 1279083 1698560
4 Chamoli 7692 369198 391114
5 Rudraprayag 1896 227461 236857
6 Pauri Garhwal 5440 696851 686527
7 Haridwar 2360 1444213 1927029
8 UdhamSingh Nagar 2912 1234548 1648367
9 Nainital 3853 762912 955128
10 Almora 3090 630446 621927
11 Bageshwar 2310 249453 259840
12 Champawat 1781 224461 259315
13 Pithoragarh 7110 462149 485993
Total 53484 8479562 10116752

Now it is again Uttarakhand, where Ganga, Yamuna and scores of rivers and rivulets are seen in their blissful infancy.   It remains a constant source of spiritual attainment for Hindus and Sikhs, drawing pilgrims seeking self-realisation and Moksha from all over the world. Uttarakhand has that galaxy of peaks and glaciers, meadows and jungles, and that wealth of colourful valleys and dales that have no parallel on earth.  Never did Adi Guru Shankaracharya think more emotionally of a place than Uttarakhand, never did Frank Smyth speak more eloquently than he did while writing about the “Valley of Flowers”.

There is a lot that one can learn and discover in Uttarakhand.  On the one hand, the devotionally adorned temples with their pinnacles soaring into the cosmic blue tend to heighten in humanity the ecstatic sense of closeness to the Absolute One and even complete surrender to   the Almighty. And on the other hand the frozen lakes, majestic waterfalls, meandering rivers, undulating meadows, incredible mountains and rich flora and fauna provide a glorious panorama to soothe and invigorate those fatigued from the hectic life of urban rush.  Then there is the innocent, friendly hill-man waiting with a welcome that is rich in all his simplicity and innocence.

The magic of this land of wisdom and wonders is not to be said and read, it is to be seen and felt.  The real glory remains conspicuously unsung, since the task of reducing it to words appears to be beyond anyone. Is it the land of Gods, a museum of rare flora and fauna, or the image of ignorance and simplicity? To the seeker it is a land promising the ultimate answer, a rewarding pilgrimage that may come once in a lifetime, a holiday that may be repeated over and over again, or even a study tour that may offer unlimited scope for research and potential for discoveries within and without.

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