In the hearts of the mountains, touching Tibet (the roof of the world) in the North and the great Gangetic plains on the south lies an area known over the centuries as a "paradise on earth and the most glorious temple of nature." Uttarakhand, a newly formed Indian state, has a lot to say about its beautiful valleys, preserved wildlife, and cultural and religious atmosphere. Aryans came here to seek divine knowledge. Enclosed in the ranges of the Himalayas are the memories of Great Gautam Buddha. The reason why Uttarakhand is called "the abode of God" is because most of the Hindu's holy pilgrimage sites lie in Uttarakhand.
Uttarakhand is very rich in its flora and fauna. About 116 species of Himalayan plants and flowers are found here. Apart from this, some of the world's best wildlife sanctuaries and reserves are located here.
BADRINATH: Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of four main shrines, Badrinath, along the left bank of the river Alaknanda. With splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is an important destination for every devoted Hindu. The temple of Shri Badrinath on the banks of Alaknanda river dates back to the Vedic times. It is situated at an altitude of 3133 m. The present temple is believed to have been built by Adi Guru Shankracharya- an 8th-century philosopher saint, who also established a "Math" here.
KEDARNATH: Amidst the dramatic mountainscapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve "Jyotirlingas" of Kedar, Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 m at the head of river Mandakini, Kedarnath's shrine is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. The lingam at Kedarnath is pyramidal, unlike its usual form. A statue of Nandi-the celestial bull stands at the temple entrance, and exquisitely carved images adorn the interiors of the temple.
GANGOTRI: The picturesque pilgrimage in the winter lands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. According to mythology, Goddess Ganga, the daughter of heaven, manifested herself in the form of a river to absolve the sins of king Bhagirath's predecessors, following his severe penance of several centuries. Lord Shiva received her into his matted locks to minimize the immense impact of her fall. She came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source. The natural source of the river is at "Gaumukh."
YAMUNOTRI: In the traditional Char Dham Yatra, this is the westernmost shrine of the Himalayas dedicated to Goddess Yamuna, it is perched top a flank of the "Bandarpunch" peak (3165 m) and is situated opposite to Gangotri. Yamunotri or Yamuna "utri" is the source of the sacred river the Yamuna, which originates from the Champasar glacier lying 1 km ahead of the shrine, at the altitude of 4142 m. Pilgrims usually do not visit the source as it is not easily accessible.