Uttarakhand Culture and Tradition

Uttarakhand Culture and Tradition

Uttarakhand formerly known as Uttaranchal is also called Dev BhumiLand of Gods” due to a large number of pilgrimage temples situated there, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri form the Char Dham yatra.

Uttarakhand is divided into two major regions of Garhwal and Kumaon. It was founded on November 9th, 2000 and borders Tibet, Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana.

The meaning of Uttarakhand is “Northern Land“, where Uttar means “North” and Khand means “Land“. It was earlier named Uttaranchal by the Government of Bhartiya Janta Party but the name Uttarakhand remains popular in the region so it was renamed Uttarakhand.

Read more about Uttarakhand


Gaumukh – The source of Ganga

Uttarakhand was mentioned in early Hindu scriptures as the combined region of Kedarkhand (Garhwal) and Manaskhans (Kumaon) and was also the ancient Puranic term for the central stretch of the Indian Himalayas.

It was well known for the presence of a multitude of Hindu pilgrimage spots. The Pauravas, Kushanas, Kunindas, Guptas, Katyuris, Raikas, Palas, the Chands, and the Parmaras or Panwars, Sikhs and the British have ruled Uttarakhand in turns.

The region was once ruled by Kol people later which was joined by Indo-Aryans (Khas) tribes that arrived from the northwest by the Vedic period. The sage Vyasa scripted the Mahabharata here and the Pandavas are believed to have traveled in the region.

The first major dynasties of Garhwal and Kumaon were the Kunindas in the 2nd century B.C. who practiced an early form of Shaivism and traded salt with Western Tibet.

It is evident from the Ashokan edict at Kalsi in Western Garhwal that Buddhism made inroads in this region. Folk shamanic practices deviating from Hindu orthodoxy also persisted here. However, Garhwal and Kumaon were restored to nominal Hindu rule due to the travails of Shankaracharya and the arrival of migrants from the plains.

Between the 4th and 14th centuries, the Katyuri dynasty dominated lands of varying extent from the Katyur (modern-day Baijnath) valley in Kumaon. The historically significant temples at Jageshwar are believed to have been built by the Katyuris and later remodeled by the Chands. Other peoples of the Tibeto-Burman group known as Kirata are thought to have settled in the northern highlands as well as in pockets throughout the region and are believed to be ancestors of the modern-day Bhotiya, Raji, Buksa, and Tharu people.

Gorkha was from Nepal, they were a very powerful and good fighter. And they use the weakness of the Kumaun Chand dynasty in 1790 and defeated the Kumaun Chand dynasty. And 14 may 1804 they attack Garhwal and defeated to Praduman shah and won Garhwal also.

Before 1804 they attack many times on Garhwal but were defeated. And after a long time, Praduman shah’s second son Sudersha shah request British and British attack and defeated to Gorkha.

And 27 April 1815 British and Gorkha king Bamshah mid made a deal and according to deal Kumaun was given to British. Nepal government doesn’t agree with the deal and after 1816 British defeated Gorkha on Kathmandu’s nearby. And then finally 1816 Gorkha agreed with the deal.

The ancient history of Garhwal says that it had once been a part of the Mauryan empire the history of Garhwal as a unified whole in the 15th century when king pal merged the 52 principalities of the Garhwal region remained consolidated kingdom, Pauri and Dehradun went under the British domain. The history of Kumaun can be traced back to the stone age, moreover, the early medieval history of Kumaun started with the Katyuri dynasty that ruled from the 7th to 11th centuries. Under the Katyuri dynasty as the ancient history of Uttrakhand suggests, art and architecture flourished tremendously. Many new architectural buildings were flourished during this period.

After India attained independence from the British, the Garhwal Kingdom was merged into the state of Uttar Pradesh, where Uttarakhand composed the Garhwal and Kumaon Divisions Until 1998, Uttarakhand was the name most commonly used to refer to the region, as various political groups, including the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (Uttarakhand Revolutionary Party), began agitating for separate statehood under its banner.

The Parliament of India passed the Uttar Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2000 and thus, on 9 November 2000, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India.

Culture and Tradition

Uttarakhand Culture

Uttarakhand the Land of Gods is well known for its ancient culture. The colorful society is divided into two major regions of Garhwal and Kumaon. The religious and social-cultural urges of the people of Uttarakhand can be found in various fairs and festivals held in the region. These fairs have now become remarkable stages for all sorts of uncluttered social, cultural, and economic exchange.

There are several religious events attached to River Ganga – the holiest of all the rivers. Daily aartis performed every evening at the banks of the Mother-River in Haridwar and Rishikesh gives you a memorial sight. Chota Char-Dhams, the four most sacred and revered Hindu temples: BadrinathKedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri are nestled in the mighty Himalayas.

People of Uttarakhand
People of Uttarakhand

The Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years where you can witness one of the largest gatherings of devotees in the whole world. Several devotees take part in Nanda Devi Raj Jaat and Kailash Mansarovar Yatras. Sikhs devotee visits the shrines of Hemkund Sahib and Nanakmatta Sahib and Muslims visit the Dargah at Piran Kaliyar Sharif. The beautiful amalgamation of different tradition gives rise to a wonderful culture and lifestyle to the local people.


Costume of Uttarakhand
Costume of Uttarakhand

Dress for females is Ghagara, Aagari, Dhoti Kurta, Bhotu. While for males churidar pajama, Kurta, gol topi or Jawahar topi, Bhotu, Dhoti, Mirje are worn.

Jewelry –  Jajir, Thawk, Pauji, Uttarai, Mund, Sut (Hasuli) Dhagul, Jhumuk, Phuli, Habel, Guloband. In the culture of Uttarakhand, Nath (large ring worn on left nostril) plays a dominant role. Nath is an import part of the Kumaoni woman’s traditional attire.

Dhoti or Lungi is worn by men as a lower garment, with kurta as the upper garment. Men also like to wear headgear in Garhwal.


Garhwali is the main spoken language that originates from Hindi. Kumaoni and Garhwali dialects of Central Pahari are spoken in Kumaon and Garhwal region respectively. Jaunsari and Bhotiya dialects are also spoken by tribal communities in the west and north respectively. The urban population, however, converses mostly in Hindi.


Choliya Dance
Choliya Dance

Uttrakhand states a very famous popular dance is Chanchari, it is the Folk-Dance of Uttrakhand state and is famous in Garhwal and Kumaun both divisions. Chanchari Folk -Dance also called “Jhoda – Dance” in Kumaun division. Dancer dance in a round and put the hand on around of waist (kamar). Also known as chopali dance this Dance is done in Moonlights and a Hudka Player also happens in the Middle and another Dancer dance around him in a circle. During the marriage in Uttarakhand especially in the Kumaon region. Choliya Dancers are called.


Uttarakhand Cusines
Uttarakhand Cuisine Image Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/blink/takeaway/eating-like-a-local-in-garhwal/article21987721.ece1

The main staple food is wheat, while Uttarakhand traditional food is Arsha, Rotan and Gughuti, Buckwheat (locally called Madua or Jhingora), Desi Ghee, Dubuk, Chains, Kap, Chutkani, Sei, Paliyo, Bhatiya, Dubuk, Gulgula, Kadhi(Jhoi or Jholi). Arsha is popular in the Garhwal division and Rotan popular in Uttarakhand Pouri districts and Gughuti is famous in the Kumauni division. Along with veg people eat non-veg too. Mustard Oil and Desi Ghee are used in cooking food. While Bal Mithai is a popular sweet while other sweets are Swal, Khajur, Arsa, Mishri, Gatta, and Gulgulas.


Major Festivals are Holi, Dipawali, Eid, Bakra Id, Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Raksha Bandhan, Maha Shivratri, Durga Puja, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Christmas. Kumauni Holi, Ganga Dashahara, Vasant Panchami, Makar Sankranti, Ghee Sankrant, Khatarua, Vat Savitri, and Phul Dei are other major festivals. Besides there are other major fairs held in the state like Kanwar Yatra, Kandali Festival, Ramman, Harela Mela, Nauchandi Mela, Giddi Mela, Uttarayani Mela, and Nanda Devi Raj Jat Mela.



The popular places in the Foothills or Plains are –

  • Haridwar for Temples
  • Hrishikesh for Temples, Whitewater rafting, Rajaji National Park, Spiritual Ashrams, and Yoga Classes.
  • Dehradun Capital city, Waterfalls, Jungles, Forest Research Institute
  • Mussoorie as a Honeymoon destination, waterfalls, Vantage points

You can head further from Mussoorie towards Daunalti for getting into adventure activities and trekking. Another popular trail is to follow river Ganges till Gaumukh via Gangotri. If you are up for high altitude hiking then you can trek till Tapovan from Gaumukh. Uttarakhand is also home to very popular Char Dham yatra covering Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri, and Yamunotri.

  • Nanda Devi National Park: Valley of flowers trek
  • Auli: Skiing resort
  • Hemkund Sahib: Highest gurudwara in the world.
  • Mana Village: The last village of India on this side and the international border is now connected with Mana village which passes by the highest motorable road of the world ( higher than khardungla in Ladakh).

Going towards the Kumaun side of the state, you can visit Corbet National Park, Nainital, Almora, Ranikhet, Pithoragarh. There are many treks in this part of Himalayas. following the same road, you can enter Nepal from Uttarakhand.

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.