Saathi is thankful of great holy guru Sh. Bhole JI Maharaj and Mata Mangla Ji for their valuable support & Blessings.
History & Facts
The king of mountains Himalaya is said to consist of five segments i.e., Nepal Kurmanchal, Kedar, Kangda and Ruchir Kashmir. This Mid Himalayan region of Garhwal and Kumaon, which is commonly known as Uttarakhand today was called by the name KEDARKHAND and MANASKHAND in the Purans. It was referred to as Uttarpanchal by the compilers of the Upnishads, Uttarkaushal by Valmiki and Uttarkuru by Ved Vyasa who wrote the epic Mahabharata. It was Parvatkaran and Giryavali for the early historian and Uttaranchal or Uttarakhand of the present day politicians.

 The western part of this region has been referred to as Garhwal over past 500 years. Samprat, Chamoli, Pauri, Uttarkashi and Dehradun add to the pristine beauty of the Garhwal region. The eastern region comprising of Almora, Nainital and Pithoragarh districts together known as the Kumaon region. On account of security reason the government has for the past four decades considered only Chamoli and Pithoragarh districts as Uttaranchal, but for the residents of the Uttaranchal this entire hilly region covers an area of 51,125 sq. km and comprising of 15,951 villages, 89 developmental" segments and some adjoining plains as signal geographic social and cultural Unit.

The history of Uttaranchal State can be better understood through the history of Garhwal and Kumaon divisions separately, because they maintained independent identity except the period of Nepali aggression. The Garhwal Himalayas have nurtured civilization from the wee hours of history. Adi Shankaracharya, the great 8th-century spiritual reformer visited the remote, snow-laden heights of Garhwal, established a math Joshimath and resorted some of the most sacred shrines, including Badrinath and Kedarnath. The history of Garhwal as one unified whole began in the 15th century, when king Ajai Pal merged the-52 separate principalities, each with its own garh or fortress. For 300 years, Garhwal remained one kingdom, with its capital at Srinagar (on the left bank of Alaknanda river). Then Pauri and Dehradun were perforce ceded to the Crown as payment for British help, rendered to the Garhwalis during the Gurkha invasion, in the early 19th century.

Humankind has been around in Kumaon for a very long time. Evidences of Stone Age settlements have been found in Kumaon, particularly the rock shelter at Lakhu Udyar. The paintings here date back to the Mesolithic period. The early medieval history of Kumaon is the history of the Katyuri dynasty. The Katyuri kings ruled from the seventh to the 11 th century, holding sway at the peak of their powers over large areas of Kumaon, Garhwal, and western Nepal. The town of Baijnath near Almora was the capital of this dynasty and a center of the arts. Temple building flourished under the Katyuris and the main architectural innovation introduced by them was the replacement of bricks with stone. On a hilltop facing east (opposite Almora), is the temple of Katarmal. This 900-year-old sun temple was built during the declining years of the Katyuri dynasty. The intricately carved doors and panels have been removed to the National Museum in Delhi as a protective measure after the 10th-century idol of the presiding deity was stolen. After an interregnum of a couple of centuries, the Chands of Pithoragarh became the dominant dynasty. The Chand rulers built the magnificent temple complex at Jageshwar, with its cluster of a hundred and sixty-four temples, over a span of two centuries. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the evocative carvings are complemented by the beautiful deodar forest around it.

 The hills of Uttarakhand are inhabited by a number of different ethnic groups, with distinctive traditions and customs of their own. The bulk of the population is rural and lives in villages which look as if they were caught in a time-warp ancient temples, slate-roofed houses, terraced fields and traditional costumes included. Among the prominent ethnic groups of the state are the Bhotias, the Jaunsaries, the Tharus, the Bokshas and the Rajis. In the lowlands of Uttarakhand is a sprinkling of Sikh migrants from West Punjab, and in the upper tracts of the mountains live the Van Gujars, a nomadic tribe of Muslims whose main occupation is animal husbandry. Polygamy, bigamy and child marriages have virtually disappeared from urban and literate areas, but are still prevalent in less accessible parts of Uttarakhand.

The languages of Uttarakhand are akin to Hindi, although they fall into a separate group known as `Pahari’. Pahari has its origins in Sanskrit, Sauraseni Prakrit and Nepali, and has been further influenced by the languages of neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. Pahari has a number of dialects, spoken mainly in localised areas; Jaunsari, for instance, is spoken in the Jaunsari-Bhabar area and its surrounding tracts; Jadhi is spoken in parts of Uttarkashi district, and Sailani is in parts of Tehri Garhwal. In most places, Hindi is also used, and in larger or more touristy places most of the people understand English.

Religion is big business in Uttarakhand, not just because it's one of the important attractions for domestic tourists, but also because it's a vital part of daily life for the people of these hills. Large segment of the people in Uttarakhand, especially in the upper reaches, are heterodox Buddhists and Hindus. This is the area which has been known as `Dev Bhoomi'- the land of the gods. Many of Hinduism's most important shrines lie within Uttarakhand, tucked away in the mountains and along the rivers of the state. Amongst these, the most sacred are the `Char Dham'- the four shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath, a pilgrimage of which is supposed to ensure instant salvation.

 The sacred Ganga, on its foaming path down to the plains, meets its tributaries at what are called the Panch Prayag- the five sacred `sangams' of the river at Vishnuprayag, Nandprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. And that's not all; Hardwar and Rishikesh are two of Hinduism's most prominent destinations for pilgrims, while the historical Gurudwara of Hemkund Sahib, near the Valley of Flowers, is an important shrine for Sikh pilgrims. At any time, in any season, Uttarakhand's many shrines swarm with pious devotes, coming from across the country, and beyond, to worship. All along the Ganga and its tributaries are ashrams, ghats, temples and shrines by the dozen, and even the smallest village will be dominated by its own temple.

Food habits vary across the length and breadth of Uttarakhand, and are governed largely by the accessibility of the area concerned. Higher villages rarely have access to fresh vegetables and fruit, so meat- often sundried- is an important constituent of the diet, along with plenty of locally brewed liquor to ward off the winter chills. Coarse, local grains such as mandua and barley are consumed more than wheat or rice, both of which are scarce. In the lower hills, vegetables and lowland grains like wheat, rice and lentils are consumed more commonly; the incidence of vegetarianism is also much higher than in the colder parts of the state.

Food is often cooked in pure ghee- where it can be afforded- and is high in hot spices such as red chillies. Popular dishes include chainsoo (a dish of black gram dal), ras (a mixture of dals), jholi (a thick gravy with potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables), kafuli (a spinach dish), and local breads such as chapattis, mandua ki roti and gahat ke paranthe. Chutneys made from sesame seeds, hemp seeds and other local ingredients help perk up meals. Popular sweets include the famous baal mithai of Almora, studded with tiny globules of sugar and made from milk cooked till it’s brown and semi-solid; and singhodi, made from desiccated coconut and khoya, and wrapped in a fragrant leaf. Some other tasty foods are-Bhatt ki churkani, Arsa, Gulgula etc.

 Both Kumaon and Garhwal are a rich repository of traditional literature. Originally in the form of lyrical ballads and folklore chanted by itinerant singers, the tales of this region are now considered part of Hindi literature's best works. Dances like the Langvir Nritya, Dhurang, Pandav Nritya, Chholiya, Hurka Baul and Jharva are popular, particularly during fairs and festivals. These dances are usually accompanied by folksy tunes performed on local instruments like the murli (a flute), the dhol and the hurka, both traditional drums.

 Among the prominent local crafts is wood carving, which appears most frequently in the ornately decorated temples of Uttarakhand. Intricately carved designs- of floral patterns, deities and geometrical motifs- also decorate the doors, windows, ceilings and walls of village houses. Beautifully worked paintings and murals are used to decorate both homes as well as temples. Kumaoni art often is geometrical in nature, while Garhwali art has long been known for its closeness to the Mughal style of painting- a style which was introduced centuries ago and became very popular. Other crafts of Uttarakhand include handcrafted jewellery- usually of gold; basketry from Garhwal; woollen shawls and scarves and rugs. The latter are mainly produced by the Bhotias of northern Uttarakhand.