15 Offbeat Places To Visit in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand, a home to numerous ancient temples, national parks, forest reserves, mountain peaks and hill stations is a heaven for travel enthusiasts. Whether you are an eco-tourist, food tourist, religious tourist, adventure tourist or just even a leisure tourist Uttarakhand always has something to offer. Uttarakhand reveals the secrets of the inhabitants who live in the valley and still practice polygamy and worships Duryodhana, a Kaurava from the Mahabharata, as their deity.

Often known as ‘Devabhumi’ (land of the God), Uttarakhand has some of the holiest Hindu shrines like Kedarnath, Chota char Dham, Badrinath, Haridwar (gateway to the God) with thousands of pilgrims visiting these places every year. It is also in possession of some breathtakingly beautiful places like Nainital, Mussoorie, Dehradun, etc.

Uttarakhand has twelve National parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, located at different altitude varying from 800 to 5400 meters. It is also rich in flora and fauna consisting of 18000 plant species out of which 1800 have medicinal properties. Uttarakhand is the second fastest growing state in India.

The official language of Uttarakhand is Hindi, however, other languages like Sanskrit, Garhwali, Kumaoni, etc. are also used. The prominent local craft of the state is wood carvings which is frequently seen in the ornate decorations of the temples. Paintings and murals are used for decorating both temples and houses.

The most common form of painting here is Pahari painting. Other popular crafts of this region are handcrafted gold jewelry, scarves, rugs, woolen shawls, basketry from Garhwal. Cuisines of Uttarakhand are simple and mostly prepared by using the locally grown ingredients. Chutney made of Bhang is also a popular regional cuisine and Kafuli is a must try.

Known as Devbhumi, or the Land of the Gods, Uttarakhand is a place where there is immaculate natural magnificence and glorious pilgrimage sites. Carved out from the State of Uttar Pradesh some time ago, Uttaranchal, is a spot that not just brags of glimmering views of the Himalayas but is also a land of fairs and festivals where people live harmoniously with nature.

India is the home to one of the most intriguing places on the planet. Some of these places though are far less known to people. Uttarakhand is one such place which is abode to some beautiful and serene spots that could develop into flourishing tourist spots.

If someone is interested in visiting temples then Uttarakhand is the best place to visit temples. Some people like doing adventurous sports. One can easily do Bunjee jumping in Uttarakhand as it has the India's largest Bunjee jumping. One can also have a thrilling river rafting experience. If some wants to visit a hill station they can definitely visits places like Mussorie and Dhanolti.

With oaks, birches, silver firs and rhododendrons decorating the precarious mountain slopes, Uttarakhand offers you a look into untainted, ideal tourist places, straight out of the pages of some old manuscript. Uttarakhand is the starting spot of the Ganga and the Yamuna, two of the most sacred rivers in India. Go to chaar dhaam yatra and feel the vibes there!

Uttarakhand is home to the Chota Char Dhams, which are four of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in India – Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. A large number of pilgrims visit Uttarakhand yearly to pay reverence to the Char Dhams along with Haridwar and Rishikesh.

Pleasing nature and picturesque landscapes in Uttarakhand invites every traveller to experience a perfect winter holiday. Uttarakhand is also widely perceived as a pilgrimage site because of the stunning temples it holds. The place offers exciting sights of majestic Himalayan ranges and the people live close to nature.

Hindu pilgrims flock the pious sites like Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath located in Uttarakhand. Lovely birds, craggy peaks, interesting people, delectable dishes all set to offer you a travel experience of a lifetime! Witness the snow sheathing the mountain peaks, mesmerized by the melodious chirping of birds, go on an arduous trek, gear up for the new enthralling adventures, and experience wildlife at Uttarakhand.

Uttarakhand is a land of god and if you are a person who loves to explore nature in its fullest form- well, visiting Uttarakhand should remain on the top of your list. Here, each step you will be taking will be filled with awwwn-ness, wow-ness, and oh my god- I can’t believe things. How about visiting Rishikesh for rafting! And the list is just never-ending. You visit any place and heaven lies in front of you.

Offbeat Places To Visit in Uttarakhand

Thus, even with all the commercialized places, Uttarakhand still has some offbeat places to offer its tourists.

1. Sankri

Sankri, located in high hills in Uttarkashi District of Uttarakhand, is on the way to Har Ki Doon trek. Buses leave from Dehradun to Sankri from the Hill Bus Station near Dehradun Railway Station. Buses leave early in the morning at 5:30 AM, 6:30 AM and 7:30 AM. Sankri is not just an ordinary hill station. It is located in high hills, and is conneted by roads that have steep gradient and you are always near a deep gorge or a high cliff.

Also, do not be misled by the shorter travel time (by car) shown by the Google Maps and the travel websites. Travelling in hilly roads takes more time. You just can’t exceed the speed limit of say 20 to 25 KM per hour. Higher speed in high hills is highly risky. So, just do not venture out without proper guidance even if you have your own car. It is always better to employ a trained driver, to hire a local driver who knows the route.

2. Askot

Askot is a village in the Pithoragarh district. Askote is not only one of the pitstops as it moves towards the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, it is also home to one of the rare deer species. Askot is known for its Askot Musk Deer, which is a must see.

A turquoise coloured river flow boisterously down the valley, with deodar trees decking up the slope, providing a shade of green to the otherwise barren mountains of Nelang Valley. The river is called Jadh Ganga. It flows from the glaciers of Nelang valley, which is one of the most beautifully kept secret of Uttarakhand and it continues to be a secret, for even with a permit you can’t venture much into the barren terrain, which resembles closely to the high altitude regions of Spiti.

You can safely call that Spiti of Uttarakhand, and this river as Spiti river of Uttarakhand, but then it’ll take its own unique identity, of how this river flows with a history of thousand years, about the old trade routes of Bhotia people, where traders from as far as Mongolia would arrive with their yaks to the holy lands of Uttarakhand, where now stands Indo-Tibet border and numerous army camps.

But the river, least bothered about the human tensions, flows through these beautiful valleys, singing its own songs, donning its own colours, and if you happen to look at it, just don’t mistake yourself for a bird and take a leap to fly away. Instead, just stand there, and fold your hands at this marvel of nature.

3. Mukteshwar

Perfect place to have a breathtaking view of Himalayan peaks, head to Mukteshwar for a full day excursion. Located in the Kumaon hills, Mukteshwar is popular tourist destination. Look for the blessings in the Mukteshwar temple, which is an ancient temple located in a beautiful isolated place.

You can also visit the small church that is 75 years old and located on the side of the hill. In addition, you can enjoy a cable car ride up to the point of view of the snow. The small town of Mukteshwar is an easy drive from Delhi and is one of the most beautiful monsoon destinations in Uttarakhand. A rich bouquet of flowers, birds and variety of trees is a delight to watch.

Famous for its quaint cafes and the 360 view of the Himalayan range from the famous Mukteshwar temple top, Mukteshwar is a not too near or not too far destination from Delhi (approx 333 km from New Delhi). A river picnic or easy trek walk in the mountains with your camera will capture the most gorgeous views and memories.

4. Chaukori

Chaukori is a tiny hill station in the Pithoragarh district set among the lofty peaks of the western Himalayas. It is located about 10 km from Berinag, another small hill station. Very close to Chaukori, Jhaltola is a must to see birds and great views of the Himalayas of Kumaon. Chaukori is the home to endangered musk deer in the Musk Deer park in Mahruri about 5 to 10 Kms from Chaukori towards Bageshwar district.

The fragrant environment around these deer is inviting and peaceful. The tea gardens of Uttarakhand are less known but they produce quality tea and add to the serenity of this beautiful hill town.

5. Landour

Do you want to start 2021 with breathtaking views of the Himalayas and the Doon Valley? Landour, less than 6 hours drive from New Delhi, is pretty cool year round. The town which is made up of a series of crossroads on mountain ridges, is home to a cluster of writers and artists like Ruskin Bond too.

Take some steep walk up and down flinty trails in the bracing thin air, and then enjoy some peaceful contemplation eating momos and other Tibetan snacks, or tea and pastries, in Landour's many cafe's and resting stops. It’s great for rejuvenation, the outdoorsy souls, warm afternoons indoors, and cuddles from the resident doggos for pet lovers.

It’s also a cultural centre! What’s great about the location is that you can also explore the nearby Jabarkhet Nature Reserve, or enjoy a barbeque while stargazing among the deodar trees.

6. Chakrata

If nature is a chocochip cake, Chakrata in Uttarakhand is like your favorite piece of that cake. Dehradun and Mussoorie are so basic and are always flooded with tourists. If you are looking for an unexplored, less traveled destination, take a trip to Chakrata. Chakrata is one of the army cantonment stations in India. Tiger falls is 6 km from Chakrata.

Falling from 312 meters high, the water that gushes noisily between the hills producing the sound of a tiger's roar. Therefore, the name. There is a pool below the fall that you can consider as your natural Jacuzzi. The weather is pleasant in the summers. In winter, the hill station is flanked by snow.

Deoban, the Gods own Forest is where you can find exotic bird species such as the white-necked blackbird and the woodpeckers of the Himalayas. A walk through the woods gives you a true and peaceful atmosphere, and a time for contemplation. 15 minutes on foot through the dense forests will take you to the place where Rishi Vyas wrote the epic Mahabharata.

Budher caves remain unexploited to date. Exploring the cave would be your closest experience living as a caveman. Also known as the place of the Mioli caves, the only way to get to these caves is by trekking. Walk to the highest point of Chakrata, which is the neck of Chilmiri, and admire the magnificent views of the Himalayas.

Breathe your lungs with some fresh air as you walk to the point of Chilmiri Neck. Your reward will be the amazing view of the beautiful Bandarpoonch, Rohini and Swarg Peaks. Located on the banks of the Yamuna River, Kalsi is a historic city where the stone edicts of King Ashoka are present. The landscape is beautiful for a picnic. You can also fish in the river if you have a prior army permit.

7. Almora

Almora is one of the famous destinations in North India and this is a perfect place to plan your trip with your family, friends or loved ones. Almora is a small village located in the state of Uttarakhand. Its beauty of hills, snow-capped mountains and green valley can not be ignored. Almora gives you some stunning natural beauty, panoramic views of the Himalayas, tasty cuisine and rich cultural heritage.

8 km north of Almora, is the pleasant village of Kasar Devi. The cedar and rhododendron forest below the modest temple of Kasar Devi is nicknamed hippieland by some of the locals. Stop to visit the Kainchi Dham Ashram, where Steve Jobs stayed many years for his meditation and introspection practices.

How would it be to stay in a traditional Kumaoni house in Uttarakhand in a quirky cafe perched on a hilltop savouring the local Kumaoni delicacies, hearing stories about the place from your wonderful hosts and sipping warm lemon tea with the stunning sunkissed Himalayan peaks in the background.

8. Ranikhet

Ranikhet is the queen of Kumaon Hills. Definitely Ranikhet is worth visiting as the place has a lot to offer with a variety of flora and fauna surrounded by the mountains. One can find really great spots for a beautiful view of nature. It’s a perfect place to enjoy nature and relax. Ranikhet reflects the best of the celestial Himalayas.

Its lush green forests, majestic mountain peaks, exotic plants and attractive wildlife. To see the nature and the elements in total harmony of the Himalayas the right place is Ranikhet. One can experience the traditional life of the people by visiting a small yet beautiful village Manila.

Manila is well known for its beauty as the views get better and better with the size of hills increasing as you climb up towards Manila. There are many villages in Manila that are well connected by roads but it is quite challenging for people to trek up the hills and reach to the destination.

This place is a great place to go birding for the beginner and expert. It would be a steep climb at first through dense pine and oak forests. The trail meanders through the Shitlakhet market, though it is the most convenient way to approach this sanctuary and to go around is to walk trough from Chaubatiya or from Kakrighat.

One of the best excursions that can be done on a weekend morning is the hike to the Syahi Devi temple, a natural and cultural wonder. Through the jungle you will sometimes see views of the valley. Then, you reach a small plateau that is the location of the Syahi Devi temple. The walk ends at the temple with views of the Himalayas.

The temple was one of the places where Vivekananda meditated while on his own journey through the Himalayas. It is one of the quietest places you will find and a great place to enjoy a game of chess!

The best time to visit Ranikhet is from March-October as the weather remains pleasant in the summers. From November to February, the place becomes really cold because of the snowfall in the winter months.

9. Binsar

Binsar is a small town in Uttarakhand known for the snow-laden Himalayan peaks and shady dense forest. Binsar is located at a distance of 33 km from Almora, 95 km from Nainital and 40 km from New Delhi. If you have booked a rest house in KMVN, you will be staying very close to wildlife sanctuary, as you will feel the moist air laden with alpine fragrance.

At an impressive altitude of 2420 m, it is one of the most scenic spots in the Kumaon Himalayas filled with oak, pine and deodar trees. It is home to beautiful green meadows and is a trekker’s paradise. The forest is home to oak, chir pine, rhododendron and deodar trees. The trees are so dense that it seems to be whispering the secrets of the universe.

Watching sunset is a must experience activities. It requires a short trek of 2 km to reach the zero point. As you start to trek you will feel as you have entered into a abundance of deep dense and majestic plant life. The trees look like the towers of the forest, ageless as they seem to touch the sky their roughness had been worn down by the soft greenness of moss.

The multitude sounds in the jungle is created by the playful birds twittering and flying from tree to tree and the crimson and orange leaves of the forest floor composed a rustling sound as your feet go shuffling through the leaves. While getting mesmerized in the pleasures of the forest, you will reach the zero point.

Zero point inside the sanctuary offers scintillating views of the snow capped Himalayan ranges of Kedarnath Peak, Shivling, Trishul and Nanda Devi! The Kumaon Himalaya ranges includes Nanda Devi, Kedarnath, Trishul, Nanda kot and Panchchuli. Here you will be enthralled to see the red sun fall below horizon casting it's divine magic into the woods. Your heart will lament as you leave the forest.

The night is fairly glamorized by the heaven full of silent stars. The forest and darkness seems to be each other's admirer, where a sense of affection prevails. The dawn puts a imprint on the campaign of the sun in the sky. The first sun rays kisses the peaks of Trishul turning into bleak golden, actually promising to turn from fine coppery into purest yellow, watching this modest spectacular event you are bound for aesthetic appreciation of the peak.

The lower passes has a cover of greenery, the peaks are embellished with ice, without a word passing between them, creating a land of green and cold virgins. A part from the charming solitude corners, include the temples dedicated to Shiva. Binsar is a beautiful hill town near the city of Almora which is also home to the Binsar Mahadeva temple. Bineshwar Mahadev Temple was built in 16th cehtury.

The Gananath temple lies amidst the natural caves situated around 25 km away from Binsar.

Binsar is the home to Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary for preserving several endangered endemic species of flora and fauna. Binsar wildlife sanctuary located in the Himalayas on the Jhandi Dhar hills, is known for the rarest of the species of animals, birds, butterflies and exotic flora. It is also home to many wild animals such as leopard, Himalayan black bear, jackal, Indian red fox but they can be seen occasionally.

Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, is a must-visit place. It is a reserved habitat for a myriad of flora and fauna. It is home to the rarest species of animals, birds and butterflies. These include the state bird of Uttarakhand, the beautiful vibrant Monal.

It's rich forests and quiet atmosphere make it the perfect tourist destination, however, it is still unheard of by most.

Binsar, is known for its exotic bird population and staying there gives you the opportunity to experience some bird watching. Pack your bags for a fascinating time in Binsar, which is also very famous as a bird sanctuary. Get uninterrupted views of the Himalayas, an interesting insight into the life of the Kumaon hills and enjoy nights of stargazing.

And if it gets too foggy to look at the stars, light a fire, curl up in a blanket, take a book and sleep in the heat of the Himalayas. No wordplay here. Binsar is a place to unwind and give your worn soul that much needed rest with a promise to yourself to be back again into this serenity.

Binsar is nothing less than a paradise for nature lovers to see birds and live in solitude and cool place. One can reach Binsar from Almora by taxi. There you can experience snowfall several times in winter during the months of November to January. From here a wide range of Himalayas can be seen. In addition to the KMVN Tourist Rest House in Binsar Century, there are a few retreats, resorts, guest houses.

Tourists coming to Binsar - also like to stay in hotels outside the sanctuary. Hotels, resorts, guest houses of every budget is available in the places Paparasaili and Kasar Devi. Kasar Devi near Binsar is also a very beautiful place. Trekking, hiking, village walk, photography, bird watching can also be enjoyed in Binsar.

10. Joshimath

Joshimath is located on the slope of the confluence of the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers in Uttarakhand. Visit Joshimath and feel how it feels to see god from such closeness. Bhavishya badri or the future Badrinath is one among the Panchabadri temples of Garwhal himalayas. lt is situated at an altitude of 9000 feet above and is 18 kms from Joshimath temple in Subhain village. A moderate 6 km trek through amid dense forest, along the Dhauli ganga river leads to this temple in Nithi valley.

Chamoli is popularly known as the abode of Gods. Besides, it's also known as the valley of flowers. Renowned for its holy places, sanctuaries, and associations with Indian folklores and stories. The spot is visited by millions of visitors for its towns and rich Garhwali traditional. Chamoli is that perfect excursion spot with something for everybody. It is a perfect melange of the journey, excursion, and spiritual peacefulness.

The closest air terminal is Jolly Grant which is about 222 km away. The closest railway station is at Rishikesh. It is linked with several other urban areas like Rudraprayag, Srinagar, and Pauri.

11. Rudraprayag

As a break from the days you can enjoy an interesting session of yoga and meditation classes in the morning in Devprayag, where the rivers Alaknanda and Bhagirathi meet in the Ganga. After having breakfast you can go on a city tour to Rudraprayag where you can visit Guptakashi and Mahadev Koteshwar Temple. Also visit the local markets and get to know the life of the people in Rudraprayag.

Guptkashi is 13 KM from Ukhimath. The ancient temple of Vishwanath, the temple of Ardhnareshwar and Manikarnik Kund, where it is believed that the two streams of Ganga and Yamuna are found, are the main attractions in Guptkashi. From Ukhimath and Khirsu you can see spectacular views of the Himalayas. Deoria Tal, at an altitude of 2438 meters, is a lake that offers hypnotizing reflections of the Chaukhamba Range in its crystal clear water. One needs to drive around 12 KMs to Sari Village of Ukhimath and from Sari Village one can reach Deoria Tal by a 2 KM walking route.

12. Munsyari

Depart to the small and picturesque city of Munsyari, a small town in the picturesque Pithoragarh district, with beautiful Panchchuli peaks with views. Trek to Upper Khaliya, located at 11,500 feet. Munsiari, is a great attraction for trekkers, photographers, adventure sports lovers and peace seekers. The mesmerizing sight of sunrise and sunset in the mountains will surely rekindle your love.

Munsyari is picture-perfect village that is located up high in the remote corner of Kumaon Region of Uttarakhand. It is almost 520 Km away from Delhi. Also, known as Little Kashmir, this place offers a panoramic view of famous Panchachuli Range which is the group of Five Himalayan Peaks. Best month to experience snowfall is January and February.

As winters are not the peak time of tourism in Munsyari, hence this place can be enjoyed at its best during this time. Walk along the Gori Ganga River, part of the Milam glacier. Here you will have the opportunity to enjoy real fishing.

Situated 2298 metres above sea level, Munsiyari is a small village amidst the quaint hills of Uttarakhand. The serene view of the snow-capped Himalayan range, the rich culture of the village, the floral and faunal diversity - Munsiyari has a lot more to offer than you think. Don’t forget to pack your trekking shoes because Munsiyari serves as the base camps to some of the incredibly breathtaking Himalayan treks.

Milan trek, Ramik trek and Nalam trek are some of the most popular ones. Oh, and did we tell you that the village blossoms in scarlet red during the months of March and April? These months are when the Rhododendron flowers bloom in and around the village. The view is magical!

Even the road journey is an experience of its own! The journey will take you through the Himalayan towns of Bageshwar, Nainital and Kausani. So, make sure you prepare that music playlist complementing the scenic mountain views, well in advance!

13. Pangoot

Leave for Pangot, 15 kms from Nainital, for a nature walk along the Kilsbury point.

14. Kanatal

A series of narrow, zigzag streets surrounded by pines, cedars and rhododendrons fragrant trees lead to Kanatal, located 44 km from Mussoorie at an altitude of 8,500 feet. Go through the magnificent hills of Mussoorie and Chamba. It bears the name of Lake Kanatal, which for the locals is supposed to have once existed there.

A short excursion through the unexplored land of Kanatal takes you through apple orchards, pine forests and musk deer, wild boar and Kakar of Kodia Jungle. At 35 km from Kanatal, at the confluence of two rivers, Bhagirathi and Bhilangana, is the magnificent Tehri Dam.

Despite being small in area and also population, this town is important as it is located on the main road that links the important places like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Roorkie, and New Delhi to the famous pilgrim centres of Gangotri and Yamunotri, and also to Uttarkashi and the New Tehri Town. This is the place nearest to the lake created by Tehri Dam.

New Tehri is the town developed after the Historic Old City of Tehri got submerged in the waters of Tehri Dam, on River Bhagirathi - which is commonly known as River Ganges. Chamba is close to tourist places like Mussoorie, Uttarkashi, Dhanaulti, Kanatal, Narendra Nagar, and also connects to places like Dev Prayag and Srinagar (Garhwal).

For the devout and spiritually inclined people, the famous Sarkunda Devi Temple is located nearby, along the road to Dhanaulti and Mussoorie. Kunjapuri Devi Temple is also located near Chamba. Besides, Chamba in itself is a scenic place, with quiet and picturesque hilly landscape, offering great view of mountain ranges, and cool winds of pine forests.

15. Chopta

Another destination in Garhwal is Chopta. Chopta is about 105 km from Auli. Located at about 2,650 meters high is Chopta, in the Garhwal region. Chopta is located in the Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand and is well known as a base point for a walk to Tunganath temple and further to Chandrashila peak. Ukhimath is located 31 KM from Chopta, where the deity of Kedarnath moves in winters. There are local temples of Usha and Anirudh, Shiva and Parvati.

It is a beautiful natural picturesque hill destination to enjoy the cool weather and is ideal for trek lovers. Chopta is more than 70 kilometres away from Rudraprayag, while the Google map shows this distance less than 25 kilometres.

If you search distance from Tungnath instead of Chopta, you will get more accurate information however Tungnath is not connected to motorable road, and you have to trek from Chopta for 4 to 5 kilometres to reach there. Chopta is 29 km from Ukimath and 180 km from Rishikesh. Unlike the hustle and bustle of urban life - common life here runs at a normal pace.

It is an ideal place to live in peace. You can trek Tungnath and Chandrashila from Chopta. The Tungnath temple is closed in winter. There are many camping sites to stay in Chopta. Bring warm clothes with you in winter.

Which is the best time to visit Uttarakhand? Uttarakhand with its beautiful cities, alluring landscapes and numerous pilgrimage sites is one of India’s most popular tourist destinations. It is flooded with tourists not only from India but also from all over the world throughout the year.

However, march to June are considered as the peak season since summer is the best climate to visit Uttarakhand and Trekking, Char Dham Yatra and Paragliding is very popular during this season. October to February is considered as the shoulder season as it is the time of winter and the temperature falls up to 3 degree Celsius.

Hence, it is perfect for the people who loves cold and it allows the activities like rafting or wildlife spotting and if lucky enough people can experience snowfall too. Now July to September are considered as low season because Uttarakhand is inundated with rain water, hence, could hinder your travel plans.

But in case you are interested in watching the valley of flowers which is picture perfect during monsoon you can definitely go for it. To sum up there is not one but numerous best times to visit Uttarakhand.
Kalyan Panja