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Garhwal Trek "Thank you for the amazing trek. It was, for sure, one of my life's greatest adventures. We were lucky to see the Snow Bear and to go through many villages. The beautiful mountains, the people and the organization were all good, but most of all I would like to say that without Dipen (Guide) this trek would not be nearly as good as it was with him! His experience, calmness and knowledge are great. Dipen is by far the best guide I have traveled with." Andreas Gleason, Vancouver, Canada
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The history of modern Uttaranchal dates back to 7th and 8th Century AD when the Yavans began capturing the plains of India. Most of then Hindu kings from various parts of India migrated to Uttaranchal along with their family, army and the priests. Later on the children of the armymen and the priests contributed to the population of the region. As a result of this migration, the Uttaranchal society consists of 70% Rajputs, 20% Brahamans and the remaining 10% comprises of other castes and communites.

Since kings from various parts of India migrated to Uttaranchal, the Uttaranchal culture reflects the diverse culture of every region. The presence of Rajput majority in the region contributed to the worship of the Godess of Power - "Durga" which is still practised in almost every part of Uttaranchal. The fact gets proven with the presence of various Durga temples across the region. The animal sacrifice was also a part of this worship and still practised in many regions.

The antiquity of the sate can be traced back to 2nd century BC when the region was ruled by the Khasias and it was known as Khashdesh. Recent excavations has indicated that the region was under the domain of Kunidas, the central Himalayan tribe, who practiced early form of Shaivism at around 200 AD. There is also an Ashokan edict at Kalsi, in Garhwal region, which indicates that Buddhism also reached these parts of the country. Between the 10th adn 18th centuries, the Chand dynasty dominated the eastern Kumaon. Under the Chands, eastern Kumaon became a centre of learning, and various art forms including Garhwal school of painting was developed. With the decline of the Chand dynasty the region became under the Garhwali kings till the Rohillas took charge of the land in 1744 AD. The area was overtaken by Gurkhas in 1803 and ultimately by the end of 1814, Britishers expelled Gurkhas from Garhwal and Kumaon to take eastern Garhwal as British Garhwal and returned the western part, Tehri Garhwal to the deposed Raja. After 1857, the region became part of British empire. Since independence, the local aspiration steadily grew demanding a separate state of Uttaranchal which finally acquired its dream of statehood on 9th November 2000. The region is presently subsisting on the tourism business. It is also the land of the brave. Its Garhwalis and Kumaonis are reputed to the finest soldiers of our armed forces.

Garhwal, or Gurwal, is a region and administrative division of Uttaranchal, lying in the Himalayas. It is bounded on the north by Tibet, on the east by Kumaon region, on the south by Uttar Pradesh, and on the west by Himachal Pradesh. It includes the districts of Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri (Pauri Garhwal), Rudraprayag, Tehri (Tehri Garhwal), and Uttarkashi. The administrative center for Garhwal division is the town of Pauri.

The region consists almost entirely of rugged mountain ranges running in all directions, and separated by narrow valleys which in some cases become deep gorges or ravines. The only level portion of the district was a narrow strip of waterless forest between the southern slopes of the hills and the fertile plains of Rohilkhand. The highest mountains are in the north, the principal peaks being Nanda Devi (25,661 feet), Kamet (25,413 feet), Trisul (23,382 feet), Badrinath (23,210 feet), Dunagiri (23,181 feet) and Kedarnath (22,853 feet). The Alaknanda River, one of the main sources of the Ganges, receives with its affluents the whole drainage of the district. At Devaprayag the Alaknanda joins the Bhagirathi, and thenceforward the united streams bear the name of the Ganges. Cultivation is principally confined to the immediate vicinity of the rivers, which are employed for purposes of irrigation.

The culture of the present Kumaon is a blend of influences from the indigenous population as well as from the immigrants to this region. Consequently, the myths, dialects, languages, folk literature, festivals, fairs and forms of artistic expression are examples of the creative influences of the different cultural groups that constitute Kumaon.

Every peak, lake or mountain range is somehow or the other connected with some myth or the name of a God or Goddess, ranging from those associated with the Shaiva, Shakta and Vaishnava traditions, to local Gods like Ham, Saim, Golla, Chhurmal, Kail Bisht, Bholanath, Gangnath, Airy and Chaumu. Temples are dedicated to the nine famous Goddesses, other local Goddesses, Bhairava, Surya:. and Ganesh. The temples at Jageshwar, Bageshwar, Binsar, Thalkedar, Rameshwar, Pancheshwar, Baijnath and Gananath are devoted to Lord Shiva. The temples of Devidhura, Gangolihat, Pumagiri, Almora, Nainital, Kot Ki Mai and Kotgari Devi are associated with the Shakt tradition, while the region of Lohaghat - Champawat (Mount Kandeo) is associated with Kunna Avatar. This region also has two famous Sun temples.

According to Atkinson there were 35 Vaishnava and 250 Shaiva temples in British Kumaon. Eight Vaishnavaand 64 Shaiva temples were dedicated to the Shakti or female form alone.

Although Lord Shiva's influence prevailed throughout Kumaon, mainly because of its proximity to the region of Panchkedars and Kailas - Mansarovar, this did not in any way hamper the influence of the local folk Gods and Goddesses. Although the tales of Nanda Devi and Naina Devi have now been linked together, they began as two different stories

Garhwal is a region, which lies in the north Himalayas, where mighty gnages origins. It has diverse nature of culture as it sins with is natural mood. In Garhwal there are a lot of variety of traditional wearing cloth, different musical folk instrumental and lofty melodious seasonal songs itself, like chounphula , mangal, jagar and etc. Generally language uses by the peoples of garhwal are Garhwali and Hindi..

Garhwali Folks Songs:

Mangal: Women sing mangal songs during marriage and other ceremonies

Jaggar: Jaggar is sung during worship and in respect to God.

Chhopati: Chhopati is a love song that is sung between the men and women in the form of questions and answers.

Chhura: Chhura is the most popular songs among shepherds and are in a way of an old experienced man teaching a young shepherd the tricks of his trade.

Khuded: The song is sung to portray the suffering of women due to parting from her husband.

Bajuband: Love song sung by shepherds in form of conversation between man and woman.

Basanti: As the name suggests Basanti songs are sung during the approaching Basant (Spring) season.

Chounphula and Jhumeila: These songs form part of seasonal dances, which are performed from Basant Panchami to Sankranti or Baisakhi. Jhumeila is sometimes mixed but is usually restricted to women. Chounphula is a spinning dance performed by all sections of the community at night in groups by men and women.

Garhwali Folk Dance:

Pandava Dance: Narrating the story of Mahabharata accompanied by dance and music performs Pandava Dance. This is performed during Dussehra and Deepawali.

Langvir Dance: Langvir dance is a acrobatic dance performed by men. In this dance the dancer climbs a pole and balances himself at his navel on the top of the pole. Accompanied by dhola and music he balances and rotates on his belly at the pole and performs other acrobatic stunts.

Barada Nati: Barada Nati dance is performed during religious festivals or any other social occasion. Men and women wearing colorful costumes perform it.

Bhotiya Dance: Bhotiya Dance is performed by Bhotias and is related with death ceremonies. It is believed by them that the soul of the dead person is residing in body of a goat or sheep and by dancing the soul can be liberated.



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