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UTTARAKHAND TREKKING

Uttarakhand is a state located in the northern part of India. It was carved out of Himalayan and adjoining districts of Uttar Pradesh on 9 November 2000, becoming the 27th state of the Republic of India. It borders Tibet on the north, Nepal on the east, the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the south, Haryana on the west and Himachal Pradesh on the north west.

The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhanda in Hindu scriptures and old literature, a term which derives from Sanskrit uttara meaning north, and khaṇḍa meaning country or part of a country. It has an area of 20,682 sq mi (53,566 km²).

In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun which is also a rail-head and the largest city in the region. The small hamlet of Gairsen has been mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but controversies and lack of resources have led Dehradun to remain provisional capital. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.

Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state government to capitalise on handloom and handicrafts, the burgeoning tourist trade as well as tax incentives to lure high-tech industry to the state. The state also has big-dam projects, controversial and often criticised in India, such as the very large Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi-Bhilangana rivers, conceived in 1953 and about to reach completion. Uttarakhand is also well known as the birthplace of the Chipko environmental movement, and a myriad other social movements including the mass agitation in the 1990s that led to its formation.

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LADAKH & ZANSKAR

Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Kashmir.

Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys, the Indus Valley, the remote Zangskar, Lahaul and Spiti to the south, Aksai Chin and Ngari, including the Rudok region and Guge, in the east, and the Nubra valleys to the north.

Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti to the south, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the trans–Kunlun territory of East Turkistan to the far north. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture.

Ladakh is the highest plateau of the Indian state of Kashmir with much of it being over 3,000 m (9,800 ft). It spans the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges and the upper Indus River valley.

Zanskar is a subdistrict or tehsil of the Kargil district, which lies in the eastern half of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The administrative centre is Padum. Zanskar, together with the neighbouring region of Ladakh, was briefly a part of the kingdom of Guge in Western Tibet.

The Zanskar Range is a mountain range in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that separates Zanskar from Ladakh. Geologically, the Zanskar Range is part of the Tethys Himalaya, an approximately 100-km-wide synclinorium formed by strongly folded and imbricated, weakly metamorphosed sedimentary series. The average height of the Zanskar Range is about 6,000 m (19,700 ft). It's eastern part is known as Rupshu.

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SIKKIM

Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. It is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest in area after Goa. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south. Despite its small area of 7,096 km (2,740 sq mi), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal.Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.

Legend has it that the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 9th century, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the monarchy. Accordingly, the Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders. It allied itself with the British rulers of India but was soon annexed by them. Later, Sikkim became a British protectorate and was merged with India following a referendum in 1975.

The official language of the state is English, but there is a sizable population that converses in Nepali (the lingua franca of the state), Lepcha, Bhutia, and Limbu. It is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepalese majority. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on agriculture and tourism.

The Sikkimese celebrate all major Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Dussera. Nepali festivals like Tihar and Bhimsen Puja are common. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are Buddhist festivals. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year) most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week. Muslims celebrate Id-ul-fitr and Muharram. Christmas has also been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.

Western rock music and Hindi songs have gained wide acceptance among the Sikkimese. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Common sports in Sikkim are Football and cricket. Hang gliding and river rafting have also been introduced in order to promote tourism.

Noodle-based dishes such as the thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetable, buff (buffalo meat) or pork and served with a soup, are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed. Sikkim has the third highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind Punjab and Haryana.

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ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Arunachal Pradesh is a state located in the far north eastern part of India, bordering China, and part of which is claimed by China. It has borders with state of Assam to the south and Nagaland to the southeast. Burma/Myanmar lies to the east, Bhutan to the west north, it borders with Chinese-occupied and ruled Tibet. China disputes the border, which is the McMahon Line agreed to by Great Britain and then-de-facto-independent Tibet (but failed to let the then-Chinese government sign, resulting in the dispute) in a 1914 treaty. Itanagar is the capital of the state.

Arunachal Pradesh means "land of the dawn lit mountains" in Sanskrit. It is also known as "land of the rising sun"("pradesh" means "state" or "region") in reference to its position as the easternmost state of India. Most of the people native to and/or living in Arunachal Pradesh are of Tibeto-Burman origin. A large and increasing number of migrants have reached Arunachal Pradesh from many other parts of India, although no reliable population count of the migrant population has been conducted, and percentage estimates of total population accordingly vary widely. Part of the famous Ledo Burma Road, which was a lifeline to China during World War II, passes through the eastern part of the state.

The history of pre-modern Arunachal Pradesh remains shrouded in mystery. It is popularly believed, and may be speculatively assumed, that the first ancestors of most indigenous tribal groups migrated from pre-Buddhist Tibet two or three thousand years ago, if not before, and were joined by Tibetic and Thai-Burmese counterparts later. The earliest written references to Arunachal are popularly believed to be found in the Mahabharata, Ramayana and other Vedic legends. Several characters, such as, King Bhismaka, are believed to represent people from the region in the Mahabharata; however, since corroborating information is unavailable, and since place-names cannot be verified at that historical time-depth, such associations are to a large extent speculative. For example, there is no evidence whatsoever that the name Bhismaka plausibly associates with any indigenous Arunachali tribes or languages at all.

Arunachal Pradesh attracts tourists from many parts of the world. Tourist attractions include the Namdapha tiger project in Changlang district and Sela lake near Bomdila with its bamboo bridges overhanging the river. Religious places of interest include Malinithan in Lekhabali, Rukhmininagar near Roing (the place where Rukmini, Lord Krishna's wife in Hindu mythology, is said to have lived), and Parshuram Kund in Lohit district (which is believed to be the lake where Parshuram washed away his sins). Rafting and trekking are common activities. A visitor's permit from the tourism department is required. Places like Tuting have wonderful, undiscovered scenic beauty.

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