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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 kha??a (meaning country or part of a country. It has an area of 20,682 sq mi (53,566 kmĀ²).

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.[3] Uttarakhand is also well known as the birthplace of the Chipko environmental movement,[4] and a myriad other social movements including the mass agitation in the 1990s that led to its formation.


Early History

The first references to the land currently known as Uttarakhand appear in the Skanda Purana and Mahabharata as Kedarkhand. Its first known kingdom was that of the Chand dynasty which started ruling in the Kumaon region mid 8'th century with initial settings in Champawat. Interrupted by domination of Katyuri dynasty during the 9'th-11'th century the Chand dynasty ruled in various forms. During this time the Shah dynasty comes into power in the Garhwal region. This continued till the 17'th century when the frequent invasions of Garhwal by Kumaon results in the then Shah king (Man Shah) defeating the erstwhile Chand king (Laxmi Chand) of Kumaon and taking his capital Almora.

The next momentous moment in the history comes in the early 19'th century when there was a big earthquake and famine in the region resulting in a weak kingdom being overcome by the Gurkhas of Nepal. This was followed by the Britishers influencing the region by mid 19'th century which led to a British Commissioner being appointed as the ruler of the region. It was a period of selective promotion of cities like Nainital (as the summer capital for the British kingdom) and the establishment of Mussorie. The British rule also saw the ethnic units of the army namely Garhwal rifles and Gurkha battalion of the army performing bravely during the various battles and earning a reputation for bravery.

Post independence

The advent of independence lead to the princely state of Tehri Garhwal and others joining together to the newly formed state of Uttar Pradesh. Even though the voice of independence was led by early leaders like P.C Joshi and others, the main push for the separate state started in the 70's when there was awareness of the impact of distant rule on the environment and region. The popularity of Chipko moment to save the forests and other natural resources was increased by the resistance to the building of Tehri dam. The lack of relief and rehabilitation by the state government to the earthquake (in the Tehri area in 1993), the extension of caste based reservation onto the hills and abuse of protestors in Muzaffarnagar in 1994 by the Uttar Pardesh state police further the moment towards a separate state.

Finally in August, the new government of India announces its approval of statehood for Uttarakhand. The initial name for the state was Uttaranchal which was finally changed to Uttarakhand in 2006.

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