Uttar Pradesh is known for its rich culture and tradition.
Uttar Pradesh or UP literally means the northern province. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India and fourth largest state in India. It forms more than one eight part of India and constitutes its heartland. It comprises an area of 294,413 square km. The region of Uttar Pradesh has been the heart of much of India's contemporary religious and cultural life. It contains the source of the sacred river Ganga which is regarded by most of the Hindus as the physical and spiritual life source of the country. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh. It is situated along the banks of the Gomti river in the heart of the eastern UP. There are some of the most well known tourist centres in UP like Agra, the city of the Taj; Varanasi, one of the most ancient cities of the world on the banks of the Ganges; Haridwar, the religious city; Allahabad, the place where the great Kumbh mela is held and Mathura, situated on the banks of the Yamuna river and regarded as thebirthplace of Lord Krishna. Hindi, Urdu and English are the main languages which are spoken in Uttar Pradesh. The best season to visit Uttar Pradesh is from October to March.
|Area||243,286 sq km|
|Population||199,581,477 ( As on 2011 )|
|Official Languages||Hindi, Urdu|
October to March.
Ayudha Puja Is A Regional Festival In Uttar Pradesh. People Makes Offering In The Temple Of Ram And Sita During This Occasion. According To Mythology Ayudha Is The Birthplace Of Lord Rama. Mythology States That Ram Was Exiled By His Father In The Jungle And In The Process He Lost His Birthright To Be The King. The Significance Of The Puja Lies In The Triumph Of Good Over Evil Which Also Has A Vast Social Bearing On The People Of Uttar Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh Is A Large State Not Only In Terms Of Population But In Area Too. The Maximum Areas Of Uttar Pradesh Were Being Directly Ruled By Many Historical Monarchs. The Royal Patronage On Several Crafts Help Uttar Pradesh Evolve In To An Important Centre Of Handicrafts.
The Cuisine Of Uttar Pradesh Is Just As Diverse As Its Geography. Ranging From Simple Every Day Fare To Rich, Elaborate Banquets, The Cuisine Of Uttar Pradesh Has Absorbed And Adapted A Variety Of Cuisines To Create An Entire Smorgasbord Of Wonderful Dishes. The People Of Uttar Pradesh Love To Cook, To Eat And To Feed! Difference In Communities Notwithstanding, As A People, They Are Very Warm And Hospitable. For Most Of Them, The Ultimate In Hospitality Means You Feed Your Guests Till They Beg For Mercy.
Many Of The Hindu Communities Are Staunch Vegetarians And They Have Created A Vast Variety Of Vegetarian Dishes Ranging From The All Time Favourite ‘puri-aloo’ Or Potatoes And Fried Wheat Bread To Savouries And Divine Desserts And Sweetmeats. The Muslims, Kashmiris, Kayasthas And Christian Communities Cook Up A Storm Of Non-vegetarian Dishes Including A Delectable Selection Of Breads, Kababs, Curries And Biryanis. The Muslim Cuisine, Of Northern Uttar Pradesh Is Very Different From The Mughlai Food Of Delhi.
The Nawabs Of Oudh Were Great Gourmets And Encouraged Their Master Chefs To Create New Styles Of Cooking Like The Famous ‘dum Pukht’ Of Lucknow Where The Food Is Sealed In Large Pots Called ‘handis’, Placed Over A Slow Fire And Left To Cook In Its Own Juices. When Opened, These Dishes Release The Most Fragrant And Delicious Aromas. Lucknow And Its Neighbouring Towns Were Put On The Culinary Map Of India Thanks To These Rich Curries, Melt In The Mouth Kababs, Fragrant Rice Biryanis And Pulaos And An Eclectic Variety Of Leavened And Unleavened Breads.
The Tradition Of Painting In Uttar Pradesh Has Been Going On Since Pre-historic Times. The Cave Paintings Of Sonbhadra And Chitrakoot Depict Scenes Of Hunting, War, Festivals, Dances, Romantic Life And Animals. The Golden Period Of Painting In Up Was The Mughal Era. The Art Of Painting Attained Its Peak During The Reign Of Jahangir. The Mughal Style Of Painting Remains One Of The Greatest Achievements Of Asian Culture And Is Unique In Its Concept, Presentation And Style. The Art Of Painting Reached The Epitome Of Perfection In The Area Of Bundelkhand When The King Of Orchha Reconstructed The Temple Of Keshav Dev In Mathura. The Paintings Of Mathura, Gokul, Vrindavan And Govardhan Depict The Scenes From The Life Of Lord Krishna. Another Major Pre-modern Painting Tradition Of Up Is Known As The Garhwal School Which Was Patronized By The Kings Of Garhwal.
World’s oldest living city, Varanasi – also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benaras, is the spiritual capital of India. It is one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities. The old city of Varanasi lies along the western banks of the Ganges, spread across a labyrinth of narrow galis. Be prepared to walk on foot and encounter some holy cows! Temples at almost every turn engulf Varanasi but the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most visited and the oldest of the lot. Benaras is known as the city of Lord Shiva for a reason, and rightfully so.
Varanasi is considered an auspicious place to die, as it is believed to grant moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death. Spiritually enlightening, the heart of the city pulsates around the ghats, about 80 of which border the Ganges. Be prepared for the sights, sounds and smells! Don’t miss out on the hot chaat and cool lassi. Though, all chaos and noise on the ghats take a pause before dusk when the Ganga Aarti begins to take place, a ceremony of immense grandeur.
This divine city is also an important destination for Buddhists. Gautam Buddha preached his first sermon in Benaras, a part which is now in Sarnath.
Allahabad, now officially known as Prayagraj, is a city located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Reminiscent of all that is spiritual and sacred in Hinduism, Allahabad is famous for Triveni Sangam or the meeting point of three rivers – the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati. Built on the site of the ancient town of Prayag, Allahabad has, since time immemorial, held the largest Hindu gathering on the banks of the Sangam – the Maha Kumbh Mela. While the Sangam city is often passed over for more travel-friendly cities, there is a lot to Allahabad besides just its religion.
Prayag or Prayagraj had been the ancient name of the city of Allahabad. Pra means “first” and Yag means “devotion”. Prayag also signifies the coming together of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. After the Mughal invasion, Emperor Akbar, impressed by the location named the city Ilahabas which meant “Abode of God”. Emperor Shah Jahan, his grandson, renamed the city to Allahabad.
One of the top places to visit in Allahabad, if you’re spiritually inclined (and even if you’re not because this place deserves a visit), Triveni Sangam is a place bustling with tourists and locals all year round. The Maha Kumbh Mela is a religious occasion that is held here every twelve years and is attended by millions of pilgrims from all across the globe. The Allahabad Fort is another monument of historical significance and is a heritage site recognized by the UNESCO. Built during the reign of Akbar, this fort is also a fine example of the curation and craftsmanship of the Mughal era.
Other popular places to visit in Allahabad include the Anand Bhavan, All Saints Cathedral, Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, and Allahabad Museum.
Allahabad finds its mention in Hindu Scripture Mahabharata as Kaushambi, the place which Kuru rulers of Hastinapur made their capital. It was also a provincial capital of Mughals under the rule of Jahangir. The places ooze heritage, history, and stories galore, and once you visit, you will definitely have seen Allahabad differently for having travelled to and through it.
Ayodhya, located on the banks of river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus. Ayodhya plays a critical role in the Hindu epic of Ramayana as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. This religious town is also the birthplace of four of Jainism’s 24 Tirthankaras (religious teachers), beckoning tourists with its serene ghats.
With monkeys galore, the buzz of the visiting tourists, and a general spiritual aura, Ayodhya has been surrounded by controversy since about a decade now. It is the site of the 1992 Indian riots related to the Babri Masjid fiasco. The mosque, which was allegedly built on Ram Janmabhoomi Temple, became the bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims. In 2005, Ayodhya witnessed a terrorist attack at the site of Ramlalla Temple.
Despite the controversy, Ayodhya has so much colour and spirituality to see for its tourists and has emerged as a significant spiritual centre. The land of multi-faith temples, the traffic-free streets of Ayodhya are intriguing enough in itself to warrant a visit.
The capital and the largest city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, situated on the banks of river Gomti, welcomes you with a heartwarming note of “Muskuraiyein, kyunki aap Lucknow mein hai“. A city of kebabs and nawabs, of architecture and history, of literature and culture – that is Lucknow in a nutshell for you. From a slice of rich colonial history to modernized museums, this artistic hub of Awadh region beautifully brings together the opulence of a glittering past and the simplicity of a modern city.
Rumi Darwaza, the Mughal Gateway built in the centre of the capital divides Lucknow into ‘Old Lucknow’ which is ancient, and more crowded, and the ‘New Lucknow’ which is urban and one of the most planned cities of Asia. Most of Old Lucknow is well-known for its bustling vibrant streets, authentic, mouth-watering kebab and biriyani outlets, lakhnavi chikan market, and the wholesale jewellery stores.
New Lucknow, on the other hand, hosts people of varied cultures and is structurally planned with wide roads, shopping malls and parks built to serve diverse entertainment purposes. The most famous among these parks are the Ambedkar Park and the Gomti Riverfront Park, both ideal places for visiting and strolling around with friends and family in the evening.
Hazratganj, a major shopping area located in the heart of Lucknow, is famous for its ‘chaat’ and ‘kulfi’ eateries, posh Mughlai restaurants, and various shopping complexes. All the buildings in Hazratganj have a distinct Victorian architecture, and you can shop for literally anything – starting from inexpensive accessories and trinkets to high-end clothes, shoes and jewellery.
The people of Lucknow are known for their courtly manners and endearing ‘pehle aap‘ (you first) culture, which always leaves behind a smile on the faces of its visitors.
Vindhyachal is a famous Hindu pilgrimage spot closer to Mirzapur and Varanasi and has several temples in the vicinity with their own interesting stories. This town is situated on the banks of holy river Ganga and people come here to take a dip into it to pray to Goddess Ganga.
The town also sees countless devotees that come here to perform the trikona parikrama which covers three most important temples Vindhyavasini, Ashtabhuja and Kali khoh temples. There is a huge crowd of pilgrims here, all year round and especially during the Navratra when the whole town is decorated with diyas and flowers and hymn of holy chants.
Located on the banks of River Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh, Agra is a popular tourist destination as it is home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal. It is a sneak peek into the architectural history and legacy of the Mughal empire with two other UNESCO World Heritage Sites Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. History, architecture, romance all together create the magic of Agra, and hence, makes for a must-visit for anyone living in or visiting India.
Agra is one of the most populous cities in Uttar Pradesh and 24th most populous city in India. With its long and rich history, it is no wonder that Agra forms part of the popular Golden Triangle Circuit for tourists along with Delhi and Jaipur. It is also a part of the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc including Varanasi and Lucknow. History fanatics and architecture buffs are sure to have a ball here with the sheer expanse of the Mughal art and culture on display.
Apart from its monuments, Agra has some exciting stuff for foodies. It is as famous for its Petha (a sweet made from pumpkin and flavoured with rose water and saffron) as it is for the Taj Mahal. Agra is also well known for its marble artefacts which are best bought in the Sadar Bazaar or Kinaari Bazaar area.
Agra is mostly visited on a one-day trip from New Delhi or other nearby cities in Uttar Pradesh but is totally worth it. Be prepared to be astounded, amazed, inspired and thrilled. However, be a little cautious about conmen in the guise of unofficial tour guides and fake handicrafts.
One of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities, Mathura is the birthplace of the very beloved Lord Krishna. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Mathura and Vrindavan are often considered twin cities (located only 10km away from each other). Mathura is a small town dotted with temples from various ages and attracts a horde of pilgrims from all over the world.
One side of Mathura is stretched across the Yamuna River, lined with 25 ghats, which are best visited during dawn when you can witness locals and tourists taking a holy dip, and at dawn (just after the sunset) when hundreds of diyas are floated during the daily aarti. Mathura is flooded with tourists and pilgrims during the two main festivals – Janmashtami (Lord Krishna’s birthday) in August/September, and Holi in February/March.
Shri Krishna Janmabhumi is the most famous tourist attraction in Mathura, as this place is believed to the be the exact place where Lord Krishna was born, and the prison where he was born is now on display for tourists to see. Mathura has many temples, both big and small, dotting the entire city, with many of these temples being dedicated to Lord Krishna. The two most important temples in town are the Dwarkadheesh Temple and the Gita Mandir.
If you are looking for more than just the standard tourist fare, then the best way to explore Mathura is by taking a walk around the streets of the city. Every nook and cranny of this religious town still retains an old-world charm that belies the urbanization the city has kept up with. There is a lot of history to Mathura that you can experience only by exploring the old-fashioned architecture, the crumbling ruins of old houses, and the genial amiability of the locals who are always willing to show you around.
It is not possible to think of a city as old as Mathura and imagine it not having a delicious history of street food! Don’t forget to try out local snacks like kachodis, aloo-puri and chaat, which are available at any and all eateries lining the streets. Jalebis and gulab-jamuns are also very popular local street food items that are available at all shops throughout the day.