the microcosm of India, multicultural, multiracial, conglomeration
of fabulous wealth of nature-hills, valleys, rivers, forests,
and vast plains. Viewed as the largest tourist destination in
India, Uttar Pradesh boasts of 35 million domestic
tourists. More than half of the foreign tourists, who visit
India every year, make it a point to visit this state
of Taj Mahal and Ganga.
Agra itself receives around one million foreign tourists a year
coupled with around twenty million domestic tourists. Its tourism
promotion budget is bigger than that of government of India
and half of the states of Indian
union combined. Uttar Pradesh is studded with
places of tourist attractions across a wide spectrum of interest
to people of diverse interests.
seventh most populated state of the world, Uttar Pradesh
can lay claim to be the oldest seat of India's culture and civilization.
It has been characterized as the cradle of Indian civilization
and culture because it is around the Ganga that the ancient cities
and towns sprang up.
Pradesh played the most important part in India's freedom
struggle and after independence it remained the strongest state
politically. Most of the Prime Ministers in India represented
Uttar Pradesh in the parliament of India. All
these make the state a place that should not be left if anybody
wants to understand India, as it is.
Uttar Pradesh has an enormous historical legacy.
The renowned epics of Hinduism-the Ramayana and the Mahabharata-were
written in Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh also
had the glory of being home to Lord Buddha. It has now been established
that Gautama Buddha spent most of his life in eastern Uttar Pradesh,
wandering from place to place preaching his sermons.
empire of Chandra Gupta Maurya extended nearly over the whole
of Uttar Pradesh. Edicts of this period have been found at Allahabad
& Varanasi . After
the fall of the Mauryas, the present state of Uttar Pradesh was
divided into four parts: Surseva, North Panchal, Kosal, and Kaushambi.
The western part of Uttar Pradesh saw the advent
of the Shaks in the second century BC. Not much is known of the
history of the state during the times of Kanishka and his successors.
Gupta Empire ruled over nearly the whole of Uttar Pradesh,
and it was during this time that culture and architecture reached
its peak. The decline of the Guptas coincided with the attacks
of Huns from Central Asia who succeeded establishing their influence
right up to Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh. The seventh century witnessed
the taking over of Kannauj by Harshavardhana.
1526, Babur laid the foundation of the Mughal dynasty. He defeated
Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat. Babar carried out extensive
campaign in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. He defeated the Rajputs
near Fatehpur Sikri while his son Humayun conquered Jaunpur and
Ghazipur, after having brought the whole of Awadh under his control.
After Babur's death (1530), his son Humayun forfeited the empire
after being defeated at the hands of Sher Shah Suri at Kannauj.
After the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1545, Humayun once again
regained his empire but died soon after.
son Akbar proved to be the greatest of Mughals. His established
a unified empire over nearly the whole of the India. During his
period, Agra became the capital of India and became heartland
of culture and arts. Akbar laid the foundation of modern Indian
administration in many respects. His reign saw peace, tranquility,
and progress. He constructed huge forts in Agra
and Allahabad. He shifted his capital to a city called Fatehpur
Sikri close to Agra that for some years became the hub of administration.
1605, Akbar died and was succeeded by his son Jahangir. The period
of Jahangir saw arts and culture reach a new high. However, politically
and administratively, the real power during this time rested with
the queen Noorjehan.
1627, after the death of Jahangir, his son Shahjahan ascended
the throne. The period of Shahjahan is known as the golden period
of India in art, culture, and architecture. It was during his
reign that the classical wonder Taj Mahal was built in memory
of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. He also constructed the famous Red Fort
in Delhi as well as the Jama Masjid and Moti Mahal.
his later life, Shahjahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb
shifted his capital to Delhi, where he kept his father Shahjahan
imprisoned until his death. The régime of Aurangzeb saw
innumerable revolts and riots; the whole of Rajputana and the
Deccan became restive. However, it was during his reign that the
Mughal Empire reached its peak in terms of geographic expansion.
But with the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire declined
at an amazing pace.
Uttar Pradesh saw the rise of important freedom
fighters on the national scenario. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jawaharlal
Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi, and Charan Singh were only a few of
the important names who played a significant role in India's freedom
movement and also rose to become the prime ministers of this great
The population comprises of an Indo-Dravidian ethnic group; only
a small population, in the Himalayan region, displays Asiatic
origins. Hindus constitute more than 80 percent of the population,
Muslims more than 15 percent, and other religious communities-including
Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and Buddhists-together constitute less
than 1 percent.
Arts and Crafts
The handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh have earned
a reputation for themselves over the centuries. The traditional
handicrafts are of a vast variety such as textiles, metal ware,
woodwork, ceramics, stonework, dolls, leather products, ivory
articles, papier-mâché, articles made of horns, bone,
cane and bamboo, perfume, and musical instrument. These cottage
crafts are spread all over the state but the more important centers
are located at Varanasi, Aamgarh, Maunath Bhanjan, Ghazipur, Meerut,
Muradabad, and Agra.
from Bhadohi and Mirzapur are prized worldwide. Silks and brocades
of Varanasi, ornamental brassware from Muradabad, chickan (a type
of embroidery) work from Lucknow, ebony work from Nagina, glassware
from Firozabad, and carved woodwork from Saharanpur also are important.
traditional pottery centers are located at Khurja, Chunar, Lucknow,
Rampur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, and Azamgarh. Khurja's dishes, pitchers,
and flower bowls in blazed ceramic in blue, green, brown and orange
colors are the most attractive. Muradabad produces exquisite brass
utility articles. Besides, minakari on silver and gold and diamond-cut
silver ornaments have made Varanasi and Lucknow world famous.
Music and Dance
The state is known for pioneering the development of musical instruments,
which find mention in ancient Sanskrit literature. Music is also
known to have flourished in the Gupta Period (c. 320-540), and
much of the musical tradition in Uttar Pradesh
was developed during the period. The musicians Tansen and Baiju
Bawra, two of the Navaratnas (Nine Jewels) of the court of the
Mughal emperor Akbar, are still immortal for their contribution
in the field of music.
sitar (a stringed instrument of the lute family) and the tabla
(consisting of two small drums), the two most popular instruments
of Indian music, were developed in the region during this period.
The Kathak style of classical dance, which originated in Uttar
Pradesh in the 18th century as a devotional dance in the temples
of Vrindavan and Mathura, is the most popular form of classical
dance in northern India. There are also local songs and dances
of the countryside, and the most popular of the folksongs are
songs and dances of the countryside are significant features of
local culture. They include the kajari of Mirzapur and Varanasi;
the Alha Udal, a folk epic; and various village dances.
Fairs and Festivals
Uttar Pradesh has a long list of fairs and festivals. More than
2,230 festivals are held annually. Some are organized at several
places simultaneously while others have only local importance.
Festivals and feasts are linked with the golden harvest-the sensuous
spring, the reverence for mythology, religion or in honor of the
past great men. These are zestfully celebrated with song, dance,
and merriment; others with solemnity, fervor, fast, or feast.
These fairs and festivals help the people keep the culture vibrant
and promote artistic activities.
One important festival of Uttar Pradesh is Navratri-a
nine-day festival dedicated to the Primordial Energy, known as
Durga, the consort of Shiva, which begins on the first day of
the bright half of the month of Ashvina. Diwali is another prominent
festival devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth.
The largest festival-fair held in India, drawing millions of people,
is the Kumbha Mela. It is held every 12 years at Prayag in Allahabad.
In between, the Ardh Kumbha Mela is held every six years at Allahabad.
is another gay and colorful occasion that marks the onset of the
gathering of the harvest. The most interesting celebrations are
held at Barsana, when the women of the village go out to Nandgaon,
the home of Lord Krishna, and challenge the men to throw color
on them. This festival is also known as Lathmar Holi.
How to Reach Uttar Pradesh
By Air : There are four domestic airports in Uttar Pradesh,
i.e., in Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, and Varanasi. However, there is
no international airport. Major cities in Uttar Pradesh are connected
by air to Delhi and other large cities of India.
By Rail : The state is connected with the major cities
of India by trains. Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad and Mughalsarai
are some of the major railheads that are linked to the rest of
the country by express, super-fast and passenger trains.
By Road : Uttar Pradesh is connected to the rest of the
country by a good network of roads. Some of the important national
highways that connect that state are NH 2, 25, 26, 27, 29, and