The vast and heavily populated state of Uttar Pradesh, popularly called UP, lies in north India. It has an area larger than that of Britain and only 5 countries (including India) host larger populations than this state. It is bounded by Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, and the international border of Nepal. UP occupies a large part of River Ganges's fertile plains. Almost half of the country's potato and sugarcane, and much of its wheat grow here. Described as the cow belt, it's actually home to some 78% of India's livestock.
The Ganges defines its religious and cultural landscape, sacred in itself and nurturing some of the holiest Hindu sites like Varanasi and Allahabad. Yamuna is the other sacred river.
The UP region played a central role in the history of the Indian subcontinent and its major religions: as the birthplace of Hindu gods Ram (Ayodhya) and Krishna (Mathura) and the place where Buddha preached his first sermon (Sarnath). Politically dominant UP produced five of modern India's Prime Ministers. However, the present in UP hasn't quite lived up to the past: there is a paucity of modern industry, services, infrastructure.
Agra town is the most-visited in the state, for its monuments dating from the 16th-17th centuries, when it was the capital of the Mughal dynasty. The marble mausoleum of Taj Mahal alone, made by Emperor Shahjahan, is not just UP's but also India's top attraction, in addition to Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri built by Emperor Akbar. On the eastern edge of the state, Varanasi and Ayodhya are important Hindu sites. Varanasi's riverside temples and old palaces stretch picturesquely for kilometers on the west bank of the Ganga. Allahabad plays host to the Kumbh Mela every 12 years, attracting millions of pilgrims and named the largest religious gathering in the world.
UP's capital Lucknow has some beautiful tombs, mosques and colonial buildings. There is no international airport but Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi and Allahabad have domestic airports and Agra is about 200km from Delhi.
The most important tourist sites of Uttar Pradesh are –
- Taj Mahal
- Agra Fort
- Fatehpur Sikri
- Ghats, Sarnath (Varanasi)
- Sangam at Prayag (Allahabad)
- forts at Allahabad