Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India. Though long known for sugar production, the state’s economy is now dominated by the services industry.
Inhabitants of the state are called either Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Braji, Bundeli, Kannauji, or Rohilkhandi depending upon their region of origin. Hinduism is practised by more than three-fourths of the population, with Islam being the next largest religious group. Uttar Pradesh was home to most of mainstream political entity that has existed in ancient and medieval India including Maurya Empire, Harsha Empire, Mughal Empire, Delhi Sultanate, Gupta Empire as well as many other empires. The state houses several holy Hindu temples and pilgrimage centres. Uttar Pradesh has three UNESCO World Heritage sites namely the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
Irrespective of what your preferences may be, Uttar Pradesh has something to tantalize everyone’s palate. Food is cooked in an earthen vessel called handi, under a crackling fire for as long as three days. Although this is a long-drawn-out way of cooking, the food is remarkably delicious and well worth the wait.
The bawarchis (royal chefs) of the Nawabs of Lucknow, had pioneered the cooking style known popularly as ‘Dum Pukht’. The food is cooked for many hours under a low-flame to pack in all the rich earthy flavors and aromatic spices. This method of cooking is unique to Lucknow. Christened as the City of Nawabs or Rulers, Lucknowi or Awadhi cuisine bears the distinctive impression of having originated from the royal court of the Nawabs and fit for kings! Tunday Kebab, made from lamb or buffalo meat with over 100 different spices, melts in your mouth and was made by chef Hajid Murad Ali in the 17th century for the Nawab at that time.Galawati or Galauti Kebab is made from minced meat and is considered to be a royal delicacy. Kulcha-Nihari is a soft and fluffy paratha that is served alongside a rich meat gravy. Lucknowi Biryani is prepared with cashew nut paste, saffron, curd, mace powder and star anise. Awadhi cuisine is incomplete without this star dish where the meat (mutton or chicken) is cooked on a slow fire. Tehri, another rice dish is best accompanied with yoghurt to beat the heat in summer. Nargisi Kofta is a dish packed with flavor. Sheermal, brought to India by the Persians of Iran, Kulfi Falooda, Jalebi-Rabri and Makhan Malai are for the sweet lovers. Kakori Kebab, Boti Kebab, Zamindoz Machhli and Paneer Pasanda are some of the other popular dishes here. Banarasi Paan, Bati Chokha and Petha are more popular in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Khurchan, Shahi Tukda and Lal Pedha are some more famous sweets here.
The languages of Uttar Pradesh generally belong to two zones in the Indo-Aryan languages, Central and East. Hindi is the state’s official language along with Urdu as the co-official language.
Fairs & Festivals
Uttar Pradesh has traditional, religious and state festivals organized and celebrated throughout the state. These festivals are full of messages depicting one or more aspects of human life, relationships or ancient traditions. The Kumbh Mela in Allahabad is one of the largest fairs of the world and is attended by millions of pilgrims from all over India as well as the devout from the world over. Maha Kumbh is held after a gap of twelve years whereas Ardha Kumbh is held in the Sixth year after Maha Kumbh in the months of January-February, on the banks of the holy confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Magh Mela is an annual event and Kampil Fair is celebrated by Jains.Holi, which marks the beginning of Spring and Ramnavami Mela, celebrated in a special way especially in Ayodhya are popular festivals here. Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna sees special celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan. Deva Mela is the annual Urs of Haji Waris Ali Shah and attracts pilgrims from as far as Pakistan and the Middle East countries. The shrine of the Sufi Saint is much revered by Muslim pilgrims all over the world. Besides these other national festivals like Diwali, Eid, etc are all celebrated here.
Agra is home to the world-famous Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the World. Besides that, Agra is famous for Agra Fort, Itmad-Ud-Daula, Fatehpur Sikri, Jama Masjid, Mehtab Bagh, Art gallery, Sikandara etc.
The capital of Uttar Pradesh and famously referred to as ‘The city of Nawabs’, Lucknow retains its ancient charm.The city enjoyed the generosity of the Nawabs and hence flourished in music, literature, arts and crafts. Some important attractions in and near Lucknow are Bara Imambara, British Residency, Chhota Imambara, Lucknow Zoo, Dr. Ambedkar Park, Hazratganj, Dudhwa National Park etc.
‘The Religious Capital of India’, Varanasi is frequented by pilgrims from various parts of the world. Considered one amongst the seven holy spots for those who follow Hinduism, the land attracts those who belong to other faiths too. It lies on the banks of the river Ganges, which adds magic to the atmosphere. The top tourist spots in Varanasi are Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Sarnath, Manikarnika Ghat, Ramnagar Fort, Banaras Ghats etc.
Allahabad is an important pilgrim center as Lord Brahma, the creator according to Hinduism, landed at this place on earth. The city is located at the confluence of three rivers Triveni Sangam namely Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati. Allahabad also known as Prayag is most famous for the Kumbh Mela held here once every 12 years. Besides this, the Khusro Bagh, Allahabad museum, Allahabad Fort, Jawahar Planetarium and Patalpuri temple are famous.
Kanpur, the biggest city and the commercial capital of Uttar Pradesh Some of the important tourist attractions in Kanpur are Bithoor, Jajmau, Boodha Bargad, Kanpur Gardens, Mecca Masjid, Jain glass temple, Allen Forest Zoo and agricultural gardens.
Mathura is considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna and holds significance for followers of Hinduism. This ancient town was earlier a Buddhist center and home to 20 monasteries before Hinduism rose to prominence. The Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir, Jama Masjid, Dwarkadhish Temple, Birla Temple, Kusum Sarovar, Radha Kund, Kans Qila, Mathura Museum, Raja Bharatpuras Palace and Govardhan Hill are some of the attractions here.
Fatehpur Sikri, a 16th century city, built by the renowned Mughal emperor Akbar, reflects the architectural brilliance of the bygone era. Some of the top spots that need to be visited are Panch Mahal, Diwan-i-Khas, Buland Darwaza, Jodhabhai Palace, Lotus Throne etc.
The ancient city of Ayodhya, is amongst the sacred cities for followers of Hinduism, as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Moti Mahal, Kanak Bhavan, Hanuman Garhi temple, Ramkot, Tulsi Udyan are some of the popular places to visit here.
Vrindavan is associated with Lord Krishna and most of the temples found here are ancient. Located near Mathura, these two cities are considered twin holy cities. Some of the leading tourist destinations in Vrindavan are the Yamuna river, Govind Dev Temple, Iskcon Temple, Kesi Ghat, Bankey Bihari Temple, Shahji Temple and Rangaji Temple.
Jhansi is a historic city in Uttar Pradesh which was ruled by Rani Laxmibai, the queen of the princely state of Jhansi. It is situated on Pahujor Pushpavati riverbanks. It is famous for the Jhansi Fort, Rani Mahal, Orcchha Fort Complex, Jahangir Mahal, Jhansi government museum, The Royal Chhatris amongst others.
A popular Buddhist pilgrim center, where Lord Buddha made his last sermon. Historically significant, gauged by the archaeological evidences unearthed from here, Kushinagar is also famous for the Sun Temple, Mahaparinirvana Temple, Kushinagar Museum, Ramabhar Stupa, Chinese Temple, Wat Thai Temple and Pawanagar.
An important pilgrim center for followers of Buddhism as it was here Buddha gave his first sermon. The place is sacred for Jains as well. Excavations conducted here reveal how this ancient city flourished in the past. Some of the leading attractions in Sarnath include Chaukhandi Stupa, Sarnath Museum, Deer Park, Dhammek Stupa, Tibetan and Thai temples, etc.
Meerut is an ancient city and many of its historical buildings date back to the Indus Valley Civilization era. Meerut rose under the rule of the Mughals. The place is considered to be an important historical town and has plenty of monuments and memorials that can be visited.
Known for its famous ‘Locks’, the city of Aligarh is a historical city. The city’s famous Aligarh fort is thus a must visit. The city is also famous for the various tombs of the Muslim saints. The Aligarh Muslim University is a famous college established in 1870’s.