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Tourist Places To Visit In Uttar Pradesh
Besides being home to the famous Kumbh Mela, ghats of Benaras and most definitely the grand Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh in India is also popular as a much loved tourist destination for other remarkable places. Shrouded in mysticism and soaked in culture, Uttar Pradesh is an olden state in the northern region of India, and is home to historical cities which are in turn home to the mythological Indian Gods, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. Here's our list of top tourist places to visit in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Lucknow or the city of Nawabs as it is lovingly called; is a blissful city known for its manners and hospitality, and is also the capital of Uttar Pradesh. An out and out contemporary city where infrastructure and education is concerned, Lucknow still retains its culture and legends amongst the people and its enigmatic ambience. Popularly believed that Lucknow takes its name from Lakshman, Lord Rama's brother, this city is sheathed in folklore and mysteries, and the very aura of the city induces nostalgia. Some interesting places to visit in Lucknow include Bara Imambara and Bhul Bhulaiya (an imposing tomb complex and labyrinth), zoos, museums, Rumi Darwaza and the Lucknow Residency and Museum (contains ruins).
Supposed to be the largest city in Uttar Pradesh, Kanpur or Cawnpore as it was spelled before 1948, is one of the oldest industrial settlements in North India. Again, believed to have taken its name from more than one mythological source, Kanpur is a city that makes up the true essence of the north. When visiting Kanpur, be sure to go to Shri Radha Krishna Temple, Bithoor - where you can take a boat ride across River Ganga, Gautam Buddha Park and Ganga Barrage to see the huge dam built across the Ganga.
Allahabad, known to be the hometown of India's favourite superstar Amitabh Bachchan, is also one of the largest and holiest cities in Uttar Pradesh. Like other cities in UP, Allahabad too is known for its polite mannerisms and warm hospitality. The best thing about this city is that even if you are visiting for the first time, you will feel like you belong. Make sure to plan your Allahabad trip during the Kumbh Mela, which is supposed to be the largest gathering of people in the world. Apart from that, Allahabad is famous for attractions like Allahabad Fort, Khusro Bagh, Moti Mahal, Company Bagh and the iconic new bridge over the Yamuna River.
This ancient city is famous for being the birthplace of the Indian mythological gods Lord Rama and Swaminarayan. The cradle of the Indian epic Ramayana, this glorious city is bestowed with such history and mysteries that skipping a trip here would be madness! Ayodhya or Saket as goes its Sanskrit name has several places that we strongly recommend you visit. For starters, you could go to Ramkot, where devotees from all over the world come to during Ram Navami, Lord Rama's birthday. Other places worth visiting are Nageshwarnath Temple - said to be built by Khush, Lord Rama's son, Lakshmana Ghat, Mani Parbat, Kanak Bhawan and Choti Chowni, which is a huge temple built all out of marble.
Famous for its fearless warrior Queen Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jhansi is a city complete with its own history and enigma. Nestled on the bank of the river Betwa, Jhansi was an important seat of the Maratha warriors. Flaunting a mercurial weather, Jhansi is famous for attractions like the Fort of Jhansi, Rani Mahal, Orchha - where you can visit Jahangir Mahal and Sheesh Mahal. Close by to Jhansi is Khajuraho - known for its erotic sculptures and beatific temples, and Nag Mandir. The sublime aura of Jhansi is one you just cannot afford to miss and it will surely evoke pride in your heart about your history and nationality.
Mathura is the birth land of Krishna, the 8th incarnate of Vishnu, who is also known as the 'Poorna Purushottam' or the complete god form. The city is also one of the 'Sapta Puri' cities, or those seven pilgrimages that every Hindu must take at least once in a lifetime. Mathura is really like a poetry of temples by the river. With the Yamuna river meandering its way by Mathura's serene ghats, the tinkles of prayer bells chime in tune with the flow. Here, you will enjoy the shayan or evening aarti of Yamuna river (considered the gate-keeper goddess of Shri Krishna), temple-hopping, shopping and peace; from Krishna Janmabhoomi temple (a worn down prison) to the Kesodev temple and Dwarkadhish Temple, the various markets to sweet shops and roadside chat sellers.
Visit Vishram Ghat, where the most buzz alights in all of Mathura, shop at the nearby markets like Tilak Darwaza and Lal Bazaar, eat at Brijwasi sweets and have the time of your life going on languid boat rides in Yamuna.
Vrindavan & Vraj
Vrindavan is one of the most important holy towns in India, forming the hub of Krishna devotees because of its ancient connection to his childhood. If Krishna was born in Mathura and spent his childhood years in Gokul, then it is in Vrindavan where he spent his adolescent years; prancing around the forests, flirting with gopis and romancing his darling Radha. The town is ripe with sites like Nidhivan (the forest of trees that come alive as gopis to dance at night), Radha Raman Temple, ISCKON, Banke Bihari and Prem Mandir.
But if Vrindavan is the popular hub of Krishna's life then the surrounding towns and villages, that form the major portion of 'Vraj' make for the hidden, more juicy destinations for Krishna's childhood. Visit Gokul and its narrow-as-needle lanes to see where Krishna lived as a baby in Nandraiji's home, go to Chandrasarovar for a tutorial on one of his girlfriends Chandravali sakhi, visit Poochri ka Lota, Anyor and Sadu Pande's baithak and make sure to make a pitstop at Jatipura. Here in Jatipura is the mukharvind of Govardhan mountain, the point where Krishna had the Vrajvasis perform the pooja of the mountain instead of rain-god Indra and served him a feast of Annakoot. The most beautiful part of Vraj is that every corner, every nook and cranny will come alive with stories for you. And the locals will always be ready to narrate them to you. Just make sure to treat them to some rabdi or pedas after and they will be happier than ever!
Varanasi, Benaras, Kashi... different names for different eras; one city. This holy city, located on the banks of Ganga, is one of the top pilgrimage destinations for Indians and foreigners alike. The ghats, temples and forts of the city are ancient, some even dating back to 11 BCE. If Vraj is the land of Krishna then Kashi is the land of Shiva. It is here that Rudra performed penance to cool his rage. The city is abuzz with ghats like Assi, Dashashwamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Munshi Ghat etc. You can witness so much here, from Ganga aarti to cremation ceremonies. Also, do visit temples like Kashi Vishwanath, forts like the Ramnagar Fort and the Aurangzeb Mosque. Pick up Banarasi silk saris, incenses, perfumes and muslins.
Agra has been synonymous with Taj Mahal for the longest time. And why not? This massive white entity of beauty, elegance and love is at the centre stage of Indian tourism, especially for foreigners. Best visited during the winter months from November to March, Agra is famous for its Taj Mahal. The markets that are sequestered around the monument also ensure you get a first-hand local shopping experience, but really, the highlight is this 'one of seven wonders of world.' Built in all white marble, the Taj was Shah Jahan's ode to his beautiful dead wife Mumtaz Mahal. You can also visit the Agra fort and the Tomb of Akbar nearby.
Fatehpur Sikri, literally meaning 'the city of victory,' was built by Emperor Akbar during his reign, when he shifted his capital from Agra to this quaint town. The most famous, most renowned here is the fort residence of Akbar, known by the same name, and also the hub of all tourism and activity in the region. The fort complex is huge, a monstrosity in itself, housing numerous palaces, chambers, royal courts, gardens and the massive Jama Masjid. Do make it a point to check out the regal Buland Darwaza, Jodha Bhai's Mahal, Salim Chishti's dargah, Diwan-e-khaas and Diwan-e-aam. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and takes a position of pride on India's top list of monuments.
Sarnath is the centre of Buddhist heritage in India, as well as is important for the Jain sect. Located 10 km east to Varanasi, Sarnath is known for its pilgrimage value as here is where Gautam Buddha preached Dharma for the first time. Here is also where the Buddhist Sangha was created. Here is also where Ganga and Varun rivers converge and here is where the famous Asoka pillar is located. Do visit it, along with the Chaukhandi Stupa, Dhamekh Stupa and Dharmarajika Stupa. There is also the Bodhi Tree, Jain Digambar temple and the Archaeological Museum to explore.
A little town of UP and MP, perched in the Vindhyan ranges, Chitrakoot will spark a memory from Ramayan for most. This is the place where Ram, Sita and Laxman stayed for 11 years during their exile, from where Sita was kidnapped by Ravan. Apart from temples and ashrams dedicated to this legend here, Chitrakoot is also famous for the waterfalls, kunds and hills. Some coveted places to visit include Bharat Milap Temple, Janki Kund and Hanuman Dhara.
Dudhwa National Park
Uttar Pradesh is home to Dudhwa National Park, located in the Lakhimpur-Kheri area. This is your best bet to spend a day or two exploring the local wildlife — leopards, tigers, swamp deer, Bengal florican etc. Along with these, there are more than 400 specie of birds, from owls to kingfishers to bulbuls and barbets, all singing songs of their own. Jeep and mini-bus safaris are ready to take you through the jungle, and elephants rides are also allowed in some seasons.
An ancient land, an ancient kingdom, the epicentre of Kuruvansh, where the throne for Bharatvarsh lay during the time of Mahabharata — Hastinapur is all that and more. It is perched on the banks of Ganga and is also the birthplace of three Jain saints. With all that history and myth woven around its landscape, Hastinapur is perfect if you are in the mood for some stories and legends. Temples, ruins, parks and much more awaits you here.
A small, secluded town in Ghaziabad, Loni is also religiously packed. With its history of Hindu mythological sites, Loni hosts many a temples around its perimeter. When here, do visit the Loni Fort, Uldipur and Kharanji Bagh. You can also explore the Idira Puri Gurudwar, Lal Bagh Ashram and Tronica City.
Vindhyachal falls near Varanasi and is a pilgrimage centre. Located on the bank of river Ganga, it is said to be blessed by the goddess herself. The most coveted activity and a ritual here is the trikona parikrama, or the triangle circumambulation that covers temples like Kali khoh, Ashtabhuja and Vindhyavasini. Navratri is a huge festival here when the entire town comes alive, decked up in flowers and lights, reverberating with chants and songs.
Kushinagar, lying in the northeastern part of UP, is renowned world over as a Buddhist land. Pilgrims flock here from all over, with the only hope of seeing the place where Buddha was enlightened with Mahaparinirvana. Buddha is also said to have passed away here, giving Kushinagar more importance after Asoka constructed a stupa here. The reclining or dying Buddha on this stupa is worth seeing. You can also visit Rambhar Stupa, Matha Kuar Shrine and Nirvana Chaitya.
National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary
An hour away from Agra is the Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary. It is home to Gangetic dolphins, gharial, red crowned turtles and Indian skimmers. The Chambal river flows uninterrupted though this landscape and its clean waters attracts tourists from all over. There are medieval temples surrounding the sanctuary, ruins dotting the periphery and naga sadhus inhabiting secluded huts. You can hike across the sanctuary or rent a motor boat on the river, either way the fun never stops! The ravines of Chambal are exceptional; and bicycle, jeep safaris etc are common too.
Barsana is the town where Radha, the female manifestation and beloved of Lord Krishna was born. Located to the west of Gokul, this little town was the home of Vrushbhanji, a friend of Nand baba, who became the father of Radha. Barsana is also that place where Krishna went with his friends to play holi and Radha along with her girlfriends used sticks to chase them away. In keeping with that tradition even today they play lath-mar holi here, where boys try to colour girls and get beaten by them in return. When in Barsana, you have many places to visit — from forests to kunds to temple to hillocks — all having stories to tell about Radha-Krishna’s romance.