The rich history and cultural heritage of Uttar Pradesh make it one of the most loved states in the whole of India. Often referred to as the “Heartland” of India, Uttar Pradesh is home to some of the most beautiful examples of Indian architecture as well as some of its most stunning geographical delights. From the Taj Mahal to the Ganges River, there are plenty of reasons to visit this incredible land.
Whether you’re traveling through India on a budget or looking for somewhere to spend a two-week vacation, Uttar Pradesh has everything you could need and more.
One of the most recognized and visited places in India, Agra draws tourists like moths to a flame. But it is not only the magical Taj Mahal that makes this place worth a stop on your tour. There are a plethora of remarkable things to see and do here, so much so that you may end up spending more time here than you anticipated. The Elephant Conservation Centre is an excellent place to see elephants being rehabilitated while the Agra Fort is one of the finest sandstones and marble Mughal forts in India. For a truly stunning view of the Taj Mahal, head to Mehtab Bagh park, originally built by Emperor Babur long before the Taj Mahal came into existence. The gardens fell into disrepair until being reconstructed to help prevent the erosion of the Taj Mahal by the sands of the river. The parks of the Taj Mahal line up perfectly with the Mehtab Bagh, making it a wonderful place to watch the sunset away from the crowds.
Located 10 km north of Varanasi is Sarnath. A famous pilgrimage center, the town is full of ancient monuments of great historical significance. From the Thai Temple to the Archaeological and Excavation Area, there is plenty to see and do in this captivating and unique place. Pay a visit to the 50 m Ashoka Pillar, known as the national emblem of India and a mark of Emperor Ashoka’s visit to Sarnath, or head to the Sarnath Museum to view the collection of artifacts ranging from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century B.C.
Visiting Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, often feels like stepping into another world. Filled to the brim with bustling bazaars, mouth-watering food and epic monuments, the locals here are friendly, and ancient charm is abundant. The striking Rumi Darwaza is a must-see for anyone visiting this city. Built in the 1780s by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, the monument is synonymous with Lucknow and is thought modeled on an entrance gate to Istanbul. Lucknow is also home to the tallest clock tower in India, standing at 37 m tall, and the state museum, which houses sculptural masterpieces dating back to the 3rd century A.D.
As an ancient pilgrim center, the historical significance of Kushinagar is apparent by the number of ancient artifacts found in the Buddha Museum. To spend some time in nature, head to the Jagdishpur Reservoir in Lumbini for stunning views of wild birds or check out the Kushmi Forest for beautiful views of Sal trees. The Rail Museum and Gorakhpur Golf Course are perfect for spending an afternoon while the Ramgarh Tal is a stunning lake spread over an area of 723 hectares where you can take a boat out and enjoy a picnic on the water.
A truly beautiful town with a fascinating culture, Varanasi is one of the most unforgettable places on Earth. But it is worth noting that it is not for the faint of heart. In fact, after my first visit here, I put together some tips for anyone else visiting Varanasi for the first time, as it can often be confusing when it comes to basic etiquette. As the spiritual capital of India, there is a lot to take in and remember when you get there. Located on the banks of the Ganges River, one of the best things you can do here is sample the local street food and sit on the Ghats while you soak up the complexities of Indian culture.
One of the lesser-known districts of Uttar Pradesh, Muzaffarnagar is a rich and lovely city with a long and interesting history. It is home to Ganeshdham, a temple famous for the 35 feet high statue of Ganesha. The temple is next to the Nakshatra Vatika park, which is the perfect place to spend some time in tranquility. Another stop worthy of making in the city is Akshay Vat Vatika, an enormous banyan tree estimated to be over 5,000 years old. Also known as the “Tree of Undying Character,” it does not shed any of its leaves, so it is seen as a symbol of sacredness, truth and forgiveness. Traditionally, newlywed couples visit the tree to tie a red string around it as a symbol of their future. Muzaffarnagar is also home to the small town and tehsil of Budhana, the birthplace of the famous Bollywood star and PokerStars Ambassador Nawaz Siddiqui.
Also located on the Ganges River is the largest city in Uttar Pradesh: Kanpur. Kanpur is a major industrial hub of commercial industry, but it is also home to a significant number of tourist attractions. The Blue World Theme Park is known as one of the best theme parks in North India while the peaceful Nana Rao Park is a stunning place to enjoy a picnic or an afternoon stroll. It’s also worth heading to the industrial suburb of Jajmau, which many believe is the oldest inhabited place in the region. Excavations carried out here by the Archaeological Survey of India have unearthed tools and pottery dating back to c. 1300–1200 B.C.E.
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