Spiritual Heartland and World Famous Monuments
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is the perfect example of unity in diversity. The state accommodates rich Mughal heritage on one hand and is known for its Hindu pilgrimage circuit on other. World Heritage Sites, ancient monuments, sacred river banks and temples, protected wildlife reserves and archeological marvels can all be explored on a tour through the state.
Agra is indeed the most popular tourist destination in the state and one of the most prominent ones in the whole world. The city is blessed with the very charismatic Taj Mahal, the monument in white marble that Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. The beauty and architecture of the monument is par excellence.
It is one of the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Agra, the other being Agra Fort. The red sandstone fort has majestic beauty and provides ample opportunities to explore the lifestyle of Mughal rulers.There are many fascinating gardens in Agra that are known for their relaxing environment.
A trip to Agra can be easily extended to visit the nearby city complex of Fatehpur Sikri, another World Heritage Site in the state. The city was an ambitious project undertaken by Akbar the Great, who endowed the city with numerous beautiful structures. It is one of the greatest examples of Mughals’ interest towards art and architecture.
Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, Diwan-i-Aam,Diwan-i-Khas, Tomb of Salim Chishti and many other buildings within the complex have spellbinding appeal and compel the tourists to spend reasonable time exploring them. The tourists often get astonished by the impression that the city must have been abandoned only few years ago, though it was deserted within few years of its construction in the 16th century.
Among the Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttar Pradesh, the ancient city of Varanasi located on the banks of River Ganges is the most significant tourist destination. Adorned with a number of ghats (banks) along the holy river, the city offers great peace of mind to the visitors. There are many famous temples dedicated to different Hindu deities.
Two great experiences the tourists love to have in the city include boat ride in the river and aarti (holy prayer) of the river in the evening. Another good idea is to take a holy dip in the river which is believed to wash off the sins.
Located only few miles from Varanasi is the Buddhist pilgrimage centre of Sarnath. This is the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. The small village offers great serenity and repose to the visitors.
The top attractions include Dhamekh Stupa, built on the exact site where Buddha taught.Chaukhandi Stupa in the octagonal shape, the ancient Ashoka Pillar, Sri Digamber Jain Temple and Sarnath Archaeological Museum are among the most fascinating sites worth exploring in the village.
Uttar Pradesh has another holy site in the form of Allahabad which is of significance of the followers of Hinduism. The city has the sacred confluence point called Sangam where two divine rivers, Ganga and Yamuna meet.
It acts as the venue for many grand celebrations that are organized annually. Allahabad Fort, Anand Bhawan and many other attractions can be visited in the city. The adventure minded tourists may also enjoy fabulous water sports activities at River Yamuna.
Mathura and Vrindavan are two other pilgrimage cities in the state, both associated with the life of Lord Krishna.The cultural city of Lucknow with many popular arts, music and dance forms and cuisines to its credit is another worthwhile destination of Uttar Pradesh tourism.
Dudhwa National Park and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve are the acclaimed wildlife destinations in the state. Many of the tourist cities are also the wonderful shopping places to buy traditional and handcrafted items.