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Uttar Pradesh is definitely one of the most exotic places that India has to offer! The cultural diversity in Uttar Pradesh is worth witnessing and you will find the variance in cultural and religious influences through time throughout Uttar Pradesh. It is revered as one of the holiest places among Hindus because it is supposed to be the birthplace of the mythical Lord Ram from Ramayana and Lord Krishna from the Mahabharata. Gautam Buddha is also said to be born in the hilly terrains towards the north of Uttar Pradesh. The two magnanimous rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, both flow through the fertile plains of Uttar Pradesh. Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, the holy town of Varanasi- you randomly name an exotic spot in India, and it is very likely situated in Uttar Pradesh. So, if you are a traveler, a visit to this amazing state is a must, and here are 13 places in Uttar Pradesh that you have to go to!
“Muskuraiyen, kyunki aap Lucknow mein hai” (Smile, because you are n Lucknow), is what greets you when you enter this magnificent city. It is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh and also happens to be the largest city of the state. It is very easy to Lucknow as it is very well developed and has a cosmopolitan atmosphere. You can take a flight directly to Lucknow from all major cities in India. You may also get down at Lucknow railway station and enter the city from that angle. You may also opt for the roadways of you are traveling within the state or coming from nearby places like Delhi, but it is also easily connected to other big cities through interconnected highways.
Lucknow is the city of Nawabs and thus has a very rich cultural heritage that you can explore. Another thing Lucknow is known for is its kebabs, and you will find some of the most delicious street foods from India in Lucknow. You will also find that the people of Lucknow are very courteous and their “Pehle Aap" behavior is sure to leave a smile on your face. The Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara are significant places to visit while you are in Lucknow. Hazratganj is also a place that you should not miss while staying in Lucknow. You will find the streets of Lucknow lined with shops selling Lucknowi Chikan, a very famed form of embroidery, and you will surely get some authentic deals over here.
If someone has heard of India, they have heard about Agra anywhere in the world since it is home to the famous Taj Mahal. It is one of the UNESCO heritage sites and also one of the seven wonders of the world. Perched along the banks of the Yamuna River, Agra is one of the most phenomenal places that you can visit. It is a dose of history and culture that you are not likely to forget. Another notable and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Agra is Fatehpur Sikri. It is also a popular tourist destination if you want to go through the Golden Triangle, comprising of Delhi, Agra, and Jodhpur, and is also a part of the Uttar Pradesh Heritage Arc.
Agra is very accessible by roadways from all sides and the best way to enter Agra would be from Delhi. It is just a few hours' drive and you will find yourself in the gripping beauty of Agra. There are so many man made monuments in Agra that you can go to and have a grand time. You will get the true taste of Mughal Architecture when roaming through the streets of Agra. While you are roaming through the streets, don't forget to try the delectable pethas which is a highly popular sweet dish from Agra. Some other places that you should visit in Agra are the Jama Masjid, Agra Fort, Mehtab Bagh, and so on.
Situated just 40km away from Agra, if you are visiting Agra, then this is a place that you just cannot miss. Fatehpur Sikri is one of a kind! It is a fortified city made from gigantic red sandstone blocks and was constructed by the Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1571. This city has also served as the capital for almost 15 years in the time of Akbar. There are no incoming flights into Fatehpur Sikri and the best way to get in is through the road. It forms part of the tour in Agra and is a place that you just have to visit if you are fond of grand architecture or just crazy about a lesson in history.
Fatehpur Sikri is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and features a tremendous mixture of Indo-Islamic styles of architecture. History says that this monument was built by Akbar to serve as an accommodation for his 3 wives pertaining to different religious believes, namely. Hindu, Muslim, and Christian. There is also a mosque within the complex which is brilliantly built and is still used nowadays. Other notable places to look forward to when you are passing through Fatehpur Sikri would be Buland Darwaza and Salim Chisti’s tomb.
Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, the city with the most number of temples, the city with the iconic Assi Ghat, is also a part of the grandeur of Uttar Pradesh. The Ganga has already calmed down before Varanasi, and sitting along the banks of the wide river and witnessing the elaborate Ganga Aarti ritual is seems like an experience from another world. It is a very popular city and attracts many Hindu pilgrims throughout the year because of so many temples in the city. It is a holy city and it is believed that dying here ensures that the individual will attain Moksha, that is, relief from the cycle of life and death. It is very easy to reach Varanasi via roadways as it is well connected through national highways. There is also a train station in Varanasi which is very convenient to use.
There are so many temples, big and small, spread throughout Varanasi, that it is very easy to lose count of it. At every turn that you take, you will find a temple, the remarkable Assi Ghat (80 ghats), along the banks of the river is a quiet and peaceful site from where you can watch the remarkable Ganga Aarti. The grandest and biggest temple of all in Varanasi is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. If you are feeling tired and drained, don’t forget to refresh and energize yourself with a plate of hot chaat and a tall glass of freshly made, cool lassi.
If you are trying to reach Mathura via air, then you have to get down at New Delhi airport and take a cab from there to this city. It is about 147 km away from Delhi and is well connected via roadways to all major cities such as Varanasi, Agra, Lucknow, and so on! The city also has a railway station and if you like traveling by train, this is the best way to enter the city.
The reason Mathura sees such a huge international footfall and what makes Mathura so special among the heart of Hindu devotees is that it is supposed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Shri Krishna from the Mahabharata is a beloved God in most Hindu households, and it is this attraction that brings so many people to this place. It is the most popular site to visit in the time of Janmashtami as well as during Holi. One of the most popular spots to visit in Mathura is the Krishna Janmabhoomi, the very place where Lord Krishna is said to have been born. In fact, even the prison where the mythological Lord Krishna was supposedly born, is also open to being visited by tourists. The Dwarkadheesh Temple and the Gita Mandir are two temples in the city that you just have to visit! Mathura is situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, and much like the Ganga Aarti, Mathura witnesses a Yamuna Aarti in the evenings. Kachori, poori, gulab jamun, etc. are some of the delectable street foods in Mathura that you just have totty, and believe me, they are so delicious, you may even eat off your fingers.
When you are visiting Mathura, you have to visit Vrindavan, situated about 10 km away from Mathura, Vrindavan is one of the oldest cities perched along the banks of Yamuna. Vrindavan and Mathura are so intricately related to one another mythologically, that they are often referred to as twin cities. While Mathura is the place where Lord Krishna was born, Vrindavan is the place where he grew up. All his mischievous childhood days and romantic adolescent years were spent in the streets of Vrindavan. This is the reason why you will find so many temples dedicated to Radha-Krishna, spread throughout Vrindavan.
Vrindavan in Sanskrit means basil grove (vrinda=basil, grove= van) and earns its name from the two small basil groves located in Nidhivan and Seva Kunj. The Yamuna River in Vrindavan is a beautiful sight to perceive. There is also a Govind Dev Temple and a Shahji Temple that you have to visit while in Vrindavan. Two places that you just cannot miss in Vrindavan are the ISCKON Temple and the Bankey Bihari Temple. It is also a very important pilgrimage destination for Hindu devotees.
Allahabad, formerly known as Prayagraj is an interesting and amazing place to visit and is loaded with stories and history. It is the point of confluence for three rivers- Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati- and had earned its older name, Prayagrah, from this. However, after the Mughal invasion, Akbar was mesmerized by this place and named it Ilahabas, the Abode of Gods. Shah Jahan later gave the name Allahabad to this beautiful place.
Allahabad is a widely popular city and witnesses one of the largest gatherings in the world. This is because of the Maha Kumbh Mela, which is organized every 12 years, and millions of pilgrims from all around the globe visit this place. Allahabad is also steeped with iconic monuments where you will find impressive architectural works. The Allahabad Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Allahabad Museum, Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, All Saints Cathedral are all significant places in Allahabad that you can visit.
Sarnath is a holy city situated about 10 km away from Varanasi. Uttar Pradesh shows a unique blend of cultures and Sarnath is another iconic addition to this. Sarnath happens to be the place where Gautam Buddha gave his first sermon and thus is a holy place for Buddhist pilgrims from all around the world. In fact, it is one of the holiest cities among four for Buddhist pilgrims and attracts them, throughout the year. It is a quiet and peaceful place and you will find a clear blend of Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain devotees flocking the streets. There are so many stupas and excavated sites in Sarnath loaded with the history of an ancient culture. The Ashoka Pillar and the Dharma Stupa, both built by King Ashoka are two of the most significant places to visit on Sarnath. It also has a deer park which is worth the visit. The Thai Temple in Sarnath is also an attractive and exciting site to go to.
Every Indian knows Ayodhya from the bedtime stories that grandma used to tell to be the birthplace of Lord Ram, the epitome of a man and one of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. It is a very popular city and is loaded with tourists and pilgrims at all times. The nearest airport to Ayodhya is the Lucknow International Airport. However, it is well connected by roadways and thus you can get down at Gorakhpur, Varanasi, or Allahabad airports and take a cab or bus from there. It is also easily accessible by trains and you can either get down at Faizabad or at Ayodhya railway station.
Ayodhya is a very beautiful place to have a peaceful time at. The river Sarayu passes through Ayodhya and it is one of the seven holiest cities to the Hindus. Ayodhya also happens to be the birthplace of four out of the twenty-four Tirthankaras that Jains have and thus is an important city for Jain devotees too. It sees a steady stream of Jain pilgrims throughout the year along with Hindu pilgrims. Though it is a very controversial place nowadays, the serene beauty of Ayodhya is something that you should witness at least once in your lifetime.
Kushinagar is another holy city and holds a special place in the hearts of Buddhist pilgrims. It is another one of the four holiest places for Buddhist pilgrims as Gautama Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana at this place. Thus it holds international significance and hosts pilgrims and tourists from all around the world. Gorakhpur railway station is just 50 km away from this peaceful place. You can also come to Gorakhpur via flight and then hit the roads to come to Kushinagar. There are regular bus and cab services to and from Kushinagar to different parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Kushinagar has lots of plain, green, grassy land and earns its name from there. The Sanskrit word Kush means grass and thus this place is called Kushinagar. An interesting thing you will notice in Kushinagar is this one road which has a series of temples lining it, all run by Buddhist nations. You can seek residence in these temples and enter a spiritual zone from within or a simple chat with a monk. Buddha Purnima is a very special time in Kushinagar, and a grand fair is organized during this time which attracts so many tourists and pilgrims.
These are 10 amazing places in Uttar Pradesh that you should visit. However, remember that this list cannot hold all the glory that Uttar Pradesh has to offer. There are tons of other places such as Jhansi, Dhudwa National Park, Meerut, Kanpur, and so on that, you can go to and have a wonderful time. The food is different at different places in Uttar Pradesh and you should go through all the delicacies that you find. Extravagant monuments, scenic ghats, temples steeped with history, an amalgamation of tourists and pilgrims from all around the world- you will find it all in Uttar Pradesh.
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