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Uttar Pradesh

Trip Planner Asia  /  India  /  Uttar Pradesh
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A giant state in the north of India, Uttar Pradesh represents the world's most populous country subdivision. A diverse population of over 215 million lives here, spread across a dozen big cities and numerous smaller towns hugging the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna, India's two holiest rivers. A trip to Uttar Pradesh offers a chance to discover the distinct architectural and culinary heritage that makes this Indian heartland such a rewarding destination. Base your Uttar Pradesh holiday in one of its three major cities--Lucknow, Agra, or Allahabad--all top tourist draws. Add Uttar Pradesh and other India destinations to your travel plans using our India trip generator.
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Uttar Pradesh Holiday Planning Guide

A giant state in the north of India, Uttar Pradesh represents the world's most populous country subdivision. A diverse population of over 215 million lives here, spread across a dozen big cities and numerous smaller towns hugging the banks of the Ganges and Yamuna, India's two holiest rivers. A trip to Uttar Pradesh offers a chance to discover the distinct architectural and culinary heritage that makes this Indian heartland such a rewarding destination. Base your Uttar Pradesh holiday in one of its three major cities: Lucknow, Agra, or Allahabad--all top tourist draws.

Places to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

Destinations in Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi: Visit India's spiritual capital, a sacred city for Hindus and a cradle of Buddhism, and dip your feet in the waters of the holy River Ganges, which passes through this bustling city of winding streets and thousands of temples.

Lucknow: A traditional cultural and administrative seat of many empires, Lucknow offers important historic monuments, lovely gardens, and exquisite cuisine.

Agra: Home to the iconic Taj Mahal, this gem of Uttar Pradesh tourism boasts three World Heritage Sites and attracts visitors from all over the world with its superb cultural heritage, exquisite forts, and magnificent ancient buildings.

Noida: A quiet retreat from Delhi's chaos, Noida appeals with its green orderliness, offering adventures both urban and natural.

Vrindavan: With over 5,000 Hindu temples on the Yamuna River and one of the oldest towns in the country, Vrindavan is a fixture on many Uttar Pradesh itineraries.

Mathura: Admire heritage buildings and visit museums and traditional markets in the town famed to be the birthplace of Krishna, joining flocks of pilgrims who come to visit the sacred Yamuna River.

Popular Uttar Pradesh Tourist Attractions

Sarnath: Stand in the place where Buddha gave his first Dharma sermon and explore this village's ancient Buddhist meditation sites among countless stupas.

Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah: This masterpiece of Mughal architecture houses the three-storey tomb of a great architect with intricate tiled ornaments, four minarets topped by chhatri canopies, and serene gardens.

Dasaswamedh Ghat: Complete your spiritual tour of Uttar Pradesh by visiting the main ghat on the banks of the Ganges, where you can observe devotees perform their colorful rituals from an ancient observatory overlooking the river.

Banaras Ghats: Join Hindu devotees in their 100-stair descent to the holy river, or take a boat ride to watch religious ceremonies from the river passing through countless ghats.

Golden Temple (Kashi Vishwanath): This famed Jyotirlinga features domes of pure gold, attracting millions of pilgrims to the very heart of Hinduism.

Bara Imambara: Among the grandest attractions in Uttar Pradesh, this huge courtyard dominated by a colossal Shia mosque houses one of the world's largest vaulted galleries and an important Muharram shrine.

Mehtab Bagh: Observe the famous Taj Mahal across the river from this serene Persian-style garden complex, where the sprawling symmetrical layout features water attractions and neat walkways.

Assi Ghat: This confluence of two rivers marks the site where goddess Durga reportedly hurled her sword after slaying a demon; today, a large Shiva lingam sits under a peepal tree.

The Great India Place: Indulge in modern shopping and take a pleasant, air-conditioned break from your Uttar Pradesh sightseeing at this spacious mall, which includes numerous dining and entertainment options.

Hazratganj: Explore bazaars, shops, and restaurants, or catch a blockbuster in Lucknow's downtown Victorian-style shopping district, with regular street performances and a monthly carnival at its market.

Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Uttar Pradesh

Cuisine of Uttar Pradesh

Boasting a long tradition of royal kitchens, the cuisine of Uttar Pradesh has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. The state is famous for its Nawabi foods from the Lucknow area: the "dum pukht" method involves slow cooking within sealed containers in order to preserve all the aromas and juices. Spice up your Uttar Pradesh trip with dum biryani: mutton, paneer cheese, and rice flavored with cardamom and saffron. Vegetarians can opt for vegetable rice pulao with paneer. Fans of stew should try tender beef or lamb nihari cooked with flavorful bone marrow, together with delectable naan flatbread. Kebabs and koftas (meatballs) also feature nearly ubiquitously in restaurants and street stands.

Street food is a must for a gastronomic tour of Uttar Pradesh: think samosas filled with spicy potatoes, kachori with yellow mung beans, pakora fritters, or chaat--a fried dough with a variety of savory sauces.

For dessert, choose from a variety of sweets prepared from milk, like mathura peda (made from khoa cheese) or gulab jamun (milk solid balls dipped in sweet syrup). Cleanse your palate after a meal with banarasi paan, prepared with betel leaves, or sharbat, a fruit drink prepared from flower petals.

Shopping in Uttar Pradesh

A shopper's delight with a rich arts and craft heritage, Uttar Pradesh is famed for a variety of traditional products like carpets, silks, brocades, ceramics, and cotton rugs called dhurries. With a number of markets in operation since the Mughal era, many cities in the state have served as hubs for handicrafts and exotic products, including elaborate woodcarvings, inlay work, and leather. Plan a little time during your Uttar Pradesh vacation to scour local markets for quality goods.

A fashionable center since the Mughal era, Lucknow boasts world-famous hand embroidery called chikan. These were done on the finest of cotton and silk, then stitched into traditional dresses sold in the city markets of Aminadab and Chowk as well as upmarket Hazratganj. City markets also sell everything from attar and spices to kohl and silks.

In the western part of the state, Moradabad has famous brass and copperware, while Agra is known for its exquisite jewelry and zardozi, or gold and silver embroidery.

Know Before You Go on a Trip to Uttar Pradesh

Interesting Facts About Uttar Pradesh

● With some 200 million people, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state of India and fourth-most populous state in the world.

● Uttar Pradesh was home to many ancient Vedic sages, such as Vishvamitra and Bharadwaja.

● With its strategic location, Uttar Pradesh passed between many powerful empires in ancient and medieval periods, from the Magadha to Mughals.

● Uttar Pradesh is home to an unusually high number of Indian leaders, including Mangal Pandey, who started the first struggle for India's freedom in Meerut.

● In 2013, Uttar Pradesh and its city of Allahabad housed the world's largest human gathering to date when about 120 million attended the Kumbh Mela religious gathering.

Holidays & Festivals in Uttar Pradesh

Known as the spiritual hub of India, Uttar Pradesh has a calendar full of religious celebrations. The most famous is Holi, which usually falls in March, marked by bonfires symbolizing the victory of good over evil and colorful gatherings on the banks of the Ganges. If your Uttar Pradesh itinerary takes you through Mathura around this time, stop in nearby Barsana to witness a traditional-style Holi festival in the birthplace of Lord Krishna's beloved Radha. The ceremony involves men gathering outside the Temple of Shri Radha Rani Mandir in an attempt to take it over, while women try to repel them with bamboo sticks.

As in the rest of the country, Diwali is celebrated in the second half of the last Hindu month of Ashwayuja. This usually falls either in the month of October or November, when pilgrims float illuminated earthen lamps on the Ganges. The Taj Festival in Agra falls in February--an extravaganza of cultural heritage with music and dance performances and local crafts. The large procession of participants is reminiscent of Mughal times, with elephants and camels painted in bright colors.

Useful Uttar Pradesh Travel Tips

Climate of Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh has three predominant seasons, with winter stretching from November to February; summer in March, April and May; and southwest monsoon season starting in June and ending in October.

During summer, the climate is hot and dry with temperatures rising to 45-48 C (113-118 F). Hot, dust-laden winds ("loo") sometimes cause damage. The standard temperature in the plains in May and June is 43-45 C (109.4-113 F). Winter temperatures are cold, dropping to 3-4 C (37.4-39.2 F) in the plains and sometimes dipping just below freezing with constant clear skies. The Himalayan region is moderately cold. If your trip to Uttar Pradesh falls during the monsoon season, expect average temperatures of 40-45 C (104-113 F) on rainy days, adding up to about 85 percent of the average annual rainfall of 120 cm (47 in).

Transportation in Uttar Pradesh

Drawing over 35 million domestic tourists a year, Uttar Pradesh has a good road network with frequent bus lines connecting its cities and towns. City buses will serve as the main local transport during your Uttar Pradesh sightseeing; en route, you can enjoy the landscape of villages and paddies, and make pit stops at countless roadside restaurants called dhabas.

Hired taxis and rickshaws are very common; for short distances, try a prepaid three-wheeler autorickshaw to explore big cities. In the countryside, take a horse cart for a memorable tour.

The railway also presents a viable option, with all of Uttar Pradesh's cities well connected to each other. Traveling from Delhi to Agra by train takes only two and a half hours, and represents the most affordable mode of transportation.