Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous and fourth largest Indian state in terms of land area. It has the largest number of districts – 83, and is India’s most densely populated region. Uttar Pradesh is a land of great contrasts and surprises. You can watch the Taj Mahal at sunset, ghost hunt in deserted Fatehpur Sikri, study Sanskrit in Rishikesh, bathe at the ghats in Varanasi, hitch-hike to the Valley of Flowers, or just relax eating ‘lichis’ in Dehra Dun.
Four of Hinduism’s seven sacred cities the lie in U.P. – Varanasi (Banaras), home of Lord Shiva, Ayodhya and Mathura, birth places of Lord Ram and Lord Krishna and Haridwar, where people come to immerse the ashes of the dead. Mathura, 150 kms South of Delhi, is famous for the festival of Janamashtami which celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Festival time sees the streets of his birthplace filled with noise as his life is re-enacted in the colourful Krishna Leela.
Uttar Pradesh also attracts Buddhist pilgrims in large numbers since Lord Buddha spent his youth at Piprahwa (old Kapilvastu), preached his first sermon at Sarnath, taught regularly at Sravasti and Kaushambi and finally attained ‘Mahaparinirvana’ at Kushinagar. The post-Buddhist period saw the setting up of numerous Hindu centres of learning including Varanasi, Haridwar and Prayag (Allahabad).
The hot climate of the Gangetic basin requires light airy clothing. Lucknow’s fine muslin with “chikan kari” thread work is where comfort meets fashion. The light, delicate Banares silks are also a striking example of climate dectating the loom. Saharanpur’s carved and inlaid furniture, burnished brass ware from Moradabad and marble=inlay artefacts from Agra showcase the State’s high standard of workmanship.