Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh: - is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 195 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity. Uttar Pradesh is the second largest state-economy in India contributing 8.27% to India's total GDP Between 2004 and 2009. Uttar Pradesh has an important place in the culture of India; it is considered to be the birthplace of Hinduism, has been the ancient seat of Hindu religion, learning and culture, and has many important sites of Hindu pilgrimage. The State also has several sites important to Buddhism: the Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Buddha met his first disciples, while the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath commemorates Buddha's first sermon. Also the town of Kushinagar is where Gautama Buddha died.In Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow was associated with the princely court of Oudh and then with the British, both traditions lingering on in the city whose finest monument is the Bara Imambara. Further east, Varanasi is the oldest city in India. An important centre of Hindu pilgrimage, it is believed that those who die in Varanasi will be released from the cycle of rebirth. Pious Hindus still come to Varanasi to spend their last days, living in Spartan communes run by a multitude of religious trusts. The focus of interest to a visitor is the sacred River Ganga. At the series of steps leading down to it, people come to wash away their sins by bathing in the river, the dead are cremated and holy men meditate. In the narrow by lanes of the city are crowded bazaars selling brassware and silk brocades.


Agra

Agra is famous as being home to one of the seven wonders of the world-the
Taj Mahal. A pleasant town with comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendant of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.

Agra, and the nearby city of Fatehpur Sikri, is conveniently close to Delhi to warrant an all day excursion by coach or taxi although there are several hotels of every standard of comfort. Besides the Taj Mahal are Agra Fort, Sikandra, Ram Bagh and Itmad-Ud-Daulah.-35 km away are the imperial ruins of the Mughal city, Fatehpur Sikri.
Agra is an old city and it is said that its name was derived from Agrabanad, a forest that finds mention in the epic Mahabharata.


Lucknow

Lucknow is a city synonymous with the Nawabi Culture. The imperialistic splendor and magnificence of the Nawabi Era has been glorified and eulogized down the ages by writers, poets and historians alike. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, one of the biggest states in India and is situated on the banks of the river Gomati, tributary of the Ganga. It is famous for its Gardens, Parks and unique archaeological monuments. Lucknow is associated with its legendary hospitality, leisurely moods of life, fabled edifices steeped in history, world-renowned cuisine and exquisite Sham-e-Avadh.


Allahabad

Allahabad is situated at the confluence of the 3 sacred rivers - Ganga, Yamuna & the invisible Saraswati. It is here at the sangam that Hindus Converge for a holy dip especially during the Kumbha Mela, held here every 12 years after. 'Prayag' or 'Allahabad' as it is known today is one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres of India. The Magh Mela is the annual version of the Kumbh and Ardh Kumbha mela which starts every year from Makar Sankranti in January and ends at Maha Shivratri in February. Realizing its strategic importance as a waterway landmark in north India, Akbar built a magnificent fort on the banks of the holy 'Sangam'.


Varanasi

Sandwiched between the rivers Varuna and Ashi as they join the Ganges, Varanasi takes its name from its location. It is also called Kashi, the city of light, but the British, in an endeavor to simplify matters, had coined their own name for the place - Benaras. Varanasi is the city of a thousand temples. The main object of all devotees is the Kasi Vishwanath Temple. According to Hindu belief, Benaras or Varanasi as it is known, is the cosmic center of the Universe. The renowned American novelist Mark Twain once wrote, "Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together."



Rishikesh

Rishikesh, a most tranquil place in northern Uttar Pradesh, surrounded by hills and bisected by the wide and sluggish Ganges, is often claimed as the `Yoga Capital of the World'. It is rightly called the gateway to the Himalayan Shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri. Situated 24 km upstream from Haridwar, at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga, Rishikesh has long been a spiritual centre. It is said that the sage Raibhya Rishi did severe penance here and as a reward, God appeared to him in the form of Hrishikesh, hence the name.
The whole place is considered to be sacred, as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. The Riverside is dotted by the ashrams of Sadhus and sages.


Dehradun

The Doon Valley is situated between the two most important rivers of India i.e Ganga & Yamuna, is most picturesque having moderate climate, nestling a number of places of tourist interest. It is a most picturesque region at the foothills of the panoramic Shivalik ranges.

Altitude: 640 meters, Climate: (deg C)-Summer- Max 36.6, Min 16.7; Winter- Max 23.4, Min 5.2, Clothing: Summer- Cottons, Winter- Woolens, Languages spoken: Garhwali, Hindi, English, Best Season: Throughout the Year.


Gangotri

Gangotri is situated in Uttarakhand at the height of 3,048 meters in the magnificent Garhwal Himalayas. The 6 meters high Gangotri shrine is dressed in white granite stone and is situated on the right bank of the river, Bhagirathi. This 18th century temple is dedicated to the Goddess Ganga who is believed to have descended from heaven as the "stream of life" in response to King Bhagirath's penance. 14 km from Gangotri is Gaumukh, where the source of the holy Ganges- the Gangotri glacier - is situated. Submerged in the water is the "shivling", the rock on which Lord Shiva supposedly sat to receive Ganga. At the legendary source of the river, Goddess Ganga is worshipped in the form of deity. The trek to Gaumukh is gradual, and several pilgrims undertake the journey to pay homage to the river at its known source.


Yamnotri

Yamnotri is the source of the river Yamuna, which is the main tributary of the holy river, Ganges. As the legend goes, Yamnotri was the home of Asit Muni, a famous sage of ancient times. Built in the 19th century, the Yamnotri temple has a black marble idol of Goddess Yamuna. Recently, the temple was destroyed twice by snow and floods but has been reconstructed each time. There are numerous hot water springs near the temple in which pilgrims immerse potatoes and rice tied in pieces of cloth. The meals thus prepared are offered to the deity and
then distributed among the pilgrims. Yamnotri, the source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, located on a flank of the Bandarpunch peak. It is said that Maharani Gularia of Jaipur built the temple of Yamnotri in the last decade of the 19th century.



Badrinath

The abode of Lord Vishnu, Badrinath, is situated in the Himalayas (Uttarakhand) at the height of approximately 3,124 meters above sea level. It is on the left bank of the river, Alaknanda. At one time the spot was covered with wild berries ("badris") and was famous as the "Badri Van" (the garden of wild berries)..

Built by the Garwal kings, the Badrinath shrine dates back to more than two centuries. The temple has a black stone idol that depicts Lord Vishnu - the preserver - in a meditative stance with both hands on his lap. Fed by the Badrinath glaciers and the holy Ganges, the sacred river Alaknanda flows by the temple. The temples of Shiva and Vishnu at Kedarnath and Badrinath have been the destination of pilgrims for centuries.

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