Agra Fort

Agra Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Agra, India. The fort is also known as Lal Qila, Fort Rouge and Red Fort of Agra. It is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city.

It is the most important fort in India. The great Mughals Babur, Humayun, Akbar, Jehangir, Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb lived here, and the country was governed from here. It contained the largest state treasury and mint. It was visited by foreign ambassadors, travellers and the highest dignitaries who participated in the making of history in India.

History

This was originally a brick fort and the Sikarwar Rajputs held it. It was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD when a Ghaznavide force captured it. Sikandar Lodi (1487-1517) was the first Sultan of Delhi who shifted to Agra and lived in the fort. He governed the country from here and Agra assumed the importance of the 2nd capital. He died in the fort in 1517 and his son, Ibrahim Lodi, held it for nine years until he was defeated and killed at Panipat in 1526. Several palaces, wells and a mosque were built by him in the fort during his period.

After Panipat, Mughals captured the fort and a vast treasure - which included a diamond that was later named as the Koh-i-Nor diamond - was seized. Babur stayed in the fort in the palace of Ibrahim. He built a baoli (step well) in it. Humayun was crowned here in 1530. Humayun was defeated in Bilgram in 1530. Sher Shah held the fort for five years. The Mughals defeated the Afghans finally at Panipat in 1556.

Realizing the importance of its central situation, Akbar decided to make it his capital and arrived in Agra in 1558. His historian, Abdul Fazal, recorded that this was a brick fort known as 'Badalgarh'. It was in a ruined condition and Akbar had it rebuilt with red sandstone. Architects laid the foundation and it was built with bricks in the inner core with sandstone on external surfaces. Some 1,444,000 builders worked on it for eight years, completing it in 1573.

It was only during the reign of Akbar's grandson, Shah Jahan, that the site finally took on its current state. The legend is that Shah Jahan built the beautiful Taj Mahal for his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own.

At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort, a punishment which might not seem so harsh, considering the luxury of the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in Muasamman Burj, a tower with a marble balcony with an excellent view of the Taj Mahal.

This was also a site of one of the battles during the Indian rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company's rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.

Layout

Inside the Musamman Burj, where Shah Jahan spent the last seven years of his life under house arrest by his son Aurangzeb.

The fort has a semi-circular plan, its chord lying parallel to the river. Its walls are seventy feet high. Double ramparts have massive circular bastions are regular intervals as also battlements, embrasures, machicolations and string courses. Four gates were provided on its four sides, one Khizri gate opening on to the river.

Two of the fort's gates are notable: the 'Delhi Gate' and the 'Lahore Gate.' The Lahore Gate is also popularly also known as the Amar Singh Gate, for Amar Singh Rathore.

The monumental Delhi Gate, which faces the city on the western side of the fort, is considered the grandest of the four gates and a masterpiece of Akbar's time. It was built circa 1568 both to enhance security and as the king's formal gate, and includes features related to both. It is embellished with inlay work in white marble, proof to the richness and power of the Great Mughals. A wooden drawbridge was used to cross the moat and reach the gate from the mainland; inside, an inner gateway called Hathi Pol ('Elephant Gate') - guarded by two life sized stone elephants with their riders - added another layer of security. The drawbridge, slight ascent, and 90 degree turn between the outer and innter gates, make the entrance impregnable. During a siege, attackers would employ elephants to crush a fort's gates. Without a level, straight run-up to gather speed, however, something prevented by this layout, elephants are ineffective.

Because the Indian military (the Parachute Brigade in particular) is still using the northern portion of the Agra Fort, the Delhi Gate cannot be used by the public. Tourists enter via the Lahore Gate so named because it faces Lahore, now in Pakistan.

The site is very important in terms of architectural history. Abul Fazal recorded that five hundred buildings in the beautiful designs of Bengal and Gujarat were built in the fort. Some of them were demolished to make way for his white marble palaces. Most of the others were destroyed by the British between 1803 and 1862 for raising barracks. Hardly thirty Mughal buildings have survived on the south-eastern side, facing the river. Of these, the Delhi Gate and Akbar Gate and one palace - 'Bengali Mahal' - are representative Akbari buildings.

Akbar Gate Akbar Darwazza was renamed Amar Singh Gate by Jahangir. The gate is similar in design to the Delhi Gate. Both are built of red sandstone.

The Bengali Mahal is also built of red sandstone and is now split into Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri mahal.

Some of the most historically interesting mixing of Hindu and Islamic architecture are found here. In fact, some of the Islamic decorations feature haraam (forbidden) images of living creatures - dragons, elephants and birds, instead of the usual patterns and calligraphy seen in Islamic surface decoration.

Sites and structures within Agra Fort

* Anguri Bagh - 85 square, geometrically arranged gardens
* Diwan-i-Am (Hall of Public Audience) - was used to speak to the people and listen to petitioners and once housed the Peacock Throne
* Diwan-i-Khas (Hall of Private Audience) - was used to receive kings and dignitary, features black throne of Jehangir
* Golden Pavilions - beautiful pavilions with roofs shaped like the roofs of Bengali huts
* Jahangiri mahal - built by Akbar for his son Jehangir
* Khas Mahal - white marble palace, one of the best examples of painting on marble
* Macchi Bhawan (Fish Enclosure) - grand enclosure for harem functions, once had pools and fountains
* Musamman Burj - a large, octagonal tower with a balcony facing the Taj Mahal
* Mina Masjid (Heavenly Mosque)
* Pearl Mosque
* Nagina Masjid (Gem Mosque) - mosque designed for the ladies of the court, featuring the
* Zenana Mina Bazaar (Ladies Bazaar) - right next to the balcony, where only female merchants sold wares
* Naubat Khana (Drum House) - a place where the king's musicians played
* Rang Mahal - where the king's wives and mistresses lived
* Shahi Burj - Shah Jahan's private work area
* Shah Jahani Mahal - Shah Jahan's first attempt at modification of the red sandstone palace

Shish Mahal's glass works

* Sheesh Mahal (Glass Palace) or Shish Mahal - royal dressing room featuring tiny mirror-like glass-mosaic decorations on the walls

Other notable facts

* The Agra Fort has won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in the year 2004.
* India Post has issued a Stamp to commemorate this prestigious Aga Khan Award on 28.11.2004.
* Agra Fort should not be confused with the much smaller Red Fort at Delhi. The Mughals never referred the Red Fort as a fort; rather, it was referred as the 'Lal Haveli', or the Red Bungalow. The Prime Minister of India addresses the nation from Red Fort at Delhi on August 15, India's Independence Day.
* The Agra Fort plays a key role in the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of the Four, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
* The Agra Fort was featured in the music video for Habibi Da, a hit song of Egyptian pop star Hisham Abbas.
* Shivaji came to Agra in 1666 as per the 'Purandar Treaty' entered into with Mirza Raje Jaisingh to met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-Khas. In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank, Insulted he stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12 May 1666. Fearing the dungeons and execution, in a famously sweet legend, he escaped on 17 August 1666. A heroic equestrian statue of Shivaji has been erected outside the fort.
* In the second expansion pack for Age of Empires 3, the Asian Dynasties, Agra fort is one of five wonders for the Indian civilization to advance to the next age. Once built, it sends player a shipment of coin. This wonder acts as a Fortress, with an attack (though weaker than European versions) and the ability to train infantry and cavalry units.
* In the game 'Rise of Nations' the Red Fort can be built by players as a wonder. The Red Fort acts just like a normal castle/fortress/redoubt. But has the ability to heal troops garrisoned inside by 500%, and is also resistant to air attacks. Attack range is also longer, and certain unit upgrades are gained automatically, at no cost.

Timings

Open from sunrise to sunset

Entrance Fee

Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 10 per head.

Others: US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head (ASI) (children up to 15 years free)

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I

Shahab-ud-din Muhammad Shah Jahan I (full title: Al-Sultan al-'Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram, Abu'l-Muzaffar Shihab ud-din Muhammad, Sahib-i-Qiran-i-Sani, Shah Jahan I Padshah Ghazi Zillu'llah Firdaus-Ashiyani) (also spelled Shah Jehan, Shahjehan. Urdu: شاه ‌جہاں), (January 5, 1592 – January 22, 1666) was the ruler of the Mughal Empire in the Indian subcontinent from 1628 until 1658. The name Shah Jahan comes from Persian meaning 'King of the World.' He was the fifth Mughal ruler after Babur, Humayun, Akbar, and Jahangir. While young, he was a favourite of Akbar.

Even while very young, he could be pointed out to be the successor to the Mughal throne after the death of Jahangir. He succeeded to the throne upon his father's death in 1627. He is considered to be one of the greatest Mughals and his reign has been called the Golden Age of Mughals. Like Akbar, he was eager to expand his empire. The chief events of his reign were the destruction of the kingdom of Ahmadnagar (1636), the loss of Kandahar to the Persians (1653), and a second war against the Deccan princes (1655). In 1658 he fell ill, and was confined by his son Aurangzeb in the citadel of Agra until his death in 1666. On the eve of his death in 1666, the Mughal Empire spanned almost 750,000,000 acres (3,000,000 km2), about 9/10 the size of modern India.

The period of his reign was the golden age of Mughal architecture. Shah Jahan erected many splendid monuments, the most famous of which is the Taj Mahal at Agra built as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal (birth name Arjumand Banu Begum). The Pearl Mosque at Agra and the palace and great mosque at Delhi also commemorate him. The celebrated Peacock Throne, said to be worth millions of dollars by modern estimates, also dates from his reign. He was the founder of Shahjahanabad, now known as 'Old Delhi'. The important buildings of Shah Jahan were the Diwan-i-Am and Diwan-i-Khas in the fort of Delhi, the Jama Masjid, the Moti Masjid and the Taj. It is pointed out that the Palace of Delhi is the most magnificent in the East.

Biography

Birth And Early Years

Shah Jahan was born as Prince Khurram Shihab-ud-din Muhammad, in 1592 in Lahore as the third and favorite son of the emperor Jahangir, his mother being a Rathore Rajput Princess, known as Princess Manmati who was Jahangir's wife. The name Khurram - Persian for 'joyful' - was given by his grandfather Akbar. His early years saw him receive a cultured, broad education and he distinguished himself in the martial arts and as a military commander while leading his father's armies in numerous campaigns - Mewar (1615 CE, 1024 AH), the Deccan (1617 and 1621 CE, 1026 and 1030 AH), Kangra (1618 CE, 1027AH). He was responsible for most of the territorial gains during his father's reign. He also demonstrated a precocious talent for building, impressing his father at the age of 16 when he built his quarters within Babur's Kabul fort and redesigned buildings within Agra fort.

Marriage

In 1607 CE (1025 AH) Khurrum was to marry Arjumand Banu Begum, the grand daughter of a Persian noble, who was just 14 years old at the time. She would become the unquestioned love of his life. They would, however, have to wait five years before they were married in 1612 CE (1021 AH). After their wedding celebrations, Khurram 'finding her in appearance and character elect among all the women of the time,' gave her the title Mumtaz Mahal (Jewel of the Palace).

The intervening years had seen Khurrum take two other wives known as Akbarabadi Mahal (d.1677 CE, 1088 AH), and Kandahari Mahal (b. c1594 CE, c1002 AH), (m.1609 CE, 1018 AH). By all accounts however, Khurrum was so taken with Mumtaz, that he showed little interest in exercising his polygamous rights with the two earlier wives.

According to the official court chronicler Qazwini, the relationship with his other wives 'had nothing more than the status of marriage. The intimacy, deep affection, attention and favor which His Majesty had for the Cradle of Excellence Mumtaz exceeded by a thousand times what he felt for any other.'

Accession

Inheritance of power and wealth in the Mughal empire was not determined through primogeniture, but by princely sons competing to achieve military successes and consolidating their power at court. This often led to rebellions and wars of succession. As a result, a complex political climate surrounded the Mughal court in Khurram's formative years. In 1611 his father married Nur Jahan, the widowed daughter of a Persian immigrant. She rapidly became an important member of Jahangir's court and, together with her brother Asaf Khan, wielded considerable influence. Arjumand was Asaf Khan's daughter and her marriage to Khurrum consolidated Nur Jahan and Asaf Khan's positions at court.

Khurram's intense military successes of 1617 CE (1026 AH) against the Lodi in the Deccan effectively secured the southern border of the empire and his grateful father rewarded him with the prestigious title 'Shah Jahan Bahadur' (Lord of the World) which implicitly sealed his inheritance. Court intrigues, however, including Nur Jahan's decision to have her daughter from her first marriage wed Shah Jahan's youngest brother and her support for his claim to the throne led Khurram, supported by Asaf Khan, into open revolt against his father in 1622.

The rebellion was quelled by Jahangir's forces in 1626 and Khurram was forced to submit unconditionally. Upon the death of Jahangir in 1627, Khurram succeeded to the Mughal throne as Shah Jahan, King of the World and Lord of the Auspicious Conjunctions, the latter title alluding to his pride in his Timurid roots.

Despite her frequent pregnancies, Mumtaz Mahal travelled with Shah Jahan's entourage throughout his earlier military campaigns and the subsequent rebellion against his father. Mumtaz Mahal was utterly devoted — she was his constant companion and trusted confidante and their relationship was intense. She is portrayed by Shah Jahan's chroniclers as the perfect wife with no aspirations to political power. This is in direct opposition to how Nur Jahan had been perceived.

Rule Shah Jahan's court

Although his father's rule was generally peaceful, the empire was experiencing challenges by the end of his reign. Shah Jahan reversed this trend by putting down a Islamic rebellion in Ahmednagar, repulsing the Portuguese in Bengal, capturing the Rajput kingdoms of Baglana and Bundelkhand to the west and the northwest beyond the Khyber Pass. Shah Jahan's military campaigns drained the imperial treasury. Under his rule, the state became a huge military machine and the nobles and their contingents multiplied almost fourfold, as did the demands for more revenue from the peasantry. It was however a period of general stability - the administration was centralised and court affairs systematised. Historiography and the arts increasingly became instruments of propaganda, where beautiful artworks or poetry expressed specific state ideologies which held that central power and hierarchical order would create balance and harmony. The empire continued to expand moderately during his reign but the first signs of an imperial decline were seen in the later years.

His political efforts encouraged the emergence of large centres of commerce and crafts - such as Lahore, Delhi, Agra, and Ahmedabad - linked by roads and waterways to distant places and ports. He moved the capital from Agra to Delhi.

Under Shah Jahan's rule, Mughal artistic and architectural achievements reached their zenith. Shah Jahan was a prolific builder with a highly refined aesthetic. He built the legendary Taj Mahal in Agra as a tomb for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Among his other surviving buildings are the Red Fort and Jama Masjid in Delhi, the Shalimar Gardens of Lahore, sections of the Lahore Fort (such as Sheesh Mahal, and Naulakha pavilion), and his father's mausoleum.

Legend has it that Shah Jahan wanted to build a black Taj Mahal for himself, to match the white one he reportedly loved much more. There is no reputable scholarship to support this hypothesis, however.

It is believed that Shah Jahan cut the hand of the chief architect who built Taj Mahal thinking another such Taj Mahal will never be built again.

Fate

His son Aurangzeb led a rebellion when Shah Jahan became ill in 1657 CE (1067 AH) and publicly executed his brother and the heir apparent Dara Shikoh. Although Shah Jahan fully recovered from his illness, Aurangzeb declared him incompetent to rule and put him under house arrest in Agra Fort.

Jahanara Begum Sahib voluntarily shared his 8-year confinement and nursed him in his dotage. In January of 1666 CE (1076 AH), Shah Jahan fell ill with strangury and dysentery. Confined to bed, he became progressively weaker until, on January 22, he commanded the ladies of the imperial court, particularly his consort of later years Akbarabadi Mahal, to the care of Jahanara. After reciting the Kalima and verses from the Qu'ran, he died. Jahanara planned a state funeral which was to include a procession with Shah Jahan's body carried by eminent nobles followed by the notable citizens of Agra and officials scattering coins for the poor and needy. Aurangzeb refused to accommodate such ostentation and the body was washed in accordance with Islamic rites, taken by river in a sandalwood coffin to the Taj Mahal and was interred there next to the body of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal.

Legacy

Shah Jahan built Taj Mahal over the tomb of his wife Mumtaz Mahal

Shah Jahan's legacy was one of the most profound of all the Mughals. A patron of the fine arts, he continued the Mughal patronage of painting, although his passion was architecture, with the highlight being undoubtedly the Taj Mahal. Painting during his reign reflected the serene prosperity that the Mughals enjoyed with many scenes reflecting Shah Jahan's interest in romance.

Notable structures associated with Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan has left behind a grand legacy of structures constructed during his reign. The most famous of these is the Taj Mahal in Agra built to hold the tomb for his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Upon his death, his son Aurangazeb had him interred in it next to Mumtaz Mahal. Among his other constructions are Delhi Fort also called the Red Fort or Lal Quila (Urdu) in Delhi, large sections of Agra Fort, the Jama Masjid (Grand Mosque), Delhi, the Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan, the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque), Lahore, the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, sections of the Lahore Fort, Lahore, the Jahangir mausoleum - his father's tomb, the construction of which was overseen by his stepmother Nur Jahan and the Shahjahan Mosque, Thatta, Pakistan. He also had the Peacock Throne, Takht e Taus, made to celebrate his rule.

There is a crater named after Shah Jahan on the asteroid 433 Eros. Craters on Eros are named after famous fictional and real-life lovers.

Shah Jahan's family

Like all his ancestors, Shah Jahan's court included many wives, concubines, and dancing girls. Several European chroniclers have noted this. Niccolao Manucci wrote that 'it would seem as if the only thing Shah Jahan cared for was the search for women to serve his pleasure' and 'for this end he established a fair at his court. No one was allowed to enter except women of all ranks that is to say, great and small, rich and poor, but all beautiful.' When he was detained in the Red Fort at Agra, Aurangzeb permitted him to retain 'the whole of his female establishment, including the singing and dancing women.' Manucci notes that Shah Jahan didn't lose his 'weakness for the flesh' even when he had grown very old. However, most of the European travellers in India had access to such information primarily through bazaar gossip and not first hand.

Agra Hindi: आगरा, Urdu: آگرہ

Agra (Hindi: आगरा, Urdu: آگرہ) is a city on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. It finds mention in the epic Mahabharata when it was called Agrabana, or Paradise. Tradition and legend ascribe the present city of Raja(around 1475) whose fort, Badalgarh, stood on or near the site of the present Fort. However, the 12th century Persian poet Salman writes of a desperate assault on the fortress of Agra, then held by one King Jaipal, by Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. It was ruled by Sultan Sikandar Lodi in the year 1506. It achieved fame as the capital of the Mughal emperors from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri, all three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Geography

Agra is situated on the banks of Yamuna river. It has an average elevation of 171 metres (561 ft). On the north it is bound by Mathura, on the south by Dhaulpur, on the east by Firozabad, on the south-east by Fatehabad and on the west by Bharatpur. Agra is the third biggest city in Uttar Pradesh. The Agra district is divided into Six Tehsils and 15 Blocks. Total number of Nayay Panchayats in the district are 114 while Gram Sabhas stands at 636. The total populated villages are 904. The total number of police stations in the district are 41 out of which 16 are in Urban area and 25 are in Rural area. The total number of Railway Stations (including Halts) are 29 and Bus Stands/Bus Stops are 144. Total number of Broad Gauge lines is 196 K.M. and Meter Gauge is 35 K.M.

Agra, located on the Indo-Gangetic plain has a humid continental climate, with long, hot summers from April to September when temperatures can reach as high as 45 °C (113 °F). During summers dry winds (loo) blow in this region. The monsoon months from July to September see about 69 cm (27 inches) of rainfall annually. Winters last from November to February, with day time temperatures comfortably warm, but temperatures below freezing are not uncommon during the night. Agra is also prone to dense fog during the winter months of December & January.

A major tourist destination, Agra is best visited in the months of October, November, February and March, when the average temperatures are between 16-25 °C (60-75 °F). The monsoon season should be avoided by non-Indians due to the risk of disease and flooding, and the months of April to June due to the extreme heat. The months of December and January are to be avoided due to the dense fog and often freezing temperatures, especially since much of the city has no heating system.

Demographics

As of the 2000 Indian census, Agra had a population of 1,800,000. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Agra has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than the national average of 63.5%; with 76% males literate. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age. Hindi is spoken by virtually everyone. English & Urdu are also spoken.

History

Agra is a medieval city situated on the banks of the river Yamuna. It is generally accepted that Sultan Sikandar Lodi, the Ruler of Delhi Sultanate founded it in the year 1504. After the sultan's death the city passed on to his son Sultan Ibrahim Lodi. He ruled his Sultanate from Agra until he fell fighting to Babur in the First battle of Panipat fought in 1526.

In the year 1556, the great Hindu warrior, Hemu Vikramaditya also known as Hem Chander Vikramaditya won Agra as Prime Minister cum Chief of Army of Adil Shah of Afgan Sur Dynasty. The commander of Humayun / Akbar's forces in Agra was so scared of Hemu that he ran away from Agra without the fight. This was Hemu's 21st continuous win, who later on won Delhi also and had his coronation at Purana Qila in Delhi and re-established Hindu Kingdom and the Vikramaditya Dynasty in North India.

The golden age of the city began with the Mughals. It was known then as Akbarabad and remained the capital of the Mughal Empire under Emperor Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan. Shah Jahan later shifted his capital to Shahjahanabad in the year 1649.
Taj Mahal.

Since Akbarabad was one of the most important cities in India under the Mughals, it witnessed a lot of building activity. Babar, the founder of the Mughal dynasty laid out the first formal Persian garden on the banks of river Yamuna. The garden is called the Aram Bagh or the Garden of Relaxation. His grandson Akbar raised the towering ramparts of the Great Red Fort besides making Agra, a center for learning arts, commerce and religion. Akbar also built a new city on the outskirts of Akbarabad called Fatehpur Sikri. This city was built in the form of a Mughal military camp in stone.

His son Jahangir had a love of gardens and flora and fauna and laid many gardens inside the Red Fort or Laal Kila. Shah Jahan known for his keen interest in architecture gave Akbarabad its most prized monument, The Taj Mahal. Built in loving memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, the mausoleum was completed in 1653.

Shah Jahan later shifted the capital to Delhi during his reign, but this son Aurangzeb shifted the capital back to Akbarabad and had his father imprisoned in the Fort there. Akbarabad remained capital of India during the rule of Aurangzeb until he shifted it to Aurangabad in the Deccan in 1653. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the city came under the influence of Marathas and Jats and was called Agra, before falling into the hands of the British Raj in 1803.
Agra, Main Street, c.1858

In 1835 when the Presidency of Agra was established by the British, the city became the seat of government, and just two year later it was the witness to the Agra famine of 1837–38. During the Indian rebellion of 1857 British rule across India was threatened, news of the rebellion had reached Agra on 11 May and on the 30th of May two companies of native infantry, the 44th and 67th regiments, rebelled and marched to Delhi. The next morning native Indian troops in Agra were forced to disarm, on 15 June Gwalior (which lies south of Agra) rebelled. By 3 July the British were forced to withdraw into the fort. Two days later a small British force at Sucheta were defeated and force to withdraw, this lead to a mob sacking the city. However the rebels moved onto Delhi which allowed the British to restore order by the 8th of July. Delhi fell to the British in September, the following month rebels who had fled Delhi along with rebels from Central India marched on Agra - but were defeated. After this British rule was again secured over the city until the independence of India in 1947.

Agra is the birth place of religion Din-i-Ilahi, which flourished during the reign of Akbar and also of the Radhaswami Faith, which has around two million followers worldwide.

Transportation

By Air

Agra Airport at Kheria is about 6 km from the city centre, but is not very well connected. Now one can catch connecting flights to Agra via delhi or jaipur from most of the major cities of India. Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi is the best option. Agra is very well connected to Delhi both by rail and road.

By Rail

Agra is on the main train line between Delhi (Station Code: NDLS) and Mumbai (Bombay) (Station Code: CSTM) and between Delhi and Chennai (Station Code: MAS) and many trains connect Agra with these cities every day. Some east-bound trains from Delhi also travel via Agra, so direct connections to points in Eastern India (including Kolkata) (Calcutta) are also available. There are close to 20 trains to Delhi every day, and at least three or four to both Mumbai and Chennai. There are three stations in Agra:

* Agra Cantt (Station Code: AGC) is the main railway station and lies southwest of the Taj and Agra Fort, both of which are a short ride from the station by car, auto-rickshaw, or cycle rickshaw. There's a prepaid taxi stand right outside that charges a flat Rs.120 to any hotel in the city. The station has a pretty good Comesum food court that also sells cheap, hygienic takeaway snacks (sandwiches, samosas, etc).

* Agra Fort Railway Station (Station Code: AF) near Agra Fort, is infrequently serviced by the interstate express trains. The station serves trains to the east (Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Kolkata, Guwahati) some of these trains also stop at Agra Cantt.

* Raja Ki Mandi (Station Code: RKM) is a small station. Some of the train which stop at Agra Cantt also stop here. Its a very laid back station and springs into life at the arrival of Intercity Express and Taj Express.

The luxury train - Palace on Wheels also stops at Agra on its eight day round trip of tourist destinations in Rajasthan and Agra.

By Road

Idgah Bus Stand is the biggest Bus Stand in Agra and is connected to most of the bigger cities in North India.

* From Delhi: NH2, a modern divided highway, connects the 200 km distance from Delhi to Agra. The drive is about 4 hours. The primary access to the highway is along Mathura Road in Delhi but, if coming from South Delhi or Delhi Airport, it is easier to take Aurobindo Marg (Mehrauli Road) and then work up to NH2 via Tughlakabad.

* From Jaipur: National Highway 11, a two lane undivided highway, connects Agra with Jaipur via the bird sanctuary town of Bharatpur. The distance of around 255 km can be covered in around 4-5 hours.

* From Gwalior A distance of around 120 km, takes around 1.5 hours on the National highway 3, also known as the Agra - Mumbai Highway.

* From Lucknow / Kanpur NH2, the divided modern highway, continues on to Kanpur (285 km, 5 hours) and from there to points East ending in Kolkata. From Kanpur, NH25 heads for the city of Lucknow (90 km, 2 hours).

Local Transportation

Auto rickshaw and Cycle Rickshaw are the main mode of transport in Agra and are available very readily. The Rickshaw are not metered so its best to negotiate the fares before the ride.

City Buses are there but they frequency is very low.
Polluting vehicles are not allowed near Taj Mahal, so one needs to take electric Auto's or Tanga (Tonga) from few KM outside Taj Mahal.

Places of Interest

Agra's Taj Mahal

Agra's Taj Mahal is one of the most famous buildings in the world, the mausoleum of Shah Jahan's favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is one of the New 7 Wonders of the world, and one of three World Heritage Sites in Agra, the others being Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.

Completed in 1653 CE., the Taj Mahal is believed to have been built by the Mughal Badshah (king) Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his beloved wife, Mumtaz. Finished in marble, it is perhaps India's most fascinating and beautiful monument. This perfectly symmetrical monument took 22 years (1630-1652) of hard labour and 20,000 workers, masons and jewellers to build and is set amidst landscaped gardens. Built by the Persian architect, Ustad Isa, the Taj Mahal is on the bank of the Yamuna River. It can be observed like a mirage from the Agra Fort from where Emperor Shah Jahan stared at it, for the last eight years his life as a prisoner of his son Aurangzeb. It is a masterpiece of symmetry, seeming to be floating in the air from a distance, and each revealed as an illusion experienced as one enters through the main gate. Verses of the Koran are inscribed on it and at the top of gate 22 small domes, signifying the number of years the monument took to build. The Taj Mahal was built on a marble platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Taj, with a diameter of 60 feet (18 m), rises 80 feet (24 m) over the building and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's tomb was erected next to hers by his son Aurangzeb. Fantastic inlay works using semi-precious stones decorate the interiors.

Opening Times: sunrise to sunset (closed Fridays)

Agra Fort

Another world heritage site in Agra. Agra's dominant structure,purushotam the Agra Fort (sometimes called the Red Fort), was built by Akbar in 1565. Be Noted that a Stone Plate located at the Gate of Fort describes it to be built before 1000 and later renovated by Akbar. The red sandstone fort was renovated and converted into a palace during Shah Jahan's time, and reworked extensively with marble and pietra dura inlay. Notable buildings in the fort include the Pearl Mosque, the Diwan-e-Am and Diwan-e-Khas (halls of public and private audience), Jehangir's Palace, Khaas Mahal, Sheesh Mahal (mirrored palace), and Musamman Burj.

The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 CE., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort hide an inner paradise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 k.m., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moat surround the outer wall.

Shivaji visited Agra fort as per the 'Purandar Treaty' entered into with Mirza Raja Jaisingh to met Aurangzeb in the Diwan-i-khas. In the audience he was deliberately placed behind men of lower rank. Insulted Shivaji stormed out of the imperial audience and was confined to Jai Sing's quarters on 12 May 1666. Fearing the dungeons and execution, in a famously sweet legend, he escaped on the 17th of August 1666. A heroic equestrian statue of Shivaji has been erected outside the fort.

The fort standing as a typical example of the Mughal architecture. It shows how the North Indian style of fort construction differentiated from that of the South.In South majority of the beautiful forts were built on the sea beds like the one at Bekal in Kerala

Fatehpur Sikri

The Mughal Emperor Akbar built Fatehpur Sikri about 35 km from Agra, and moved his capital there. Later abandoned, the site displays a number of buildings of significant historical importance. A World Heritage Site, it is often visited by tourists to Agra. The name of the place came after Mughal Emperor Babur defeated Rana Sanga in a battle at a place called Sikri (about 40 km from Agra). Then Mughal Emperor Akbar wanted to make Fatehpur Sikri his head quarters. So he built this majestic fort. But due to shortage of water he had to ultimately move his headquarters to Agra Fort.

Buland Darwaza or the loft gateway was built by the great Mughal emperor, Akbar in 1601 CE. at Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar built the Buland Darwaza to commemorate his victory over Gujarat. The Buland Darwaza is approached by 42 steps. The Buland Darwaza is 53.63 m high and 35 meters wide. Buland Darwaza is the highest gateway in the world and an astounding example of the Mughal architecture. The Buland Darwaza or the magnificence gateway is made of red and buff sandstone, decorated by carving and inlaying of white and black marble. An inscription on the central face of the Buland Darwaza throws light on Akbar's religious broad mindedness, here is an inscription one on the monument which is a message from Jesus advising his followers not to consider this world as their permanent home.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah

Empress Nur Jehan built Itmad-Ud-Daulah's Tomb, sometimes called the Baby Taj, for her father, Ghias-ud-Din Beg, the Chief Minister of Emperor Jahangir. Located on the left bank of the Yamuna river, the mausoleum is set in a large cruciform garden criss-crossed by water courses and walkways. The mausoleum itself is set on a base about 50 meters square and about 1 meter high. The mausoleum is about 23 meters square. On each corner are hexagonal towers, about 13 meters tall. Small in comparison to many other Mughal-era tombs, it is sometimes described as a jewel box. Its garden layout and use of white marble, pietra dura, inlay designs and latticework presage many elements of the Taj Mahal.

The walls are white marble from Rajasthan encrusted with semi-precious stone decorations - cornelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx, and topaz in images of cypress trees and wine bottles, or more elaborate decorations like cut fruit or vases containing bouquets. Light to the interior passes through delicate jali screens of intricately carved white marble.

Many of Nur Jahan's relatives are interred in the mausoleum. The only asymmetrical element of the entire complex is that the cenotaphs of her father and mother have been set side-by-side, a formation replicated in the Taj Mahal

Akbar's Tomb, Sikandra

Sikandra, the last resting place of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, is on Delhi-Agra Highway, is only 13 kilometres from the Agra Fort. Akbar's tomb reflects the completeness of his personality. The vast, beautifully carved, red-ochre sandstone tomb with deers, rabbits and Langoor is set amidst a lush garden. Akbar himself planned his own tomb and selected a suitable site for it. To construct a tomb in one's lifetime was a Tartary custom which the Mughals followed religiously. Akbar's son Jahangir completed the construction of this pyramidal tomb in 1613.

Swami Bagh Samadhi

The Swami Bagh Samadhi is the mausoleum of Huzur Swamiji Maharaj (Shri Shiv Dayal Singh Seth) in the Swamibagh section, on Bhagwan Talkies to Dayal bagh road, in the outskirts of the city. He was the founder of the Radhaswami Faith and the Samadhi is sacred to its followers. Construction began in February 1904 and still continues. It is believed that the construction will never end at Swami Bagh. It is often seen as the 'next Taj Mahal'. The carvings in stone, using a combination or coloured marble, is life-like and not seen anywhere else in India. The picture shown is taken from the backside and shows only two floors. When completed, the samadhi will have a carved dome and a gateway.

Mankameshwar Temple

MankaMeswar Temple is one of the four ancient temples dedicated to Lord Shiva that are located on the four corners of Agra City. It is located in the near the Jama Masjid and is about 2.5 kilometers from Taj Mahal and about less than 1 km from Agra Fort. Being located in the old city, the temple is surrounded by Mughal-era markets, some of which date back to the early days of Mughal rule in India.

Guru ka Tal

Guru ka Tal was originally a reservoir meant to collect and conserve rainwater built in Agra, near Sikandra, during Jehangir's reign next to the Tomb of Itibar Khan Khwajasara in 1610. In 1970s a gurudwara was erected here. Guru ka Tal is a holy place of worship for the Sikh. Four of the 10 Sikh gurus are said to have paid it a visit. Enjoying both historical and religious importance, this gurudwara attracts number of devotees and tourists. Boasting elaborate stone carvings and 8 towers of the 12 original towers, this gurudwara beckons travelers from far and away to bask in its glory.It is established at national(Delhi-Agra)highway-2. Akbar Tomb is 2 kilometer far from Guru Ka Tal.

Jama Masjid

The Jama Masjid is a large mosque attributed to Shah Jahan's daughter, Princess Jahanara Begum, built in 1648, notable for its unusual dome and absence of minarets.

Chini Ka Rauza

Notable for its Persian influenced dome of blue glazed tiles, the Chini Ka Rauza is dedicated to the Prime Minister of Shah Jahan, Allama Afzel Khal Mullah Shukrullah of Shiraz.

Ram Bagh

The oldest Mughal garden in India, the Ram Bagh was built by the Emperor Babur in 1528 on Yamuna's bank. It lies about 2.34 km north of Taj Mahal. The pavilions in this garden are designed in such a manner that the wind from the Yamuna, combined with the greenery, keeps these pavilions cool even during the peak of summer. Aram Bagh is also incorrectly called Ram Bagh by the locals. It was the place where Mughal emperor Babar used to spend his liesure time and at the same place he died and his body was kept here for sometime before sending it to Kabul

Mariam's Tomb

Mariams Tomb, is the tomb of Mariam, the wife of great Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tomb is within the compound of Christian Missionary Society.

Mehtab Bagh

Mehtab Bagh, is on the opposite bank of River Yamuna on which the Taj is present.

Keetham Lake

Also known as Sur Sarovar, the Keetham Lake is situated at about 23 kilometres from Agra within the Surdas Reserved Forest. The lake has an impressive variety of aquatic life and water birds. The tranquil surroundings present an ideal relaxing place.

Mughal Heritage Walk

Mughal Heritage Walk is a 1km loop which connects the agricultural fields with the Rajasthani culture, river bank connected with the ancient village of Kuchhpura, the Heritage Structure of Mehtab Bagh, the Mughal aqueduct system, the Humanyun Mosque and the Gyarah Sidi.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Agra.

Economy

Tourism contributes to a large extent in the economy of Agra. Agra has some of the finest Hotels & Spa's in India. Agra is home to Asia’s largest spa called Kaya Kalp — The Royal Spa, at Hotel Mughal in Agra.

The city also has a substantial industrial base. A lot of manufacturing plants and industry related wholesale markets are prominent in Agra. Agra's industries are doing a fine job in various fields. Producers and dealers of Agra have a vast market to support them.

Agra has a good number of apparel and garment manufacturers and exporters. Agra has also an important market for the automobile industry. Anil Diesels, Harvest Group of Industries, Indian Agriculture & Automobile Corporation(IAAC) and Malloys India are some of the major players of the automobile industry in Agra.

Over 7200 Small Scale Industrial Units are spared all over the district. Agra city is famous for the Leather Goods, Handicrafts, Zari Zardozi, Marvel and Stone carving & inlay work. Agra is also welknown for its sweets (Petha & Gajak) and Snacks (Dalmoth)

The leather industry is among the most traditional and original industries of Agra. Some of the leading manufacturers, exporter and sellers of leather in Agra are Polyplast Industries, Royal International, Eskay Sales Corporation, Best Buy, Bandejjia Traders and Expomore.

With the expansion of the Agra city, more and more construction works are going around the city. To facilitate the flow of work, a lot of organizations dealing in building materials have come up. A few leading names are Silver Gatta Agency, Yashoda Exports, Glass Expressions and Sharda Enterprises. The jeweleries of Agra is a great favorite with the tourists and is in good demand in the international market also. The Yoga Handicrafts and the D.R.Chain and Wire Manufacturing Company are two of the several important names of the related industry.

Education

Agra has always been a centre for education and learning. It was during the advent of Mughal era that Agra grew as a centre of Islamic education. In the coming decades Agra saw great literary figures come from the city. Abul Fazl and others were among the pioneers. The Urdu literature grew by leaps and bounds in the city. Mir Taqi 'Mir' and Mirza Asadullah Beg 'Ghalib' were the icons produced by the city.
Britishers introduced the western concept of education in Agra. In the year 1823, Agra College, one of the oldest colleges in India was formed out of a Sanskrit school established by the Scindia rulers.
In the British era, Agra became a great center of Hindi literature with people like Babu Gulab Rai at the helm.

University

* Agra University  was established on 1 July 1927 and catered to colleges spread across the United Provinces, the Rajputana, the Central Provinces and almost to entire North India, at present around 142 Colleges are affiliated to this University. The historic Agra University was later rechristened as Dr. BhimRao Ambedkar University by the then Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Ms. Mayawati.

* Dayalbagh Educational Institute. Radhasoami Satsang Sabha, started the Radhasoami Educational Institute, as a co-educational Middle School, open to all, on January 1, 1917. It became a Degree College in 1947, affiliated to Agra University. In 1975, it formulated an innovative and comprehensive programme of undergraduate studies which received approbation from the Government of Uttar Pradesh and the University Grants Commission, as a result of which in 1981 the Ministry of Education, Government of India, conferred the status of an institution deemed to be a University on the Dayalbagh Educational Institute, to implement the new scheme.
* Central Institute of Hindi. Central Institute of Hindi (also known as Kendriya Hindi Sansthan) is an autonomous institute under Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India engaged in teaching Hindi as a foreign and second language. Apart from running regular and residential Hindi language courses for foreign students, the institute also conducts regular training programmes for teachers of Hindi belonging to non-Hindi states of India.The institute is situated at a 11 acres campus on the outskirts of Agra city. Headquartered in Agra the institute has eight regional centers in Delhi, Hyderabad, Mysore, Shillong, Dimapur, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Bhubneshwar. The institute is the only government run institution in India established solely for research and teaching of Hindi as a foreign and second language.

College

Agra is also home to some of the oldest and renowned colleges

* The Institute of Engineering & Technology Khandari, Agra (I.E.T. Khandari, Agra), is the prestigious and renowned engineering institute of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar University, Agra (formerly Agra University), situated at Khandari, Agra in Uttar Pradesh.
* Sarojini Naidu Medical College, Agra, named after the first lady Governess of Uttar Pradesh, poetess and freedom fighter, Bharat Kokila Smt. Sarojini Naidu, is one of the first three Medical Schools of the country. During year 2004-2005, S. N. Medical College & Hospital is celebrating its 150th Foundation year (1854-2004)
* St. John's College, Agra, was established in 1850 by the Church Missionary Society of England through the efforts of the Agra C. M. S. Association which came into being in 1840. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the 9th President of India received his education from St. John's college.
* F.E.T Agra College, Agra Carrying the legacy of Agra College and Agra University, Faculty of Engineering and technology came into existence in the Year 2000, the college which is nearly 9 years old can boast of strong alumni base which is spread all across the world.
* RBSCollege, Agra RBS College is one of the biggest college of ASIA, It has a prestegious history and was started by AWAGARH Kingdom. This college is having the largest campus area and maximum number of education branches.

Schools

* Air Force School, Kheria, Agra.
* Army School Agra Cantt.
* RBS Inter College, Khandari, Agra
* N. C. V. Inter college, Agra Cantt.
* St. Peter's College, Agra, built in 1846, is in fact one of the oldest of its kind in the country.
* Sumeet Rahul Goel Memorial Senior Secondary School, Kamla Nagar, Agra
* St. Patrick's Junior College, Agra     * St. Conrad's Inter College, Transport Nagar
* St. George's College, Hariparvat
* ROYAL PUBLIC SCHOOL, Transyamuna, NH-2, Agra
* St. Andrew's Senior Secondary School, karmayogi Enclave
* DPS , Shastripuram
* St. Clare's Senior Secondary School
* St. Francis Convent School, Wazirpura Road, Agra
* B.R.B. Saraswati Vidya Mandir, Runakta, Agra
* St.Paul's Church College, bagh farzana agra
* Wellam Garden School, Nehru Enclave, Shaheed Nagar
* Saraswati Vidhya Mandir, Vijay Nagar, Agra
* Saraswati Vidhya Mandir, Kamla Nagar, Agra
* INDRABHAN G. INTER COLLEGE, DARESI NO. 2, Agra
* Mahavir Digember Jain Inter College Agra

Uttar Pradesh Hindi: उत्तर प्रदेश, Urdu: اتر پردیش

Uttar Pradesh (Hindi: उत्तर प्रदेश, Urdu: اتر پردیش, translation: Northern Province), is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 190 million people, it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity, and only 5 nations including India itself have more people than U.P.

With an area of 93,933 sq mi (243,286 km²), Uttar Pradesh covers a large part of the highly fertile and densely populated upper Gangetic plain. It shares an international border with Nepal and is bounded by the states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. The administrative and legislative capital of Uttar Pradesh is Lucknow and the financial and industrial capital is Kanpur. The state's high court is based at Allahabad. It is home to many historical cities like Agra and Varanasi.

Throughout its history, it was sometimes divided between petty kingdoms and at other times formed an important part of larger empires that arose on its east or west, including the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan, Kushan, Gupta, Sunga, Pala and Mughal empires. Uttar Pradesh has an important place in the culture of India; as it is considered to be the birthplace of Hinduism and has many important sites of Hindu pilgrimage. It also holds much of the heritage of the Mughal Empire, including both the famous Taj Mahal and the tomb of the great Mughal Emperor Akbar in Agra and Akbar's capital-palace in Fatehpur Sikri.

The Indo-Gangetic plain, that spans most of the state, has been the ancient seat of Hindu religion, learning and culture, the birth place of the Indo-Islamic syncretic culture of the medieval period, a center of nationalism during the colonial period and has continued to play a prominent role in Indian political and cultural movements. The state has a rich heritage of traditional crafts and cottage industries of various types that employ highly skilled craftsmen and artisans.

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the Indian Union and the most populous first-level administrative country subdivision in the world. Kanpur is the biggest city in the state. Other big cities are Lucknow - the political capital of the state, Meerut, Agra, Varanasi, Bareilly, Allahabad, Ghaziabad and Noida. The Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas, the three upper castes people of the state who have dominated the political and economic scene over the centuries are in a majority. A major group comprises of the backward classes, scheduled castes and tribes. The tribal population is largely concentrated in the hill, terai-bhabhar and Vindhya regions. The central government has recognised five of the tribal communities, viz. Tharus, Bhoksas, Bhotias, Jaunswaris and Rajis as scheduled tribes. Besides the upper class, there are also other Hindu and Muslim communities. The scheduled castes and scheduled tribes live in rural areas and are mostly dependent on agriculture, forming the landless labour class.

History

The known history of Uttar Pradesh goes back 4000 years, when the Aryans first made it their home in 2000 BC. This heralded the Vedic age of the Indian civilization and Uttar Pradesh was its home. The Aryans, who settled in the Doab region and the Ghagra plains, called it with various names: Madhya Desha (midland) or Aryavarta (the Aryan land) or Bharatvarsha (the kingdom of Bharat, an important Aryan king). In the ages to come, Aryans spread to other parts of the Indian subcontinent, reaching as far south as Kerala and Sri Lanka.

The ancient Mahajanapada era kingdom of Kosala in Ayodhya - where, according to Hindu legend, the divine king Rama of the Ramayana epic reigned - was located here. Krishna - another divine king of Hindu legend, who plays a key role in the Mahabharata epic and is revered as the eighth reincarnation (Avatara) of Hindu god Vishnu - was born in the city of Mathura. The aftermath of the Mahabharata war is believed to have taken place in the area between the present Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, during the reign of the Pandava king Yudhishtira, in what was Kuru Mahajanapada. The revered Swaminarayan - mentioned in the Brahma Purana and Vishwaksena Samhita as the manifestation of God - was born in the village of Chhapaiya.

Most of the empire building invasions of North India, from the east as well as the west, passed through the vast swathe of Gangetic plains of what is today Uttar Pradesh. Control over this region was of vital importance to the power and stability of all of India's major empires, including the Mauryan (320-200 BC), Kushan (100-250 AD) and Gupta (350-600 AD) empires. After the Guptas, the Ganga-Yamuna Doab saw the rise of Kannauj. During the reign of Harshavardhana, the Kannauj empire was at its zenith: it covered an area extending from Afghanistan and Kashmir in the west to Bengal in the east and up to the Vindhyas in the south, with its capital at Kannauj. Even today many communities in various parts of India - from Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar to Bengal - boast of being descendants of migrants from Kannauj, reflecting its glory in the past.

The state is also important to Buddhism since its early days. The Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Buddha met his first disciples. The Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath commemorates Buddha's first sermon. Also the town of Kushinagar is where Gautama Buddha died.

Medieval

Causing the fall of post-Harshavardhana Rajput kings of north India came the Turko-Afghan Muslim rulers and what we call Uttar Pradesh today once again became the catalyst for things to come; much of the state formed part of the various Indo-Islamic empires (Sultanates) after 1000 AD and was ruled from their capital, Delhi. Later, in Mughal times, U.P. became the heart-land of their vast empire; they called the place 'Hindustan', which is used to this day as the name for India in several languages.

Agra and Fatehpur Sikri were the capital cities of Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor of India. At their zenith, the Mughal empire covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent (including present day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh), which was ruled at different times from Delhi, Agra and Allahabad. But, when the empire disintegrated, their last territory remained confined to the Doab region of Hindustan and Delhi.

Other areas of Hindustan (U.P.) were now ruled by different rulers: Oudh was ruled by the Nawabs of Oudh, Rohilkhand by Afghans, Bundelkhand by the Marathas and Benaras by its own king, while Nepal controlled Kumaon-Garhwal as a part of Greater Nepal. The state's capital city of Lucknow was established by the Muslim Nawabs of Oudh in the 18th century.

Modern-colonial

Starting from Bengal in the later half of the 18th century, a series of battles for North Indian lands finally gave the British East India Company accession over this state's territories, including the last Mughal territory of Doab and Delhi, also Bundelkhand, Kumaon and Benaras divisions. Ajmer and Jaipur were also included in this northern territory and they called it the North-Western Provinces (of Agra). Today, the area may seem big compared to several of the Republic of India's present 'mini-states' - no more than the size of earlier 'divisions' of the British era - but at the time it was one of the smallest British provinces. Its capital shifted twice between Agra and Allahabad.
Mangal Pandey

Mangal Pandey is widely seen as the starting point to what came to be known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857. After its failure and turmoil settled, the British made a major revamp, in desperation: they truncated the Delhi region from NWFP of Agra and merged it with Punjab, while the Ajmer- Merwar region was merged with Rajputana. At the same time, they included Oudh into the state. The new state was called the 'North Western Provinces of Agra and Oudh', which in 1902 was renamed as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. It was commonly referred to as the United Provinces or its acronym UP.

In 1920, the capital of the province was shifted from Allahabad to Lucknow. The high court continued to be at Allahabad, but a bench was established at Lucknow. Allahabad continues to be an important administrative base of today's Uttar Pradesh and has several administrative headquarters.

The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was formed at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 11, 1936 with the legendary nationalist Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President, in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights, and thus sparking the Farmers' movement in India.

Uttar Pradesh continued to be central to Indian culture and politics and was especially important in modern Indian history as a hotbed of both the Indian Independence Movement and the Pakistan Movement.

Post Independence

After independence, the state was renamed Uttar Pradesh ('northern province') by its first chief minister, Govind Ballabh Pant. Pant was known and close to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and was also popular in the Congress party; he established such a good reputation in Lucknow that Nehru called him to Delhi, the capital and seat of Central Government of the country, to make him Home Minister of India in December 27, 1954. He was succeeded by Dr. Sampoornanand, a university professor and classicist Sanskrit scholar, who was chief minister till 1957, before becoming governor of Rajasthan.

Sucheta Kripalani served as India's first woman chief minister from October 1963 until March 1967, when a two-month long strike by state employees caused her to step down. The confusion and chaos ended only with the defection of Charan Singh from the Congress with a small set of legislators; he set up a party called the Jana Congress, which formed the first non-Congress government in U.P. and ruled for over a year.

Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna was chief minister for cngress party government for part of the 1970s. He was dismissed by the Central Government headed by Indira Gandhi, along with several other non-Congress chief ministers, shortly after the imposition of the Emergency, when Narain Dutt Tewari - later chief minister of Uttarakhand - became chief minister. The Congress Party lost heavily in 1977 elections, following the lifting of the Emergency, but romped back to power in 1980, when Mrs. Gandhi handpicked the man who would later become her son's principle opposition, V.P. Singh, to become Chief Minister.

On Nov 09, 2000, the Himalyan portion of the state, comprising the Garhwal and Kumaon divisions and Haridwar district, was formed into a new state called Uttarakhand, meaning the 'Northern Segment' state.

Geography

Uttar Pradesh shares an international border with Nepal and is bounded by the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. The state can be divided into two distinct hypsographical regions:-

* The larger Gangetic Plain in the north: it includes the Ganga-Yamuna Doab; the Ghaghra plains; the Ganga plains and the Terai. It has highly fertile alluvial soils and flat topography - (slope 2 m/km) - broken by numerous ponds, lakes and rivers.
* The smaller Vindhya Hills and plateau region in the south. It is characterised by hard rock strata; varied topography of hills, plains, valleys and plateau; limited availability of water.

Climate

The climate of Uttar Pradesh is predominantly sub-tropical, but weather conditions change significantly with location and season.

Temperature: Depending on the elevation, the average temperatures vary from 12.5–17.5°C (54.5–63.5°F) in January to 27.5–32.5°C (81.5–90.5°F) in May and June. The highest temperature recorded in the State was 49.9°C (121.8°F) at Gonda on May 8, 1958.

Rainfall: Rainfall in the State ranges from 1,000–2,000 mm (40–80 inches) in the east to 600–1,000 mm (24–40 inches) in the west. About 90 percent of the rainfall occurs during the southwest monsoon, lasting from about June to September. With most of the rainfall concentrated during this four-month period, floods are a recurring problem and cause heavy damage to crops, life, and property, particularly in the eastern part of the state, where the Himalayan-origin rivers flow with a very low north-south gradient.

Droughts: Periodic failure of monsoons results in drought conditions and crop failure.

Snowfall: In the Himalayan region of the State, annual snowfall averaging 3 to 5 metres (10 to15 feet) is common between December and March.

Constituent regions

The state comprises several distinct regions: -

    * The Doab region: the upper Doab and the lower doab with the Braj-bhumi in its centre, which runs along its western border from north to south;
* The Rohilkhand region in the north;
* Awadh Oudh, the historic country of osalas in the centre;
* The northern parts of Bagelkhand and Bundelkhand in the south; and
* The south-western part of the Bhojpur country, commonly called Purvanchal ('Eastern Province'), in the east.

Administrative divisions and districts (as in 2007)
Main article: Districts of Uttar Pradesh

The state of Uttar Pradesh consists of seventy districts, which are grouped into eighteen divisions: Agra Division, Aligarh Division, Allahabad Division, Azamgarh Division, Bareilly Division, Basti Division, Chitrakoot Division, Devipatan Division, Faizabad Division, Gorakhpur Division, Jhansi Division, Kanpur Division, Lucknow Division, Meerut Division, Mirzapur Division, Moradabad Division, Saharanpur Division and Varanasi Division.

The largest district in terms of area is Lakhimpur Kheri. The largest district in terms of population is Allahabad followed by Kanpur Nagar (Census 2001).

Divisions        

Agra • Aligarh • Allahabad • Azamgarh • Bareilly • Basti • Chitrakoot • Devipatan • Faizabad • Gorakhpur • Jhansi • Kanpur • Lucknow • Mirzapur • Moradabad • Saharanpur • Varanasi

Districts

Agra • Aligarh • Allahabad • Ambedkar Nagar • Auraiya • Azamgarh • Badaun • Bagpat • Bahraich • Ballia • Balrampur • Banda • Barabanki • Bareilly • Basti • Bijnor • Bulandshahr • Chandauli • Chitrakoot • Devaria • Etah • Etawah • Faizabad • Farrukhabad • Fatehpur • Firozabad • Gautam Buddha Nagar • Ghaziabad • Ghazipur • Gonda • Gorakhpur • Hamirpur • Hardoi • Jalaun • Jaunpur • Jhansi • Jyotiba Phule Nagar • Kannauj • Kanpur Dehat (Akbarpur) • Kanpur Nagar • Kanshiram Nagar • Kaushambi • Kushinagar (Padrauna) • Lakhimpur Kheri • Lalitpur • Lucknow • Mahamaya (Hathras) • Maharajganj • Mahoba • Mainpuri • Mathura • Mau • Meerut • Mirzapur • Moradabad • Muzaffarnagar • Pilibhit • Pratapgarh • Raebareli • Rampur • Saharanpur • Sant Kabir Nagar • Sant Ravidas Nagar (Bhadohi) • Shahjahanpur • Shravasti • Siddharthnagar • Sitapur • Sonbhadra • Sultanpur • Unnao • Varanasi

Major cities

Agra • Allahabad • Kanpur • Lucknow • Meerut • Varanasi

Urban centres

Major cities

Agra • Allahabad • Bareilly • Ghaziabad • Gorakhpur • Jhansi • Kanpur • Lucknow • Meerut • Varanasi (Banaras).

Other important cities

Aligarh • Azamgarh •Budaun. Bahraich • Ballia • Banda • Barabanki • Bijnor • Bulandshahr • Deoband • Etawah • Faizabad • Farrukhabad • Fatehgarh • Firozabad • Ghazipur• Gola • Gonda • Gorakhpur . Hameerpur • Kannauj • Khurja • Kulpahar • Kushinagar • Lalitpur • Modinagar • Mainpuri • Mahoba • Mathura • Mirzapur • Moradabad • Muzaffarnagar • Noida • Orai • Pilibhit • Raebareli • Rampur • Saharanpur • Shahjahanpur • Sultanpur • Sant Kabir Nagar.

Transportation

The state has a large network of multimodal transportation system.

Airways: The state has 4 important airports and 23 air strips. Cities that have nationally well connected domestic airports are Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow and Varanasi. Lucknow is the biggest and most important airport of the state.(an upgradation of Bareilly's Trishul Air-base into a domestic airport is also underway.)

Railways: Almost all the major as well as smaller cities of the state are linked through railways. It has largest railway network in the country; with a total length of 8,546 km (2006), it has the sixth largest railway density.

Roadways: The state has largest road network in the country, after Maharashtra. It boasts of 31 National Highways (NH), with a total length of 4,942 km (8.5% of total NH length in India). It has seventh highest road density in India (1,027 km per 1000 sq km in 2002 ) and largest surfaced urban road network in the country (50,721 km, as on 2002). Cities of Kanpur, Lucknow, Bareilly, Allahabad, Varanasi,Jhansi,Gorakhpur,Agra and Ghazipur are connected to number of National Highways. New express-ways are coming up between Agra and Noida and between Noida with Ballia (near Ghazipur). State Transport company UPSRTC serves nationalized routes in the state for intra-state and interstate transport.

Waterways: A long stretch of the river Ganges - from Allahabad (Uttar Pradesh) to Haldia (West Bengal) - has been declared as National Waterway (NW)-I and 600 km of the total NW-I lies in Uttar Pradesh.

Although, the state has a large and diversified transportation network, its condition and functioning need substantial improvement.

Demographics

Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with a population of over 190 million people as of July 1 2008. If it were a separate country, Uttar Pradesh would be the world's fifth most populous nation, next only to China, India, the United States and Indonesia.

As of the 2001 census of India, slightly over 80% of Uttar Pradesh population is Hindu, while Muslims make up 18% of the population. The remaining population consists of Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jains.

Politics

The State Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) has 403 electoral constituencies. In the Uttar Pradesh Elections, 2007, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party achieved unexpected majority status leading to her emergence as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. This is the first time, since 1991 victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party with a majority, that a single party has gained absolute majority; the last two decades having been mostly dominated by various coalitions among the Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Bahujan Samaj Party. One characteristic of the BSP win in 2007 was the amalgamation of Brahmin votes into this Dalit dominated party, as opposed to the decades-old trend of deep-rooted electoral divisions in the state between Dalits, Upper Castes, Muslims and different OBC groups, which tend to vote in blocks.

Mayawati, having won 206 seats, took the oath of secrecy for the post of UP's next CM on 13 May 2007. She became Chief Minister for the fourth time. Along with her 19 cabinet rank ministers, 21 State Ministers Independent Charge were also sworn in by T. V. Rajeswar the Governor. Some of the prominent names are: Awadhpal Singh, Babu Singh Kushwaha, Badshah Singh, Nasimuddin Siddiqui, Rakesh Dhar Tripathi, Ratanlal Ahirwar and Sudhir Goyal. Former Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's Samajwadi Party stood second in State with 97 seats.

Issues

The image of politics in Uttar Pradesh has been tarnished in recent times by the extensive infiltration of people who are alleged to carry a questionable reputation or are prone to incite violence. But, in the last election, the Election Commission of India was perceived as having effectively managed to prevent booth-capturing and other abuse, through deployment of extremely strict security.

The number of criminal-politicians participating in the elections have been growing, particularly because they have been successful in the past. In the U.P. Assembly elections, 2002, candidates with criminal records won 206 out of 403 seats in the assembly, i.e. more criminals were elected than regular politicians. In 2007 elections, the participation by criminals increased significantly.

Political Leadership

The state has a record of providing national leadership; eight of India's fourteen Prime Minister's were from Uttar Pradesh. They are: Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Choudhary Charan Singh, Vishwanath Pratap Singh, Chandra Shekhar and Atal Behari Vajpayee, who represents a UP constituency, though he was born in Gwalior.

The contemporary political scene is also interesting in the national context. Heirs-apparent to the Nehru-Gandhi family have adopted U.P. as their home state. Congress President Sonia Gandhi represents Rae Bareli and her son Rahul Gandhi Amethi, Sultanpur. Indira Gandhi's estranged daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi is a BJP Parliamentarian from Pilibhit, while her son Varun Gandhi is expected to make his debut soon. Other prominent politicians include BJP leader and past Human Resources Development minister Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, SP leader and ex-Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, BSP leader and now fourth time Chief Minister Mayawati, BJP President and ex-Chief Minister Rajnath Singh, former BJP Chief Minister Kalyan Singh, Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh and ex-Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and later of Uttarakhand, Narayan Dutt Tiwari.

At the lowest tier of political pyramid, the state has a large number of village councils known as Panchayats just like the other states of India.

Education

The region of Uttar Pradesh had a long tradition of learning, although it had remained mostly confined to the elite class and the religious establishment. Sanskrit-based education comprising the learning of Vedic-to-Gupta periods , coupled with the later Pali corpus of knowledge and a vast store of ancient-to-medieval learning in Persian/Arabic languages, had formed the edifice of Hindu-Buddhist-Muslim education, till the rise of British power.

Economy

Uttar Pradesh is the second largest state economy in India after Maharashtra, contributing 8.17% to India’s total GDP. Between 1999 and 2008, the economy grew only 4.4% per year, one of the lowest rates in India.

The major economic activity in the state is agriculture and, in 1991, 73% of the population in the state was engaged in agriculture and 46% of the state income was accounted for by agriculture. UP has retained its preeminent position in the country as a food-surplus state.

The largest shoe-manufacturing centre in the country is Kanpur. Uttar Pradesh is home to largest number of Small Scale units in the country, with 12% of over 2.3 million units.

    * Labour efficiency is higher in UP (26) than the National Average (25).
* The state is one of the top tourist destinations in India, with more than 71 million domestic tourists (in 2003) and almost 25% of the All-India foreign tourists visiting Uttar Pradesh.
* Agra was visited by more than 8 million domestic and 825,000 foreign tourists in 2006, followed by Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Vrindaban and Mathura. .
* Lucknow and NOIDA are among the top IT destinations of the country.
* Meerut is regularly listed among the top tax paying cities in the country.

Culture

Architecture

Architectural legacies of the past millennia of the region of Uttar Pradesh survive to varying extent. The oldest of them fall within the purview of archeology or mythology; religious places in the State - identifiable in the narratives of Puranas and other sacred literature of Indian religions - have architectural edifices that are very old and have been built over repeatedly in course of time. Medieval kings and emperors have left imposing monuments: forts, palaces, temples and mausoleums, whose external and internal grandeur reminds of the opulence of those times. British colonial buildings, built for the administration, judiciary, hospitals, banks, postal services, police, railways etc. are still seen in most of the cities; their architecture in most cases is purely functional.

Art and Craft

Uttar Pradesh is famous for its rich heritage of art and craft. Most famous centres are the following: -

    * Kanpur, is internationally known for its leather craft; shoes and other leather items are made for the Indian market and exported to foreign countries as well.
* Bareilly, boast for its Jari work (a type of fabric decoration), Surma, Jhumka.
* Firozabad, the city of bangles, is also a hub for many glass accessories. The glass artifacts produced in its factories are just amazing and are exported the world over.
* Kannauj, is well known for oriental perfumes, scents and rose water and also for tobacco.
* Khurja, is famous for its ceramics pottery. In fact, the entire state is famous for its pottery not only in India but also around the world.
* Lucknow, the capital, boasts of its cloth work and embroidery (chikan) work on silk and cotton.
* Mirzapur, and Bhadohi are known for carpets.
* Moradabad, is well know for its metal ware, specially brass artifacts.
* Pilibhit, is known for its wood flutes and wood chappal (Khadaoo). Flutes are exported to Europe, America and other countries.
* Saharanpur, is known all over India and abroad for wood carving items produced here.
* Varanasi, is famous for its banarasi saris and silk. A banarasi sari is an essential part of any marriage in the state.

Language and Literature

Uttar Pradesh is often referred to as the 'Hindi heartland of India'. While the languages of state administration are Hindi, established by the Uttar Pradesh Official Language Act, 1951, and Urdu, established by the Amendment to the same in 1989, the native languages of the state are considered as dialects of Hindi both by the common populace as well as the state and central governmental authorities. Linguistically the state spreads across the Central, East-Central and Eastern zones of the Indo-Aryan languages, the major native languages of the state being Bhojpuri, Awadhi, Bundeli, Braj Bhasha, Kannauji and the vernacular form of Khari boli, which also forms the basis for the standardized Hindi and Urdu registers. Bagheli is spoken on the South-western fringes of the state. The state government promotes the native dialects in cultural festivals - education however, in the dialects is negligible. Moreover, the literature of the two main literary dialects of the medieval era, Braj Bhasha and Awadhi, is considered to be subsumed under Hindi literature. While once these two dialects were the main literary vehicles in the region, any progress in literature in them or any of the other native languages is negligible.

The number of speakers of the native languages is difficult to estimate because most educated people in the urban areas return Hindi as their mother tongue as it is the language of administration and education, while people in the rural areas return 'Hindi' as the generic name for their language, primarily because of a lack of a linguistic awareness. Recently however, Bhojpuri has seen a linguistic assertion of sorts, while there has been weak activism with respect to Bundeli.

Dance and Music

The state is home to a very ancient tradition in dance and music. During the eras of Guptas and Harsh Vardhan, Uttar Pradesh was a major centre for musical innovation. Swami Haridas was a great saint-musician who championed Hindustani Classical Music. Tansen, the great musician in Mughal Emperor Akbar's court, was a disciple of Swami Haridas. The ragas sung by Tansen were believed to be so powerful that they could bring rain, or light a fire, when recited.

Kathak, a classical dance form, involving gracefully coordinated movements of feet along with entire body, grew and flourished in Uttar Pradesh. Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Awadh, was a great patron and a passionate champion of Kathak. Today, the state is home to two prominent schools of this dance form, namely, Lucknow Gharana and Banaras Gharana. The Bhatkande Music University at Lucknow is named after the great musician Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande.

In modern times, Uttar Pradesh has given to the world music legends like Anup Jalota, Baba Sehgal, Girija Devi, Gopal Shankar Misra, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Kishan Maharaj, Naushad Ali, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Shubha Mudgal, Siddheshwari Devi, Talat Mehmood, Ustad Bismillah Khan etc. The legendary Ghazal singer Begum Akhtar belonged to Uttar Pradesh; she took this aspect of music to amazing heights. 'Ae Mohabbat Tere anjaam pe rona aaya' is one of her best musical renditions of all times. It is also, incidentally, the birthplace of British pop legend Sir Cliff Richard.

The region's folk heritage includes songs called rasiya (known and especially popular in Braj), which celebrate the divine love of Radha and Shri Krishna. These songs are accompanied by large drums known as bumb and are performed at many festivals. Other folk dances or folk theater forms include:

* Khayal
* Naqal - (mimicry)
* Nautanki
* Qawwali
* Ramlila, which includes enacting the entire Ramayana
* Raslila
* Swang

Cuisine

Uttar Pradesh has two distinct traditions of cuisine: Vegetarian and Non-vegetarian.

* A formal vegetarian meal consists of Chapatis (pancakes) and/or Puries (deep fried pancakes), Daal (thick lentil soup), Rice (boiled white rice), Vegetable curries (one or more of dry/fried and semi-liquid curries each), Curd, Pickles, Papad (thin spicy crackers) and a variety of Sweetmeats. It is normally served in metal dishes and traditionally eaten without the use of cutlery, sitting on the bare floor. When a large gathering is to be feasted in a traditional manner, food may also be served on disposable, flat platters (called 'Pattal'), which are made by intertwining broad leaves of certain trees.

* A non-vegetarian meal consists of many varieties of meat or rice preparations that have evolved in the region and are now nationally and internationally known as the Moghlai cuisine; some of these are: Kebab, Kufta, Korma, Keema, Pulao, Biryani, Prothas (plain or stuffed), Halwa, Firni etc. In addition, a selection from the above vegetarian dishes may be present among the food spread. Traditionally, food is served in metal-ware or ceramic crockery, eaten directly with bare hands or (some times) with spoons, sitting on the ground covered with a flooring material like cloth-sheet or carpet.

In most of the modern homes, use of western table ware and dining table and chairs have become the norm and western dishes are also included at times.

Dress

A variety of dresses are worn by the people of Uttar Pradesh and hence, the public scene is always a show of many types of dresses and many colours.

* Traditional styles of dress include draped garments, such as sari for women and dhoti or lungi for men, and stitched clothes, such as salwar kameez for women and kurta-pyjama for men.
* European-style trousers and shirts are also common among the educated men.

Dress material is chosen as per the need of the weather; hence, cotton is common in summer and woollens are needed in winter, when a sweater,jacket and/or a coat may be worn, specially in peak winter.

Festivals

Religious practices are as much an integral part of everyday life, and a very public affair, as they are in the rest of India. Therefore, not surprisingly, many festivals are religious in origin, although several of them are celebrated irrespective of caste and creed. Among the most important Hindu festivals are Diwali, Holi and Vijayadasami, which are also observed with equal fervour by Jains and Sikhs. Eid al-Milad, Eid ul-Fitr, Bakr-Id and Moharram are Muslim religious festivals. Mahavir Jayanti is celebrated by Jains, Buddha Jayanti by Buddhists, Guru Nanak Jayanti by Sikhs and Christmas by the Christians.

Sports

Presently, common sports of Uttar Pradesh are of two distinct categories: the traditional sports and the modern sports of mainly European origin.

* Traditional sports, now played mostly as a past time, include wrestling, swimming, Kabaddi and track- or water-sports played according to local traditional rules and without use of modern gears; some times, display of martial skills using a sword or ‘Pata’ (stick) etc. form the basis of sports. But, due to lack of organized patronage and requisite facilities, these sports are surviving mostly as individuals' hobbies or local competitive events, e.g. in interested schools.

* Modern sports - indoor, field and track games - are popular, especially among the educated class, but the state has yet to attain alround national standing in most of them. There was a time when field hockey was immensely popular and Uttar Pradesh produced some of the finest hockey players of India, who brought glory to the nation.

* Dhyan Chand, the legendary field hockey player of India and a hero of many Olympic Games of yester years, was born on 29 August 1905, in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany, was so impressed by Dhyan Chand's performance in the Berlin Olympic hockey-finals that he offered to elevate 'Lance Naik' Dhyan Chand to the rank of a Colonel if he migrated to Germany. Chand declined the offer.

* Hockey's popularity is now taken over by cricket. Though not renowned for it cricket team, U.P. won its first Ranji Trophy in February 2006, beating Bengal in the final. It can also boast of its 3-4 players normally finding a place in the national side.

* Green Park Stadium in Kanpur is one of the oldest cricket venues in India and has witnessed some of India's most famous victories.

Tourism

Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of visitors both national and international. There are two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go:

* The city of Agra, which gives access to three World Heritage Sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
o Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is cited as 'the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage.'
o Agra Fort is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city.
o Fatehpur Sikri was the the world famous 16th century capital city near Agra, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great, whose mausoleum in Agra is also worth a visit.
* The holiest of the holy cities of Hindus on the banks of sacred rivers Ganga and the Yamuna: Varanasi (also considered world's oldest city), Ayodhya (birth place of Lord Rama), Mathura (birth place of Lord Krishna) and Allahabad (the confluence or 'holy-sangam' of the sacred Ganga-Yamuna rivers).

In Agra itself, Dayal Bagh is a temple built in modern times that many visit. It is still under construction and would take an estimated one century for completion. Its life-like carvings in marble are unique in India. Agra's dubious modern attractions include Asia's largest Spa as well as Asia's first and only 6D theatre.

Every year, thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the festival held on the banks of the Ganges, the Magh Mela. The same festival is organised on a larger scale every 12th year and is called the Kumbha Mela, where over 10 million Hindu pilgrims congregate — the largest gathering of human beings in the world.

Varanasi is widely considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. It is famous for its ghats (bathing steps along the river), that remain bustling year round with devotees from all over India and beyond, who want to take a holy dip in the sacred Ganges River.

From Varanasi are the historically important towns of Sarnath and Kushinagar. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after his enlightenment and Kushinagar is where Gautama Buddha died; hence both are important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Pillars of Ashoka and the Lion Capital of Ashoka, both important archaeological artifacts with national significance. From Varanasi, a distance of 80 km Ghazipur is famous for Ganga Ghats and Lord Kornwalis Tomb maintained by Archeological Survey of India.

Dudhwa National Park is one of the best Tiger reserves in the country. Lakhimpur Kheri is a must see location - home to the Tiger Reserve - and another sanctuary, Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary, the most concentrated sanctuary in India, with a large population of tigers, as well as leopards, situated in Bahraich and bordering Nepalis also worth a visit.

Kushinagar is a town where Gautama Buddha died.

Regions of Uttar Pradesh

* Upper Doab
* Middle Doab
* Lower Doab
* Rohilkhand
* Awadh
* Purvanchal
* Bundelkhand
* Baghelkhand


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