Home to one of the 7 wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal, Agra is a sneak peek into the architectural history with other UNESCO World Heritage Sites as Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri. History, architecture, romance all together create the magic of Agra and hence makes for a must-visit for anyone living in or visiting India.
Located on the banks of river Yamuna, History fanatics, as well as architecture buffs, can have a ball here with the sheer expanse of the Mughal art and culture on display. Apart from its monuments, the city also has some exciting stuff for foodies – including the famous Agra ka Petha and amazing chaat and Lassi.
However, be a little cautious about conmen in the guise of unofficial tour guides and fake handicrafts
World’s oldest living city, Varanasi enchants and surprises its visitors in the same breath. Also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benaras, this spiritual capital of India is one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities. The old city of Varanasi sits along the western banks of the Ganges, spread across a labyrinth of alleys called galis which are too narrow for the traffic to pass through – be prepared to walk on foot and encounter some holy cows! There are temples at almost every turn in Varanasi, but the Kashi Vishwanath Temple is the most visited and the oldest of the lot (Benaras is known as the city of Lord Shiva for a reason, and rightfully so).
Varanasi is considered an auspicious place to die, as it is believed to grant moksha or liberation from the cycle of life and death. Spiritually enlightening and spectacularly photogenic, the heart of the city pulsates around the ghats, about 80 of which border the Ganges – be prepared for the sights, sounds, and smells! All chaos and noise on the ghats take a pause when the Ganga Aarti takes place after dusk, a ceremony of immense grandeur. This divine city is also an important destination for Buddhists. Gautam Buddha preached his first sermon in Banaras, a part which is now in Sarnath
. Typical of any Indian city, the food here is a delicious repertoire of dishes – don’t miss out on the hot chaat and cool lassi.
Soulful, Sacred, Spectacular – Kashi is one of the most blindingly colorful and frustratingly chaotic cities you will ever come across. However, if you are ready for it, the journey through Banaras will blaze in your memory, long after you’ve left its shore! Varanasi is India in all her glory, as it has been for thousands of years, and as it will be for a thousand more.
One of the oldest cities on the banks of Yamuna, Vrindavan is considered to be one of the most important places of pilgrimage for the devotees of Krishna. It is said that Lord Krishna had spent his childhood in Vrindavan. The name of the city has been derived from Vrinda (meaning basil) and van (meaning grove) which perhaps refer to the two small groves at Nidhivan and Seva Kunj. Since Vrindavan is considered to be a sacred place, a large number of people come here to abandon their worldly life.
The city of Vrindavan hosts hundreds of Lord Krishna and Radha temples scattered throughout, the most famous ones being Banke Bihari temple, ISKCON temple. The vibrant surroundings perfectly depict the playful and benevolent nature of Lord Krishna. Located along the waters of River Yamuna, the numerous temples set amidst the thick woods and lush greenery of Vrindavan are the major attractions here. Also known as Vrindavan, this city derives its name from the groves of Brinda and Vana meaning forest.
The capital and the largest city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, situated on the banks of river Gomti, welcomes you with a heartwarming note of. A city of kebabs and nawabs, of architecture and history, of literature and culture – that is Lucknow in a nutshell for you. The people of Lucknow are known for their courtly manners and endearing ‘Pehle AAP’ (you first) culture, which always leaves behind a smile on the faces of its visitors. From a slice of rich colonial history to modernized museums, this artistic hub of the Awadh region beautifully brings together the opulence of a glittering past and the simplicity of a modern city.
Rumi Darwaza, the Mughal Gateway built in the center of the capital divides Lucknow into ‘Old Lucknow’ which is ancient, more crowded and comprises most of the Muslim population, and the ‘New Lucknow’ which is urban and one of the most planned cities of Asia. Old Lucknow is home to the iconic Mughal monument known as the Bara Imambara – an architectural marvel in and of itself and an exemplary embodiment of Awadhi architecture and culture. At the grand monument is located the famous Bhool Bhulaiya which is an intricately designed labyrinth with around 500 almost-identical doors and around a thousand passageways connected by multiple flights of stairs. Close by, Husainabad Clock Tower exhibits traces of Victorian architecture, while Moti Mahal serves as an excellent vantage point for bird watching.
Most of Old Lucknow is well-known for its bustling vibrant streets, authentic, mouth-watering kebab and biriyani outlets, lakhnavi chikan market, and the wholesale jewelry stores.
New Lucknow, on the other hand, hosts people of varied cultures and is structurally planned with wide roads, shopping malls, and parks built to serve diverse entertainment purposes. The most famous among these parks are the Ambedkar Park and the Gomti Riverfront Park, both ideal places for visiting and strolling around with friends and family in the evening.
Hazratganj, a major shopping area located in the heart of Lucknow, is famous for its ‘chaat’ and ‘kulfi’ eateries, posh Mughlai restaurants, and various shopping complexes. All the buildings in Hazratganj have a distinct Victorian architecture, and you can shop for literally anything – starting from inexpensive accessories and trinkets to high-end clothes, shoes, and jewelry.
Allahabad, now officially known as Prayagraj, is a city located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Reminiscent of all that is spiritual and sacred in Hinduism, Allahabad is famous for Triveni Sangam or the meeting point of three rivers – the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati. Built on the site of the ancient town of Prayag, Allahabad has, since time immemorial, held the largest Hindu gathering on the banks of the Sangam – the Maha Kumbh Mela. While the Sangam city is often passed over for more travel-friendly cities, there is a lot to Allahabad besides just its religion.
Prayag or Prayagraj had been the ancient name of the city of Allahabad. Pra means “first” and Yag means “devotion”. Prayag also signifies the coming together of rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and Saraswati. After the Mughal invasion, Emperor Akbar, impressed by the location named the city Ilahabas which meant “Abode of God”. Emperor Shah Jahan, his grandson, renamed the city to Allahabad.
One of the top places to visit in Allahabad, if you’re spiritually inclined (and even if you’re not because this place deserves a visit), Triveni Sangam is a place bustling with tourists and locals all year round. The Maha Kumbh Mela is a religious occasion that is held here every twelve years and is attended by millions of pilgrims from all across the globe. The Allahabad Fort is another monument of historical significance and is a heritage site recognized by UNESCO. Built during the reign of Akbar, this fort is also a fine example of the curation and craftsmanship of the Mughal era.
Other popular places to visit in Allahabad include the Anand Bhavan, All Saints Cathedral, Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, and Allahabad Museum.
Allahabad finds its mention in Hindu Scripture Mahabharata as Kaushambi, the place in which Kuru rulers of Hastinapur made their capital. It was also a provincial capital of Mughals under the rule of Jahangir. The places ooze heritage, history, and stories galore, and once you visit, you will definitely have seen Allahabad differently for having traveled to and through it.
India is a country of immense diversity in all fields of life, starting from religious to cultural to historical. Religion has been deeply ingrained into the Indian lifestyle for as far as one can remember, which is why India abounds in cities and towns all across the country which are devoted to fulfilling the spiritual desires of people who come to visit these places from far and wide. Mathura is one such place which is considered one of the most sacred lands of India and is filled to the brim at any point of the year with people looking to pursue spiritual enlightenment. Located around 150 kilometers from Delhi, Mathura is known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna and has many sites of both historical and religious significance.
Shri Krishna Janmabhumi is the most famous tourist attraction in Mathura, as this place is believed to be the exact place where Lord Krishna was born, and the prison where he was born is now on display for tourists to see. Apart from the prison, the Shri Krishna Janmabhumi also has a majestic temple with idols of Krishna and Radha, making this place one of the top places to visit in Mathura.
Mathura has many temples, both big and small, dotting the entire city, with many of these temples being dedicated to Lord Krishna. The two most important temples in town are the Dwarkadheesh Temple and the Gita Mandir. The Dwarkadheesh Temple is an ancient temple that has been standing from the 1800s and boasts of some of the most stunning architecture in and around this region. If you happen to visit Mathura during the festivals of Janmashtami or Holi, the Dwarkadheesh Temple is the place to be in, as these festivals are celebrated on a grand scale in the premises of the temple. The Gita Mandir is a unique temple in India, and it gets its name from the fact that the walls of the temple are filled with inscriptions from the entire Bhagavad Gita.
A quiet and spiritual town set amidst the otherwise densely populated state of Uttar Pradesh, Sarnath is a city of historical marvel with numerous Buddhist stupas, museums, excavated ancient sites and beautiful temples that prove to be a source of immense wonder and astonishment to tourists due to their mystical and serene setting. Being just 10 km from Varanasi, Sarnath is often flocked with devotees is the perfect pilgrimage site for Buddhists, Jains, and Hindus, alike.
A pilgrimage place for Buddhists, Sarnath features a number of temples and completely serene surroundings with its various historically significant, architectural marvels. Being the place where Lord Buddha preached his first sermon, Sarnath has since been a popular tourist attraction and is well known for its cultural significance as well as the mystical setting. To name a few attractions contributing to the spiritual significance of Sarnath, we have, Ashoka’s Pillar, Dharma Stupa built by Emperor Ashoka and many more.
Vindhyachal is a famous Hindu pilgrimage spot closer to Mirzapur and Varanasi and has several temples in the vicinity with their own interesting stories. This town is situated on the banks of holy river Ganga and people come here to take a dip into it to pray to Goddess Ganga.
The town also sees countless devotees that come here to perform the Arizona parikrama which covers three most important temples Vindhyavasini, Ashtabhuja, and Kali khoh temples. There is a huge crowd of pilgrims here, all year round and especially during the Navratra when the whole town is decorated with diyas and flowers and hymn of holy chants
Chitrakoot is a small town situated in the north Vindhyan range. Legends have it that Chitrakoot was the place where Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana stayed for eleven and half of their fourteen years of exile.
Chitrakoot is located over the districts of Chitrakoot in Uttar Pradesh and Satna in Madhya Pradesh. Chitrakoot holds great importance according to Hindu mythology and the epic Ramayana. According to Ramayana, Chitrakoot was the place where Bharata, brother of Ram came to visit Ram and ask him to come back to Ayodhya and rule the kingdom. It is also believed that the principal gods of Hindus, (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva) took incarnations here. This divine city is also known as the ‘Hill of many wonders’ and it totally justifies the name. Chitrakoot mountain range has numerous places of great religious importance like Bharat Milap Temple, Hanuman Dhara, Janki Kund and much more. It is indeed the gift of nature and the gods. This is the place where Goswami Tulsidas, author of ‘The Ramcharitmanas’, spent many years of his life. There are many lively fairs that are organized on different occasions and festivals. Not many know that Chitrakoot is also home to the only university in the world specially made for the differently-abled, Jagadguru Rambhadracharya Handicapped University. To sum up, Chitrakoot is a rare destination, which will never cease to surprise you. Overall, Chitrakoot is a perfect blend of divinity, serenity, and exquisite beauty.
Ayodhya, located on the banks of river Sarayu in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the 7 sacred cities for Hindus. Ayodhya plays a critical role in the Hindu epic of Ramayana as it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Ayodhya has been surrounded by controversy for about a decade now but yet, has so much color and spirituality to see for its tourists taking the form of various attractions here including Ram Janmabhoomi and various other temples.
Given its association with Hinduism, it is predominantly a religious tourist destination with all its temples and historical significance. Most recently, Ayodhya has been in news for the Babri Mosque dispute. The mosque, which was allegedly built on Ram Janmabhoomi temple, became the bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims. In 2005, Ayodhya witnessed a terrorist attack at the site of Ramlila Temple.
Dudhwa National Park Tourism
Nestled in the Lakhimpur-Kheri District of Uttar Pradesh on Indo-Nepal border, Dudhwa National Park is all about wildlife, nature, and diversity and is a perfect getaway for nature buffs and wildlife lovers.
The place inhabits a plethora of rare and endangered species including Tiger, Hispid hare, Swamp deer, Bengal Florican and Leopard, etc. Dudhwa Tiger Reserve is one of the finest tiger reserves where one can also witness the spellbinding herds of Barasingha in the grassy wetlands. The place is not only home to animals but also varied species of birds nearing 400 that will leave you enchanted. From bulbuls, kingfishers, and woodpeckers to owls, barbets, orioles, and bee-eaters, the place is home to several exotic and migratory birds. With stupefying diversity, this incredible natural abode for birds and animals will be nothing short of bewitching experience.
The national park does have their own arrangements for safari, however, you can hire jeeps or minibusses from outside to explore the wilderness and diversity of the area. Elephant ride is another option where elephant mahouts also act as your tour guide.
National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary Tourism
Just a 1-hour drive down from Agra, this is a perfect destination for the wildlife enthusiasts. It is a habitat of some of the most endangered species, but the main attraction here is, Gharial, Red-crowned turtles, Gangetic Dolphins, Indian skimmers, among others.
The beautiful sanctuary is surrounded by the Chambal river, known to be one of the cleanest rivers of India. It provides you a combination of a unique and unpolluted habitat, abundant wildlife and amazing landscapes, medieval temples and magnificent ancient ruins, animal fairs and naga sadhus, far far away from the chaos of the city. Tourists usually rent a motorized boat and go up and down the river as it flows through the ravines which make for a serene experience. The boatmen are excellent at maneuvering as close to the birds and animals as possible without disturbing them to give you the opportunity to sight beautiful animals.
Trained wildlife experts can also accompany visitors and provide expert information on wildlife. Walks around the river and ravines are also organized which makes for an exciting yet serene experience, especially during mornings and evenings.
It is not only a wildlife lovers’ and a birdwatcher’s paradise but also the perfect place to go to to take a leisure break.
Along with the normal jeep safari, this national park offers you with river safari, bicycle ride, camel safari, horse safari.
The city of Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh is a definite addition to every history buff or traveler who sets foot in this state. The city is at the very south in the Bundelkhand region and is built on the banks of the Betwa and Pahunch rivers. It gets its name from the Jhansi Fort built by Raja Bir Singh Deo who named it so as the rulers could only see a shadow atop a distant hill when gazing at the fort. Jhansi was also the seat of the Chandela Dynasties power and became increasingly popular as the place where Rani Laxmi Bai, who is also referred to as “Jhansi Ki Rani”, lived and reigned.
These facts and the variety of monuments and essential landmarks down to the streets of the city show that Jhansi has a string of historical evidence which is dug deep into its roots and is one of the main reasons individuals are drawn to this city. Gwalior is the nearest biggest city to Jhansi, which lies in Madhya Pradesh and at a distance of 99 Km. The National Highway Development Project has given way to the Development of Jhansi, resulting in a real estate boom in the modern-day. Currently, it is the 3rd cleanest city in Uttar Pradesh.
Hastinapur is an ancient town that was the center of the glorious tales of the epic Mahabharata. Situated on the banks of Ganga near Meerut in UP, Hastinapur is also the birthplace of three Jain Teerthankara, and it has become an important center of pilgrimage for the Jains.
It was the capital of Kauravas and was ruled by the Pandavas after winning the Mahabharata. From that era to this, the city has come along a long way but it is still known as the town of Mahabharata. It is fascinating in its own way and as it has lived through ages, it has also kept the spirit of mythology alive. Being an important part of the epic, every nook and corner of the city has been a part of it in some way and thus the locals have fascinating stories to share.
A part of the National Capital Region, Noida, with the inauguration of Budhh international circuit for the formula one racing, Sunburn arena where international artists perform, and upcoming projects of one of the tallest buildings in North India. Noida is just busy running towards faster growth. Noida is a short name for New Okhla Industrial Development Authority.