The Hindi heartland
The northern state of Uttar Pradesh, popularly know as UP, is India's most populous state. It is the heartland of Hindi, the principal indigenous language of India, and the official language of government.
The plains of Uttar Pradesh have always been a fertile land, nourished by the Ganges and its tributaries. Here you find the famous Taj Mahal and other great monuments of the Moghul era in India, as well as the holy Hindu city of Varanasi and the Buddhist stupas of Sarnath.
The ethereal marble masterpiece that is the Taj Mahal in is what first attracts tourists to Uttar Pradesh. Its perfect proportions and finely detailed pietra dura work leaves every single visitor spellbound. Agra's other monuments are often overshadowed by the glory of the Taj, but a trip to see the awe-inspiring red sandstone bastions of Agra Fort is worthwhile, not least for the views of the Taj Mahal in the distance.
is the geographical and commercial centre of the state, but it still retains much of its colonial heritage. The crumbling remains of the British Residency mark the site of the decisive battle of the Mutiny of 1857, and buildings like the Bara and Chhota Imambura stand testimony to the opulent and grandiose lifestyles of the erstwhile Nawabs.
Further south of Lucknow is the other commercially important city of . In the city's long 3000 year old history Allahabad has been significant for a variety of reasons. First and foremost as the site of the sangam (confluence) of 3 important Hindu rivers, later as an important Mughal stronghold and then during the Indian freedom struggle for the many political debates and meetings that were held in the Nehru residence of Anand Bhavan.
Downriver from Allahabad is the "city of light" - . Built along the banks of the deified River Ganga are the colourful ghats that lead down to the water. Varanasi is considered the home of Shiva and therefore is filled with temples and small shrines. The river and the old city on it's western bank is best appreciated during the rituals of bathing and worship in the early mornings, and during the aarti ceremony at dusk.
is a small village off the Delhi-Moradabad highway. The narrow road that leads to it is covered with lush green on both sides. Unchagaon's claim to fame is its impressive early 18th century fort. The fort is tucked away, and nto easily visible unless you are standing right in front of the entrance.