Referred to as the cow belt or the Hindi belt, Uttar Pradesh has been the most dominant state in Indian politics and culture since Independence. The Ganges which forms the backbone of the state, is considered sacred by Hindus, and has seven holy towns including Varansi, the holiest of the holies. Uttar Pradesh is also of importance to Buddhists; it was at Sarnath that Buddha first preached his message.
Most of Uttar Pradesh consists of the vast Ganges plain, an area which often floods during the monsoons. In stark contrast to the plains, the scenic north-western corner has hill stations which offers some of the best trekking opportunities. The main languages spoken here are Hindi, Urdu and English.
The highlights of Uttar Pradesh are the Taj Mahal, the Fatehpur Sikri, the ghats at Varanasi, the hill stations and the Corbett Tiger Reserve.
Lucknow, the capital city, is a city rich in culture and history. Built by the Nawabs, it's a city that takes its manners seriously. Here, the Bara Imambara, the Chota Imambara, the Residency and the Rumi Darwaza are the primary draws.
The city of Agra, home to the world-famous Taj Mahal, is a typically north Indian city. The Agra Fort a massive red sandstone structure, begun by Akbar was completed by his grandson Shah Jahan.Known for leather goods and jewelry, the Sadar Bazar is full of emporiums.
As for the Taj, this monument of love, is magical at dawn. Its gateway, long watercourse and minarets make it a thing of eternal beauty.
Mussoorie, Naintal, Ranikhet and Kasauni afford good getaways. Their scenic beauties and cool climate are a welcome respite from the sweltering heat of the plains.
Best time to visit: October to March