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Places to visit in Uttar Pradesh

Discussion in 'North India' started by Chandani, Apr 10, 2017.

  1. Chandani

    Chandani New Member

    Whenever I go Uttar Pradesh, the only places I visit is Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. I am sure there is a lot more to see in UP (Uttar Pradesh), especially lots of history but it is not advertised or popular as much.

    My next trip to Uttar Pradesh will be in September, and this time I want to visit other places other than Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.

    I would like members of the forum to provide me with some details of places to visit in Uttar Pradesh.

  2. briannagodess

    briannagodess Well-Known Member

    Hello, @Chandani, welcome to the forum!

    (Images from Jpatokal, Aditya, Explore My Tour, Anant and DC Kumar)


    What else do you know about Uttar Pradesh aside from being the most populous state in India or being home of the Taj Mahal? Once a stronghold for many empires, with the Mughals leading the pack, Uttar Pradesh is an important part of the country's history. There are many heritage sites that these rulers have left behind, giving one a glimpse of the strength and power of the bygone era. Because of its vast area, Uttar Pradesh is also surrounded by the most number of other states, a total of nine states surround the so-called Heartland of India. There are many more amazing facts that make Uttar Pradesh a must-visit destination in India. But setting that aside, you're about to find out the best places to visit when in Uttar Pradesh in this guide. So keep on reading and be enamoured by the beauty of this state that would surely keep you coming back for more.

    Best Places to Visit in Uttar Pradesh

    For that dose of heritage...

    1. Agra - Well, Agra certainly steals the top spot, being home to the only three UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the state. The timeless beauty of the Taj Mahal does not need any introductions at all. This attraction has perhaps put Uttar Pradesh and of course, Agra, on the high pedestal amongst the must visit places in India. Every mausoleum that you'd ever visit would soon become dismal once you have visited Shah Jahan's monument of love for Mumtaz Mahal. But Agra is more than just this iconic monument because as what has been mentioned, it is also home to other heritage sites. There's the Agra Fort, a 10th century fortification enhanced by Akbar and also added into by Shah Jahan. Palaces and mosques can be found inside the fort which are truly works of arts of the Mughal era too. Also worth visiting here is the Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, which was commissioned to be built by Noor Jahan for her father, Mirza Ghiyas Beg. This mausoleum was built even before the monument of love of Shah Jahan, which is why it is often nicknamed as the Baby Taj. What the former lacks in grandeur in the main tomb itself, the latter makes up for and it's certainly worth exploring the beautiful marble inlays in the form of geometric patterns and florals here. Finally, you also can't miss the Fatehpur Sikri, located about an hour away from the city centre. This fortified city was once the capital of Akbar, but was abandoned years after due to water scarcity issues. Much of the structures here have remained intact and they boast of a unique blend of Persian, Hindu and Islamic styles of architecture.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah and Fatehpur Sikri
    2. Lucknow - The capital of the state is also included in this list, Lucknow, which is popularly known as the City of the Nawabs. For the foodies though, Lucknow is best known as then City of the Kebabs. Both titles fit the city though, once being a regal city, home of the opulent Nawab dynasty and now being a foodie's paradise, renowned for its sumptuous kebabs. The Bara Imambara is the city's prime attraction, built by Nawab Asaf Ud Daula during the 18th century. This not a mosque nor a mausoleum, but rather a gathering place for Muslims during special events. What's impressive about the structure is that it was built without any pillars or supporting columns, thus believed to be the largest hall in the world to be of such unique feature. Within the imambara is the Bhool Bhulayia, an impressive labyrinths of pathways and doorways, almost like a maze that was built to support the weight of the roof. Lesser known imambaras such as the Chhota Imambara, famed for its pond reflecting the structure, and Shah Najaf Imambara, perhaps the least known but boasts of an amazing view of the skyline of the city, are also worth visiting. A reminder of the 1857 Siege of Lucknow is the British Residency, which has mostly been left in ruins, adding to the gruesome but patriotic effect of the attraction. Yes, this was the site of the very first struggle for independence, the so-called Indian Rebellion. Still have time to spare? Explore the Dilkusha Kothi Palace, an 18th century palace built by the British in the city of Lucknow. However, its importance is that it was also a part of the Siege of Lucknow and as some scholars point out, the place where Sir Henry Havelock died during the battle. The Kaiserbagh Palace was once a beautiful structure built by Emperor Wajid Ali Shah, boasting of mainly Persian architectural style. It was, again, destroyed during the war for independence and many of its structures are already in ruins. It takes a little bit of imagination to understand the glory that one enveloped the palace. At the end of the day, make your way to the Dr. Ambedkar Park, which is a new attraction of the city. Marble flooring, opulent elephant statues, these are just some of the features of the park that make it a unique attraction of the city.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Bara Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Shah Najaf Imambara, British Residency, Dilkusha Kothi Palace, Kaiserbagh Palace and Dr. Ambedkar Park
    British Residency in Lucknow (Image from Vaibhav)

    Enriching your spiritual side...

    3. Mathura - Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, is another must-visit place in Uttar Pradesh. This is a sacred place especially for the devout Hindus who make it a point to visit the Shri Krishna Janmasthan at least once in their lives. As you might know, Lord Krishna was born in this exact location where the temple is located. This was also the place where Lord Krishna's parents, Devaki and Vasudeva, were imprisoned by his uncle, Kansa, who would later be played by Vishnu's avatar. This is a beautiful albeit crowded temple that would surely invoke the spiritual side in you. The vibrant Dwarkadhish Temple is also worth visiting, also dedicated to Lord Krishna. Its location amidst the Yamuna River means that you have to ride a boat to reach it which only adds to the spiritual vibe. On the other hand, if you truly want to the make the most of your visit in Mathura, then venture into the Govardhan Hill. You can do a parikrama or circumambulation here to pay your obeisance to the Lord Krishna. Many devotees do the pilgrimage by foot, but it is also acceptable to do it by car, especially for the elderly. There are many ghats around the Yamuna River here as well but the Vishram Ghat is considered as one of the most auspicious. Evening aartis take place here which can witness or take part in if you'd like. Also worth visiting is the Rangji Temple, dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a form of Vishnu. What's interesting is that the temple has a South India style of architecture, from the striking gopuram filled Hindu carvings and up to the richly ornamented pillars on the interiors. The truth is, there are lots of attractions, mostly temples, in Mathura that are worth visiting that even with a week's time, you might not even cover all of them. So take your pick and relish in the serenity of the home of Lord Krishna.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Shri Krishna Janmasthan, Dwarkadhish Temple, Govardhan Hill, Vishram Ghat and Rangji Temple
    4. Varanasi - Of course, this list won't be complete without Varanasi, the home of the Ganges River. In a way, Varanasi is a treat to the soul, a place where you can see the true nature of Hindu spirituality. It can be a bit chaotic so pack lots of courage and patience but nonetheless, a trip to this city would be forever etched in your memory. The heart of the city is the river and numerous ghats surround it, as Hindus believe that a dip here or even being cremated here can cleanse their souls of sins. The Dasaswamedh Ghat is perhaps the most famed ghat here, as the evening aartis occur here. In mythology, it is deemed important because this was where Lord Brahma sacrificed 10 horses to lift the banishment of Lord Shiva. In contrast, the Manikarnika Ghat is a Hindu cremation ghat, where mortal remains are burned in a pyre. For Hindus, being cremated here means that they would attain salvation, also known as moksha, and would finally be free from the cycle of life. The Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva and held by high regard by many devotees. Its pure golden facade is sure to entice you, despite the crowds and strict security checkpoints. The nearby New Vishwanath Temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva but was built at a later time. It also has a pure white facade, instead of gold, with a high tower that truly is visible from any point of the city. Other temples worth visiting are the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and Durga Temple. Finally, about 13 kilometres away from Varanasi is Sarnath, the divine place where Lord Buddha first delivered his sermon after attaining enlightenment. Though very simple, there are structures here that truly enhance your spiritual experience, like stupas, a Buddhist temple and museum.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, New Vishwanath Temple, Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, Durga Temple and Sarnath
    Varanasi (Image from Patrick)

    Wildlife spotting...

    5. Dudhwa National Park - With its dense sal forests and various open grasslands, the Dudhwa National Park is often touted as the last terai ecosystem in India. It's such a shame that it isn't as popular as Ranthambore or Corbett even if it has the same features to make it renowned. In a way, this has also helped in preserving the natural beauty of the wildlife reserve. During the late 20th century, the Dudhwa National Park became a part of the Rhino Rehabilitation Project of the Government of India. So from the Kaziranga National Park came some one-horned rhinoceroses that were transferred to the Dudhwa National Park. As of now, over 30 one-horned rhinoceroses reside in the latter. The vulnerable species of deers, the barasinghas, also reside in huge numbers here, estimated to be half of the world's population of this species. Other animals present in the national park are royal Bengal tigers, sambars, barking deers, wild boars, rhesus monkeys and sloth bears. You can opt for either a jeep safari or elephant safari, both are adventurous and can take you to the deeper parts of the forests. You can also rent the forest guest house within the park premises for a more rustic wildlife experience. Alternatively, there are also plenty of hotels within five kilometres away from the entrance of the park that you can stay in.
    • Must Spot Animals - One-Horned Rhinos, Barasinghas, Royal Bengal Tigers, Sambars, Barking Deers, Wild Boars, Rhesus Monkeys and Sloth Bears
    6. National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary - The National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary is a riverine sanctuary spread across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In Uttar Pradesh, the entrance for the sanctuary is at Pinahat, which is around 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Agra. As the name suggests, the sanctuary provides protection for the Chambal River and all the wildlife residing in it. Did you know that three endangered species of animals reside here? First is the gharial crocodile, one of the three native species of crocodiles in India. As of now, their numbers have dwindled to the low 200's and the sanctuary is one of the few places that they can be found in India. The critically endangered red-crowned roofed turtle also resides here though very hard to spot. In total, the number of these turtles are at the low 400's worldwide and this sanctuary helps preserve the remaining number of these turtles in the wild. The last specie is the Ganges river dolphin, which is considered as the national aquatic animal of India. Unfortunately, their numbers are also dwindling and they are only found in some rivers of India and Bangladesh. The surrounding forests of the sanctuary are home to sambars, Indian grey mongooses, rhesus macaques and many more animals. The best way of exploring the sanctuary is via boat safari, where you have higher chances of spotting the endangered wildlife of the premises.
    • Must Spot Animals - Gharial Crocodile, Red-Crowned Roofed Turtle, Ganges River Dolphin, Sambars, Indian Grey Mongooses, Rhesus Macaques and More
    Mugger Crocodile in National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary (Image from Arjun)

    Scenic nature getaways...

    7. Mirzapur - Uttar Pradesh might not be as known for its natural attractions but it has its fair shares of natural places that one can explore. For instance, there's Mirzapur, a heavenly place surrounded by hills on its sides. Mirzapur might as well be named as the City of Waterfalls, since it is home to quite a few stunning ones. About 30 minutes away from the city centre is the Wyndham Waterfalls. This is a small but picturesque waterfall that becomes alive during monsoon season. Next is the Lakhaniya Dari Waterfall, which is about two hours away from the city centre. This waterfall requires a bit of trekking to reach, about two kilometres of walking through the river and rocky paths which are all worth it. The main waterfall falls at a height of about 150 metres through a straight path. The pool formed below is very clean so you can indulge in swimming. Trekking here is banned though during monsoons because of the extreme force of the waterfall. Last is the Siddhanath Ki Dari Waterfalls, an interesting waterfall in the region because aside from its natural beauty, it has a hidden side that you need to explore. Beside the majestic waterfalls are ancient rock carvings that were traced to be of the pre-historic era. There are many more places that one can explore in Mirzapur but for those purely interested in nature, these are your best attractions.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Wyndham Waterfalls, Lakhaniya Dari Waterfall and Siddhanath Ki Dari Waterfalls
    • Related Thread - n/a
    8. Chitrakoot - Next we have Chitrakoot, one of the lesser populated districts of Uttar Pradesh. It is best known for the Gupt Godavari Caves, which are two caves located side by side. The first cave is high and wide, which has its origin in the epic, Ramayana. It is easy to reach the inside of this cave and spot the natural rock formations around. At the far end of cave is the thrones believed to be the thrones used by Lakshman and Rama when they used to hold court in this region. What's more, there's a small pond here, of which the source is not known because it doesn't have any streams or water canals leading to it. The second cave is narrow and has an interesting knee-deep water inside it. Only one person can enter this cave at a time which all the more makes the experience thrilling. The Sphatik Shila is a large foot impression of Rama but what makes it a nature getaway is the surrounding greenery and the Mandakini River nearby. For most Hindus, Kamadgiri Hill is an important destination as this was the place where Rama and Sita resided during their exile. But the picturesque beauty of this bow-shaped mountain also attracts the nature lovers because of its enveloping verdant greenery.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Gupt Godavari Caves, Sphatik Shila and Kamadgiri Hill
    Gupt Godavari Caves in Chitrakoot (Image from Mouth Shut)

    Offbeat places...

    9. Robertsganj - Onto the unknown destinations around Uttar Pradesh starting with Robertsganj. This little known town is home to a number of historically important attractions. First is the Salkhan Fossils Park, which contains important geologic evidences from the Mesoproterozoic era, which simply means of about 1,600 million years ago! This fossil park is often compared to the Yellowstone Fossil Park of the United States of America. But the reality is that this is the oldest collection of excavated fossils in the world. Fossils of stromatolites and algae were excavated in the region. Next we have the Panchmukhi Rock Shelters, located a bit further from the centre of the town. You can find the rock shelters off a hillock in the Robertsganj Churk Road. There's an ancient Shiva temple here, around a few minutes from which are the rock shelters with prehistoric carvings. The carvings range from animals, camels, rhinos, pigs and more, to deities, to tribal events and basically, just the lives of the people who used to live in them back then. You can also visit the nearby Lekhania Rock Shelters which boast of the same rock carvings. Truly a place that can take you to ancient times, Robertsganj should be at the itinerary of every offbeat traveller.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Salkhan Fossils Park, Panchmukhi Rock Shelters and Lekhania Rock Shelters
    • Related Thread - n/a
    10. Kalinjar - Last on this list is Kalinjar, a little known town near the border of Madhya Pradesh with Uttar Pradesh. It is, in fact, a short distance from the Khajuraho Group of Monuments, which is why this heritage site seems to be hidden under the shadow of the famed monument of Madhya Pradesh. Kalinjar Fort was once the home of the Chandela dynasty and even when it was conquered by several dynasties other than them, they would thereafter fall to the same rulers. Perhaps the fort is famed for the tragic death of Sher Shah Suri, who died amidst the siege of the fort. The story goes that the ruler ordered for the establishment of a high tower to easily observe the fort. Once done, the ruler climbed the tower and ordered for rockets to be fired upon the fort. Unfortunately, one of these rockets rebounded amidst the fort walls and fell into the lower part of the tower were the ruler was standing. The backfire caused for the severe burns of the ruler and although they successfully claimed the fort, he died just shortly after. Now, the Kalinjar Fort stands in ruins and the mightiness of the fort might be hard to imagine. But just looking back at the stories of the past rulers who had a hard time capturing the fort can provoke your imagination. The fort is magnificent in that it mimics the natural slope of the hillock where it is located. The assaults on the fort are evident and the passage of time has also lent its hands in making it look a bit worn off. The Neelkanth Temple here though still exudes spirituality, especially with the statues of deities including the main deity Lord Shiva, patronised as Lord Neelkanth here.
    • Must Visit Attractions - Kalinjar Fort and Neelkanth Temple
    • Related Thread - n/a
    Kalinjar Fort (Image from Sandeep)


    So there you have it, some of the best places to visit when in Uttar Pradesh. A state with such an interesting past, accentuated by the numerous heritage sites that you can find here. A state with wonderful spiritual places that can truly let you understand the devotion and unending loyalty of the locals to Hinduism. A state that despite the modern times, still is able to hold on to its beautiful natural attractions and wildlife destinations. And finally, a place that marvels in its hidden destinations, places that would make you appreciate India even more.

    I hope this helps you!:)