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Given its close proximity to India’s capital city of Delhi and being home to many of the nation’s largest tourist highlights, Uttar Pradesh is well and above the most traveled Indian state for visitors. Its definitive Indian flavor ranks Uttar Pradesh as a cultural hotspot for the nation and as a magnet for travelers. The city of Agra contains the stunning and magnificent tribute to timeless love, unequivocally the most beautiful building in the world, the Taj Mahal. FatehpurSikri, a spectacularly well preserved empire built from red sandstone in the 16th century, is an impressive and magnificent site steeped in history. Allahabad contains one of the pivotal pilgrimage centers in all of India, the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers with the legendary Saraswati River, ultimately the site of the Kumbh Mela, a celebration of epic proportions drawing tens of millions of devotees. Lucknow is known as the Constantinople of India and hosts Bara Imambara, a grand tomb that is one of the most colossal buildings in India. Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities and most definitely one of the holiest places in all of India. Known as the “City of Life”, Varanasi is a city that will leave a profound and indelible impression on the deepest reaches of your soul. If you want to explore the endless possibilities of India, Uttar Pradesh is the place to start.
Synonymous with this world-famous city is its stunning and magnificent tribute to timeless love, unequivocally the most beautiful building in the world, the TajMahal. Though it is complimented by a host of many other splendid examples of inspiring monuments, forts and religious sites, Agra is certainly one of the center attractions of India due to this iconic memorial. Located on the banks of the meandering Yamuna River, Agra was established in 1475 and immediately rose to greatness as a foundation for the Mughal Empire. Visitors are invited to take advantage of the wide array of spectacular sites in and around the city as part of their essential visit to the TajMahal.
Taj Mahal: Universally known as one of the most famous and recognizable structures in the world, the TajMahal is also blessed as one the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. Built by Mughal king Shah Jahan in the mid-17th century as an eternal monument to his beloved wife, MumtazMahal, this amazing white marble mausoleum took 20,000 workers 22 years to complete. Famously quoted as “a teardrop on the cheek of eternity”, the TajMahal is certainly a unique vision that never ceases to inspire all who view her as a magnificent tribute to the eternity of love. Guests will be awed by the graceful beauty of this magnificent monument and will marvel at the marble walls which are all covered in ornate patterns of inlayed precious and semi-precious stones.
Agra Fort: Built as a stronghold for the city, the Agra Fort stands impressively overlooking the meandering Yumuna River below. Notable features of the fort include the Moti Masjid (Pearl Mosque) and the Shish Mahal (Mirrored Palace). Visitors are invited to roam the grounds of the grand fort to share in the visions of pageantry and spectacle that accompanied 16thcentury life.
I’timad-Ud-Daulah’s Tomb: Though its official name can be a bit of a mouthful, visitors can also reach this site by referring to it as the Baby Taj. Often described as a jewel-box for its small size and fine detail, this mausoleum sits in a large garden setting that is criss-crossed with walkways and small waterways. Similar to the TajMahal, the walls of the Baby Taj are also encrusted with exquisite inlays of carnelian, jasper, lapis lazuli, onyx and topaz in dazzling displays of floral patterns.
Kinari Bazaar: While in Agra, don’t forget to take the time to stroll in the simpler destinations such as the local markets. A collective of many bazaars, the Kinari Bazaar is the typical bustling activity of shopping bundles and saris as throngs of local residents jockey through the crowded alleyways to perform their daily shopping duties. Even if you don’t have any purchases in mind, an hour or two of getting lost amid the teeming swarm of bodies can provide one with an energized spirit as well as a camera full of local color.
Akbar’s Tomb: Venturing outside of the city for a short distance can allow visitors to view this vast and beautifully carved red-ochre sandstone tomb honoring Emperor Akbar. Decorated with stone carvings of deer, rabbits and langur monkeys, this tomb is set amidst a lush garden.
Fatehpur Sikri: This spectacularly well preserved “ghost town” of a fortified city is located a short drive from Agra, yet should not to be missed. The Mughal Emperor Akbar built FatehpurSikri in 1569 as his capital, containing a stunning mosque and three palaces – Hindu, Muslim and Christian; one for each of his wives. The impressive and magnificent site reigned majestically for only 14 years, yet still appears to have been occupied just yesterday.
Known as both the “Golden City of the East” and the “Constantinople of India”, Lucknow is a charming metropolis situated in the heart of the great Gangetic Plain and surrounded by rural towns and villages. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow shows more evidence of the influence of the British Raj than most cities its size. Home of the Nawabs of the Awudh, this region has excelled in culinary excellence which it retains to this day.
The Residency: Witness the site of the 1857 Siege of Lucknow, a 147 day battle believed to be the first step in the end of British colonial rule. Built in 1800 to serve as the residence for the British Resident General, the compound has been maintained as it was at the time of the final battle. The walls of the ruined buildings are still scarred by bullet holes and cannon shot.
Bara Imambara: One of the most colossal buildings in the city, this grand structure is the enormous tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula. In addition to its vast interior burial chamber, the space above is a three-dimensional labyrinth with passages interconnecting with each other through 489 identical doorways; it is the only existing maze of its type in India. All visitors are well advised to bring a flashlight with new batteries, lest they risk not returning in a timely manner.
The place of an old forest where the Lord Krishna supposedly spent his childhood, here you will find hundreds of hindu temples those dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna. Vrindavan is an important Hindu pilgrimage site and prominent temples include the Madan Mohan Temple, the GarudGovind Temple, the BankeBihari Temple, the RadhaVallabh Temple and the Sri Radha Raman Mandir.