Inside Uttar Pradesh

Inside Uttar Pradesh

UTTAR PRADESH

Uttar Pradesh in northern India is a state with the highest population. The capital city is Lucknow. The main language spoken here is Hindi. It is one of the great historical and religious centres of India. The Ganges river, which is the backbone of UP, is sacred for Hindus, the main population, and along the river are places of pilgrimage which are of great importance. Two thousand years ago, the state was part of Emperor Ashoka's great empire. In later era, it was part of the Moghul empire and for some time, Agra was its capital. Agra is famous for the Taj Mahal - one of the perfect Moghul masterpieces. It was in UP that the first war of Indian Independence broke out in 1857. UP has been the home state of many of India's prime ministers - Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Indira Gandhi, Charan Singh and Rajiv Gandhi.

With the largest population among Indian states, UP is politically, geographically and ethnically very important to India. In fact, quite often, Indian political system is swayed and decided by the ethos and pathos of the people of UP.

Most of the state consists of the vast Ganges plain, which is prone to destructive floods in monsoon. People of this region are backward. The north-west region of the state is part of the Himalayas, with beautiful seenary and some of India's highest mountains.

The main crops grown here are: paddy, wheat, barley, bajra, cotton, oilseeds, groundnut, sugarcane, tea" etc. It is famous for handicrafts arid bidriware.

Uttar Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Ltd.

Chitrahar Building, 3-Naval Kishore Road,. Lucknow-226 001. Ph: 228349

Lucknow: Lucknow is the capital of UP. It was the capital city of the Nawabs of Oudh during the mid-eighteenth century. These rulers controlled a region of north central India for about a century after the decline of the Moghul empire. Safdar Jang, the second Nawab lived and ruled from Delhi and his tomb is a familiar landmark. The last of the Nawabs-Wajid All Shah - was pensioned off by the Britishers for his incompetence and exiled in Calcutta.

The historic monuments are in the north-eastern part of the old city around the Chowk area. While Aminabad is the shopping area, Hazratganj is the fashionable area.

The Great Imambara was built in 1784 by Aeaf-ud-Daula, It has a central hall which is 50 metres long and 15 metres high and is one of the largest vaulted galleries in the world. Beneath it are many under- ground passages which are now blocked up. The upper floor, known as the Bhulbhulaiya,' is a labyrinth. From the top, one can take a fine view of the city and the Aurangzeb Mosque. In the courtyard is a 'bottomless' well Beside the Great Imambara, is the Rumi Darwaza built by Asaf-ud-Daula which is a gate exquisitely designed and a replica of the one in Istanbul The Husainabad Imambara or small Imambara was built by Muhammad All Shah in 1837 to serve as his own mausoleum. The large court- yard encloses a raised rectangular tank with small imitations of the Taj Mahal. The main building of the Imambara is topped' with numerous domes and minarets. The main dome is golden. In- side, are the tombs of All Shah and his mother. The Nawab's silver-covered throne is also on display here.

The 67-metre high clock tower and the Husainabad tank are opposite the Husainabad Imambara. The clock tower was built between 1880 and 1887. Near the tank is the baradari or summer house, built by Ali Shah. It now houses portraits of the various Nawabs of Oudh. The Jami Masjid is to the west of the Husainabad Imambara. It is not open to non-Muslims. The Residency built in 1800 for the British resident is maintained even today in the same condition as it was during the siege in 1857 when the first war of Indian Independence started. British inhabitants of Lucknow took refuge in the Residency during the outbreak of the mutiny. The Residency was besieged for 87 days. The shattered walls are still scarred by cannon shots and the cemetery at the nearby ruined Church has the graves of 2,000 men, women and children who died during the siege. The Residency was opened in 1957 exactly 100 years after the mutiny. There is a model here which depicts the positions during the siege.

Aurangzeb's Mosque now stands on Lakshman Tila which was the original site of Luck- now town. The Shah Najaf Imambara is the tomb of Ghazi-ud-di Haidar Khan, who died in 1827. The domed exterior is plain, but inside are chandeliers. It is said that the dome was originally covered with gold. It had many valuable items, but during the mutiny, many of them were looted.

Fairs & Festivals:

The 10-day festival of Nostalgia, called Lucknow festival provides an insight into the old, cultured, atmosphere of the city. Held in February every year, one can witness processions, plays, Kathak dances, ghazal and sitar performances, kite flying, cock fighting, etc. Lucknow is a good place to witness the "Muharram" celebrations.

Things to buy:

Attar (traditional perfume), Pigeons (for pigeon keepers) handicrafts to chikam (hand woven embroidery) etc.

How to get there:

Air: Flights operate from Lucknow to Delhi, Patna, Calcutta, Varanasi, Bombay, & Kanpur,

Bus: Buses operate to important towns like Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, Agra, Delhi Gorakhpur, Sumauti, Farizabad and Naini Tal.

Train: Trains connect Lucknow with important towns like Kanpur, Delhi, Gorakhpur, Bombay, Calcutta, New Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling, Allahabad, Farizabad, Varanasi, Agra, Dehra Dun, Hardwar, Kath- gadam, Naini Tal, etc.

Mathura: Mathura is on the Delhi-Agra road, 134 kms. away from Delhi and 37 kms. north of Agra. Legend has it that Lord Krishna was born here 3,500 years ago. It is an important pilgrimage centre for Hindus as there are many places in and around Mathura connected with the Krishna legend. Mahmud of Ghazni from Afghanistan invaded Mathura in 1017 and destroyed and looted many temples and Buddhist monasteries here. Sikandar Lodi did further damage to the shrines of Mathura in 1500. But the town flourished again during the rule of Akbar and Jehangir, only to be demolished by Aurangzeb again. He destroyed the Kesava Deo temple and built a Mosque in its place - the Jami Masjid-in 1661. This is the place where Lord Krishna is supposed to have been born in prison. The modem Kesava temple has been rebuilt behind the Katra.

The Yamuna river which flows through Mathura, is lined with bathing ghats and is full of large turtles. The Sati Burj is a four-storey tower built in 1570 on the banks of the river to commemorate the "sati" of the builder's mother. Jai Singh of Jaipur had built one of his observatories here, but it has since disappeared. The most important bathing ghat here is the Vishram Ghat where Lord Krishna is said to have rested after killing a tyrant king. Mathura is also the headquarters of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Mathura is so full of Lord Krishna reminders that almost every other building is a temple for Lord Krishna. The Potara-Kund near the Katra Kesava is the, place where nappies of Lord Krishna, when he was a baby, were said to have been washed.

The Government Museum in Dampier Nagar has sculptures, terracotta work, coins and bronze objects dating back to the fifth century AD. The standing Buddha image recovered during excavations at Mathura is particularly renowned. The Dwarakadeesh temple in the city is a modern Krishna temple and is on the Mathura-Vrindavan road.

Mahaban which is 11 kms. from Mathura, is another place from Krishna's legend. The Palace of Nanda, Krishna's foster-father, is said to contain Krishna's actual cradle. Gokul, a few kms. away, is where Krishna was secretly brought up. Lots of devotees come here during Krishna Janmashtami in July / August.

Twenty six kms. away from Mathura is Goverdhan, where Lord Krishna is said to have protected the inhabitants from the rain god's fury by holding the hilltops over them for a week, by balancing them on his finger. Krishna's favourite Gopi, Radha, is said to have come from Barsana, 47 kms. away from Mathura. Vrindavan, which is 10 kms. away from Mathura, is the place where Lord Krishna sported with the milk-maids and hid their clothes while they were bathing in the river. The Govind Dev Temple was built in 1590 and has a vaulted ceiling in contrast with the utilitarian ceilings found in most temples. There are other temples here - the Gopi Nath temple, the Jugal Kishor temple, Radha Baliabh temple and the Madan Mohan temple.

How to get there:

Steam trains ply to Vrindavan every day on the metre gauge.

Agra: Agra was the capital of India during the time of Moghuls in the 16th and 17th centuries. Situated on the west bank of the Yamuna river, 204 kms. south of Delhi, Agra has superb monuments left behind by the Moghul rulers. The Taj Mahal and the magnificent fort are testimony to this. Agra be- came the capital of Sikandar Lodi in 1501, but was soon passed on to the Moghuls. It was under Akbar the Great that Agra first ascended to its heights of magnificence. From 1570 to 1585, he ruled from. nearby Fatehpur Sikri. Shah Jahan is the name associated with Agra. he built the Jarni Masjid, most of the palace buildings inside the Agra Fort and the Taj Mahal. Between 1638 and 1650, he built the Red Fort and Jami Masjid in Delhi. In 1761, Agra fell to the Jats who did much damage to the city and its monuments. In 1770, it was taken over by the Marathas and later, in 1803, passed on to the British.

Govt. of India Tourist office, 191, The Mall, Agra-282 001. Ph: 363377.

Orientation:

Distant 200 km. from Delhi, Agra is on the West Bank of the Yamuna River. Agra's main railway station is Agra Cantt. Agra has an airport, 7 km out of town.

Taj Mahal is the most famous of the Moghul monuments constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It has been described as the most extravagant monument ever built for love. The emperor who was heart-broken when his wife died during child-birth in 1629 after having been married to him for 17 years, started construction, of the Taj, as a memorial to his love for her, in 1632 and the work was completed in 1653.

Over 20,000 people were recruited for work on this monument, not only from all over India, but also from Central Asia. Experts were even brought from Europe. The main architect was Isa Khan who came from Shiraz in Iran. Shah Jahan was deposed by his son Aurangzeb and had to spend his last days in prison at the Agra Fort overlooking the Taj, the final resting place of his favourite wife.

The Taj Mahal stands on a raised marble platform with tall white minarets at each comer of the platform. The central structure has four small domes surrounding the huge central dome. The tombs of Mamtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are in a basement room. Light is let into the central chamber reflected through finely cut marble screens. The echo in this high chamber under the marble dome is superb. In the close-up detail which is astounding, one can see that semi-precious stones are inlaid into the marble in beautiful patterns and with great craftsmanship.

A thing of beauty is a joy forever, indeed!

The Taj Mahal looks different in different shades of lights. In the morning, it is different looking than just before sunset. Its appearance changes with the sunlight. The Taj is beautifully reflected in the lake in front of it.

Conducted tours:

Agra city tours and tours to Fatehpur Sikri (alone) are avail- able every day.

Things to buy:

Leather goods, jewellery marble items, etc.

How to get there:

Air: Agra is connected with Delhi, Khajuraho and Varanasi

Bus: Agra is connected with important cities and towns, like Delhi, Jaipur, Khajuraho, Jhansi, etc.

Train: Trains connect Agra with Varanasi, Delhi, Bombay, Madras, Trivandrum, Jaipur, Bharatpur, Jodhpur, Ajmer, etc.

Emperor Akbar commenced the construction of the massive Agra Fort in 1565, and additions were made through to the time of his grandson, Shah Jahan. During Akbar's time, the fort was principally a military structure. But, by the time of Shah Jahan, the emphasis had shifted and the fort had partially become a palace. Many of the events which led to the construction of the Taj, took place here. The fort is on the banks of the Yamuna river. There are many fascinating buildings inside the massive 20-metre walls which stretch for 2.5 kms surrounded by a 10- metre wide moat.

Moti Masjid or Pearl Mosque, was built by Shah Jahan between 1646 and 1653. The Mosque, constructed in marble, is perfectly proportioned and the courtyard is surrounded by arcaded cloisters and a marble-built tank is in the centre.

The Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public audiences was also built by Shah Jahan. The throne here is inlaid with intricate marble work. Beside this is the Nagina Masjid and the ladies bazaar where merchants came to display and sell goods to the ladies of the Moghul court.

Diwan-i-Khas or the Hall of Private Audiences, was also built by Shah Jahan in 1636. He used to meet important dignitaries and foreign ambassadors here. The famous peacock throne was kept here before being moved to Delhi by Aurangzeb. It was later carried off to Iran and its remains are now in Teheran.

The Musamman Burg or Octagonal Tower is close to the Diwan-i- Khas, This too was built by Shah Jahan for Mumtaz Mahal. It is yet another of his finely-d.esigned buildings. It was here that Shah J ahan died during his imprisonment.

The largest private residence in the Agra Fort is the Jehangir' s Palace which was built by Akbar for his son. It is an interesting blend of Hindu and central Asian architectural styles.

The Khas Mahal is a beautiful white marble structure. The rooms underneath it were in- tended as a cool retreat in the summer heat. The Shish Mahal was the harem dressing room and its walls are inlaid with tiny mirrors.

Itmad-ud-daulah is the tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg. His daughter married Emperor Jehangir and became known as Nur Jahan. She constructed this tomb between 1622 and 1628. The Itmad-ud-daulah was the first Moghul structure constructed totally of marble and the first to make extensive use of inlay work of marble. The beautifully patterned surface of the tomb is superb.

The Ram Bagh gardens were laid out in 1528 by Babar, the first Moghul emperor and is the earliest of Moghul gardens. It is said that Babar was temporarily buried here before being interred at Kabul in Afghanistan. But now, the garden is neglected.

Ten kms. to north of Agra is Sikandra where the tomb of Akbar lies in the centre of a large garden. Akbar commenced its construction, but it was completed by his son, Jehangir in 1613. It is built of red sandstone inlaid with white marble polygonal patterns. Four red sandstone gates lead to the tomb-one is Muslim, one Hindu, one Christian and the other is Akbar s own patent - the Din Ilahi, a mixture of all religions. In the gardens of the tomb is the Baradi Palace which was built by Sikander Lodi who ruled here just preceding the Moghul period.

Fathepur Sikri: This was the capital city of the Moghul empire from 1570 to 1586 during Akbar s reign. It is 40 kms. to the west of Agra. Today, it is a perfectly preserved Moghul city at the height of Moghul empire's splendour. Legend has it that Akbar was without a male heir and made a pilgrimage to this spot to see the saint Shaikh Salim Christi. With his blessings, he got a son and then transferred his capital city here. But, later on, it was abandoned due to problems of water supply. Akbar's famous courtiers, Birbal and Raja Todarmal, had their houses here.

The deserted city is along the top of a ridge, the modern village, with its bus stand and railway station is down the ridge's southern side.

The Jami Masjid in Fatehpur Sikri is a beautiful construction having the elements of Persian and Hindu design and is said to be a replica of the Mosque at Mecca. The main gate or Bulund Darwaza which is 45 metres high, was constructed to commemorate Akbar s victory in South India. An inscription inside the archway reads: "The world is a bridge, pass over it, but build no house upon it. He who hopes for an hour, may hope for eternity". The tomb of Shaikh Salim Christi is inside the Mosque surrounded by marble lattice screens. Even to this day, childless women visit his tomb, believing to beget children just as Akbar did for a son four centuries ago.

Near the Mosque, is the Palace of Jodh Bai, named after Jehangir's wife. The architecture here is a blend of styles with Hindu columns and Muslim cupolas. Birbal Bhavan is a small palace which is very elegant in its design. Birbal was noted for his wit and wisdom. Nearby, is Miriam's House used by Jehangir's mother and it was gilded throughout. The Panch Mahal is a five-storey palace which was used for storing records. It is also said that Akbar used to play "hide and seek" here with the ladies of his harem. The name, Ankh Michauli, translated- into English, means "hide and seek". The Diwan-i-Khas and Diwan- i-Am - the Hall of Private Audience and Hall of Public Audience, respectively, are still well preserved.

How to get there:

Bus: Buses ply to Fatehpur Sikri from Agra.

Aligarh: Aligarh is famous today for the Aligarh Muslim University where Muslim students come from all over the world. It has had a chequered history. It was formerly known as Koil. Originally, it was under Moghul rule. After the death of Aurangzeb, it was under the Afghans, Jats, Marathas, Rohillas and finally in 1803, it came under the British. There are Buddhist and Hindu temples of great antiquity here. There is a fort also, built in 1524.

At Sankasya, there is a mound with a stupa atop, which marks the spot where the Buddha is said to have descended from heavens after preaching his mother. Kanauj, which was once a mighty Hindu city under the rule of Harshavardhana, was neglected after raids by Mah- mud of Ghazni. It was here that Sher Shah defeated Humayun. At Etawah, there is a ruined fort, Jami Masjid and some bathing ghats on the river bank.

Rampur was formerly the capital city of Rohilla state. The State Library here has an important collection of old manuscripts and is housed in a fine building in the old fort. There are also some ancient miniature art pieces here. The bazaars around the palace are interesting.

Kanpur: Kanpur is mainly an industrial town. It is also called 'The Manchester of India'. The All Souls Memorial Church, built in 1875, has some moving reminders of the tragic events which took place here during the Mutiny of 1857.

How to get there:

Air: Flights operate to Delhi and Lucknow from Kanpur.

Train: Trains connect Kanpur with Delhi, Calcutta, Agra, Allahabad, Bombay, Varanasi, Lucknow etc.

Bus: Buses connect all important towns with Kanpur.

Allahabad: Allahabad is an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. The city is at the confluence of two of India's most important rivers - the Ganges and the Yamuna. The meeting point of these rivers is Sangam, where it is believed, a dip has great sin-washing powers; also, the invisible Saraswati river is supposed to join the Ganges and the Yamuna here. There is also an historic fort built here by Akbar which overlooks the Sangam. This city was earlier known as Prayag. It is believed that lord Brahma had performed a sacrifice here.

Orientation:

Allahabad is less congested than Varanasi. The main bus station and shopping area are to be found in the civil lines area. The older part of the town is to be found near the Yamuna river.

The Nehru family's home, Anand Bhavan, is located here and is open to the public. In 1858, the East India Company handed over control of India to the British Government at Allahabad after the Mutiny of 1857. The old city of Allahabad is congested, but the Civil Lines area is well planned with broad avenues and shopping centres and restaurants.

During January/February, the annual holy dip festival takes place at Sangam. The festival, known as Magh Mela, attracts lakhs of pilgrims from all over for a holy dip. Once in 12 years, the Magh Mela is known as Kumbh Mela and during this time, millions of pilgrims descend on this city. Usually, during the Kumbh Mela, because of the very large gathering of devotees, many accidents take place here and a stampede appears to be in- evitable in spite of very good arrangements.

The fort here, built by Akbar in 1583, has massive walls and pillars with gateways flanked by high towers. It looks impressive when viewed from the Sangam.

Inside the fort is a 10.6 metre-high Ashoka pillar of polished sandstone dating back to 232 Be. It was found in 1837 and set up in its present location. Ashoka's edicts are in- scribed on it and there is also another later inscription regarding the victories of Samudra Gupta. The Akshai Vat or the "Undying tree" is also located inside the fort. It is said that many pilgrims sacrificed their lives by leaping from the top of this Banyan tree 'to attain salvation'.

Anand Bhavan was the Nehru family home and was made over to the government by Nehru's heirs in 1970. Here are exhibited, many personal articles connected with the life of the three generations of the Nehru family. It is a two-storey mansion with a large garden.

Khusru Bagh is a garden which contains the tomb of Prince Khusru, who was executed by his father Jehangir. It also contains the tomb of his mother who committed suicide over his death.

The Allahabad Museum has a collection of Rajasthani miniatures and terracotta figures. Roerich paintings are also exhibited here.

How to get there:

Bus: Buses connect Allahabad with all important towns like Varanasi, Lucknow, Jhansi, etc.

Train: Trains operate to all important cities and towns, like Varanasi, Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Lucknow, etc.

Eighteen kms. from Allahabad is Bhita where, excavations have revealed articles dating back from the Gupta period to the Mauryan period. There is a museum here with stone and metal seals, coins from various kingdoms of the time and terracotta statues, figures, various utensils and personal possessions.

Fifty kms. from Allahabad, is Garwha where there are ancient temples. The major temple here has 16 beautifully carved stone pillars. Inscriptions here reveal that these temples date back to the Gupta period (350 AD) at least. Kausambi, which is 63 kms. away from Allahabad, is an ancient Buddhist centre. There is a huge fortress here. Once upon a time, it was the capital city of king Udaya, a contemporary of Buddha.

Faizabad, which was once the capital of Oudh, has a very fine mausoleum built for Bahu Begum. Her husband's mausoleum is also here and the gardens around it are pleasant.

How to get there:

Train: Trains connect Farizabad with Varanasi & Lucknow.

Bus: Buses from Faizabad ply to Allahabad, Lucknow, Gorakpur, Ayodhya, etc.

Ayodhya is the place where Lord Sri Rama was born and it is just six kms. away from Faizabad. There are many picturesque temples and bathing ghats here on the banks of the Gogra river. There are also some Buddhist temples here.

How to get there:

Buses ply regularly from Farizabad to Ayodhya.

At Jaunpur, there are many mosques built during the 13th and 14th centuries. They are notable for their two-storey arcades and large gateways and unusual minarets. Feroz Shah Tughlaq's fort, built in 1360 AD. is worth visiting here.

The famous temple of Gorkanath is at Gorakhpur. Fifty five kms. away from Gorakhpur, is Kushinagar, which is supposed to be the site of Buddha's death and cremation. There are many Buddhist buildings here with images of Buddha. Lumbini in Nepal on the border, was the birth place of the Buddha. A visa has to be obtained to go to Lumbini.

Varanasi: It is situated along the west bank of the Ganges. It is one of the most important pilgrimage centres in India for Hindus. It is also a major tourist attraction. It has been a centre of learning and civilization for over 2,000 years. It is also known as Banaras. Ten kms. away from here, is Sarnath where the Buddha first preached his message of enlightenment 2,500 years ago. From the 11th century on- wards, Muslim invaders started destroying the temples and looting their wealth. Tulsi Das, the famous poet who wrote Ramayan in Hindi, belonged to this city. Even today, Varanasi is the centre of learning for Sanskrit scholars. Hindus consider it auspicious to meet their end here. It is believed that one will attain salvation if one's life ends here.

The string of bathing ghats on the west bank of the Ganges is the principal attraction of Varanasi. There are over 100 ghats here. The bathing ghats and the burning ghats are separately situated. It is believed that a dip in the bathing ghats here, cleanses one of all sins. At the burning ghats, bodies are cremated. Some of these ghats are owned by former princely rulers. The ghats here are divided caste- wise. The Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the important ghats here. It is said that Lord Brah- ma sacrificed 10 horses here. Hence the name. Raja Jai Singh constructed an observatory here, though it is not as good as the ones in Delhi and Jaipur. Some of the important ghats here are: Asi Ghat, Barnasan- gam, Panchaganga, Bachraj, Dandi, Hanuman, Trilochan, Raja Ram Ghats and Chanandpaduka Ghat. Above the Panchaganga Ghat, is the Alamgir Mosque constructed by Aurangzeb over a Vishnu temple. The Golden Temple is dedicated to Lord Viswanath and was built in 1776 by Ahalya Bai of Indore. It has gold-plated towers which were provided by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore. Next to the temple, is Gyan Kupa or the 'well of knowledge'. It is said to contain the Shiva Linga, which was removed from the Golden Temple and hidden to prevent it from being destroyed by Aurangzeb.

The 18th century Durg temple was built by a Bengali Maharani and is stained red with ochre. This is one of the best known temples in Varanasi, and during festivals, goats are sacrificed here.

Next to the Durga temple is the Tulsi Manas temple, built of marble in 1964. On its walls are inscribed verses and scenes from the Ramayana. The temple, though modernized in 1964, existed even during the time of Tulsi Das who wrote the Ramayan here in 1623 in Hindi. On the second floor of the temple, are "performing statues" enacting scenes from Hindu mythology.

One km. away from the Durga temple is the Banaras Hindu University. It was founded by Pandit Malaviya at the beginning of the century and serves as e. centre of education in Indian are, culture, music and study of Sanskrit. The Bharat Kala Bhavan here has a collection of miniature paintings and sculptures dating from 1st century AD.

Two kms. away from the University is the modern New Vishwanath temple also planned by Pandit Malaviya and built by the wealthy Birla family. This temple is open to all, irrespective of caste or creed. The interior has a Shiva Linga and verses from Hindu scriptures inscribed on the walls.

The 17th century Ramnagar Fort was the home of the Maharaja of Banaras. The museum here contains old silver and brocade palanquins for the use of the ladies of the court, elephant howdahs made of silver brocades, a replica of the royal bed and an armoury of swords and guns.

Govt. of India Tourist Office, 15-B, The Mall, Varanasi- 221 002 Ph: 43744

Conducted tours:

Varanasi tours are conducted in the mornings and afternoons as well.

Things to buy:

Silk brocades, Benares saries, sitars.

How to get there:

Air: Varanasi is connected by air with Delhi, Agra, Khajuraho, Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar and Kathmandu (Nepal).

Bus: Buses ply from Varanasi to important towns like Jaipur, Allahabad, Luck- now, Faizabad, Gorakhpur, Sumauti, Satna, etc.

Train: Varanasi is connected with major cities and towns like Delhi, Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Allahabad, Patna, Lucknow, Jaipur, Gorakhpur, Satna, Missouri, Hardwar, etc.

Ten kms. away from Varanasi is Sarnath which is one of the major Buddhist centres. After attaining enlightenment, the Buddha came to Sarnath to preach his mes- sage on way to attain Nirvana. Ashoka, the great Buddhist emperor, erected many stupas and other buildings here. Muslim invaders who came here later, destroyed many of the stupas and other buildings. Sarnath regained some of its past glory in 1836 when British archaeologists commenced excavations.

The Dhamekh stupa, built around 500 AD, has' geometrical and floral patterns on the stupa. The Dharmarajika stupa has been comprehensively excavated by 19th century treasure-seekers. It is said that Emperor Ashoka meditated nearby.

Ashoka's pillar stands in front of the main shrine. This was once over 20 metres high. A part of it was removed and kept in the Sarnath museum. On a portion of the column, an Ashokan edict is engraved. On the lower portion of the column, are representations of a lion, elephant, horse and bull.

The capital symbol of Ashoka - four lions back to back - is now the national symbol of India. The Sarnath museum nearby is worth a visit and it contains many relics found during excavation which include figures and sculptures from the Mauryan, Kushana, Gupta and later periods. The Maha Bodhi temple has a series of frescoes by a Japanese artist. A Bo tree here is said to be an offspring of the original tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment. There is also a deer park close by.

Meerut The mutiny of 1857, broke out here first. It is 67 kms. north of Delhi. The Suraj Khund is the most interesting Hindu temple in Meerut and there is a Moghul mausoleum here - the Shahpir.

One hundred and seventy eight kms. from Delhi is Saharanpur, famous for its botanical gardens, known as the Company Bagh, which is over 150 years old.

Debra Dun: Dehra Dun is of very little interest in itself, but it is the gateway to places like Badrinath and Joshimath. Dehra Dun is the southernmost and the lowest: of the Himalayan regions. The forest research institute here is the biggest of its kind in India and has a botanical garden. India's most exclusive private school _ the Doon School - is situated here. Many famous personalities, including the late Rajiv Gandhi, studied here. Popular picnic spots around Dehra Dun are Sahastradhara with natural sulphur springs, Tarkeshwar temple, Laxman Sidh, Tapovan, etc.

Orientation:

The clock tower is the hub of the town; most of the budget hotels are to be found near the railway station or near the clock tower.

How to get there:

Air: Daily flights are avail- able between Delhi and Dehradun

Bus: Buses connect Dehra Dun with Mussoorie, Naini Tal, Uttarkashi, Tehri, Delhi, Hardwar, Rishikesh, Lucknow, Shimla, etc.

Train: Trains connect Dehra Dun with Delhi, Lucknow, Hardwar etc.

Mussoorie: Thirty five kms. away from Dehra Dun is Mussoorie, at an altitude of 2,000 metres and is a popular hill resort. There is a ropeway here. It is a good place for taking walks. Places to see here are: Gun hill, Municipal gardens and the Kempy falls.

How to get there:

Bus: Buses operate from Mussoorie to Dehra Dun, Tehri, etc.

Train: Trains connect Mussoorie with Dehra Dun, Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, etc.

Hardwar: Hardwar is the site of Kumbh Mela which occurs once in 12 years, when millions of pilgrims throng here. The River Ganges flows here. It is a great pilgrimage centre and has many ashrams and sadhus. The Har-ki-pairi is the most important bathing ghat here as it is supposed to be the precise spot where the holy river, Ganges, leaves the mountains and enters the plains. At this spot, it is believed that the Ganges is most sacred and hence a dip here, completely washes away one's sins. There is a footprint of Lord Vishnu on a stone at this ghat. Hardwar's most important temple is the Daksha Mahadev Temple. Legend has it that king Daksha is said to have once performed a sacrifice here and failed to invite his son-in-law, Lord Shiva. His daughter, Sati, could not tolerate this insult to her husband and spontaneously immolated herself. The Parmarth Ashram has fine images of Goddess Durga.

How to get there:

Bus: Buses ply from Hardwar to Rishikesh, Dehradun, Delhi, Agra, Shimla, Naini Tal, Almora, Uttar Kashi, Gangotri, Badrinath, etc.

Train: Trains connect Hardwar with Delhi, Dehra Dun, Calcutta, Bombay, Varanasi, Lucknow, etc.

Rishikesh: Rishikesh is surrounded by hills on three sides and is at an altitude of 356 metres. This place has many ashrams and sadhus and is an excellent place to study Hinduism. During the 1960s, a Beatles group came here to see their Guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The Lakshman Jhula here is a suspended bridge, beside the Lakshman temple. The other temples here are, the Neelkant Mahadev temple and the Parmarth temple.

How to get there:

Train: Rishikesh is connected with Hardwar.

Bus: Buses connect Rishikesh with Hardwar, Dehra Dun, Delhi, Ramnagar, Naini Tal, Shimla, Uttar Pradesh, Gangotri, etc.

At the foot of the Himalayas, is the Corbett National Park which is famous for its wide variety of wildlife. It is renowned for tigers, elephants, deer and panthers. The river here has many crocodiles. The park was established in 1935. There is an accommodation centre in the park It would be nice to spend a couple of days here. It is a bird watcher's paradise. During the day, one can swim in the river or watch for wild animals. Films on wildlife and expeditions are shown here. Elephant back rides are also available.

Almora is a hill-station. This was taken from Nepal in 181.5 after the Gurkha war. Almora is good for walks and offers ex- cellent views.

How to get there:

Train: Kathgedam is the nearest rail head.

Bus: Buses ply from Almora to Naini Tal, Kansani, Ranik- het, Pithoragarh and Sorgo

Naini Tal was once the summer capital city of UP. There are many interesting walks and lakes around the town. The China Peak offers fine views over Naini Tal and the snow-clad Himalayas in the early mornings,

Orientation:

The Mall connects the two bazaars namely Tallital and Mallital, at either end of the lake.

Conducted tours:

Private travel agents operate (bus) tours to the nearby lakes (Sat Tal and Bhim Tal). Kansani, Ranikhet, Badrinath Kedarnath and Corbett National Park.

How to get there:

Air: The nearest airport is at Patnagar, linking Naini Tal with Delhi.

Train: Kathgodam is the nearest railway station, connecting Naini Tal with Agra, Lucknow, Jodhpur, etc.

Bus: Buses connect Naini Tal with Kathgodam, Haldwani, Delhi, Bhim Tal, Ramnagar, Almora, Ranikhet Kansani, Pithoragarh, Bareilly, Hardwar, Rishikesh, Dehra Dun, Sorg etc.

Ranikhet is to the north of Naini Tal, and offers excellent views of the snow-clad Himalayas. Chaubattia is eight kms. away and is famous for its fruits.

The Garwhal Himal is a trekking region and has a number of famous peaks including Trishul and India's highest mountain, Nanda Devi, besides the Kanchanajunga.

How to get there:

Train: Kathgodam is the nearest rail head.

Bus: Buses connect Ranikhet with Kathgodam, Naini Tal, AI- mora, Kansani, Ramnagar, Delhi, Lucknow, Hardwar & Badrinath.

Kedarnath is a Hindu pilgrimage spot of great importance. The temple of Lord Kedar (Shiva) is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and dates back to the 8th century. Gangotri is 210 kms. away from Mussoorie and on the right bank of the Bhagirathi river (which eventually becomes River Ganges), is the temple of the Goddess Ganga.' Nearby, are Nandanvan and Tapovan, which are great pilgrimage centres where sadhus often retreat to mediate in remote caves. The Nanda Devi sanctuary is surrounded by nearly 70 peaks and is the most important peak at a height of 7818 metres. It has an area of 640 sq.m. It has many meadows and water falls and is a starting point for trekking.

The valley of flowers and the holy Hemkund lake are a short trek from Govind Ghat. Badrinath, the famous pilgrimage centre, is closeby. It has many temples and ash- rams. The most important temple is Alaknanda.

 

 



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