Uttar Pradesh


Uttar Pradesh is the kaleidoscopic land where the multi-faceted Indian Culture has flourished from times immemorial. Endowed with a diversified topography and many cultural variance, Uttar Pradesh, has been the area of activity since ancient times. Garlanded by the two sacred rivers of the Hindus - the Ganga and the Yamuna, Uttar Pradesh is one of the most revered holy land of the Hindus.

Uttar Pradesh is one of the most ancient and diverse states of India with numerous age old cities. Uttar Pradesh boasts of a rich culture, history and heritage, displaying some most inspiring and exemplary monuments of the world. Whether one is on a spiritual trip, or looking for some adventure, or just on a curiosity trip, Uttar Pradesh has something to offer to every single traveller. Situated in the northern part of India, Uttar Pradesh has the exception of being the most populous state of India . In terms of area, it is the fourth largest, among all the states.

The Ganges River, which forms the backbone of Uttar Pradesh, is the sacred river of Hinduism , and four of the religion's seven holy towns are in the state, including Varanasi , the holiest of them all. Uttar Pradesh is also a place of major importance to Buddhists, for it was at Sarnath, just outside Varanasi, that the Buddha first preached his message of the middle way. The general, what India is probably known for with a lot of people, is located in Agra. From Agra, most people set off for a visit to the ghost town Fatehpur Sikri.

Tourism - A view of the Magh Mela that takes place at Allahabad every year The Taj Mahal. Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of both national and international visitors. There are two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go. These are the city of Agra and the holy cities on the banks of the Ganges River that include Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi. A vast number of tourists visit the Taj Mahal in Agra . Other important tourist attractions in Agra are the Agra Fort. Also famous is a 16th century capital city built by the Mughal emperor Akbar known as Fatehpur Sikri near Agra . Millions of tourists and piligrims visit the cities of Allahabad and Varanasi , as they are considered to be two of the holiest cities in India . Every year thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the festival on the banks of the Ganges, the Magh Mela. The same festival is organised in a larger scale every 12th year and attracts millions of people and is called the Kumbha Mela.

Varanasi is widely considered to be the second oldest city in the world after Jerusalem. It is famous for its ghats (steps along the river) which are populated year round with people who want to take a dip in the holy Ganges River . About 13 km from Varanasi is the historically important town of Sarnath . Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after his enlightenment and hence is an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Capital, both important archeological artifacts which have national significance.

What to See
Agra Allahabad Kanpur Kushinagar Lucknow
Mathura Varanasi Other Destination Uttar Pradesh Dudhwa Wild life & Bird Sanctuaries
Agra

Agra is the one of the prominent destinations of the World Tourism map with three heritage monuments-The Taj Mahal, Red Fort & Fatehpur Sikri. It is an ancient city located on the Yamuna River in India, within the state of Uttar Pradesh. It achieved prominence as the capital of the Mughal sovereigns from 1526 to 1658 and remains a major tourist destination, because of its many splendid Mughal-era buildings, most notably the Taj Mahal. Agra is famous for handicrafts products such as Inlay work on Marvel, Leather work, Footwear, Brasswear, Carpets, Jewelry, Zari and Embroidery work. It is also well known for Petha, Dalmoth and Gajak.

A pleasant town with a comparatively slow pace, Agra is known for its superb inlay work on marble and soapstone by craftsmen who are descendants of those who worked under the Mughals. The city is also famous for its carpets, gold thread embroidery and leather shoes.

Agra is located on the banks of the Yamuna River in India, within the state of Uttar Pradesh. On the north it is bounded by Mathura , on the south by Dhaulpur, on the east by Firozabad , and on the west by Bharatpur. Agra is just 185 kms from Delhi and just 232 kms from Jaipur.

Agra has a population of 1,259,979. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Agra has an average literacy rate of 65%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with 76% of the males and 53% of females literate. 11% of the population is under 6 years of age.

HOW TO REACH

By Air - Indian airlines connects Agra to Delhi , Khajuraho and Varanasi . Kheria Airport is about 9 km. from Govt. of India Tourist Office.

By Rail - Agra is a major railway junction on main broad guage routes to the south, east and west. Two of the best trains viz. Shatabdi Express (between Delhi and Bhopal ) and Taj Express (between Delhi and Gwalior ) are available to access agra . Some other train servicing the city are : G.T. Express ( New Delhi to Chennai), Dadar Express (Mumbai to Amritsar ), Jhelum Express ( Jammu to Pune), Kalinga Utkal Express ( New Delhi to Puri), Karnataka Express ( New Delhi to Trivendrum), Ujjani Express (Dehradoon to Ujjain ) and Hyderabad Express ( New Delhi to Hyderabad ).

By Road - Agra, on cross roads of national highways 2, 3 and 11, is excellently connected to all parts of the country. Some important road distances from Agra are: Bharatpur-54 km., Delhi-204 km., Gwalior-119 km., Jaipur-232 km., Khajuraho-400 km., Lucknow-369 km., Mathura-450 km., Nainital-353 km., Varanasi-605 km. and Mussorie-417 km.

WHEN TO GO

Agra can be visited throughout the year, but one must avoid the extreme hot summers (April-June) and rainy season (July-Sept). The most suitable time to visit Agra is in winters.

SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS

Agra's special attraction includes the Taj Mahal, fine carved handicraft items and "Agre ke Petha" - a delicious white coloured sweet i.e. famous all over the world.

WHAT TO SEE

Taj Mahal - This beautiful creation of love is one of the Seven Wonders of the World . It was built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as the final resting place for his favorite Queen, Mumtaz. Finished in by marble, it is perhaps India most fascinating and beautiful monument. It took 22 years to built this marvelous stone creation and was completed in 1653 A.D. The Taj Mahal the bank of the Yamuna river. The Taj Mahal has been built on a Marvel Platform that stands above a sandstone one. The most elegant dome of the Taj, with diameter of 60 feet, rises 80 feet, over the building and directly under the dome is the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal. Shah Jahan's tomb has been erected next to her by his son Aurangzeb. Fantastic Inlay works using semi-precious stones decorate and interiors.

Agra Fort - The great Mughal Emperor Akbar commissioned the construction of the Agra Fort in 1565 A.D., although additions were made till the time of his grandson Shah Jahan. The forbidding exteriors of this fort height an inner pardise. The fort is crescent shaped, flattened on the east with a long, nearly straight wall facing the river. It has a total perimeter of 2.4 k.m., and is ringed by double castellated ramparts of red sandstone punctuated at regular intervals by bastions. A 9 mt. wide and 10 mt. deep moat surround the outer wall. There are number of exquisite building like the Moti Masjid-a white marvel mosque akin to a perfect pearl, Diwan-e-Am, Diwan-e-Khaas, Jehangir's Palace, Khaas Mahal, Shish Mahal and Musamman or Samman Burj-where Shahjahan was held captive in 1666 A.D.

Sikandra - The mausolumn of emperor Akbar represent his philosphy and secular outlook, combining the best of Hindu and Muslim architectures in a superlative region. Completed in 1613 A.D. by his son Jahangir, it is one of the well preserved monuments. This is the last resting place of the Mughal Empror Akbar.

Itmad-Ud-Daulah - It is the tomb of Mirza Ghyas Beg, a persian who had obtained service in Akbar Court . The Marvel tomb was made by Emperor Jehangir's Queen, Noorjahan, for his father Mirza Ghyas Beg during 1622-1628 A.D. The Craftmanship at Itmad-ud-Daulah foreshadows that of the Taj Mahal. It was here that. "Pietra Dura"-the inlay work on marble-so characteristic of the Taj-was first used.

Fatehpur Sikri - It is an epic in red sandstone. A city of yesteryear, today lost in the mists of time. Fatehpur Sikri was built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar during 1564 A.D.. Mughal Emperor Akbar had no heir. He visited holy men to enlist their prayers for his son. When he visited Sheikh Salim Chishti who was living at the village of Sikri the saint foretold the emperor that he would be blessed with a son. When is son was born, he is gratitude, constructed his capital city and named it Fatehpur Sikri. Later, due to sortage of water and unrest in North-West, Akbar has to abandon this city. The beautiful marvel tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti still attract thousands who seek blessings of the revered saint. Other renowned places are Dewane-e-Am, Dewane-e-Khaas, Buland Darwaja, Panch Mahal, Jodha Bai Palace and Birbal Bhawan. Fatehpur Sikri is about 39 K.M. from Agra .

Radha Swami Samadhi - This is the head quarter of Radhaswami religion, here the holy ashes of the founder of the faith have been preserved. On the sprawling lawns here, is a beautiful marvel temple with beautiful carving of fruits, flowers, leaves and plants which have been reduced into stone true to nature, and are distinctive specimens of the plastic arts. This is under construction for almost 100 years.

Taj Mahotsav (Shilpgram) - Come February, and it's springtime. The time of the year when nature dawns all its colourful splendour and Agra bursts into colourful celebrations. For 10 days there is sheer celebration of U.P.'s rich heritage of arts, crafts, culture, cuisine, dance and music. Yes, it is Taj Mahotsav time again. There are festivities all around and Agra truly puts on the colours of joy and gets transformed into one non-stop carnival. Organised by U.P. Tourism and held as an annual event at Shilpgram, literally next door to the Taj Mahal, the Taj Mahotsav is indeed a fitting tribute to the legendary skills of mastercraftsman and other exponents of art, music and cuisine. Not only this, it is also a gentle peep into the rich heritage and extraordinary legacies of this wounderful land. The festivities commence with a spectacular procession inspired by mughal splendour. Bedecked elephanbts and camels, drum beaters, folk artistes and mastercraftsmen... all help recreate a visual delight reminiscent of the golden era of the Mughal Darbars.

Other Places of interest

Chinni ka Roja - This was constructed by Afzal Khan, A high official in the court of Shah Jahan. Decorated by glazed tiles on the facade, the structure clearly depicts the Persian influence in architecture.

Mariyam's Tomb - This uniqe tomb in red sandstone was built in 1611 A.D. a memory of Emperor Akbar's Goan christian wife Mariyam. The tomb has some exceptional carvings.

Jama Masjid - This building, with a rectangular open forecourt was constructed in 1648 A.D., by Shah Jahan's daughter, Jehanera Begum in memory of the famous Shiekh Salim Chistti and his grand son Islam Khan. Of perticular importants is its wounderful assimilation of Iranian architecture.

Religious Places - Kailash temple, Mankameshwar Temple, Balkeshwar Temple, Prithvinath temple, Rajeshwar temple etc.

WHERE TO EAT

Agra is known for its traditional Mughlai cuisine. A traveler can find a number of eating-places across the city, depending on his budget. One can choose from makeshift restaurants in the Taj Ganj area to the luxury hotels in Agra , which are famous for their Mughlai dishes. Agra is famous for its local specialty, the peitha, which is sweet candied pumpkin. It has many options for restaurants and bars. All the luxury hotels has their own restaurants, an you can try other restaurants like Petals, Only, Metro bar etc.

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Allahabad

Allahabad a highly religious place for Hindus and Muslims was established by King Akbar by the name of Illahabas, meaning house of Allah. The British modified the name as per there convenience and started calling it Allahabad . Akbar realised the commercial importance of this place and built several Ghats on the river banks. Later the city developed as a major trade centre in Uttar Pradesh.

Allahabad was once called Oxford of east, due to the high standards of education in Allahabad University. Allahabad has produced many great scholars, poets, thinkers, statesman and leaders. It was a strategic location for the activities of Indian freedom struggle. Religiously highly sacred, Allahabad is host of the Maha Kumbh Mela on the Confluence site (Triveni Sangam). Many temples, churches and mosques are built across the city. Today Allahabad rests peacefully with a great past, calm present and a promising future.

Climate - Allahabad experiences all four seasons. The summer season is from April to June with the maximum temperatures ranging between 40 to 45 °C. Monsoon begins in early July and lasts till September. The winter season falls in the months of December, January and February. Temperatures in the cold weather could drop to freezing with maximum at almost 12 to 14 °C. Allahabad also witnesses severe fog in January resulting in massive traffic and travel delays. It does not snow in Allahabad .

Location - Allahabad is situated in the Eastern Uttar Pradesh, close to Varanasi, Lucknow and Kanpur. The city is on the banks of rivar Ganga and Yamuna and there confluence, known as Triveni Sangam.

HOW TO REACH

By Air - There is no air link to Allahabad . Nearest Airports are Varanasi (147 km) and Lucknow (210 km).

By Rail - Allahabad is situated on the Delhi-Kolkata route and can be reached from any part of India by rail or bus. It is connected with Delhi and Kolkata by some of the fastest trains in India like Rajdhani, Magadh, and Shramjeevi. The average time taken from Delhi is 10 hours, Kolkata 15 hours, and Mumbai 24 hours.

By Road - The road network connects Allahabad very well to the nearby and major cities. Allahabad falls on NH 2 and 27. Some major distances from Allahabad are: Agra 433 km, Kolkata 799 km, Chennai 1790 km, Delhi 643 km, Jaipur 673 km, Khajuraho 294 km, Mumbai 1444 km, Lucknow 204 km, Varanasi 125 km and Kanpur 200 Km.

WHEN TO GO

Best Time To Visit Allahabad is October To April.

WHAT TO SEE

Sangam - The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology - Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It is believed that it is at the Sangam that a few drops of the nectar 'Amrit" spilled making its waters truly magical. It is around 7 Kms. from civil lines overlooked by the eastern ramparts of the Allahabad fort, wide flood plains and muddy banks protrude towards the sacred Sangam.

Allahabad Fort - Allahabad Fort was built by emperor Akbar in 1583 AD. The fort stands on the banks of the river Yamuna near the confluence site. Its distance from Civil Lines is about 8 kms. In its prime, the fort was unrivalled for its design, construction and craftsmanship. At present the fort is used by the Army and only a limited area is open to visitors.

Anand Bhawan - Anand Bhawan is the ancestral home of the Nehrus. Here one is offered a glimpse of the lifestyle of the family that retained for a long time the status of the most important political dynasty in India . Anand Bhawan now houses one of the finest museums of India and a memorabilia of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Allahabad Museum - It is located near Chandra Shekhar Azad Park, the key attractions of the Allahabad Museum are the paintings of Nicholas Roerich, Rajasthani miniatures, terracotta figurines, coins and stone sculptures from the second century BC to modern times. The museum has eighteen galleries and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Monday.

Khusro Bagh -It is one of the Mughal Gardens which was made by Jahangir in the memory of his beloved son Prince Khusro. The tomb of the prince was made in the centre of it. It is situated on G.T. Road near Allahabad Junction. Guava and mangoes of this garden are very famous.

Hanuman Temple - The Hanuman Temple is a unique temple in the vicinity of the Allahabad Fort. It is renowned for the supine image of the monkey-god Hanuman. This is the only temple to have Hanuman in a reclining posture. Though a very small temple, it is thronged by hundreds of devotees everyday.

Allahabad University - It is situated near Anand Bhawan. Founded in 1887, it is one of the most famous Universities of India . It has a sprawling campus, graced by fine buildings in Victorian and Islamic architectural styles.

All Saints Cathedral - It is dedicated to the memory of people of all ages and places who have kept their faith in the Almighty. This magnificent cathedral designed by Sir William Emerson in 1870 and consecrated in 1887 is one of the finest cathedrals in Asia and is faced in white stone with red stone dressing. No one visiting the cathedral can fail to be impressed by the beauty of the marble altar with intricate inlay and mosaic work.

Jawahar Planetarium - It is situated beside Anand Bhawan. It Can be visited for a celestial trip of the scientific kind. It's worth every moment. Five shows are run from 11.00 AM, 12.00 Noon 2.00 PM, 3.00 PM & 4.00 PM . Closed on Mondays & Govt. holidays.

WHERE TO EAT

Allahabad has various restaurants serve a variety of cuisine- Continental, Chinese, Indian and the traditional Mughlai. They are :- Hotel Kanha Shyam, Civil Lines, Patio, Coffee Shop(24 Hrs.), Kanha Shyam, Civil Lines, Food Plaza, Railway Station, Civil Lines, Hotel Milan, Civil Line.

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Kanpur

Kanpur is one of the most populous cities in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Kanpur is located on the banks of the Ganga and is an important industrial center. Kanpur is home to several educational institutions including CSJM University, one of the Indian Institutes of Technology, University Institute of Engineering and Technology, HBTI, and GSVM Medical College.

Kanpur is historically very important, as it was the capital of independence struggle of India . Many leaders, poets, thinkers and businessman of Kanpur have made it big globally. The city has a unique charm. For tourists, the city has to offer the historical ghats and temples of Bithoor, the freedom fighter's epicentre Phoolbagh, 6th century city in Jajmau, the zoological park and Nawabganj wildlife sanctuary.

Kanpur is the birth place of Ganesh Shankar Vidhyarthi & the poet of Jhanda Uncha Rahe hamara . A zoo of international standard is also situated in Kanpur. The parts of ancient structure & monuments of the time of King Yayati can be seen in Jajmau.

There is 350 years old only manuscript of Gurugranth Sahib and certified with the signature of Bhai Banno Sahib is also available in "Gurudwara Banno Sahib".

Climate - Kanpur experiences severe fog in December and January, resulting in massive traffic and travel delays. It does not snow in Kanpur . In summer (April-June) maximum temperatures spiral up to 45 °C and are accompanied by dust storm-cum-heat-waves.

HOW TO REACH

By Air - Chakeri Airport, Kanpur, has become operational since January 1996 and is serviced by , Archana Airways and other private airlines. Apart from this the nearest airport is Amausi, Lucknow , 65 km.

By Rail - Kalyanpur is the nearest station but serviced only by passenger trains is Kanpur Junction is the most suitable station for Bithoor. Some important trains that pass through Kanpur central railway station.

By Road - Kanpur is connected by road with all the major cities of the country. It is situated on National Highway No. 2 on the Delhi-Agra-Allahabad-Calcutta route and on National Highway No. 25 on the Lucknow-Jhansi-Shivpuri route.

WHEN TO GO

Best Time to visit Kanpur is between Octobers to March.

WHAT TO SEE

Shri Radhakrishna Temple :- It is beautifully constructed, J.K. temple is a boon to the devotees. Built by J.K. Trust this architectural delight is a unique blend of ancient architecture with the modern. Among the five shrines that the temple has the central one is consecrated to Shri Radhakrishna and the other are adorned with idols of Shri Laxminarayan, Shri. Ardhanarishwar, Shri Narmadeshwar and Shri Hanuman.

The Kanpur Memorial Church - The Kanpur Memorial Church was built in 1875 in honor of the British who lost their lives in the war of 1857. The Church was designed by Walter Granville architect of the east Bengal Railway. The complete Church in Lombardic gothic style is handsomely executed in bright red brick with polychrome dressings. The interior contains monuments to the mutiny including several memorial tablets. In the separate enclosure to the east of the church is the Memorial Garden approached through two gateways. Here the handsome carved gothic screen designed by Henry Yule stands. Its centre is occupied by the beautiful carved figure of an angle by Baron Carlo Marochetti with crossed arms, holding palons and symbol of peace.

Jajmau - The mound of Jajmau on the eastern end of kanpur occupies a high place among ancient cities of the region. Excavations of the mound were undertaken during 1957-58 which unearthed antiquities ranging from 600 BC to 1600 AD. Today, Jajmau houses the Siddhnath and Siddha Devi temples and the mausoleum of Makhdum Shah Ala-ul-Haq, the famous Sufi saint, built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1358. A mosque built by Kulich Khan in 1679 also stands here.

Jain Glass Temple - It is situated in Maheshwari Mohal behind the Kamla Tower. It is a beautiful temple highly decorated with glass and enamel work.

Allen Forest Zoo - The Kanpur Allen Forest Zoo was opened in 1971 and ranks among one of the best zoos in the country. It is an ideal place for outdoor life and picnics amongst picturesque surroundings.

Moti Jhee l - Moti Jheel is drinking water reservoir of kanpur waterworks. It is situated in the benajhabar area of the city. The area around the jheel has recently been developed into a beautiful recreation grounds and children parks.

Phool Bagh - It is a beautiful park in the heart of the city on the Mall Road. In the centre of the park is a building known as Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Memorial. After the first World War there was an Orthopedic Rehabilitation Hospital in this building. It is now known as Ganesh Udyan.

Dwarka Dhish Temple - It is situated adjacent to Kamla Tower. This temple is dedicated to the worship of Lord Krishna.The jhoola dedicated during sravan is worth viewing in this temple.

WHERE TO EAT

There are few good restaurants in town or one can approach local Eateries/dhabas which offer mainly vegetarian food.

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Kushinagar

53 Km from Gorakhpur, Kushinagar, one of the principal centres of the Budhist piligrime, is the place where Lord Buddha left his corporeal self and attained Maharparinivana.

Kushinagar was previously known as Kushinagar, which was the capital of Malla dynasty. It was one of the famous sixteen Maharanapads of ancient India . The Chinese travelers Fa Hien and Hieun Tsand have also mentioned kushinagar in their travelogues.

The credit for bringing this ancient site to light goes to General A. Cunningham and A.C.L. Carlleyle who, after excavating the site in 1861, established its antiquity for the first time. Later, between 1904 and 1912, several excavations conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India at Kushinagar confirmed its identity.

The monuments of Kushinagar are clustered in three distinct groups comprising the main site at the Nirvana Temple, the central Stupa and surrounding monasteries, the Mathakuar Kot to the south-west and the Ramabhar Stupa, a kilometer to the east.

WHEN TO GO

Mathura can be travel round the year the best time between October to April

Festival: Budhar Poornima (April-May)

How to Reach

Air: Kasia airstrip-5 Km, Gorakhpur Airport-46 Km, Amausi Airport, Lucknow-252 Km, Babatpur Airport, Varanasi-286 Km.

Rail: The Nearest railway stations are Deoria-35 Km and Gorakhpur- 53 km, which are linked with important destinations. Kushinagar does not has a Railway Station, one has to go up to Gorakhpur by train and from there reach Kushinagar by road.

Road: Situated on National Highway No. 28, with frequent bus services, Kushinagar is well connected with other parts of the state. Some major road distances are : Gorakhpur-53 km, Lumbini ( Nepal )-170 km, Kapilastu-157 km, Sravasti-253 km, Sarnath 274 km.

WHAT TO SEE

Wattthai Temple - This is a huge temple complex built in the typical Thai Buddhist architectural style.

Nirvana Stupa - This huge brickwork stupa, exposed by Carlyl in 1876, stands at a height of 2.74 mtr. A copper vessel was unearthed at this site. It bore an inscription in ancient Brahmi, which stated that Lord Buddha's remains had been deposited here.

Mahaparinirvana Temple - This houses a 6.10 meter long statue of the reclining Buddha. The image was unearthed during the excavations of 1876. Carved from Chunar sandstone, the statue represents the dying Buddha reclining on his right side. An inscription below dates the statue to the fifth century.

Mathakuar Shrine - This shrine is about 400 yards from the Nirvana Stupa. A stone image of Lord Buddha in the 'Bhumi Sparsha Mudra' (earth touching posture) under the 'Bodhi tree' was excavated here. The inscription at the base of the statue dates it to 10th-11th century. Adjacent to this shrine, ruins of a monastery have also been discovered.

Ramabhar Stupa - About 1.5 km away from Mahaparinirvana Temple , this large Stupa rises to a height of 15 meters. It marks the site where the Lord Buddha was cremated. In ancient Buddhist texts, this Stupa has been referred to as 'Mukut-Bandhan Chaitya'.

Chinese Temple - Here the special attraction is a beautiful statue of Lord Buddha.

Japanese Temple - A beautiful Ashta Dhatu (eight metal) statue of Lord Buddha which was brought from Japan, can be seen here.

Govt. Buddha Museum - The Buddha Museum contains finds from the site excavations at Kushinagar. Open: 10:00 am. to 5.00 pm. Weekly off : Monday.

Other places of interest include Indo-japanese-Sri Lankan Temples , Burmese Temple , Birla Hindu Buddha Temple , Krean Temple , Shiva Temple , Ram-Janki Temple and Meditation Park.

WHERE TO EAT

Kushinagar has few good options for restaurants.

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Lucknow

Lucknow - The name can be traced to the epic Ramayana. After 14 years of exile when Lord Ramchandra returned to Ayodhya, he gifted this place to his younger brother Lakshman. Lakshman is believed to have stayed in Lakshman Teela, a high ground near the banks of the river Gomti. Later the region was named after him; ' Lucknow ' is derived from the name Lakshman. There are other stories that do the rounds: Lucknow was named after a very influential person called 'Lakhan Ahir' who built the fort 'Qila Lakhan'. The name 'Qila Lakhan' later became Lucknow . Some other source says that one Lakhu Khan who was earlier a non-Muslim by name Laxman Singh has lent his name to Lucknow.

Lucknow, the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh. Lucknow is a city synonymous with the Nawabi culture. The imperialistic splendor and magnificence of the nawabi era has been glorified and eulogized down the ages by writers, poets, and historians alike. At the same time its mystical elegance and amorous ethos has caught the fascination of many world famous romantics. Known for its 'Adab' and 'Tahjeeb' (cultural refinement), Lucknow is also associated with its legendary hospitality, leisurely moods of life, fabled edifices steeped in history, world-renowned cuisine and exquisite 'Sham-e-Avadh' (Evening in Lucknow ). Tremors of time have not effaced Lucknow of its cultural heritage and traditions, which once contributed in creating the city incomparable in its times.

Location - Lucknow is Situated in the heart of Uttar Pradesh, 500 km south-east of New Delhi.

HOW TO REACH

By Air - Amausi airport is 14 km from city centre. Daily flights from Delhi and Tues, Saturday to Mumbai, Monday, Wednesday, Friday to Patna and Ranchi, daily to Varanasi.

By Rail - Lucknow is serviced by the Northern and NE Railway networks. Charbagh Station, 3km from town centre.

By Road - Some of the major road distances are Agra-363 km, Allahabad-210 km, Calcutta-985 km, Delhi-502 km, Kanpur- 80 km, Khajuraho-320 km, Varanasi-305 km.

WHEN TO GO

Best time to travel Lucknow is between September October.

WHAT TO SEE

Bada Imambada - Bada Imambada was built by Asaf-ud-Daula in the year 1784 as a part of the famine relief project where a number of labourers were appointed to build this Imambada. It is a big vaulted hall with a length of 50 m and a height of 15 m. There is also the bhul bhulaiya-an amazing maze that might need a tourist guide to get through.

Hussainabad Imambara - This structure houses the tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah, its builder, and of his mother. Built between 1837 and 1842, it is also called the Chhota Imambara. It is approached through a fine garden. The Imambara has a white dome and numerous turrets and minarets. The walls of the mausoleum are decorated with verses in Arabic. Chandeliers, gilded mirrors, colorful stucco, the King's throne and ornate tazia or replicas of the tombs at Karbala adorn the interior.

Residency - Built for the British Resident in 1780-1800, it was originally a very extensive and beautiful building, It was a scene of dramatic events during the Mutiny of 1857. The scarred ruins tell the story of the British community besieged by the rebels. The main house overlooks the river and is surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens.

Picture Gallery - The picture gallery was built in the 19th century near the clock tower of Husainabad Imambada. The picture gallery has a number of portraits of almost all the Nawabs of Lucknow. This picture gallery gives a good insight of the past when the Nawabs used to be the sole authority of the entire area. oks the river and is surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens.

Jama Masjid - To the western side of the Husainabad Imambada lies the Jami Masjid. The construction of the Masjid was started by Mohammed Shah and was completed by his wife after his death in the 1840s. Jami Masjid is the largest mosque of Lucknow . Though non-Muslims are not allowed to worship here, one can see the wonderful paintings on the ceilings with the leaf and fruit bowl patterns. To the right side of the Bada Imambada lies another mosque named after Asaf-ud-Daula.

Rumi Darwaza - Asaf-ud-Daula built a number of historical monuments during his time. The Rumi Darwaza was also built as a relief work during the famine of 1783. Said to be a facsimile of one of the gates of Constantinople , this soaring edifice, which is 60 feet high, can match any similar structure in point of beauty and splendour.

Kaiserbagh Palace Complex - The construction of the Kaiserbagh Palaces was started in 1848 by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah and completed in 1850. They were built to create the eighth wonder of the world. The yellow buildings on three sides of the quadrangle, now the property of Taluqdars, once provided quarters for the ladies of the harem. In the centre stands the Baradari, a picturesque white stone edifice which was earlier paved with silver.

Nearest Places of interest

Ayodhya - Just 6 km away from Faizabad is the holy town Ayodhya where one of the most popular incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the hero of the epic Ramayana, Lord Ram, was born. It has a large number of temples all over the town. The atmosphere of the town is filled with religious fervour and piety. Ayodhya is easily accessible by buses and taxis that run from the Lucknow city. Tourists can approach state government buses or private tour operators who rent out taxis as well as buses on request.

Kanpur - Kanpur, at a distance of 77 km from Lucknow , is a modern industrial city of Uttar Pradesh . One of the first cotton mills of the country was set up here. Besides, this city also has some historical monuments to visit. Kanpur is accessible by almost all the modes of transport from Lucknow of which trains and buses are the preferred ones.

Faizabad - Faizabad, situated 124 km from Lucknow , was once the capital of Avadh. Easily accessible by both trains and buses, this place houses the Fort Calcutta built by the third Nawab of Avadh, Suja-ud-Daula. Besides this, one can also visit the mausoleum of Bahu Begum and Gulab Bari.

WHERE TO EAT

Lucknow's most famous food joints adopt the smartest advertising strategy of all times. No sign-board, no phone lines and no marketing fundas - this works well for Idris Biryaniwala at Patanala Chowk, Rahim kulche-nahari eatery at Chowk, the typed to death yet still the best Tunde kebabs at Akbari Gate, top it off with Naushejaan, Sakhawat, Daal mein Kaala, Dasterkhwan and you have eateries that are pocket friendly and find pride of place in national and intertnational good food guides. If money is no problem then there are also the kakori kebabs to kill for at the Oudhyana, Taj Residency or the ghazal soaked yummy evening at Falaknuma in l Clarks Avadh or the sizzler delights at Pavillion at Park Inn.

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Mathura

The land where Shri Krishna was born and spent his youth, has today little towns and hamlets that are still alive with the Krishna legend and still redolent with the music of his flute. Mathura , a little town on the River Yamuna was transformed into a place of faith after Lord Krishna was born here. Vrindavan, a village - once noted for its fragrant groves, is where he spent an eventful youth. There are numerous other little spots in the area that still reverberate with the enchantment of Shri Krishna.

Located - The city of Mathura is located at a distance of 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra ( India ). The city has for long attracted Krishna devotees from across the world.

HOW TO REACH

By Air - The nearest airport is Agra, at a distance of 47 km. There are regular flights from Agra to several cities of India, including Delhi, Khajuraho and Varanasi.

By Rail - Mathura is well connected by train with Agra (1 hour), Bharatpur, Sawai Madhopur and Kota. The Taj Express runs daily between Matura to Delhi (2½ hours).

By Road - Bus service from Mathura to Delhi (3½ hours) and Agra (1½ hour) is very good.

WHEN TO GO

Mathura can be travel round the year the best time between October to March.

WHAT TO SEE

Vrindavan - Vrindavan, just 15 km from Mathura, is another major place of pilgrimage. It is noted for its numerous temples - both old and modern. The name Vrindavan evokes the playfulness and lovable characteristics of Shri Krishna. This is the wood where he frolicked with the gopis and tenderly wooed Radha.Vrindavan today, is noted for its numerous temples.

Shri Krishna Janma Bhoomi - This is the spot where Lord Krishna was born in Mathura . A marble slab marks the original spot of birth in the Katra Keshav Deo Temple at the site. The main shrine is inconspicuous, a narrow passage leads into a small room with a raised platform to the left, beautiful pictures of the child Krishna adorn the platform and the story of his birth is both written and illustrated on the walls. A narrow set of marble steps lead to a terrace through a walled corridor, creating the effect of a prison while leading out. The shrine is open everyday from dawn till 12 noon and from 4 pm till dusk.

Nandgaon - AT the foot of a hill 51 Kms. north-east of Mathura is situated the venerable village of Nandgaon . It is known as the home of Lord Krishna's foster father Nand, in whose memory a spacious temple stand on the brow of the hill. Probably built in the middle of the 12'th century by one Rup Singh, It consist of an open nave with choir and sacrarium beyond. Standing in the center of a paved courtyard, it is surrounded by a lofty wall which commands an extensive view of the Bharatpur hill and the level expanse of Mathura District as far as Goverdhan.

Gokul - About 15 Kms. of the south-east of Mathura connected by a metalled road is Gokul, a suburb of the inland town of Mahavan on the bank of the river Yamuna. Gukul is a celebrated spot where Lord Krishna was reared in secrecy by his nurse. This place is very scared and is visited by thousand of pilgrims particularly during the birth anniversary of the Lord Krishna in july-august and the time of Annakut festival. Gokul is also associated with the famous saint Vallabhacharya who lived here for many years. The most important temple is that of Gokul Nath Ji.

Baldeo - According to hindu mythology this is the place where Lord Krishna's elder brother named 'Baldeo' use to rule. This place is also known as 'Dauji' in the local areas around mathura as the other name of Lord Baldeo was 'Dau maharaj'. There is a famous temple in Baldeo of 'Dau Maharaj', where there is a stone statue of him with his wife situated.

Goverdhan - It is a religious-town near Mathura , India , famous for its temple named Daan-Ghati. The temple god is another form of Lord Krishna. The town is also famous for its 21 kilometer long Parikrama of the a very old hill called Goverdhan. The parikrama procession is held in very high religious belief. Its said that Lord Krishna held Goverdhan hill on his little finger to save the town from wrath of the god of rains Indra. The town also houses Manasi-Ganga, a close ended lake. This is another pious place for the devotees visiting this town.

Dwarkadheesh Temple - Built in 1814, it is the main temple of the town. The best time to visit the temple is during the festive days of Holi, Janmashtami and Diwali as it is grandly decorated.

Gita Mandir - The Gita Mandir on the Mathura-Vrindavan road has been built by the Birlas, one of India 's premier industrial clans. It has a fine image of Lord Krishna in its sanctum. The entire Bhagwad Gita is inscribed on a pillar called the Gita Stambh.the temple carving and painting are a major attraction.

Barsana - 21 Kms. to the north of Goverdhan is Barsana the birth place of Radha a favourite devotee of Lord Krishna. It is a famous place for pilgrimage with a regular bus service from Mathura to Barsana Via Kosi & Goverdhan.

WHERE TO EAT

There are so many good restaurants and hotels.

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Varanasi (Banaras)

Benaras is a Hindu holy city on the banks of the river Ganga ( Ganges ) in the modern north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is also known as Varanasi, Banaras, Benaras, Kashi, and Kasi. Varanasi has a unique culture, quite different from other places in the region. This culture has developed through thousands of years during which it has been one of the major cultural centres of northern India. The whole Varanasi culture revolves around the river Ganga, which is the heart and soul of the city. Varanasi has its own 'Gharanas' (style of music) in classical Indian music. Varanasi has produced some of the most well-known musicians, philosophers, poets, writers in Indian history. To name a few, Kabir, Munshi Premchand, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Bismillah Khan were/are from Varanasi. It even has its own dialect, which is quite different from other dialects of the region. It has been a seat of knowledge from about 700 BC onwards. Its universities attracted students from all over the then-known world.

HOW TO REACH

Varanasi has its own airport which is 22 Kms from the city. The Babatpur airport connects Varanasi with all the major cities in India and recently there has been a proposal to initiate UP Air which will connect the city with other places in the state. Varanasi has the Cant railway station as its main station. This is a major railway junction and connects the city with major places in India.

The nearby Mughal Sarai railway Junction is one of the major railway junction in the region with almost all the trains from the East, North East and some trains for South and Western region crossing the station. Varanasi is on the national highway number 2 from Calcutta to Delhi.

Thus, the place is well connected by roads to all the corners of the nation. Varanasi provides some good market for many items. People come here for the temples in big number and major inflow of visitors is handled by the bus services from Varanasi to other places in state and outside it.

WHAT TO SEE

Bharat Kala Museum - The Kashi Hindu university has a museum which has a very rich collection of precious and rare historical artifacts, statues, pictures, paintings and manuscripts. This small but very well maintained museum gives an over view of the ancient city of Varanasi.

Ram Nagar Durg - 2 kms from the Kashi Hindu university, across the Ganges is located the ancestral house in the fort which was built by the former rulers of Kashi. In one of the sections of the fort is the museum which displays the royalty which was once part of the kingdom. This museum gives an insight into the grandeur which once prevailed in the fort. On the Ramnagar Pandav road is a beautiful Durga temple. This temple has very delicate and intricate carving done on stone. These carvings are worth giving a look.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS OF VARANASI

Benaras Hindu University - This is the largest and oldest university in north India. Spread over an area of 2,000 acres, this great place of education was established by Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya. Today the campus has faculties of Arts, Science, Music, Sanskrit, Languages, Engineering, Statistics and Medical to name a few of them. The university also has the huge Vishwanath temple which was built and maintained by the Birla family. The Sunderlal Medical center has all the modern facilities of medical field is also located in the university campus.

Nandeshwar Kothi - Nandeshwari Kothi, designed by James Prinsep is a typical building of the early 19th century in Benaras.

Jantar Mantar - The ruler of Jaisingh built an observatory in Varanasi in line with those built in Delhi , Mathura , Ujjain and Jaipur observatories. The Varanasi observatory has all the instruments which were required to record the motion , speed and properties of various stars and planets and other cosmic objects. The observatory was built in 1600 and still the instruments give the exact measurements which can match any modern instrument.

VARANASI EXCURSIONS

Chunar - Chunargarh of 'Chandrakanta', the classic novel by Babu Devakinandan Khatri is 40 kms from the city of Varanasi. Today the place is known as Chunar. Along one of the meanders of Ganges, where the Kaimur Hills are taking a North face, are built the imposing fort of Chunar.

Sarnath - About ten kms from Varanasi, is the place where lord Buddha after enlightenment gave his first sermon or as the Buddhist say set the wheel of dharma or law rolling. Today Sarnath is considered as one of the richest place to have antiques since the Ashoka period to the 12th century. Suggested reading on the Buddhist places in Uttar Pradesh.

Jaunpur - In 1360 Feroz Shah built this town to guard the eastern side of his Delhi sultanate. Jaunpur is located 65 kms from Varanasi . Jaunpur is bisected by the river Gomti and the two sides are connected by the massive Akbari Bridge . This bridge was designed by an Afghan and was built in the 16th century. The fifteen stone arches of the bridge have withstood earthquakes and floods. On the southern end of the bridge is the sculptures of a lion tussling with an elephant. This marked the provincial milestone. Other places to visit in Jaunpur are Sheetla Chowkia Dham, Yamdagni Ashram, Atla Mosque and Char Anguli ki Masjid.

Vindhyachal - There are many Shaktipeeths in India . These are the places where the Goddess of power is said to be residing and people worship her viz- Goddess Durga. Vindhyachal is one of such peeths or abode of Shakti. The place is 90 kms from Varanasi . The temples of Vindhyavasini Devi, Asthbhuja and Kalikhoh are a must visit here.

Kaushambi - The mention of this town can be seen in the Mahabharata. It is said that the Pandav brothers lived here. Budhha visited this place many times and the gave sermons after his enlightenment in 6th and 9th century. Kaushambi developed as a major center for Buddhism. The ruins of an old fort tells the saga of the towns antiquity. Kaushambi is 185 kms from Varanasi.

Chandra Prabha Wildlife Sanctuary - Established in 1997,Chandra Prabha Sanctuary, a small sanctuary sprawling over an area of 78 sq. kms, is located on Naugarh and Vijaigarh hillocks in Vindhya forest range, in Chandauli district.

Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary - Kaimoor sanctuary, located on the Uttar Pradesh - Bihar border, is spread over an area of 500 sq. kms.

WHERE TO EAT

Varanasi has few good options for restaurants.

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OTHER DESTINATIONS OF UTTAR PRADESH

Ayodhya

Ayodhya is situated on the right bank of the river Ghagra or Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts, on latitude 26 o 48' north and longitude 82 o 13' east in north India . Just 6 km from Faizabad, Ayodhya is a popular pilgrim centre. This town is closely associated with Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The ancient city of Ayodhya , according to the Ramayana, was founded by Manu, the law-giver of the Hindu. For centuries, it was the capital of the descendants of the Surya dynasty of which Lord Rama was the most celebrated king. Ayodhya during ancient times was known as Kaushaldesa.

Skand and some other Puranas rank Ayodhya as one of the seven most sacred cities of India. It was the venue of many an event in Hindu mythology, today pre-eminently a temple town, Ayodhya is also famous for its close association with the epic Ramayana. It is a city of immense antiquity full of historical significance and sacred temples. The Atharvaveda described Ayodhya as `a city built by Gods and being prosperous as paradise itself'. The illustrious ruling dynasty of this region were the Ikshvakus of the solar clan (Suryavansa). According to tradition, Ikshvakus was the eldest son of Vaivasvata Manu, who established himself at Ayodhya. The earth is said to have derived its name `Prithivi' from Prithu, the 6 th king of the line. A few generations later came Mandhatri, in whose line the 31 st king was Harischandra, known widely for his love of truth. Raja Sagar of the same clan performed the Asvamedha Yajna and his great grandson Bhagiratha is reputed to have brought Ganga on earth by virtue of his p enance. Later in the time came the great Raghu, after whom the family came to be called as Raghuvamsa. His grandson was Raja Dasaratha, the illustrious father of Rama, with whom the glory of the Kausala dynasty reached its highest point. The story of this epic has been immortalized by Valmiki and immensely popularized by the great masses through centuries.

Ayodhya is pre-eminently a city of temples yet, all places of worship here, are not only of Hindu religion. At Ayodhya several religions have grown and prospered simultaneously and also at different periods of time in the past.

Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can still be found in Ayodhya. According to Jain tradition, five Tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya, including Adinath (Rishabhadeva) the 1 st Tirthankar.

Bithoor

Just 22 Kilometers from the industrial metropolis for Kanpur on the Kannauj road, lies the quiet and beautiful township of Bithoor . Far from the hustle and bustle and madding crowds of Kanpur , Bithoor offers a tranquil spot suffused with historical and religious significance.

Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganga river, Bithoor dates back to an ancient time in the country's history. In fact, its glorious past is wrapped in legends and fables. A legend in Hindu mythology has it that after the destruction of the Universe and the reconstruction of the of Galaxy by the Lord Vishnu, Bithoor was chosen by Lord Brahma, the Creator, as his abode.

Incidentally, Bithoor is also the poignant setting where Sita was left by Lord Rama to lead her life in exile. It is also the site where Sant Valmiki meditated and later wrote the timeless epic Ramayana. At the same time, it is also known as the auspicious place where Lord Rama's twin sons Lav and Kush were born. It was here that under the guidance of Sant Valmiki, the twins spent their childhood and were initiated into the technique of war and politics and finally, it is the place where the two sons were reunited with their father in a spirit of joy and peace. It is perhaps for this reason that the place is also known as Ramale.

Bithoor is believed to be the place where Dhruv (the legendary child who grew up to be a revered saint, shining in the sky as an eternal star) had his first opportunity for a divine visitation and practice meditation.

In more recent times, Bithoor has thrown up historical figures such as Rani Laxmi Bai and Nana Saheb Peshwa, who played an instrumental role in the country's freedom struggle. These immortal fighters embodied the spirit of patriotism, valour and national pride, remembered with reverence by countless generations. It was here that they spent their childhood and learnt their first lessons of warfare, culminating into the backdrop from where the first salvoes of the Great Mutiny of 1857 were fired.

Bithoor offers not only a trip back into history to relive those great moments but also a spot where the nature's beauty can be enjoyed in various manners, like boating, or just a quiet stroll among the religious and historical temples.

Chitrakoot

Celebrated in ballads and the scriptures for its natural beauty and closely associated with the epic Ramayan, Chitrakoot or "the hill of many wonders" is a hallowed centre of pilgrimage. It is believed to be the place where Lord Rama and Sita spent their 14 years of exile and where the Sage Atri and Sati Anasuya meditated. The holy town is set in sylvan surroundings on the banks of the River Mandakini, also known as the Payaswaini river. The riverside is lined with ghats and the town dotted with temples dedicated to several deities of the Hindu pantheon.

Deogarh

123 km from Jhansi, Deogarh is situated on the right bank of the Betwa river, at the western end of the Lalitpur range of hills. Deogarh is of great antiquarian, epigraphical and archaeological importance and has been integral to the history of the Guptas, the Gurjara-Pratiharas, the Gondas, the Muslim rulers of Delhi , the Marathas and the British. It possesses the remains of a fine Vishnu temple dating to the Gupta era, and several Jain temples.The architecture and sculpture of these temples display a high level of craftsmanship.

Gorakhpur

Gorakhpur is situated 265 Km. east of Lucknow on National Highway-28. An important centre of Eastern U.P., Gorakhpur has been an integral part of the erstwhile Empires of Mauryan, Shunga, Kushana and Gupta dynasties. Gorakhpur is named after saint "Gorakshnath", who is said to be an eminent propounder saint of "Nath Sampradaya". Gorakhpur is the H.Q. of N.E. Railway and the main terminus for Kushinagar, Kapilavastu and Nepal .

Jhansi

The gateway to Bundelkhand, was a stronghold of the Chandela kings but lost its importance after the eclipse of the dynasty in the 11 th century. It rose to prominence again in the 17 th century under Raja Bir Singh Deo who was a close associate of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. However, its greatest claim to fame is its fiery queen Rani Laxmibai, who led forces against the British in 1857, sacrificing her life to the cause of Indian independence. A new dimension has been added to this historic city with the introduction of the Jhansi Festival, held every year in February-March. It offers a fine opportunity to enjoy the arts, crafts and culture of the region.

The Rani of Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai, better known as the Rani, or queen, of Jhansi was one of the great nationalist heroines of pre-independence India . Born the daughter of a Benares brahmin, she was married off to Raja Gangadhar of Jhansi, but never bore him children - a fact exploited by the British to force her and her adopted baby son into retirement in 1853. The Rani retaliated in 1857, the year of "Mutiny", by leading her personal bodyguard of five hundred Afghan-Pathan warriors to seize Jhansi fort. The British dispatched troops to see off the insurgents, but took seventeen days to blow a beach in the walls of the citadel. Three days of fierce hand-to-hand fighting ensued, in which five thousand soldiers were killed. With her son strapped tightly to her back, the Rani somehow managed to slip through the British net and rejoin the main rebel army at Gwalior , where she rode to her death, dressed as a man using her sword with both hands and holding the reins of her horse in her mouth".

Statues of Rani Jhansi in this heroic pose stand all over northern India . For many in the Independence movement, she was India 's Joan of Arc; a martyr and icon whose example set in motion the freedom struggle that eventually rid the subcontinent to its colonial rulers.

Jaunpur

Jaunpur was of great importance during medieval times. It was founded in the 14 th century by Feroz Shah Tuglaq to perpetuate the memory of his cousin Sultan Mohammad whose real name was Jauna. Later, around 1394 AD, it became the centre of the independent Sharquie kingdom of Jaunpur founded by Malik Sarvar. They were great patrons of art and architecture and constructed many fine tombs, mosques and madarsas. These have a distinctive style which bear influences of later Tughlaq architecture. Jaunpur was also an important centre of Islamic studies. While its architectural heritage speaks of its illustrious past, the city is known today for its Jasmine oil, tobacco leaves, raddish and imarti, a sweetmeat.

Kalinjar

Located in the ancient land of Jejakbhukti, an integral part of Bundelkhand, this fort and town were of strategic importance during medieval times. The Kalinjar fort was Chandela stronghold from the 9th to the 15th centuries and remained invincible upto the time of the Mughals. Akbar finally conquered it in 1569 and gifted it to Birbal, one of the "nine jewels" of his court. From Birbal it went to the legendary Bundela warrior, Chhatrasal and thence to Hardev Shah of Panna before being captured by the British in 1812.

The township of Kalinjar was also-once protected by ramparts pierced by four gateways, only three of which remain today - Kamta Dwar, Panna Dwar and Rewa Dwar. Dotted with remnants of the past, this historic fort is well worth a visit.

Mahoba

Mahoba is 140 km from Jhansi and associated with the Chandela kings who ruled over Bundelkhand between the 9 th and the 11 th centuries. The Chandelas, who are best remembered for the now world-famous temples they built at Khajuraho, were also great warriors. At Mahoba, the impregnable hilltop fort and the lakes they created are considered engineering feats and their water management systems can still be seen. Mahoba was also a great cultural centre. Ballads praise its days of glory and narrate the inspiring saga of Alha and Udal, two brothers who sacrificed their lives for the honour of their land.

Today, the town is known for its fine betel leaf cultivation and granite rocks. There are many places of historical and archaeological interest as well as scenic lakes dotted with rocky islets. The temples of Mahoba are built in the same style as the Khajuraho temples. There are also a number of Buddhist and Jain shrines at Mahoba.

Sravasti

Sravasti, capital of the ancient Kosala kingdom is sacred to Buddhists because it is here that Lord Buddha performed the greatest of his miracles to confound the Tirthika heretics. These miracles include that of the Buddha creating multiple images of himself, hence forth has been among the favorite themes of Buddhist art.

Sravasti was an active centre of Buddhism even in the Buddha's lifetime. The Buddha himself spent many summers here, and delivered important sermons. It was here that Anathapindaka built, in the garden of Prince Jeta a large monastery for the reception of the Buddha. Later, several shrines and other monasteries arose at this sacred spot.

Sravasti has been identified with the remains at Saheth - Maheth on the borders of the Gonda and Bahraich districts. It is situated on the banks of the River Rapti. Srarvasti also claims the glory of being was born, brought up and attained enlightment. Jain devotee visit Sravasti, during the month of kartik(Oct - Nov) the bithday of Lord Sambhavnath, when a largeJjain mela is held.

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Dudhwa

Situated on the Indo-Nepal border in District Lakhimpur-Kheri of Uttar Pradesh, the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve with an area of 614 sq. Km is one of the finest, of the few remaining examples of the exceedingly diverse and productive tarai eco-systems. The northern edge of the reserve lies along the Indo-Nepal border and the southern boundary is marked by the river Suheli. It is home to a large number of rare and endangered species which includes Tiger, Leopard, Swamp deer, Hispid hare, Bengal Florican, etc.

The Kishanpur Sanctuary located about 30 km from Dudhwa, is the other constituent of the reserve. Spread over about 200 sq. km it lies on the banks of the River Sharda and is surrounded by Sal forests of the adjoining reserved forests.

The grasslands of the reserve are the habitat of the largest kind of Indian deer-the Swamp deer or the Barasingha, so called because of their magnificent antlers (bara-twelve;singha-antler). Decline in their habitats led to a drastic decline in numbers and a small area named Sonaripur Sanctuary was set aside in 1958 for the conservation of this rare species of deer. Later, it was upgraded to cover an area of 212 sq. km and was renamed the Dudhwa Sanctuary. In 1977, the area was further extended to include over 614 sq. km and was declared a National Park. Eleven years later, in 1988, when Dudhwa became a part of Project Tiger, the area of the Kishanpur Sanctuary was added to create the Dudhwa Tiger Reserve. About 1800 Barasingha are to be found in the reserve and majestic herds are especially seen in the grassy wetlands of the Sathania and Kakraha blocks.

Wild Life at Dudhwa

The Reserve has a range of fascinating wildlife. Included the are sloth bear, ratel, civet, jackal, the lesser cats like the leopard cat, fishing cat and jungle cats; varieties of deer - the beautiful spotted deer or chital, hog deer and barking deer. The hispid hare, a dark brown animal with bristly fur - last seen in the area in 1951 and believed to have become extinct, was rediscovered in 1984 to the great interest of conservationists. The short nosed crocodile - the mugger and otters can be seen along the river banks as well as pythons and monitor lizards.

A bird watchers' haven, Dudhwa is also noted for its wide variety-about 400 species. Its swamps and several lakes attracts varieties of waters fowl. Being close to the Himalayan foothills, Dudhwa also gets its regular winter visitors - the migratory water birds. The Banke Tal is perhaps the most popular spot for bird watchers. There are egrets, cormorants, heron and several species of duck, geese and teal.

Noted for the variety of storks that make their home here, Dudhwa has the crane-elegant in its grey and red livery, black necked storks, white-necked storks, painted storks, open billed storks and adjutant storks. Raptors like the grey headed fishing eagle, Pallas fishing eagle and marsh harriers can be seen circling over the lakes in search of prey - creating pandemonium among the water fowl as they swoop low.

An extraordinary range of owls are also to be found at the Reserve. These include the great Indian horned owl, the brown fish owl, the dusky horned owl, scoops owl, jungle owlet, the brown wood owl and tawny fish owl. Colourful birds - varieties of woodpeckers,barbets, minivets, bulbuls, kingfishers, bee eaters, orioles, drongos and hornbills are all part of its rich bird life.

Dudhwa has also the ideal kind of terrain for the Indian rhino. Once found here in large numbers, they had been hunted down and had completely disappeared from this area by 1878. More lately, it was feared that epidemics and disease would wipe out the existing populations of rhino in Assam , West Bengal and Nepal and a decision was taken to distribute some in other suitable areas. In an exciting experiment, one male and five female rhinos were relocated here from Assam and Nepal , in 1985. Now well-settled in Dudhwa, their numbers have increased. At present, tourists are not allowed in the rhino area.

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Wild Life and Bird Sanctuaries
Sanctuary Park Location Predominant Nearest Railhead/Road
Kishanpur Sanctuary Nepalese Terai District Lakhimpur Kheri Tiger, Leopard, Swamp Deer Mailani (20km)
Katarniaghat Sanctuary Nepalese Terai, District Bahraich Tiger, Leopard, Swamp Deer, Chital, Nilgai, Sambhar Bichhiya (4km)
Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary District Unnao Avian fauna Kusumbhi (8km) Nawabganj UPSTDC Accommodation available
Hastinapur Sanctuary District Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, Bijnor, Jyoti-ba Phule Nagar Chital, Sambhar, Nilgai, Leopard, Hyena Meerut (35km)
National Chambal Sanctuary District Agra , Etawah Maggar, Gharial, Chinkara, Sambhar, Nilgai, Wolf Agra (70km)/ Etawah (15km)
Mahavir Swami Sanctuary District Lalitpur Leopard, Nilgai, Wild bear, Sambhar Lalitpur (30km)
Ranipur Sanctuary District Banda, Chitrakoot Sloth bear, Black buck, Spur fowl, Painted Partridge, Chinkara Karvi (25km)
Chandra Prabha Sanctuary District Chandauli Panther, Chinkara, Sambhar, Chital, Peafowl Varanasi Mughal Sarai (65km)/ Chakiya (20km)
Kaimoor Sanctuary District Mirzapur and Sonbhadra Leopard, Black buck, Chital, Ratel, Peafowl Churk (20km)
Lakh Bahosi Sanctuary District Kannauj Fishing cat, Nilgai, Jackal, Mongoose, Monkey, Local / Migratory birds Kannauj (40km)
Samaspur Sanctuary District Rae Bareli Jackal Mongoose, Hare, Local/Migratory birds Unchahar (19km)/ Salon (10km)
Suhelva Sanctuary District Balrampur, Gonda, Sravasti Tiger, Cheetal, Leopard, Bear, Boar, Wild cat, Birds Balrampur (60km)
Sandi Sanctuary Distirct Hardoi Jackal, Mongoose, Nilgai, Local/Migratory birds Hardoi (19km)
Bakhira Sanctuary District Sant Kabir Nagar Jackal, Mongoose, Nilgai, Local/Migratory birds Sant Kabir Nagar (20km)
Patna Sanctuary District Etah Fishing cat, Jackal, Mongoose, Hare, Nilgai, Monkey, Fox, Local/Migratory birds Jalesar (10km)
Sur Sarovar Sanctuary District Agra Jackal, Mongoose, Hare, Local/Migratory birds Agra (20km)
Suraha Tal Sanctuary District Ballia Jackal, Mongoose, Nilgai, Monkey, Local/Migratory birds Ballia (13km)
Vijai Sagar Sanctuary District Mahoba Jackal, Mongoose, Wild cat, Local/Migratory birds Mahoba (4km)
Saman Sanctuary Distirct Mainpuri Jackal, Mongoose, Hare, Local/Migratory birds Mainpuri (38km)
Parvati Arga Sanctuary District Gonda Jackal, Mongoose, Hare, Nilgai, Wild cat, Local/Migratory birds Gonda (40km)
Okhla Sanctuary District Ghaziabad , Gautam Buddha Nagar Local/Migratory birds Delhi (15km) / Okhla (1km)
Sohagi Barwa Sanctuary District Maharajganj Tiger, Leopard, Cheetal, Bear, Wild cat, Wild boar, Python Gorakhpur (56km)/ Maharajganj (50km)
Kachhua Sanctuary District Varanasi Species of Tortoise, Ganga dolfin, Water animals Varanasi

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