Uttar Pradesh is the microcosm of India, multicultural, multiracial, a conglomeration of the fabulous wealth of nature-hills, valleys, rivers, forests, and vast plains. Viewed as the largest tourist destination in India, Uttar Pradesh boasts of 35 million domestic tourists. More than half of the foreign tourists, who visit India every year, make it a point to visit this state of Taj Mahal and Ganga. Uttar Pradesh is a state in northern India. Its city of Agra is home to the iconic Taj Mahal monument, a colossal, domed, white-marble mausoleum honouring the wife of 17th-century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. the handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh have earned a reputation for themselves over the centuries. The traditional handicrafts are of a vast variety such as textiles, metalware, woodwork, ceramics, stonework, dolls, leather products, ivory articles, paper-mâché, articles made of horns, bone, cane and bamboo, perfume, and musical instrument. These cottage crafts are spread all over the state but the more important centres are located at Varanasi, Azamgarh, Maunath Bhanjan, Ghazipur, Meerut, Moradabad, and Agra. Agra itself receives around one million foreign tourists a year coupled with around twenty million domestic tourists. Its tourism promotion budget is bigger than that of the government of India and half of the states of Indian union combined. The seventh most populated state of the world, Uttar Pradesh can lay claim to being the oldest seat of India’s culture and civilization. It has been characterized as the cradle of Indian civilization and culture because it is around the Ganga that the ancient cities and towns sprang up.
Uttar Pradesh is studded with places of tourist attractions across a wide spectrum of interest to people of diverse interests.
In 1526, Babur laid the foundation of the Mughal dynasty. He defeated Ibrahim Lodi in the battle of Panipat. Babar carried out an extensive campaign in various parts of Uttar Pradesh. He defeated the Rajputs near Fatehpur Sikri while his son Humayun conquered Jaunpur and Ghazipur, after having brought the whole of Awadh under his control. After Babur’s death (1530), his son Humayun forfeited the empire after being defeated at the hands of Sher Shah Suri at Kannauj. After the death of Sher Shah Suri in 1545, Humayun once again regained his empire but died soon after.
His son Akbar proved to be the greatest of Mughals. His established a unified empire over nearly the whole of India. During his period, Agra became the capital of India and became the heartland of culture and arts. Akbar laid the foundation of modern Indian administration in many respects. His reign saw peace, tranquillity, and progress. He constructed huge forts in Agra and Allahabad. He shifted his capital to a city called Fatehpur Sikri close to Agra that for some years became the hub of administration.
In 1605, Akbar died and was succeeded by his son Jahangir. The period of Jahangir saw arts and culture reach a new high. However, politically and administratively, the real power during this time rested with the queen Noorjehan.
In 1627, after the death of Jahangir, his son Shahjahan ascended the throne. The period of Shahjahan is known as the golden period of India in art, culture, and architecture. It was during his reign that the classical wonder Taj Mahal was built in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. He also constructed the famous Red Fort in Delhi as well as the Jama Masjid and Moti Mahal.
The traditional pottery centres are located at Khurja, Chunar, Lucknow, Rampur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, and Azamgarh. Khurja’s dishes, pitchers, and flower bowls in blazed ceramic in blue, green, brown and orange colours are the most attractive. Muradabad produces exquisite brass utility articles. Besides, minakari on silver and gold and diamond-cut silver ornaments have made Varanasi and Lucknow world famous.
The population comprises an Indo-Dravidian ethnic group; only a small population, in the Himalayan region, displays Asiatic origins. Hindus constitute more than 80 per cent of the population, Muslims more than 15 per cent, and other religious communities-including Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and Buddhists-together constitute less than 1 per cent.
Modern-day Uttar Pradesh saw the rise of important freedom fighters in the national scenario. Lal Bahadur Shastri, Jawaharlal Nehru, Smt. Indira Gandhi and Charan Singh were only a few of the important names who played a significant role in India’s freedom movement and also rose to become the prime ministers of this great nation.