Uttar Pradesh State

Introduction :

Uttar Pradesh pronounced ( listen), "Northern Province"), often referred to as U.P., is a state located in the northern part of India. With a population of over 190 million people,[1] it is India's most populous state, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity. Were it a nation in its own right, Uttar Pradesh would be the world's fifth most populous country.

With an area of 93,933 sq mi (243,290 km2), Uttar Pradesh covers a large part of the highly fertile and densely populated upper Gangetic plain. It shares an international border with Nepal to the north along with the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh to the north-west, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan on the west, Madhya Pradesh on the south, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand on the south east and Bihar on the east. The administrative and legislative capital of Uttar Pradesh is Lucknow and the financial and industrial capital is Kanpur. The state's high court is based at Allahabad with a bench in state capital Lucknow. It is home to many historical cities, including Allahabad, Varanasi and Agra. Kanpur is its largest city; other big cities are Gorakhpur, Meerut, Agra, Aligarh, Bareilly, , Ghaziabad and Noida.

Uttar Pradesh has an important place in the culture of India; it is considered to be the birthplace of Hinduism, has been the ancient seat of Hindu religion, learning and culture, and has many important sites of Hindu pilgrimage. The State also has several sites important to Buddhism: the Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Buddha met his first disciples, while the Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath commemorates Buddha's first sermon. Also the town of Kushinagar is where Gautama Buddha died.

Throughout its history, the region of Uttar Pradesh was sometimes divided between smaller kingdoms and at other times formed an important part of larger empires that arose on its east or west, including the Magadha, Nanda, Mauryan, Sunga, Kushan, Gurjara, Gupta, Pala and Mughal empires.

The Indo-Gangetic plain, that spans most of the state, is also the birth place of the Indo-Islamic syncretic culture of the medieval period. It holds much of the heritage of the Mughal Empire, including the world famous mausoleum Taj Mahal built by Shah Jehan, the magnificent tomb of Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great in Agra and Akbar's capital-palace in Fatehpur Sikri. It was a centre of nationalism during the British colonial period and has continued to play a prominent role in Indian political and cultural movements. The state has a rich heritage of traditional crafts and cottage industries of various types that employ highly skilled craftsmen and artisans.

Hindus constitute 80% of the population in the state. Islam is practised by about 18% of the population while the remaining 2% include Atheists, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians, and also the tribal population.

Geography :

Uttar Pradesh shares an international border with Nepal and is bounded by the Indian states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. The state can be divided into two distinct hypsographical regions:

The larger Gangetic Plain region is in the north: it includes the Ganga-Yamuna Doab, the Ghaghra plains, the Ganga plains and the Terai. It has highly fertile alluvial soils and flat topography - (slope 2 m/km) - broken by numerous ponds, lakes and rivers.

The smaller Vindhya Hills and Plateau region is in the south: it is characterised by hard rock strata and varied topography of hills, plains, valleys and plateau; limited availability of water makes the region relatively arid.

Climate :

The climate of Uttar Pradesh is predominantly subtropical, but weather conditions change significantly with location and seasons:

Temperature: Depending on the elevation, the average temperatures vary from 12.517.5 C (5564 F) in January to 27.532.5 C (8291 F) in May and June. The highest temperature recorded in the State was 49.9 C (121.8 F) at Gonda on 8 May 1958.

Rainfall: Rainfall in the State ranges from 1,0002,000 mm (3979 in) in the east to 6001,000 mm (2439 in) in the west. About 90 percent of the rainfall occurs during the southwest Monsoon,lasting from about June to September. With most of the rainfall concentrated during this four-month period, floods are a recurring problem and cause heavy damage to crops, life, and property, particularly in the eastern part of the state, where the Himalayan-origin rivers flow with a very low north-south gradient.

Snowfall: In the Himalayan region of the State, annual snowfall averaging 3 to 5 metres (10 to 15 feet) is common between December and March.

Tourism :

Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of visitors, both national and international; with more than 71 million domestic tourists (in 2003) and almost 25% of the All-India foreign tourists visiting Uttar Pradesh, it is one of the top tourist destinations in India. There are two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go, viz. the Agra circuit and the Hindu pilgrimage circuit.

The city of Agra, gives access to three World Heritage Sites: Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and the nearby Fatehpur Sikri: Taj Mahal is a mausoleum built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is cited as "the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage." Agra Fort is about 2.5 km northwest of its much more famous sister monument, the Taj Mahal. The fort can be more accurately described as a walled palatial city. Fatehpur Sikri was the world famous 16th century capital city near Agra, built by the Mughal emperor Akbar the Great, whose mausoleum in Agra is also worth a visit. Dayal Bagh in Agra is a modern day temple and popular tourist sight. Its lifelike sculptures in marble are unique in India. Agra's dubious modern attractions include Asia's largest Spa as well as Asia's first and only 6D theatre.

The pilgrimage circuit includes the holiest of the Hindu holy cities on the banks of sacred rivers Ganga and the Yamuna: Varanasi (also considered world's oldest city), Ayodhya (birth place of Lord Rama), Mathura (birth place of Lord Krishna) and Allahabad (the confluence or 'holy-sangam' of the sacred Ganga-Yamuna rivers).

Varanasi is widely considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world. It is famous for its ghats (bathing steps along the river), full of pilgrims year round who come to bathe in the sacred Ganges River.

Mathura is wold-famous for its colourful celebrations of the Holi festival, which attracts many tourists also - thanks partly to the hype, which the Indian film industry has given to this highly entertaining socio-religious festival.

Thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the Magh Mela festival, which is held on the banks of the Ganges. This festival is organised on a larger scale every 12th year and is called the Kumbha Mela, where over 10 million Hindu pilgrims congregate the largest gathering of human beings in the world.

The historically important towns of Sarnath and Kushinagar are located not far from Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after his enlightenment and died at Kushinagar; both are important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Pillars of Ashoka and the Lion Capital of Ashoka, both important archaeological artifacts with national significance. At a distance of 80 km from Varanasi, Ghazipur is famous not only for its Ganga Ghats but also for the Tomb of British potentate Lord Cornwallis, maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.

Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, has several beautiful historical monuments such as Bara Imambara and Chhota Imambara. It has also preserved the damaged complex of the Oudh-period British Resident's quarters, which are being restored.

Dudhwa National Park is one of the best tiger reserves in the country. Lakhimpur Kheri - home to the Tiger Reserve - and Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary - the most concentrated sanctuary in India with a large population of tigers as well as leopards - situated in Bahraich and bordering Nepal is also worth a visit. Some areas require a special permit for non-Indians to visit.

Flora And Fauna :

Uttar Pradesh has 12.8% land under forest cover now. In spite of alarming deforestation and poaching of wild life, a diverse flora and fauna exists. Several species of trees, large and small mammals, reptiles and insects are found in the belt of temperate upper mountainous forests; medicinal plants are also found wild here, or are now grown on plantations. Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands support cattle. Moist deciduous trees grow in the upper Gangetic plain, including its riverbanks. In fact, this vast plain is so fertile and life supporting that any thing, which can live or grow anywhere, will do so here. Ganges and its tributaries are the habitat of a variety of large and small reptiles, amphibians, fresh-water fish and crabs. Mostly scrubs, trees like babool and animals like chinkara are found in the arid Vindhyas. The states important plants and animals include the following:

Trees: pine, rhododendrons, silver fir, deodar, saal, oak, teak, sheesham, mango, neem, banyan, peepal, imli, jamun, mahua, semal, gular and dhak.

Medicinal plants: hingan, Dhak, rauwolfia, sepentina, hexandrum, viala serpens, podophyllum, aephecra gerardiana.

Large vertebrates: elephant, tiger, bear, neelgai, wild pig, deer, wolf, jackal, fox, languor.

Birds: peacock, porcupine, gray quail, pigeon, swallow, maina, indian parakeet, crow and duck.

Reptiles: crocodile, gharial, goh, snakes, chameleon and other lizards.

Fish: Rohu, catla, khusa, parhan, patra, moi, korouch and singhi.

According to Hindu legend, Lord Ramas warrior devotee Hanuman had brought life saving Sanjivani herbs from a mountain of this, or possibly the breakaway Uttarakhand, region.