Uttar Pradesh is home to Shiva and Parvati. It is the birthplace of gods, goddesses, and villains too! It is also the birthplace of some world-famous gurus, saints and poets such as Lahiri Mahasaya (Spiritual Guru who introduced Kriya Yoga to the world), Tulsidas, Kabir, Surdas, Nizamuddin Auliya, Amir Khusro (king of qawwali) and many more. To say the least, it is the land where iconic Hindu epics were written, such as Ramayan and Mahabharata.
The fairs and festive season attract many tourists from around the world. This time is ideal for foodies. You have a lot to add to your plates. Apart from rich Nawabi food, Uttar Pradesh is also famous for Awadhi cuisine and delectable savouries such as kachori (Varanasi), chaat, samosas, and pakoras. I hope your mouth has started watering already.
And yet, Uttar Pradesh natives face many challenges. We are called gundas. We cannot complete a sentence without abusing. We are arrogant and lack etiquettes. All of us eat paan and gutkhas (tobacco). We lack sense of fashion and speak poor English. Well, if that is true. I have some questions for you – how on earth are we doing business across the globe? Why would the world do business with us if we lack a sense of craftsmanship (design)? Why do tourists want to visit Uttar Pradesh if we do not treat people well? I come from the “City of Carpets” called Bhadohi. My family speaks English and so does every entrepreneur in my town. And from what I have seen, not all of us abuse. The entrepreneurs are well-travelled across the globe.
Love is still prominent in our culture. We are taught to respect our work and family. But if someone or something poses a threat, we do not hesitate to use power to bring down the enemy.
The land of epic love stories
Every year millions of people visit Varanasi, Mathura, Vrindavan and Ayodhya to experience the rich feel of the Mughal Dynasty, Hinduism, and Buddhism. It is not only a land where epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata were written, but it is also the first state of India to give importance to the emotion called “love”.
On one side, Mathura and Vrindavan is a destination of unforgettable land of love of Krishna and Radha. The raasleela of Krishna and Radha depicts the mesmerizing feeling of being smitten by love.
You’ll also find a similar story in Varanasi. Once you are in the city, you feel the presences of Shiv and Parvati. It is a second home to them after Mount Kalish. You feel humbled by their love. The Banarsi paan, bhang, Chandi ki supari and narrow lanes walk you through the nagari of Shiv and Parvati and their struggle for a union.
Struggle is an essential element in love. Struggle teaches us to listen and broaden our horizon. It teaches us to be patient and provokes us to stand for a cause. Love gives us an introduction to our potential, who we are, and where to set our boundaries.
Written by Maharshi Valmiki, Ramayana is one such epic that is based in Ayodhya that changes our perspective on love. It teaches love is around us, and it may not be in the form of the union of two lovers. Love is when you show patience. The existence of mankind is because of love. Ramayana talks about love between father and son, mother and son, among siblings and friends. It extends to a brother, a lover, and a friend who embarks on the journey to set his loved one free – Sita.
The land of a grieving lover
The art of moving away from emotional loss is not an easy process. Cities like Ayodhya, Sitamarhi, Agra, Saharanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi, and Mirzapur have ancient Indian historical events that narrates the burden of losing a loved one and ways to heal ourselves from it. Ram grieved in Ayodhya after Sita’s exile. But her death in Sitamarhi, in Uttar Pradesh, tormented Ram. He then chose to drown in the Saryau River, Ayodhya.
But the architecture of the Taj Mahal is an example to the world that shows how an outburst from grieve can be creative. The Mughal emperor Shah Jahan built a tomb in Agra after his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Today, the Taj Mahal is open for prayers only on Fridays.
Worshipping shrines is also an important symbology in Uttar Pradesh, especially in Hinduism. There are nearly four important shakti peeth with a story behind them. It has been said, wherever the body parts of Aadi Shakti as Saati feel, it became a source of power. There are 108 peeths. Some in India, few in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and China. The most popular peeths in Uttar Pradesh are:
- Shakambhari – Saharanpur,
- Alopi Devi Mandir – Allahabad,
- Vishalakshi Temple – Varanasi, and
- Vindhyachal Temple – Mirzapur
Power struggle, conspiration and treachery
The chaos outside and around us is the reflection of the torment a soul goes through within. The villain inside finds an expressive outlet through hurting others. This is when the power struggle begins and the hatching and plotting, conspiring and betrayal start.
Mathura has torment stories of Kansa. Krishna, the avatar of Vishnu, frees the people when he killed Kansa. Killing Kansa was not an easy task. Krishna knew Kansa had a crooked mind. Kansa was known for conspiring and cheating. He used the art of manipulation to form an army of loyal supporters. For Krishna freeing his people from cruelty was the topmost priority.
Jhansi Fort, and the city, share the same spirit of freedom. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the queen of Jhansi, died fighting against the British East India Company. The fort stands tall and reminds us of a lady warrior.
There are 11 more forts to visit in Uttar Pradesh. These are:
- Agra Fort – Agra
- Jahangir Palace – Agra
- Fatehpur Sikri Fort – Agra
- Chunar Fort – Mirzapur
- Ramnagar Fort – Varanasi
- Rampur Fort – Bundlekhand
- Vijaygarh Fort – Ribertganj
- Kalinijar Fort – Kalinijar, Bundlekhand
- Aligarh Fort – Aligarh
- Prayagraj Fort – Allahabad
- Jajmau Fort – Kanpur
- Vishungarh Fort – Vishungarh
Sarnath – Buddhism
Sarnath is located 10 km away from Varanasi. It is the place where Buddha found enlightenment, and he delivered his first lecture on Dharma. For Buddhists, it is one of the four places of pilgrimage. Buddha revealed the four noble truths for spiritual upliftment says, thebuddistcentre.com
- “All existence is dukkha/suffering,
- The cause of dukkha is craving,
- The cessation of dukkha comes with the cessation of craving, and
- There is a path that leads from dukkha.”
Fairs and festivals of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is a land where people celebrate together fairs and festivals in harmony. These fairs and festivals are traditional by nature that shows the different aspects of human life. People celebrate throughout the year. To say October to March is a season for tourists is not correct. In fact, these fairs are major tourist attractions in the state.
Mathura organizes 86 fairs yearly, followed by Kanpur (80), Hamipur (79), Jhansi (78), Agra (72) and Fatepur (70). The iconic Kumbh Mela held in Allahabad has grabbed attention worldwide. It is the tradition of bathing in the sacred river in Allahabad, where three rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati meet each other. It is also known as Sangam. Some of the important fairs are:
- Magh Mela – Allahabad
- Ramayan Fair – Chitrakoot and Ayodhya
- Dhrupad Mela – Tulsi Ghat, Varanasi
- Kampil Fair – Farrukhabad
- Nauchandi Fair – Meerut
- Shravan Jhula Mela – Faizabad and Ayodhya
- Janmashtami Fair – Mathura
- Kailash Fair – Agra
- Shakumbhari Devi Fair – Saharanpur
- Deva Sharif Mela – Deva (10 kms away from Barabanki)
- Dadri Cattle Fair – Dadri, Gautam Buddh Nagar
- Bateshwar Fair – Agra
- Sardhana Christian Fair – Meerut
- Khichadi fair – Gorakhpur
Other important festivals of the state are Makar Sankranti, Maha Shivratri, Holi and Lathmar Holi, Buddha Purnima, Dussehra, Janmnashtami, Navratri, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Diwali, Kartik Purnima, Muharram, Ramzan, Eid-ul-fir, Eid-ul-Zuha.
Uttar Pradesh is a revolutionary state that has continuously gone under transformations. It has defined and redefined the ideology of love, power, religion, and spirituality. It is a land that blends the people together from different religions. It has set rules and yet has no rules to follow. After all, spirituality and love always question our boundaries. It always encourages us to change our perspective towards life, love, power and faith.
Contributor: Kavita Srivastava
About our Writing Program Student
Kavita Srivastava (35) holds a degree in MBA. She’s an avid reader of business strategies, digital marketing strategies, mythology, mystic and fine arts with a focus on content marketing. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with nature and animals. Some day, she wishes to adopt a puppy with whom she can go hiking and jogging. Currently, she’s pursing a career in digital content marketing.