Uttar Pradesh, whose northern boundary marches with the international frontier, epitomizes the glorious ancient and rich civilization of India. Uttar Pradesh owes the reverence and sanctity and solemn devotion of the people to India’s primal river of divine origin namely the Ganga (Ganges) that, in its stately meander, flows across Uttar Pradesh.
A camel basks in the early morning sun unaware of the beauty peeping through the mist in the Uttar Pradesh The Neelkantha Peak contrasts strongly to the grassy slopes of these lower mountains (Shivji) between 2500 and 1500 BC. It was after the victory of the invading Aryans in the battles between them and the original inhabitants that the Aryan settlements began to be established. These settlements, in the remote history of India, were then known as Madhyadesa, Aryavarta or Antardesa. Today, their name is Uttar Pradesh.
. Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) is considered sacred in Hindu lore because the gods and heroes of the epic period inhabited it. Their deeds are recorded in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The people of this region were reckoned as the most cultured of the Aryans. Their speech formed the norm and their conduct was prescribed as the model. They were the masters of rituals and could perform sacrifices without fault.
Some of the early rulers of these states, notably King Pravahna of Jaivali Panchala, won immortal fame.
civilization. Antiquity has been uncovered by excavations at Bundelkhand, Mirzapur and Meerut. These reveal Paleolithic, Neolithic and Harappan culture. These findings take back the cultural history of Uttar Pradesh to a period anterior to the advent of the Aryans. It is quite likely that the missing link between the Indus Valley and the Vedic civilization lies buried in the ruins of ancient sites in Uttar Pradesh.
Uttar Pradesh has Travellers from far come to Rishikesh to attend Yoga and meditation camps three distinct physical features, viz., the Himalayan Region in the north, the Gangetic Plain in the middle and the hills and plateau in the south. The Himalayan region is traversed by several mountain ranges whose notable peaks above 7,000 meters, are known as Kamet (7,756 meters), Badrinath (7,130 meters) and Trishul (7,120 meters) and Dunagiri (7,066 meters).
Uttar Pradesh has the largest population among all the States and Union Territories of India on account of the vast tract of fertile land with ample water resources. Only six countries in the world are more populous than Uttar Pradesh —China, Russia, USA, Japan, Indonesia and Brazil. In density of the population, UP comes after Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu. The cosmopolitan population has given Uttar Pradesh an all-India character. The State has a concentration of Kashmiris, Punjabis, Bengalis, Andhraites, Parsis, Maharashtrians etc. some of whom have acquired all-India fame as litterateurs, freedom fighters and poets. It also has a multi-religious, multilingual and multi-ethnic society. The most important language of Uttar Pradesh is Hindi followed by Urdu.
Forest, Flora And Fauna.
The State has immense wealth by way of flora and fauna. These have an immense variety of some 1000 woody plants including 300 trees, 400 shrubs, and 100 woody climbers. More than 200 species of grasses have been identified in the Gangetic Plains along with a rich variety of herbs and valuable medicinal plants. The variegated topography and climate of Uttar Pradesh gives it a rich wealth of animal life. Its avifauna is among the richest in the country. Thejungles of UP support tigers, leopards, wild boars, jungle cats, jackals, foxes, monitor lizards and many other species of mammals and reptiles. The birds include dove, pigeon, blue jay, peafowl, and king fisher. To preserve its wildlife, the State has established one national park, the famed Corbett Park — and 12 game sanctuaries. The Corbett Park — the showpiece of the State--covers 324 square kilometers.
Fairs And Festivals.
The calender of fairs and festivals for the State is one long procession which covers every week of the year. More than 2,230 festivals are held annually. Some are organised at several places simultaneously while others have only local importance. Festivals and feasts are linked with the golden harvest, the sensuous spring, the reverence for mythology, religion or in honour of the past great men. These are zestfully celebrated with song, dance and merriment, others with solemnity, fervour, fast or feast. These fairs and festivals help the people keep the culture vibrant and promote artistic activities.
The largest number of festivals are held in Mathura (86), followed by Kanpur (79), Hamirpur (79), Jhansi (76), Agra (72) and Fatehrpur (71).people while those in the hill districts — being more localised — the gatherings are much smaller.
Some examples of the festivals consist of Navratri, the nine day festival dedicated to the Primordial Energy, known as Durga, the consort of Shiva, which begins on the first day of the bright half of the month of Asvina. Diwali is another prominent festival devoted to Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. Diwali is also associated with the triumphal entry of Lord Rama with Sita into Ayodhya, after his victory over Ravana, King of Lanka, at the end of their 14 year exile.
The largest festival held in India, if not Asia, drawing millions of people, isknown as the Kumbha Mela at the time of the solar and lunar eclipses every twelve years. In between, the Ardha Kumbha Mela is held every six years. These festivals take place at Allahabad and Haridwar. With due solemnity, Muslims observe the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Holy Prophet. Buddha Purnima, sacred to the Buddhists, Mahavir Jayanti to the Jains and Guru Nanak’s birthday to the Sikhs are also celebrated with fervour. Christmas, New Year’s Day, Good Friday and Easter are other festivals of note. Shivratri, which falls on the 13th day of the Phalgun Badi, is devoted to the worship of Lord Shiva, a god of the Holy Trinity. The entire
A view of the Dargah at the abandoned city of Fatehpur Sikri near Agra (Mann Bahuguna) Mendicants at the Triveni Ghat, Rishikesh night is spent in singing the praise of the Lord, and fairs and celebrations are organised at all important Shiva temples, the biggest being at the Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi. This festival attracts some four lakh (four hundred thousand) devotees each year.
Holi is another gay and colourful occasion which marks the onset of the gathering of the harvest which brings great joy and happiness in the countryside. The most interesting celebrations are held at Barsana, the legendary home town of Radha, consort of Lord Krishna, when the women of the village go out in a body to Nandgaon the home of Lord Krishna, and challenge the men to throw colour on them. This festival is also known as ‘Lathmar Holi’.
Arts And Crafts.
The handicrafts of Uttar Pradesh have an established reputation for centuries. The traditional handicrafts cover a vast variety such as textiles, metalware, woodwork, ceramics, stone work, dolls, artistic leather products, ivory articles, papier mache, articles made of horns, bone, cane and bamboo, perfumery, and products of musical instruments. Some of the arts and crafts date back to the period of the Ramayana. At the time of her wedding, Sita was dressed in”gossamer-fine rose red garment embroidered with gold, and bejewelled butterflies and other precious ornaments to adorn her beautiful black hair”. The wedding presents from her father included “furs, woollen wear, fine silken clothes of various colours and precious stones”.
These cottage crafts are spread all over the State but the more important centres of excellence are Varanasi, Azamgarh, Maunath Bhanjan (Azamgarh), Ghazipur, Meerut, Moradabad and Agra.
Varanasi, Agra and Lucknow have been famous for their rich embroidery on silk in silver, gold and silk threads. Zardozi and Kamdani work in gold and silver have long embellished the court raiments of the rulers of olden days. The Chikan work of Lucknow which is fine shadow work embroidery has commanded an international market. Carpets of Bhadoi, Mirzapur and Agra in various traditional designs are popular at home and abroad. These carpets use wool, cotton and velvet.
The traditional pottery centres are located at Khurja, Chunar, Lucknow, Rampur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh and Azamgarh. Khurja’s dishes, pitchers and flower bowls in glazed ceramic in blue, green, brown and orange colours are most attractive.
Moradabad produces exquisite brass utility articles. Besides, minakari on silver and gold and diamond-cut silver ornaments have made Varanasi and Lucknow world famous.
Besides the cottage and small-
Elaborate and antiquated, the temple of
Baleshwar at Champawat in the Kumaon
hills (P.K. De)
The mighty Trishul peak up-close from Roop Kund (Rajeev Rastogi)
scale industries, the State has large scale industries also. As far back as 1859, the first cotton mill was opened in Kanpur. Ever since then, the industries have multiplied. Today, it is the principal sugar producing State of India. A large number of public undertakings produce drugs, locomotives, fertilizers, compressors, transformers, telephone switches and a host of goods of modern use.
Museums. Hindu culture
reached its apogee in this State. An eminent historian, Dr Jadunath Sarkar, has recorded that in the sylvan retreats of Uttar Pradesh “were developed our systems of philosophy, ethics, theology, and even several branches of literature proper”. The reflection of such an eminent culture of the ancient Indian age is to be found in a range of articles such as sculptures, documents, paintings etc. These are exhibited in some 90 Museums all over Uttar Pradesh devoted to the arts, crafts, archaeology, history, science, medicine and objects of educative value and specialised spheres. The oldest museum is the State Museum of Lucknow which was established in 1863 which had its galleries in Lucknow and Allahabad. The museums have various sections exclusively displaying objects of ethnography, numismatics, paintings, textiles, applied arts, natural history and more. The library and photograph sections of the museums meet the needs of research scholars.
Another prominent museum is the Mathura Museum set up in 1874. It has antiquities which include sculptures, inscriptions, bas-reliefs, inscribedobjects. These represent the richest period of the Kushan era in Indian history. There are two museums in Varanasi —the Sarnath and the Bharat Kala Museums of Art and Archaeology. The Sarnath museum came into being in 1904 and has collections numbering 1,500 antiquities, ranging from the 3rd Century B.C. to the 12th Century A.D.. It has images, bas-reliefs, architectural pieces and various objects of stone, beads, toys, terracotta figures and pottery. The Bharat Kala Museum contains the private collections of Sri Rai Krishnadas.
In 1907-08, the Gurukul Kangri Museum was established at Haridwar. It has rare objects of Indo-Greek, tribal, Kushan and Gupta periods, mediaeval and Mughal coins, and paintings.
The Allahabad Museum was founded in 1931. It also has the private collection consisting of the gifts and presents received by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his capacity as the Prime Minister. A group of other museums of interest are the Rahul Sankrityayana Sansthan at Gorakhpur, the Bundelkhand Chhatrsal Museum at Banda, the Panchal Itihas Parishad Museum at Bareilly, all of which have noteworthy objects of historical significance.
Bathers during the Kumbha Mela at Haridwar (P.K. De) is the Motilal Nehru Bal Sangrahalaya, with sections dealing in astronomy, social science, personal hygiene, geology and the like.
Dehra Dun is the seat of the Forest Research Institute. Under its auspices, a museum was created in 1914. It has four major sections that deal with timber, minor forest produce, silviculture and entomology. Another museum located in Dehra Dun is a branch of the Geological Survey of India. Opened in 1927, it preserves the photographs of the founders of the great Trigonometrical Survey, the Great Theodolite Lambton’s chain, various modern theodolites, Colby bars, and transit telescopes.
In 1928, a Provincial Hygiene Institute Museum was set up at Lucknow. It ‘exhibits objects relating to meteorology, physics, chemistry, anatomy, preventive diseases, water supply, air and ventilation, sewage and drainage, nutrition andother disciplines.
In addition, a number of other Museums in the State are organised by the universities and colleges which display objects of educative value for the students.
Tourism. Uttar Pradesh is studded with places of tourist attraction across a wide spectrum of interest to historians, research scholars, archaeologists, administrators, religionists, architects — indeed an immense variety for specialists and casual viewers. The State offers places of interest under- the three broad categories of pilgrimages and sites of religious importance, historic cities, and holiday resorts.
Places Of Pilgrimage. Amongst the Hindu centres of pilgrimage, Varanasi has the remotest antiquity. The Puranas say that the city was founded in 1,200 B.C.. It is known as “The City that is a prayer”. It has been described as the ancient centre of pilgrimage: “Hinduism deep and mystical is everywhere”. Perhaps no other city in the world can claim the continuous history and antiquity of Varanasi. Prayag (Allahabad) is another centre of Hinduism, inextricably linked with the sacred waters of the Ganga and the Yamuna. Prayag has won the title ‘Tirathraja —King of tirathas (pilgrimages). The Sangam at Allahabad is the site of the one of the Kumbh Melas — India’s largest fair. Ayodhya is a place of extreme sanctity being the birth place of Lord Rama. There are the twin cities of Mathura and Brindaban, the birth place of Lord Krishna. Mathura was once the richest city in India. It was a principal centre of architectural and sculptural excellence.
Among the Buddhist centres of Pilgrimage aye Sarnath — 10 kilometres where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon (Kushinara), of sacred eminence as Lord Buddha attained his Mahaparinirvana there; while Sravasti and Sankisa are places where Lord Buddha performed miracles.
The Muslim centres of pilgrimage include Deva where lies the shrine of Saint Waris Ali Shah; Bahraich, Kaliya and Barza which have mausoleums in the memory of famous saints.
A string of historic cities in UP are attractive because of their ancient and old-world spaciousness. Lucknow, known as the ‘City of Gardens’, was first founded by Lakshman, brother of Lord Rama. The city is steeped in history from the time it was founded: it was known as Lakshmanpuri. Agra needs no mention as it is the site of the Taj Mahal.
Holiday Resorts. Hill stations of salubrious climate and gripping snow views abound in the hilly tracts of the State. Nainital (discovered in 1841), Ranikhet encased in pine and oak, gay Mussoorie (set up in 1811), Lansdowne. a military cantonment world famous Corbett National Park and Almora have their unique enchantment.
In the north-western hill portion of the Himalayas lie the Garhwal and Kumaon
regions. These regions teem with holy places which draw pilgrims to pay homage to the celestial gods and goddesses who comprise the rich tapestry of India’s ancient mythology. Visits to Kedarnath Temple, Gangotri Temple, Bhairav Nath Temple, Rishikesh, Badrinath Temple and the like are readily available for the devout worshippers.
In conclusion, UP stands out as a peerless Hart of India.