As the cradle to powerful empires of ancient and medieval India, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India with several tourist destinations. Among them, Agra and Varanasi are two good choices for tourists all around the world. Agra itself is famous for two main monuments, the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort. Ganges River and Sarnath are must-see for travelers going to Varanasi.
The Taj Mahal, an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favorite wife according to Islamic architecture. Their touching love story is still admired by people today. The tomb is the central focus of the Taj Mahal, which is made up of a mosque and a guest house with formal gardens bounded on three sides.
As the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world's heritage, the Taj Mahal was rated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore referred to it as “the tear-drop on the cheek of time”.
Agra Fort, one of India’s most historic structures from the Mughal era, was also designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1983 with a history of more than 400 years.
It stands near the gardens of the Taj Mahal, being originally a brick fort built of red sandstone. The fort can be described as a walled palatial city. It consists of fairy-tale palaces, audience halls and two mosques with Mughal style art and architecture.
The Ganges River, known as Mother Ganga to Indians, is the most sacred river to Hindus. It is believed that bathing at the source of the Ganges gives a fresh start in life and it washes away all sins.
The best way to experience the Ganges River is by boat. The rapids of the Ganges are famous for river rafting, attracting adventure seekers in the summer months. In addition, participating in the celebratory rituals that honor the river can make the tourists feel the power of the Ganga's sacred waters.
Sarnath, renowned as the site of the deer park, is one of the 4 main Buddhist pilgrimage destinations. Based on tradition, it was where the Buddha first began teaching his followers and is located just 13 kilometers from Varanasi.
The site contains a shrine and the famous lion-capital memorial pillar. The most significant structure in Sarnath is Dhamek Stupa. It marks the place where Buddha taught the Four Noble Truths.
If you plan to travel in India, don’t hesitate to go to Uttar Pradesh. Agra and Varanasi are absolutely worth your visit.
Images and content from Odyssey Tours.