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Journey Map / Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh literally translates to 'northern province' and is colloquially and officially abbreviated as UP. It is perhaps best known for one of the seven wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal which is situated in the city of Agra, built by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife. Shah Jahan is a notable historical figure in the popularisation of Indian arts and crafts, owing to his and his courts' love of fusing Mughal patterns with traditional Indian styles. The state sits just south of Nepal and has a history of varying definitions and geographic demarcations, starting from the early 19th century, after the establishment of the British East India Company (or simply, the Company) in the Indo-Gangetic, or Indus-Gangetic, Plain. The Plain is home to a population of almost 1 billion and many of India's major cities such as the Delhi, the National Capital Territory of India, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Patna in Bihar and Jaipur, Rajasthan, to name a few.

In 1833 one of the colonial regions of the British Raj and Company, the Bengal Presidency, was divided into two provinces, one of which became known as the Agra Presidency. It was renamed to North-Western Provinces in 1836 and placed under the jurisdiction of the Lieutenant Governor of the Company. In 1877 the Agra Presidency and then state of Oudh, which was occupied by the British Raj and Company in 1858, were placed under the jurisdiction of the colonial administrator of the British Crown, who was officially called the Lieutenant Governor of the North-Western Provinces and Chief Commisioner of Oudh. In 1902 the provinces became the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, and in 1921 it became known as the United Provinces of British India. The name was shortened to United Provinces in 1937. Upon India's independence in 1947 the states of Banaras (now the present-day city of Varanasi), Rampur and Tehri Garwal merged into the United Provinces, which was then renamed to Uttar Pradesh in 1950. In 1999 the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, previously known as Uttaranchal, was formed out of Uttar Pradesh.

Uttar Pradesh is known for the flourishment of many forms of art including music, dance, literature and the textile arts of silk brocade weaving and zari embroidering that is prominent in Varanasi city. These arts continue to be the hallmarks of the state with schools such as Bhatkhande Music Institute University in Lucknow teaching traditional styles. Government organisations such as the Office of the Development Commissioner, Handlooms, which is under the Indian Ministry of Textiles, perpetuates the traditional techniques of hand weaving by providing support to weavers. Non-government organisational schemes such as the Diversified Handloom Development Scheme (DHDS) also offer support to weavers, particuarly in Varanasi where weaving is most prevalent, in terms of providing raw materials, marketing, improving infrastructure and conditions. Such organisations and educational establishments allow Indian traditions to thrive throughout modern times.

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Banarasi Brocade from Uttar Pradesh | Indian Fashion   Zardosi from Uttar Pradesh | Indian Fashion