History and Geography
The history of the State of Uttar Pradesh is very ancient and interesting. It is recognised in the later Vedic Age as Brahmarshi Desha or Madhya Desha. Many great sages of the Vedic times like Bharadwaja, Gautam, Yagyavalkya, Vasishta, Vishwamitra and Valmiki flourished in this state. Several sacred books of the Aryans were also composed here. Two great epics of India, Ramayana and Mahabharata, appear to have been inspired by Uttar Pradesh. In the sixth century BC, Uttar Pradesh was associated with two new religions - Jainism and Buddhism. It was at Sarnath that Buddha preached his first sermon and laid the foundations of his order, and it was in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where Buddha breathed his last. Several centres in Uttar Pradesh like Ayodhya, Prayag, Varanasi and Mathura became reputed centres of learning. In the medieval period, Uttar Pradesh passed under Muslim rule and led the way to new synthesis of Hindu and Islamic cultures. Ramananda and his Muslim disciple Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas and many other intellectuals contributed to the growth of Hindi and other languages. Uttar Pradesh preserved its intellectual excellency even under the British administration. The British combined Agra and Oudh into one province, and called it United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. The name was shortened to the United Provinces in 1935. In January 1950, the United Provinces was renamed as Uttar Pradesh. The State is bounded by Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in the north, Haryana in the west, Madhya Pradesh in the south, and Bihar in the east. Uttar Pradesh can be divided into two distinct regions, (i) Southern hills and (ii) Gangetic plain.
The biggest congregation, perhaps of the world, Kumbha Mela is held at Allahabad every twelfth year and Ardh kumbh Mela every sixth year. Magh Mela is also held at Allahabad in January when the people come in large number to have a dip in the holy Sangam. Among other fairs is the fortnight long Jhoola fair of Mathura, Vrindavan and Ayodhya, when dols are placed in gold and silver jhoolas or cradles. A dip in the Ganga on Kartik Poornamasi is supposed to be the holiest and there are big congregations at arhmukteshwar, Soran, Rajghat, kakora, Bithur, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Ayodhya. A famous cattle fair is held at Bateswar in Agra district. Dewa in Barabanki district has became famous because of the Muslim saint Waris Ali Shah. Besides, important festivals of the Hindus, Muslims, etc., are widely celebrated in the state.
Uttar Pradesh has varied attractions for all kinds of tourists. Besides ancient places of pilgrimage like Varanasi, Vindhyachal, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Prayag, Naimisharanya, Mathura, Vrindavan, Dewa Sharief, Dargah of Sheikh Saleem Chishti in Fatehpur Sikri, Sarnath, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Sankisa, Kampil, Piprahwa and Kaushambi, places like Agra, Ayodhya, Sarnath, Varanasi, Lucknow, Jhansi, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Kannauj, Mahoba, Devgarh, Bithur, and Vindhyachal have rich treasures of Hindu and Islamic architecture and culture.
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