Uttar Pradesh India – Your Quick Travel Guide
In a nutshell
Uttar Pradesh is considered the cultural, spiritual and scenic centre of India; a place of magnificent hills, valleys, rivers, forests and plains as well as incredible historic cities such as Varanasi, world-renowned monuments such as the Taj Mahal and extraordinary religious gatherings such as the Kumbh Mela.
Where to go in Uttar Pradesh
The state of Utter Pradesh offers innumerable attractions to visitors by way of its rich and varied topography, vibrant culture, ancient architecture and tremendous places of worship.
Agra, Varanasi, Sarnath, Mathura, Allahabad, Ayodhya, Deogarh, Kushinagar, Lucknow, Sravasti, Vrindavan, Bithoor, Kalinjar and Kannauj are some of the most interesting tourist destinations in Uttar Pradesh. These key cities stand testament to the state's claim to be the beacon of Indian culture and civilization.
Uttar Pradesh is also known for its various festivals, which are usually celebrated with extravagant displays of merriment, dance performances and artfully carried out rituals.
It is also a place that is famous for its handicrafts, which are now a vastly varied industry and include everything from traditional textiles to bone carvings, metalware, perfume, carpets, silks, ceramics and musical instruments.
Not only that Uttar Pradesh is also something of a foodie heaven due to the sheer assortment of cuisines available there. This state is grandiose and spellbinding, diverse and different in that it leaves a long-lasting impression more so than any other place in India.
When to go to Uttar Pradesh
The climate in Uttar Pradesh can be somewhat extreme. The summer months of April to June see temperatures ranging between 25°C and 45°C while in the winter months of January to early March it can dip to as low as 8°C. The monsoon months are pretty hot and humid, therefore, the best time to visit Uttar Pradesh is between October and mid-March.
Where to stay in Uttar Pradesh
Considered one of the main tourist destinations in India, Uttar Pradesh attracts over of 35 million domestic and foreign tourists per year. It is a pretty tourist savvy state and a lot of the accommodation there is built with the tourist trade in mind. There are some extraordinarily beautiful heritage and luxury hotels in the more popular cities such as Agra, Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Mathura and Ayodhya. A lot of these come in a form of antiquated buildings, forts, havelis and even castles and offer visitors a truly fabulous experience. In-house facilities vary from place to places but you can generally expect top-rate rooms and service.
You will also find mid-range and budget hotels in most cities, which tend to be located close to transport links, local amenities and some tourist hotspots.
A vast majority of tourist accommodation, nowadays, offers spacious and clean rooms with TVs, attached bathrooms, room service, housekeeping, free Wi-fi and airport shuttle services.
Home-stays and small, usually family run, hotels are most common in villages and remote locations. They tend to offer very basic but cosy rooms with fewer creature comforts but plenty of rustic charm.
Where and what to eat in Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is famous for its eclectic cuisine which has roots in Mughlai and Awadhi cooking as well as influences from the neighbouring states of Delhi, Uttarakhand and Haryana.
North Indian cuisine is fragrant, flavoursome and very, very spicy and is most frequently accompanied by some sort of bread as wheat is the staple food in this part of the country. It is also known for its use of mutton, paneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron.
Uttar Pradesh is no different in that most of its dishes are delectably spiced and served with some kind of bread, be it flatbread, tandoori naan, roti, taftan, kulcha, chapati or paratha.
You will also find plenty of vegetarian and non-vegetarian eateries in the state as well as dessert parlours and restaurants offering Continental, Chinese, Italian and North American dishes.
We do recommend, however, that while in Uttar Pradesh you try some local specialities such as aloo paratha, katchori, chole bhature, chaat, special thali with naan, veg kofta, galawati kebab and flavoured paan, which is a traditional after-dinner treat very popular with the locals.
Uttar Pradesh is also famous for its sweets thus if you have a sweet tooth this is the place to go. You will find numerous dessert parlours, ice cream cafés and sweet shops across the state offering some truly delicious treats. The best of these are sold in local stores, therefore, we suggest you head straight there and try some gulab jamun, imarti or kesar kulfi, which is a rich and creamy traditional Indian ice cream subtly flavoured with saffron.
How to get to, from andaround Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is a very well connected state with an extensive road network as well as national and state highways throughout. Both government and private buses operate from all of the main cities, making it easy to travel across the state and beyond. The most popular mode of transport in Uttar Pradesh is local buses, which are pretty efficient and cost-effective with fare prices starting from about INR5 per km. Tourist buses are also widely available and offer a slightly more comfortable way to travel long distance journeys. Normally, tourist bus fare prices are triple those of local buses but it is worth bargaining.
For short distance journeys, cycle and regular rickshaws, as well as taxis, are the most common way to get around. The former two can be found on most street corners, as well as at most bus and railway stations. It is worth agreeing on the cost of a fare before you set off for your journey but INR20 per km is pretty much the standard. Taxis are best booked via hotels or an official taxi office as this will go some way to ensure you will reach your destination safely and securely for a pre-agreed price.
Uttar Pradesh is also very well connected by the national railway network. This is one of the speediest and most efficient ways to travel around as well as to various other states. Super-fast, express and mail trains link all the major destinations within the state, making it easy for travellers to get to even the most remote parts. It is worth keeping in mind that state capital Lucknow is the main junction of the Northern Network and has regular trains to some of the most popular destination in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Chennai, Mangalore, Kolkata and Jammu and Kashmir. Other major train stations in the state are located in Agra, Kanpur, Jhansi, Moradabad, Allahabad, Mughalsarai, Varanasi, Tundla, Gorakhpur, Gonda, Sitapur, Faizabad, and Bareilly. Conveniently enough, all cities, towns, and even some remote villages are connected by rail, therefore, getting around is relatively easy and fuss-free.
We do suggest, however, you book your tickets in advance or opt for tourist quota. Most major stations have a tourist quota office, although this is not always the case with the more remote locations.
Uttar Pradesh has four domestic airports in Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur and Varanasi. The capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, is very well connected to major cities such as Delhi, Kolkata, Patna and Mumbai through domestic flight operators. Varanasi and Lucknow also serve as the international airports of the state with flights to and from such destinations as Sri Lanka and Thailand. The best way to reach Uttar Pradesh, however, is by train via its extensive railway network, which connects it to the rest of India.
Is Uttar Pradesh a safe place to visit?
Uttar Pradesh has one of the highest kidnapping statistics in India, therefore, we advise you travel sensibly and stay vigilant at all times. Women are encouraged to dress conservatively in order to avoid unwanted attention, which is a pretty common complaint in North India.