Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Uttar Pradesh
Facing the glistening Taj Mahal across the Yamuna River, Mehtab Bagh is where travelers in the know go for picture-perfect views of the mausoleum without the crowds. In perfect alignment with the Taj, the best time to visit Mehtab Bagh is in the early evening when its white marble and minarets turn pink under the setting sun.
The 25-acre garden was commissioned by Emperor Babur in 1530 and was designed to be a “moonlit pleasure garden,” an oasis of fragrant flowers, fruit trees, pavilions and fountains. In the late 19th century, the gardens were even thought to hold the foundations of the fabled Black Taj. While Mehtab Bagh has been turned into a more modern garden today, its symmetry with the Taj Mahal and garden walls along the riverbank continue to make this a popular viewing spot among those looking for peace and quiet.
Dasaswamedh Ghat is one of the busiest, oldest, and most important ghats in Varanasi. It's the site of a number of Hindu temples and shrines and a place where pilgrims come from all over the world to perform religious ceremonies and rituals. Many devotees visit the ghat at sunrise to pay homage to Lord Shiva and bath in the holy waters of the Ganges, while evening aarti, which see thousands of floating lamps immersed in the river, attracts huge crowds from far and wide.
Literally translated, Dasaswamedh means ‘the ghat of 10 sacrificed horses.’ According to Hindu mythology, ten horses were sacrificed by Lord Brahma to allow Shiva to return from a period of banishment. Despite its age, Dasaswamedh Ghat is attractive, colorful, and relatively clean, and even non-devotees are attracted by its atmosphere, daily rituals, and beautiful riverfront views.
Varanasi’s ghats (Banaras Ghats) descend from the city down the banks and into the waters of the holy River Ganges. There are almost 100 individual ghats lining the river’s edge in this region, their steep steps making access to the river possible during both the wet and dry seasons. The oldest and most famous ghats in the area are Dashashwamedh, Manikarnika, and Harishchandra. Others include Assi Ghat, Scindia Ghat, Lalita Ghat, and Kedar Ghat.
As the religious capital of India among Hindus, Varanasi sees pilgrims and other visitors drawn to the Banaras Ghats in their droves. Visitors can absorb the atmosphere by taking a sunrise boat-ride along the river, while marveling at the colorful temples and religious activities lining the water’s edge.
The Dhammek Stupa is a giant cylindrical Buddhist stupa situated in Sarnath, near Varanasi. This huge structure was built on the site where the Buddha was said to have given his first sermon to his disciples after attaining enlightenment. As such, it is one of the most important and revered sites for Buddhist pilgrims within India. The Dhamek Stupa was constructed in 500 CE to replace an earlier structure, and has been enlarged on several occasions over the years. It has been constructed from a mixture of stone and brick, and measures 28 meters in diameter at its base and almost 44 meters in height. The stupa sits within beautifully manicured gardens, providing the ideal place for pilgrims and visitors to enjoy their surroundings and reflect on the life of the Buddha. The Dhamek Stupa’s immediate vicinity also features a number of half-ruined monasteries and the remains of much smaller stupas.
The Chaukhandi Stupa is an important Buddhist stupa originally built as a terraced temple to mark the place where the Buddha and his first disciples met when traveling from Bodhgaya to Sarnath. Built during the Gupta period (4th-6th centuries), the stupa’s octagonal top tower was said to be added much later by Govardhan, the son of Raja Todarmal, in 1588 during the Mughal era. He built the additional tower to commemorate the visit of Humayun, the great Mughal ruler. The stupa stands amid beautifully maintained gardens and serves as the gateway to the Buddhist city of Sarnath. It is just a short walk from the structure to the Sarnath Museum nearby, and also close to the other sites and attractions of Sarnath.
More Things to Do in Uttar Pradesh
The famed British Residency is an ideal place for history-loving travelers who want to experience the haunting beauty of historic ruins. Located in the heart of Lucknow, this former home of a British war general was built in the late 1700s. Travelers can wander the crumbling structures tucked amid lush greenery and explore the decrepit walls destroyed by cannon fire. A nearby cemetery is the final resting place of some 2,000 people who died during India’s war for independence. While travelers will certainly learn much about the history of this site while exploring the grounds on their own, an evening light show brings the British Residency’s history to life each night and it not to be missed.
Visitors to Agra who want to experience the culture, color, traditions and diversity of real India, not just the iconic Taj Mahal, will find all of this and more in Korai Village. Travelers can escape the tourist route and venture into old world India as they wander the dirt roads of this picturesque village. Learn about local life, interact with villagers, and gain an insider’s look at the rituals of daily life for dozens of families living here.
Set 25 miles (40 km) west of Agra lies the deserted city of Fatehpur Sikri (City of Victory), built by Akbar in the late 16th century to serve as the new capital of the Mughal Empire. For 14 years from 1571 to 1585, the red sandstone-fortified city served as the dynasty’s seat of power, and at its peak, Englishman Ralph Fitch found it to be considerably larger and grander than even London. This grandeur was short-lived, however, as in 1585, Akbar moved the capital to Lahore in his campaign against Afghan tribes. By 1619, the city had been completely abandoned and would remain so until archaeologists began exploring it in 1892.
Today, Fatehpur Sikri is a ghost town of beautiful sandstone arches, buildings and courtyards exhibiting Persian, Hindu and Jain design elements. Since Akbar was the only emperor to reside in the city for a significant amount of time, it’s considered one of the purist examples of the great emperor’s design aesthetic.
Things to do near Uttar Pradesh
- Things to do in Lucknow
- Things to do in Agra
- Things to do in Varanasi
- Things to do in Himachal Pradesh & Uttarakhand
- Things to do in Madhya Pradesh
- Things to do in Rajasthan
- Things to do in Khajuraho
- Things to do in Ranthambore National Park
- Things to do in Sawai Madhopur
- Things to do in Alwar
- Things to do in Punjab
- Things to do in West Bengal
- Things to do in Jammu and Kashmir
- Things to do in Odisha
- Things to do in Gujarat