Things to Do in Uttar Pradesh
Directly across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, Mehtab Bagh (Moonlight Garden) offers a stunning perspective on Agra’s most beloved monument. While the views are the big draw of this 16th-century garden, it’s also worth a visit in its own right for its elegant landscape design and quiet ambiance.
India’s holiest river, the Ganges (Ganga) runs east for 1,560 miles (2,510 kilometers) from the western Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. A lifeline for north India’s plains and towns, the river is also a place of Hindu pilgrimage at cities such as Rishikesh and Varanasi—drawing visitors with humbling scenes of religious devotion.
Along the west bank of the Ganges river in the city of Varanasi are a string of ghats, or steps, on which people worship, bathe, and go about other daily activities. Dasaswamedh Ghat is the most important of these, as it’s surrounded by temples and hosts the nightly aarti, or worship ceremony.
Varanasi’s Kashi Vishwanath Temple is also called the Golden Temple, thanks to its pure gold spire and dome. The current building dates from 1780, but temples stood in the same place for centuries. Dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva—one of the most significant deities in the Hindu pantheon—Kashi Vishwanath is a major pilgrimage site.
Built by Emperor Akbar in the 1570s, the UNESCO-listed Fatehpur Sikri—which means “City of Victory”—was the capital of the Mughal Empire for about 10 years. Today, a well-preserved collection of monuments, palaces, temples, and mosques remains, in a uniform red sandstone architectural style.
Varanasi to die, as the city is considered very holy. Along the banks of the River Ganga are a string of ghats (steps used for various purposes. Manikarnika Ghat is known as “the burning ghat”, as this is where cremations and funerals are held.
The famed British Residency Lucknow 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.
The Varanasi Ghats are sets of stairs that descend from the city down the banks and into the waters of the holy Ganges River. There are just under 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 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, and is one of India’s most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites.
Not far from the Taj Mahal, Kalakriti Cultural and Convention Center is best-known as the venue that stagesMohabbat the Taj, a theatrical performance that tells the story of the Taj Mahal’s origins. There’s also a large shopping emporium filled with jewelry and handicrafts from Agra and across India.
More Things to Do in Uttar Pradesh
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. The stupa stands amid beautifully maintained gardens and serves as the gateway to the Buddhist city of Sarnath.
Home to the Kedarnath Temple, not to mention serene scenes of the sun rising from the holy waters of the Ganges, Kedar Ghat in Varanasi is one of the most important and picturesque ghats in the region. Popular among Bengalis and South Indians, the Kedareshwar Temple here is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity of Varanasi, and is a fine example of Hindu architecture. There’s also a Parvati Kund nearby, a small pool of water that’s believed to have highly medicinal properties.
The approach to Kedar Ghat is through a maze of narrow alleyways bustling with cattle, devotees, and operators organizing River Ganges boat rides. The steps down to the water are high and steep, with the upper steps brightly painted in stripes.
The Pillars of Ashoka refer to a number of columns inscribed with edicts by the Mauryan king, Ashoka, during his reign in the mid-3rd century BC. The pillar at Sarnath near Varanasi bears the inscriptions: "No one shall cause division in the order of monks."
The original column at Sarnath was 50 meters tall and was carved out of a single block of polished sandstone. It features four images of lions known as the Lion Capital of Ashoka, which stand back to back and were originally mounted atop a cylindrical abacus. The abacus was built over a bell-shaped lotus, with the figures of four running animals – an elephant, a bull, a horse, and a lion – separated by 24-spoked Dharma wheels. These four mammals are believed to symbolize the four different phases of Gautama Buddha's life.
However, the pillar at this site was broken in the midst of a past invasion, with the remains in three pieces now kept in a glass cage nearby. The lion figurehead can be found in the Sarnath Museum nearby.
The pièce de résistance of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Fatehpur Sikri, a carefully preserved former Mughal capital established by emperor Akbar in 1570, Diwan-I-Khas (which translates to the "Hall of Private Audiences") is a beautiful red sandstone structure. It was once adorned with murals and Persian poetry, but today only traces remain.
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.
Park of Noida’s Entertainment City, Worlds of Wonder comprises two separate parks, an amusement park and a water park. Visitors to the amusement park section have their choice of 20 rides and attractions, ranging from kid-friendly chair swings, paddle boats, bumper cars and a mini train to more thrilling options, like roller coasters and a drop tower.
The Worlds of Wonder Water Park has 26 slides and water features. Highlights include a free fall body slide, toboggan racers, a family raft ride and a wave pool.
Both parks offer a few different dining options, like North Indian specialties at Punjabi Dhaba, South Indian cuisine at Madras Cafe and, for those looking for something more familiar, North India’s largest McDonald’s.