Must see attractions in Uttar Pradesh

  • Top ChoiceSights in Agra

    Taj Mahal

    Poet Rabindranath Tagore described it as 'a teardrop on the cheek of eternity'; Rudyard Kipling as 'the embodiment of all things pure'; while its creator, Emperor Shah Jahan, said it made 'the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes'. Every year, tourists numbering more than twice the population of Agra pass through its gates to catch a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of what is widely considered the most beautiful building in the world. Few leave disappointed.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Varanasi

    Manikarnika Ghat

    Manikarnika Ghat, the main burning ghat, is the most auspicious place for a Hindu to be cremated. Dead bodies are handled by outcasts known as doms, and are carried through the alleyways of the old town to the holy Ganges on a bamboo stretcher, swathed in cloth. The corpse is doused in the Ganges prior to cremation.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Agra

    Agra Fort

    With the Taj Mahal overshadowing it, one can easily forget that Agra has one of the finest Mughal forts in India. Walking through courtyard after courtyard of this palatial red-sandstone and marble fortress, your amazement grows as the scale of what was built here begins to sink in.

  • Sights in Fatehpur Sikri

    Jama Masjid

    This beautiful, immense mosque was completed in 1571 and contains elements of Persian and Indian design. The main entrance, at the top of a flight of stone steps, is through the spectacular 54m-high Buland Darwaza (Victory Gate), built to commemorate Akbar’s military victory in Gujarat. Inside is the stunning white marble tomb of Sufi saint Shaikh Salim Chishti, where women hoping to have children come to tie a thread to the jalis (carved lattice screens).

  • Top ChoiceSights in Agra

    Mehtab Bagh

    This park, originally built by Emperor Babur as the last in a series of 11 parks on the Yamuna’s east bank (long before the Taj was conceived), fell into disrepair until it was little more than a huge mound of sand. To protect the Taj from the erosive effects of the sand blown across the river, the park was reconstructed and is now one the best places from which to view the great mausoleum.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Varanasi

    Assi Ghat

    The furthest south of the main ghats and one of the biggest, Assi Ghat is particularly important as the River Assi meets the Ganges near here and pilgrims come to worship a Shiva lingam (phallic image of Shiva) beneath a peepul tree. Evenings are particularly lively, as the ghat’s vast concreted area fills up with hawkers and entertainers during a small fire ceremony. It also features music and yoga at sunrise. It’s a popular starting point for boat trips.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Agra

    Itimad-ud-Daulah

    Nicknamed the Baby Taj, the exquisite tomb of Mizra Ghiyas Beg should not be missed. This Persian nobleman was Mumtaz Mahal’s grandfather and Emperor Jehangir’s wazir (chief minister). His daughter, Nur Jahan, who married Jehangir, built the tomb between 1622 and 1628, in a style similar to the tomb she built for Jehangir near Lahore in Pakistan.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Varanasi

    Dashashwamedh Ghat

    Varanasi’s liveliest and most colourful ghat. The name indicates that Brahma sacrificed (medh) 10 (das) horses (aswa) here. In spite of the persistent boat owners, flower sellers, massage practitioners, and touts trying to drag you off to a silk shop, it’s a wonderful place to linger and people-watch while soaking up the atmosphere. Every evening at 7pm an elaborate and popular ganga aarti (river worship) ceremony with puja (prayers), fire and dance is staged here.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Mathura

    Archaeological Museum

    This museum, renovated in 2016, houses a superb collection of religious sculptures by the Mathura school, which flourished from the 3rd century BC to the 6th century AD. Good lighting and English text spotlight some 2300-year-old Buddhas, as well as towering Kushan-era royal statues and later Sunga- and Gupta-era Hindu icons. It was Mathuran artists who created some of the earliest images of Buddha.

  • Sights in Agra

    Jehangir's Palace

    This huge red-sandstone palace inside Agra Fort, a combination of Indian and Central Asian architectural styles, was most likely built by the Mughal ruler Akbar for his son Jehangir.

  • Sights in Agra

    Khas Mahal

    This beautiful marble pavillion and pool formed the living quarters of Shah Jahan, while the large attached courtyard housed the court harem.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Varanasi

    Harishchandra Ghat

    Harishchandra Ghat is a cremation ghat – smaller and secondary in importance to Manikarnika, but one of the oldest ghats in Varanasi.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lucknow

    Bara Imambara

    This colossal imambara (Shiite tomb complex) is worth seeing in its own right, but the highly unusual labyrinth of corridors inside its upper floors make a visit here particularly special. The ticket price includes entrance to the Chota Imambara and Hussainabad Picture Gallery, both walking distance from here.

  • Sights in Varanasi

    Vishwanath Temple

    There are temples at almost every turn in Varanasi, but this is the most famous of the lot. It is dedicated to Vishveswara – Shiva as lord of the universe. The current temple was built in 1776 by Ahalya Bai of Indore; the 800kg of gold plating on the tower and dome was supplied by Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore 50 years later.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Prayagraj (Allahabad)

    Sangam

    This is the particularly auspicious point ( sangam means 'river confluence') where two of India’s holiest rivers, the Ganges and the Yamuna, meet one of Hinduism’s mythological rivers, the Saraswati. All year round, pilgrims row boats out to this holy spot, but their numbers increase dramatically during the annual Magh Mela, a six-week festival held between January and March, which culminates in six communal ‘holy dips’.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Lucknow

    Residency

    The large collection of gardens and ruins that makes up the Residency offers a fascinating historical glimpse of the beginning of the end for the British Raj. Built in 1800, the Residency became the stage for the most dramatic events of the 1857 First War of Independence (Indian Uprising): the Siege of Lucknow, a 147-day siege that claimed the lives of thousands.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Agra

    Akbar’s Mausoleum

    This outstanding sandstone and marble tomb commemorates the greatest of the Mughal emperors. The huge courtyard is entered through a stunning gateway decorated with three-storey minarets at each corner and built of red sandstone strikingly inlaid with white-, yellow- and blue-marble geometric and floral patterns. The interior vestibule of the tomb is stunningly decorated with painted alabaster, creating a contrast to the plain inner tomb. The unusual upper pavillions are closed. Look for deer in the surrounding gardens.

  • Sights in Varanasi

    Banares Hindu University

    Long regarded as a centre of learning, Varanasi’s tradition of top-quality education continues today at Banares Hindu University, established in 1916. The wide, tree-lined streets and parkland of the 5-sq-km campus offer a peaceful atmosphere a world away from the city outside. On campus is Bharat Kala Bhavan, a roomy museum with a wonderful collection of miniature paintings, as well as 12th-century palm-leaf manuscripts, sculptures and local history displays.

  • Sights in Prayagraj (Allahabad)

    Khusru Bagh

    This intriguing park, surrounded by huge walls, contains four highly impressive Mughal tombs. One is that of Prince Khusru, the eldest son of Emperor Jehangir, who tried to overthrow his father in 1606, but was instead apprehended, imprisoned and blinded. He was finally murdered in 1622 on the orders of his half-brother, who later took the throne under the name Shah Jahan. If Khusru’s coup had succeeded, Shah Jahan would not have become emperor – and the Taj Mahal would not exist.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Kushinagar

    Mahaparinirvana Temple

    The highlight of this modest temple, rebuilt in 1927 and set among extensive lawns and excavated monastery and stupa ruins with a circumambulatory path, is its serene 5th-century reclining Buddha, unearthed in 1876. Six metres long, it depicts Buddha on his deathbed in the paranirvana position; the devotion of pilgrims faced with the image is quite moving. At sunset, monks cover the statue to the shoulders with a long saffron-coloured silk sheet, as though putting Buddha to bed for the night.