|State of India|
Southern view of the Taj Mahal
Location of Uttar Pradesh (marked in red) in India
The state has an abundance of natural resources. In 2011 the recorded forest area in the state was 16,583 km2 (6,403 sq mi) which is about 6.88% of the state's geographical area. In spite of rapid deforestation and poaching of wildlife, a diverse flora and fauna continue to exist in the state. Several species of trees, large and smallmammals, reptiles, and insects are found in the belt of temperate upper mountainous forests. Medicinal plants are found in the wild and are also grown in plantations. TheTerai-Duar savanna and grasslandssupport cattle. Moist deciduous trees grow in the upper Gangetic plain, especially along its riverbanks. This plain supports a wide variety of plants and animals. The Ganges and its tributaries are the habitat of large and small reptiles, amphibians, fresh-water fish, and crabs. Scrubland trees such as the babool and animals such as the chinkara are found in the arid Vindhyas.
Tropical dry deciduous forests are found in all parts of the plains. Since much sunlight reaches the ground, shrubs and grasses are also abundant. Large tracts of these forests have been cleared for cultivation. Tropical thorny forests, consisting of widely scattered thorny trees, mainly babool are mostly found in the southwestern parts of the state. These forests are confined to areas which have low annual rainfall (50–70 cm), a mean annual temperature of 25-27 °C and low humidity.
Uttar Pradesh is known for its extensive avifauna. The most common birds which are found in the state are doves,peacocks, junglefowl, black partridge, house sparrows, songbirds, blue jays, parakeets, quails, bulbuls, comb ducks,kingfishers, woodpeckers, snipes, and parrots. Bird sanctuaries in the state include Bakhira Sanctuary, National Chambal Sanctuary, Chandra Prabha Sanctuary, Hastinapur Sanctuary, Kaimoor Sanctuary, and Okhla Sanctuary.
Other animals in the state include reptiles such as lizards, cobras, kraits, and gharials. Among the wide variety of fishes, the most common ones are mahaseer and trout. Some animal species in Uttar Pradesh have gone extinct in recent years, while others, like the lion from the Gangetic Plain and the rhinoceros from the Terai region, have become endangered. Many species are vulnerable to poaching despite regulation by the government.
Uttar Pradesh ranks first in domestic tourist arrivals with more than 71 million,owing to its rich and varied topography, vibrant culture, festivals, monuments, ancient places of worship, and viharas. Thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the Magh Mela festival on the banks of the Ganges. This festival is organised on a larger scale every 12th year and is called the Kumbha Mela, where over 10 million Hindu pilgrims congregate in one of the largest gatherings of people in the world.
The historically important towns of Sarnath and Kushinagar are located not far from Varanasi. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment at Sarnath and died at Kushinagar; both are important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Pillars of Ashoka and the Lion Capital of Ashoka, both important archaeological artifacts with national significance. At a distance of 80 km from Varanasi, Ghazipur is famous not only for its Ganges Ghats but also for the tomb of the British potentate Lord Cornwallis, maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.
Lucknow, the capital of the state, has several beautiful historical monuments such as Bara Imambara and Chhota Imambara. It has also preserved the damaged complex of the Oudh-period British Resident's quarters, which are being restored. Uttar Pradesh gives access to three World Heritage Sites: the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, and the nearbyFatehpur Sikri. Varanasi is an ancient city famous for its ghats. To promote tourism, the Directorate of Tourism was established in the 1972 with a Director General who is an I.A.S. officer. In 1974 the Uttar Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation was established to look after the commercial tourist activities.
Diwali (celebrated between mid-October and mid-December) and Rama Navami are popular festivals in Uttar Pradesh. Kumbh Mela, organised in the month of Maagha(Feb-March), is a major festival held every three years in rotation at Allahabad,Haridwar, Ujjain, on the river Ganges andNasik on the Godavari river. Lath mar Holi is a local celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi. It takes place well before the actual Holi in the town of Barsana near Mathura. Taj Mahotsav, held annually at Agra, is a colorful display of the culture of the Braj area. Buddha Purnima, which marks the birth of Gautama Buddha, is a major Hindu and Buddhist festival, while Christmas is celebrated by the minority Christian population. Other festivals are Vijayadashami, Makar Sankranti, Vasant Panchami, Ayudha Puja, Ganga Mahotsava, Janmashtami, Sardhana Christian Fair, Maha Shivaratri, Mahavir Jayanti, Moharram, Bārah Wafāṭ, Eid,Bakreed, Chhath puja, Lucknow Mahotsav, Kabob and Hanuman Jayanti.
A typical day-to-day traditional vegetarian meal of Uttar Pradesh, like any other North Indian thali, consists of roti (flatbread), chawal, dal, sabji, raita and papad. Many people still drink the traditional drink chaach (traditional Butter milk) with meals. On festive occasions, usually 'tava' (flat pan for roti) is considered inauspicious, and instead fried foods are consumed. A typical festive thali consists of Puri, Kachauri, sabji, pulav,papad, raita, salad and desserts (such as sewai or Kheer).
Many communities have their own particular style of cuisines, such as the Jains, Kayasths and Muslims. There are also certain sub-regional delicacies. Awadhi cuisine is world famous for dishes such as kebab, biryani, keema and nihari. Sweets occupy an important place in the Hindu diet and are eaten at social ceremonies. People make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, including khurchan, peda, gulabjamun, petha, makkhan malai, and chamcham. The chaat in Lucknow and Banarasi Paan is known across India for its flavour and ingredients.
Awadhi cuisine is from the city of Lucknow. The cuisine consists of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. Awadh has been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques, and the cuisine of Lucknow bears similarities to those of Central Asia, Kashmir, Punjab and Hyderabad; and the city is known for Nawabi foods. The bawarchis and rakabdars of Awadh gave birth to the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire, which has become synonymous with Lucknow today. Their spread consisted of elaborate dishes like kebabs, kormas, biryani, kaliya, nahari-kulchas, zarda, sheermal,roomali rotis, and warqi parathas. The richness of Awadh cuisine lies not only in the variety of cuisine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer, and rich spices including cardamom and saffron.
Mughlai cuisine is a style of cooking developed in the Indian subcontinent by the imperial kitchens of the Mughal Empire. It represents the cooking styles used in North India (especially Uttar Pradesh. The cuisine is strongly influenced by the cuisine of Central Asia, and has in turn strongly similarities to the regional cuisines of Kashmir and the Punjab region. The tastes of Mughlai cuisine vary from extremely mild to spicy, and is often associated with a distinctive aroma and the taste of ground and whole spices.