meaning the northern province, Uttar Pradesh is the
third largest state in the country. It is surrounded
by Tibet and Nepal in the North, Madhya Pradesh in the
South, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan in the West and
Bihar in the East. Most of Uttar Pradesh consists of
the vast Ganges plain, an area of awesome flatness,
which often floods dramatically during the monsoon.
Often referred to as the 'Hindi Belt' or the 'Cow Belt',
the State has been most dominant state in Indian politics
and culture since Independence, producing over half
of India's prime ministers. This is partly because it
is also the most populace state of the country and partly
because the region plays a central role in the religious
landscape of the Hindus. The Ganges River, which forms the backbone of
the State, is the sacred river of Hinduism and two of
Hinduism's most holy towns are in the state, namely
Varanasi and Allahabad
(Prayag), which is also
one of the venues of the Kumbha Mela that is held once
every 12 years.
2000 years ago the state was part of the Mauryan Emperor
Ashoka's great empire.
More recently it was a part of
the Mughal Empire and for some years Agra was its Capital.
After the British took over the state was known as United
Province when Agra was merged with Avadh but was renamed
Uttar Pradesh after Independence. Uttar Pradesh is also
a place of major importance to Buddhists, for it was
at Sarnath, just outside Varanasi, that the Buddha first
preached his message of the middle way.
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