Uttar Pradesh

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Uttar Pradesh
Map of India with Uttar Pradesh highlighted.
26.85° N 80.91° E
Largest city Kanpur
Population (2001)
166,052,859 ( 1st)
• 314.42/km²
238,566 km² ( 5th)
• 70 (for additional 6 decision on hold)
Time zone IST ( UTC +5:30)
Chief Minister
Legislature (seats)
1950- 02-02
T.V. Rajeswar ( list)
Mulayam Singh Yadav ( list)
Bicameral (404 + 108)
Official language(s) Hindi
Website www.upgov.nic.in
Abbreviation (ISO) IN-UP

Seal of Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh (Hindi: उत्तर प्रदेश, Urdu: اتر پردیش), also popularly known by its abbreviation UP, is the most populous and fifth largest state in the Union of India. It is the most populous subnational entity ( statoid) in the world, with a population of 166,052,859.

Uttar Pradesh covers a large part of the densely populated Gangetic plain. It shares an international border with Nepal and is bounded by the Indian states of Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. The administrative and legislative capital of Uttar Pradesh is Lucknow; its high court is based at Allahabad. Other notable cities in Uttar Pradesh include NOIDA, Agra, Aligarh, Varanasi (Benares), Gorakhpur, Kanpur and Meerut.


In the second half of the 18th century, a series of battles gave the British East India Company (HEIC) mastery over the area that is now Uttaranchal and western UP. The HEIC established an administration controlled by its senior officer in the region, the “ Resident” of Delhi, to administer a political entity whose sovereignty was as ill-defined as its borders. For several reasons, the seat of administration was moved to Agra in 1834 and a “president” was appointed to govern the area. In 1836, the “North-western Provinces” was created, the name indicative of the fact that the area comprised the north-western frontier of British India at that time. While that circumstance changed almost immediately afterwards, the name persisted until 1877. Meanwhile, in 1856, the HEIC annexed Avadh (Oudh), a large principality which covered much of what is now eastern UP; this area was merged with the existing British province to create a behemoth that was given a name commensurate with its size: the “United Provinces of the north-west and Oudh”.

In 1871, the district of Ajmer-Merwara, a British Indian enclave surrounded by native princely states of the Rajputana agency, was detached from this province and constituted a separate commissionership. In 1877, the province was renamed the “United Provinces of Agra and Oudh”, dropping the now glaringly misplaced reference to the “northwest”. However, it was generally referred to merely as “The United Provinces”; in 1902, the province was formally given that name.

After India attained independence in 1947, the province was renamed "Uttar Pradesh", Hindi for "North Province". "Uttar" means "north" and "Pradesh" means "region" or "state". This name was proposed by Govind Ballabh Pant, noted freedom fighter and first chief minister of Uttar Pradesh; one reason for its adoption was certainly the fact that the abbreviation “U.P.” by which the province had been referred to for a century, was retained. In 2000, the north-western hill districts of Uttar Pradesh were constituted into a separate state named Uttaranchal.


With nearly 176 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh is not only the most populous state in India but also the most populous subnational entity in the world. Only five countries (the People's Republic of China, India itself, the USA, Indonesia and Brazil) have higher populations (see List of countries by population). It is also one of the most economically and socially backward states in India. On virtually every index of social development, whether literacy, infant mortality or unemployment, Uttar Pradesh ranks among the lowest in India; the situation is compounded by the fact that figures for females is invaribly much lower than for males on every parameter.


United Provinces, 1909
United Provinces, 1909

Uttar Pradesh plays an extremely important role in the history and growth of Hinduism, and in the history of ancient India. Indeed, the region has been vital to the power and stability of all of India's empires and kingdoms, of Hindus, Muslims and Europeans.

Although the Rig Veda was composed on the banks of the Sindhu and Saraswati rivers, the other three holy Vedas were said to have been composed by the banks of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and others. The region came to be known as Aryavarta (Land of the Aryans), the earliest Aryan state in India.

Lord Rama, the seventh Avatara of Vishnu, is the most popular Hindu God-King, and the legend of the Ramayana, the world's oldest and largest epic emanates from His life, and his reign as King of Bharat from Kosala, from the city of Ayodhya.

The ancient Hindu kingdom of Kosala in Ayodhya, where Lord Rama of the Ramayana reigned was located in the modern day state. The holiest Hindu cities of Varanasi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar and Allahabad, by the holiest rivers - Ganga and Yamuna are all located in the state. The state hosts a Kumbha Mela every 12 years, where over 10 million Hindus congregate - the largest gathering of human beings in the world.

Lord Krishna, the revered eighth Avatara of Vishnu, was born in the city of Mathura. He leads the Pandava brothers in the holy war of the Mahabharata over the ancient kingdom of Hastinapura, rumored to have existed on the banks of the Ganga or Yamuna. The ancient capital city of Indraprastha once stood close to the are where the modern national capital of Delhi today stands.

The U.P.'s political importance was diminished with the rise of Magadha and the Mauryan Empire and the Gupta Dynasty, but it soon became an important region to the Muslim invaders of India. The region was subjugated with barbaric wars, pogroms and plunders, and thousands of Hindu temples were destroyed in the Middle Ages of Indian history.

Agra and Fatehpur Sikri were also important as the capital city of Akbar, the great Mughal Emperor of India. The city of Lucknow was founded in the 18th century by the Muslim rulers of the province.

The U.P. was especially important in modern Indian history as a hotbed of the Indian Independence Movement, and the city of Allahabad was home to prominent nationalists such as Motilal Nehru, Purushottam Das Tandon and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Allahabad was also home to a record five Prime Ministers of India: Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Rajiv Gandhi.

Uttar Pradesh covers the area of the former princely state of Awadh (Oudh) and the British Province of Agra. The Province of Agra was originally the western-most British possession, after they expanded from Bengal, and thus was known as the North-West Province. The North-West Province was renamed the Province of Agra, and merged in 1858 with the Province of Oudh to form the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, known after 1902 as the United Provinces. Two princely states, Rampur and Tehri, were under the authority of the provincial governor. With the advent of Indian independence, the United Provinces was renamed "Uttar Pradesh," or "northern province", by Govind Ballabh Pant, the first chief minister. This preserved the commonly used abbreviation U.P. In 2000, the northwestern districts of Uttar Pradesh became the new state of Uttaranchal.

Constituent regions

The state comprises the regions of Rohilkhand in the northwest, The Doab, or Brij (Braj) (Braj-bhoomi) in the southwest, Awadh (Oudh) (the historic country of Koshal) in the centre, the northern parts of Bagelkhand & Bundelkhand in the south, and the south-western part of the Bhojpur country, commonly called Purvanchal ("Eastern Province"), in the east.

In 1991, the Uttar Pradesh government set up development funds, known as nidhis, for Bundelkhand (7 districts) and Purvanchal (28 districts), to "ensure the twin objectives of balanced development and reducing inter-regional disparities and backwardness".

Note: The purvanchal as an administrative unit is not the same as the ethnic purvanchal region. Ethnically purvanchal/ bhojpuri speaking areas are those that are contiguous with North western Bihar. Many of the 28 districts in the above Purvanchal list are traditional Awadhi or Baghel Khandi bastions.

Divisions and districts

Uttar Pradesh state consists of 70 districts, which are grouped into 17 divisions: Agra, Azamgarh, Allahabad, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Devipatan, Faizabad, Bahraich, Bareilly, Basti, Mirzapur, Moradabad, Meerut, Lucknow, Varanasi, and Saharanpur.


The languages of the different regions are distinct, and the language of the western parts, called ( Khadiboli) is the basis for the official Hindi language, created during the late 19th century. The most commonly spoken language in urban areas is Urdu/ Hindi. Regardless of the script used, the language of Lucknow is called Lucknowie Urdu. It is a pure form of literary Urdu used by most Urdu poets. Urdu is one of the two official languages of the state. Other languages are Koshali, Braj (which is more than two thousand years old), Koeli, Bagheli, Bundeli and Bhojpuri. The Bhojpuri ethnic homeland is divided between Nepal in the north, Bihar state in the east and Uttar Pradesh in the west.


The current chief minister of Uttar Pradesh is Mulayam Singh Yadav, the leader of the Samajwadi Party (Socialist Party). The former Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee, represents the constituency of Lucknow. Unfortunately, the state has been marred by a lot of caste based politics, which has been hindering a sound economic development of the state.

The major political parties in the state are: Samajwadi Party, a Socialist party which is supported by backward classes and Muslims; Bharatiya Janata Party, a conservative Hindu nationalist party which is supported by the forward castes; and the Bahujan Samaj Party, a party which was formed to uplift India's untouchable castes, the dalits. It also banks on other backward castes and Muslims. No party has received a majority in the state's Assembly since 1991, and the current administration (since 2003) has been held up by smaller parties and independents.

The state has a large number of village councils known as Panchayats just like the other states of India. One of the Most Develop Panchayat during 2001-2005 is Shahabad in Maharajganj District of Uttar Pradesh.


A view of the University of Allahabad Hindi:इलाहाबाद विश्वविद्ययालय
A view of the University of Allahabad Hindi:इलाहाबाद विश्वविद्ययालय

The State of U.P. has made investments over the years in all sectors of education and has achieved some success.

The female literacy situation in Uttar Pradesh is dismal. Only one out of four in the 7+ age group was able to read and write in 1991. This figure goes down to 19 % for rural areas, 11 % for the scheduled castes, 8 % for scheduled castes in rural areas, and 8 % for the entire rural population in the most educationally backward districts. Possibly Bihar is the only state in India which fares worse than U.P. in education.

In terms of more demanding criteria of educational attainment on the completion of primary or secondary education, in Uttar Pradesh, in 1992-1993 only 50 % of literate males and 40 % of literate females could complete the cycle of eight years of schooling involved in the primary and middle stages. One other notable feature of the Uttar Pradesh education system is the persistence of high level of illiteracy in the younger age group. Within that age group, the illiteracy was endemic in the rural areas. In the late 1980s, the incidence of illiteracy in the 10-14 age group was as high as 32 % for rural males and 61 % for rural females, and more than two-thirds of all rural girls in the 12-14 age group never went to school.

The problems of education system is exacting. Due to public apathy the schools are in disarray, privately run school (including those run by Christian missionaries) are functional, but beyond the reach of ordinary people. The State government has taken programmes to make the population totally literate. There are special programmes like World Bank aided DPEP. Steps are being taken with the help of NGOs and other organizations to raise popular participation.

As a result, some progress in adult education has been made and the census of 2001 indicates a male literacy rate of 70.23 % and a female literacy rate of 42.98 %.

At the level of higher education and technical education Uttar Pradesh has 16 general universities, famous among those are Uttar Pradesh Technical University (UPTU), Allahabad University, Agra University, [1] Banaras Hindu University and Aligarh Muslim University, one prestigious Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur), one Indian Institute of Management (Lucknow), one Indian Institute of Information Technology (Allahabad), one National Institute of Technology (Allahabad) [2] and large number polytechnics, engineering institutes and industrial training institutes.


A view of the Magh Mela that takes place at Allahabad every year
A view of the Magh Mela that takes place at Allahabad every year
The Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal.

Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of both national and international visitors. There are two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go. These are the city of Agra and the holy cities on the banks of the Ganges River that include Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi.

A vast number of tourists visit the Taj Mahal in Agra. Other important tourist attractions in Agra are the Agra Fort. Also famous is a 16th century capital city built by the Mughal emperor Akbar known as Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.

Millions of tourists and piligrims visit the cities of Allahabad and Varanasi, as they are considered to be two of the holiest cities in India. Every year thousands gather at Allahabad to take part in the festival on the banks of the Ganges, the Magh Mela. The same festival is organised in a larger scale every 12th year and attracts millions of people and is called the Kumbha Mela.

Varanasi is widely considered to be the second oldest city in the world after Jerusalem. It is famous for its ghats (steps along the river) which are populated year round with people who want to take a dip in the holy Ganges River.

About 13 km from Varanasi is the historically important town of Sarnath. Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath after his enlightenment and hence is an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. Also at Sarnath are the Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Capital, both important archeological artifacts which have national significance.

Arts and crafts

Uttar Pradesh is famous for its arts and crafts. Specific regions such as Varanasi for its saris and silk, Mirzapur for its carpets, Agra and Kanpur for their leathercraft, Moradabad for its metalware, Lucknow for its clothwork and embroidery, and the entire state for its pottery are not only famous in India but around the world.

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