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Uttar Pradesh abbreviated as UP, is a state located in Northern India. It was created on 1 April 1937 as the United Provinces, and was renamed Uttar Pradesh in 1950. Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Allahabad Moradabad, Bareilly, Aligarh, and Varanasi are known for their industrial importance in the state. On 9 November 2000, a new state, Uttarakhand, was carved out from the Himalayan hill region of Uttar Pradesh.

The state is bordered by Rajasthan to the west, Haryana and Delhi to the northwest, Uttarakhand and the country of Nepal to the north, Bihar to the east, Madhya Pradesh to the south and touches small areas of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to the south eastern corner. It covers 243,290 square kilometres (93,933 sq mi), equal to 6.88% of the total area of India, and is the fourth largest Indian state by area. With over 200 million inhabitants in 2011, it is the most populous state in the country as well as the most populous country subdivision in the world. Hindi is the official and most widely spoken language in its 75 districts. Uttar Pradesh is the third largest Indian state by economy, with a GDP of ?9763 billion (US$150 billion). Agriculture and service industries are the largest parts of the state's economy. The service sector comprises travel and tourism, hotel industry, real estate, insurance and financial consultancies.

Uttar Pradesh was home to powerful empires of ancient and medieval India. The two major rivers of the state, the Ganges and Yamuna, join at Allahabad and then flow as the Ganges further east. The state has several historical, natural, and religious tourist destinations, such as the Agra, Varanasi, Piprahwa, Kaushambi, Kanpur, Ballia, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Lucknow, Jhansi, Allahabad, Budaun, Meerut and Mathura, Jaunpur.

Prehistory

Archaeological finds have indicated the presence of Stone Age Homo sapiens hunter-gatherers in Uttar Pradesh[4][5][6] between around[7] 85 and 73 thousand years old. Other pre-historical finds have included Middle and Upper Paleolithic artifacts dated to 21–31 thousand years old[8] and Mesolithic/Microlithic hunter-gatherer's settlement, near Pratapgarh, from around 10550–9550 BC. Villages with domesticated cattle, sheep, and goats and evidence of agriculture began as early as 6000 BC, and gradually developed between c. 4000 and 1500 BC  beginning with the Indus Valley Civilization and Harappa Culture to the Vedic period; extending into the Iron Age.

Painting of goddess Rama alongside Sita and Laxman

Rama portrayed as exile in the forest, accompanied by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana

Ravana

Bisrakh, UttarPradesh, birthplace of the King Ravana.

The kingdom of Kosala, in the Mahajanapada era, was located within the regional boundaries of modern-day Uttar Pradesh.[15] According to Hindu legend, the divine king Rama of the Ramayana epic reigned in Ayodhya, the capital of Kosala.[16] Krishna, another divine king of Hindu legend, who plays a key role in the Mahabharata epic and is revered as the eighth reincarnation (Avatar) of the Hindu god Vishnu, is said to have been born in the city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh.[15] The aftermath of the Mahabharata yuddh is believed to have taken place in the area between the Upper Doab and Delhi, (in what was Kuru Mahajanapada), during the reign of the Pandava king Yudhisthira. The kingdom of the Kurus corresponds to the Black and Red Ware and Painted Gray Ware culture and the beginning of the Iron Age in North-west India, around 1000 BC.

Most of the invaders of south India passed through the Gangetic plains of what is today Uttar Pradesh. Control over this region was of vital importance to the power and stability of all of India's major empires, including the Maurya (320–200 BC), Kushan (100–250 CE), Gupta (350–600 CE), and Gurjara-Pratihara (650–1036 CE) empires.[17] Following the Huns invasions that broke the Gupta empire, the Ganges-Yamuna Doab saw the rise of Kannauj.[18] During the reign of Harshavardhana (590–647 CE), the Kannauj empire reached its zenith.[18] It spanned from Punjab in the north and Gujarat in the west to Bengal in the east and Odisha in the south.[15] It included parts of central India, north of the Narmada River and it encompassed the entire Indo-Gangetic plain.[19] Many communities in various parts of India claim descent from the migrants of Kannauj.[20] Soon after Harshavardhana's death, his empire disintegrated into many kingdoms, which were invaded and ruled by the Gurjara-Pratihara empire, which challenged Bengal's Pala Empire for control of the region.[19] Kannauj was several times invaded by the south Indian Rashtrakuta Dynasty from the 8th century to the 10th century.

In the 16th century, Babur, a Timurid descendant of Timur and Genghis Khan from Fergana Valley (modern-day Uzbekistan), swept across the Khyber Pass and founded the Mughal Empire, covering India, along with modern-day Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh[23] The Mughals were descended from Persianised Central Asian Turks (with significant Mongol admixture). In the Mughal era, Uttar Pradesh became the heartland of the empire.[20] Mughal emperors Babur and Humayun ruled from Delhi.[24][25] In 1540 an Afghan, Sher Shah Suri, took over the reins of Uttar Pradesh after defeating the Mughal king Humanyun.[26] Sher Shah and his son Islam Shah ruled Uttar Pradesh from their capital at Gwalior.[27] After the death of Islam Shah Suri, his prime minister Hemu became the de facto ruler of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, and the western parts of Bengal. He was bestowed the title of Hemchandra Vikramaditya(title of Vikramaditya adopted from vedic times) at his coronation at Purana Quila in Delhi. Hemu died in the Second Battle of Panipat, and Uttar Pradesh came under Emperor Akbar's rule.[28] Akbar ruled from Agra and Fatehpur Sikri.[29] In the 18th century, after the fall of Mughal authority, the power vacuum was filled by the Maratha Empire, in the mid 18th century, the Maratha army invaded the Uttar Pradesh region, which resulted in Rohillas losing control of Rohillkhand to the Maratha rulers Raghunath Rao and Malharao Holkar. The conflict between Rohillas and Marathas came to an end on 18 December 1788 with the arrest of Ghulam Qadir, the grandson of Najeeb-ud-Daula, who was defeated by the Maratha general Mahadaji Scindia. In 1803, following the Second Anglo-Maratha War, when the British East India Company defeated the Maratha Empire, much of the region came under British suzerainty.[30]

British rule

Starting from Bengal in the second half of the 18th century, a series of battles for north Indian lands finally gave the British East India Company accession over the state's territories.[31] Ajmer and Jaipur kingdoms were also included in this northern territory, which was named the "North-Western Provinces" (of Agra). Although UP later became the fifth largest state of India, NWPA was one of the smallest states of the British Indian empire.[32] Its capital shifted twice between Agra and Allahabad.

Due to dissatisfaction with British rule, a serious rebellion erupted in various parts of North India; Bengal regiment's sepoy stationed at Meerut cantonment, Mangal Pandey, is widely credited as its starting point.[34] It came to be known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857. After the revolt failed, the British attempted to divide the most rebellious regions by reorganising the administrative boundaries of the region, splitting the Delhi region from 'NWFP of Agra' and merging it with Punjab, while the Ajmer- Marwar region was merged with Rajputana and Oudh was incorporated into the state. The new state was called the 'North Western Provinces of Agra and Oudh', which in 1902 was renamed as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.[35] It was commonly referred to as the United Provinces or its acronym UP.

In 1920, the capital of the province was shifted from Allahabad to Lucknow. The high court continued to be at Allahabad, but a bench was established at Lucknow. Allahabad continues to be an important administrative base of today's Uttar Pradesh and has several administrative headquarters.[38] Uttar Pradesh continued to be central to Indian politics and was especially important in modern Indian history as a hotbed of the Indian independence movement. Uttar Pradesh hosted modern educational institutions such as the Benaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University and the Darul Uloom Deoband. Nationally known figures such as Chandra Shekhar Azad were among the leaders of the movement in Uttar Pradesh, and Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Madan Mohan Malaviya and Gobind Ballabh Pant were important national leaders of the Indian National Congress. The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was formed at the Lucknow session of the Congress on 11 April 1936, with the famous nationalist Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President,[39] in order to address the longstanding grievances of the peasantry and mobilise them against the zamindari landlords attacks on their occupancy rights, thus sparking the Farmers movements in India.[40] During the Quit India Movement of 1942, Ballia district overthrew the colonial authority and installed an independent administration under Chittu Pandey. Ballia became known as "Baghi Ballia" (Rebel Ballia) for this significant role in India's independence movement.[41]

Post-independence

After India's independence, the United Provinces were renamed "Uttar Pradesh" in 1950.[42] The state has provided seven of India's prime ministers and is the source of the largest number of seats in the Lok Sabha. Despite its political influence, it poor economic development and administrative record, organised crime and corruption kept it amongst India's backward states. The state has been affected by repeated episodes of caste and communal violence.[43] In December, 1992 the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya was demolished by radical Hindu activists, leading to widespread violence across India.[44] In 1999, northern districts of the state were separated to form the state of Uttarakhand.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Uttar Pradesh

"photograph"

A part of the Gangetic Plain

Uttar Pradesh, with a total area of 243,290 square kilometres (93,935 sq mi), is India’s fourth largest state in terms of land area. It is situated on the northern spout of India and shares an international boundary with Nepal. The Himalayas border the state on the north,[46] but the plains that cover most of the state are distinctly different from those high mountains.[47] The larger Gangetic Plain region is in the north; it includes the Ganges-Yamuna Doab, the Ghaghra plains, the Ganges plains and the Terai.[48] The smaller Vindhya Range and plateau region is in the south.[49] It is characterised by hard rock strata and a varied topography of hills, plains, valleys and plateaus. The Bhabhar tract gives place to the terai area which is covered with tall elephant grass and thick forests interspersed with marshes and swamps.[50] The sluggish rivers of the bhabhar deepen in this area, their course running through a tangled mass of thick under growth. The terai runs parallel to the bhabhar in a thin strip. The entire alluvial plain is divide into three sub-regions.[50] The first in the eastern tract consisting of 14 districts which are subject to periodical floods and droughts and have been classified as scarcity areas. These districts have the highest density of population which gives the lowest per capita land. The other two regions, the central and the western are comparatively better with a well-developed irrigation system.[50] They suffer from water logging and large-scale user tracts.[50] In addition, the area is fairly arid. The state has more than 32 large and small rivers; of them, the Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, Sarayu, Betwa, and Ghaghara are larger and of religious importance in Hinduism.[51]

Cultivation is intensive.[52] The valley areas have fertile and rich soil. There is intensive cultivation on terraced hill slopes, but irrigation facilities are deficient.[53] The Siwalik Range which forms the southern foothills of the Himalayas, slopes down into a boulder bed called 'bhadhar'.[54] The transitional belt running along the entire length of the state is called the terai and bhabhar area. It has rich forests, cutting across it are innumerable streams which swell into raging torrents during the monsoon.

Climate

Monsoon clouds over Lucknow

Uttar Pradesh has a humid subtropical climate and experiences four seasons.[56] The winter in January and February is followed by summer between March and May and the monsoon season between June and September.[57] Summers are extreme with temperatures fluctuating anywhere between 0 °C and 50 °C in parts of the state.[58] The Gangetic plain varies from semiarid to sub-humid.[57] The mean annual rainfall ranges from 650 mm in the southwest corner of the state to 1000 mm in the eastern and southeastern parts of the state.[59] Primarily a summer phenomenon, the Bay of Bengal branch of the Indian monsoon is the major bearer of rain in most parts of state. It is the south-west monsoon which brings most of the rain here, although rain due to the western disturbances and north-east monsoon also contribute small quantities towards the overall precipitation of the state.