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Uttar Pradesh: Places to Visit - III

Allahabad Fort

Jaunpur

Founded in the 14th century by Feroz Shah Tuglaq to perpetuate the memory of his cousin Sultan Mohammad (Jauna), Jaunpur became the centre of the independent Sharquie kingdom of Jaunpur in 1394. They were great patrons of art and architecture. Jaunpur was also an important centre of Islamic studies.

Jaunpur can be reached by rail or by road from other parts of the state. The nearest airport is Varanasi.

Atala Masjid

Atala Masjid, Jaunpur- By Joseph David Beglar ([1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Construction of the masjid began in 1377 and completed in 1408. This mosque represents the earliest and finest example of Sharquie architecture, and conforms to the general plan of an orthodox mosque. Its most distinguishing feature is the original treatment of the facade of its prayer-hall composed of three large ornamental archways, the central one soaring to 23m.

Jami Masjid

The last and largest mosque of Jaunpur, the Jami Masjid was built by Hussain Shah in 1458-78. In plan and design it is a larger version of the Atala Mosque. The imposing structure, raised on a high plinth, encloses a courtyard 66m by 64.5m. A lofty dome tops the interior of the prayer hall.

Lal Darwaza Masjid

The construction of this mosque, said to have taken place around 1450, is attributed to Bibi Raji, the queen of Sultan Mahmud Shah. It is built on a much smaller area than the Atala Masjid.

Shahi Bridge

Constructed by Munim Khan in 1568, this picturesque old bridge spans the Gomti River.

Jhansi

Jhansi, the gateway to Bundelkhand, was a stronghold of the Chandela kings but lost its importance after the disintegration of the dynasty in the 11th century. It rose to prominence again in the 17th century under Raja Bir Singh Deo who was a close associate of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.

Jhansi Fort

However, its greatest fame is its fiery queen Rani Laxmibai. Daughter of a Benares brahmin, she was married to Raja Gangadhar of Jhansi. She could not bear a heir apparent to the throne, a situation exploited by the British to force her and her adopted baby son into retirement in 1853. During the Uprising in 1857, she joined the rebellion and lead forces against the British in Jhansi. In the battle that followed, she captured Jhansi. But after one year, the British retook Jhansi and Rani with her adopted son, managed to escape and rejoin the main rebel army at Gwalior. In a gallant last stance, she rode out against the British, disguised as a man, holding her sword with both hands and the reins of her horse between her teeth, and became a martyr for the struggle for the independence of India.

Jhansi is located about 297km from Lucknow. It is connected with major rail route and National Highways. The nearest airport is Gwalior, 90km, in Madhya Pradesh.

Jhansi Fort

Raja Bir Singh Deo of Orchha built the fort in 1613 on top of a hill as an army stronghold. In 1858 the British ceded the fort to the Maharaja of Scindia and later exchanged it for Gwalior. The Karak Bijli tank is within the fort. There is also a museum, which has a collection of sculpture and provides an insight into the history of Bundelkhand.

Government Museum

Situated on the road to the fort, the large museum houses weapons, statues, dresses and photographs that represents the Chandela dynasty and a picture gallery of the Gupta period. There are collections of pre historic tools, terracotta from 400 BC, bronzes, manuscripts, paintings and coins.

Rani Mahal

The palace of Rani Laxmi Bai, built in the 18th century, has arched chambers around an open courtyard. The Durbar Hall on the second floor features an original painted wood panelled ceiling. The palace has now been converted into a museum. It has a collection of archaeological remains of the period between 9th and 12th centuries AD.

Kanpur

Situated on the banks of river Ganges, Kanpur is the largest city in Uttar Pradesh and a major industrial centre. Till the middle of the 18th century, Kanpur known as Cawnpore was a quiet village. The British understood the strategic importance of Kanpur in the late 18th century. In 1801 Kanpur came under British as a result of a treaty with Nawab Saadat Ali Khan of Awadh. They turned it into a cantonment. It is in Kanpur that some of the most gruesome incidents of the Uprising in 1857 took place.

Today besides being the most industrialized region of the state, Kanpur is also an important educational centre; institutions like Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Agricultural College, Indian Institute of Technology, G.S.V.M. Medical College, National Sugar Institute and Government Textile Institute are located here.

Located 79km from Lucknow, Kanpur is connected to all major centres of the country by road. It is a major Railway Junction. Kanpur has a new airport commissioned in 1996.

Jajmau

Jajmau, known as Siddhapuri in ancient times, is supposed to have been the kingdom of Yayati, the Pauranic king. Excavations carried out on the hillock of Jajmau during 1957-58 unearthed antiquities from the period of 600 BC to 1600 AD. Today, Jajmau houses the Siddhnath and Siddha Devi temples and the mausoleum of Makhdum Shah Ala-ul-Haq, the famous Sufi saint, built by Firoz Shah Tughlaq in 1358. A mosque built by Kulich Khan in 1679 also located here.

Allen Forest Zoo

The Kanpur Zoo was opened in 1971 and is one of the largest zoos in the country. The zoo is the habitat for a large variety of animals, birds and reptiles.

Other places of interest are the J K Temple, the Jain Glass Temple, Phool Bagh etc.

Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary

Peacock

43 km from Lucknow, along the Lucknow-Kanpur highway near Unnao, is the Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary attracts rare Siberian migratory birds during winters, the main bird species being Pigeon, Common teal, Coot, Purple Moorhen and others. The ideal season for bird watching is between December and March.

Kapilavastu

Identified today with ancient Kapilavastu, Piprahwa lies at a distance of 20 km from Siddharthnagar. Kapilavastu was the ancient capital of the Sakya clan whose ruler was the father of Buddha. The Sakya domain was one of the sixteen independent principalities of the 6th century BC.

Today, Kapilavastu comprises of several villages, main among them being Piprahwa and Ganvaria. A large stupa stands at the ancient site, which is said to have housed the bone relics of Buddha. An ancient Brahmi inscription discovered at Piprahwa testifies the presence of these relics.

Siddharth Nagar (Naugarh) is the nearest railway station 20km from Kapilavastu. Paved roads connect Kapilavastu to other parts of the state. The nearest airport is Gorakhpur, 97km away.

Stupa Complex

This archaeological site was discovered during excavations in 1973-74. The seals and inscriptions over the lid of the pot discovered here, refers to Kanishka, a great patron of Buddhism who built the biggest Vihara at Kapilavastu and renovated the main stupa here.

Palace Site

Excavations revealed the ruins of the palace of King Shuddhodhan, the father of Prince Gautam (Lord Buddha). It was where Lord Buddha spent the first 29 years of his life.