Uttar Pradesh: Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, Agra and Varanasi
“If you cry over losing the sun, the tears will not let you see the stars”
Uttar Pradesh is one of the largest and most populous states in India, with more than 200 mill. Inhabitants and comprises the small state of the capital: Delhi. This megacity hides in the Old Delhi some legacies of its long history: the Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques in the world, the palace complex of the Red Fort, the Raj Ghat Gandhi memorial, the Qutb Minar with one of the best samples the fusion of Hindu Mughal art and one of the most popular sik temples, the Gurudwara Sis Ganj.
Heading towards Agra and about 35 kms we meet Fatehpur Sikri, a city built by Mughal Emperor Akbar in 1571 and a World Heritage Site since 1986. Erected in honor of the saint Salim Christi who predicted the birth of the heir of Akbar, is a beautiful example of Hindu-Mogul art made of red sandstone. It would be abandoned 14 years later due to the lack of water resources.
Reaching Agra we are received by the greatest icon of India: the Taj Mahal, perhaps the most beautiful mausoleum in the world. It was built in white marble and precious stones at the request of Emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their fourteenth child. This fine example of Mughal art is a World Heritage Site since 1983.
Our next destination is the holy city of Varanasi (Benares) on the banks of the Ganges, the holiest river in India. In his margin over a hundred palaces line up: the Ranmahal Ghat, the Munshi Ghat or Kedar Ghat among others, with its ghats or steps leading down to the river, is the place where every day thousands of worshipers and pilgrims come to make their ablutions. Some of them come to die here and spend their last money in buying firewood for incineration in Manikarnica Ghat.
Varanasi is located near the town of Sarnath where the young Buddha preached his first sermon today an important center of pilgrimage.