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History of Uttar Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh has a very old and fascinating history. The recorded history of Uttar Pradesh dates back to the early Vedic period. From the third century BC, the region of Uttar Pradesh was a province of the large Mauryan dynasty. Chandragupta Maurya and the emperor Ashoka were two of the most famous Mauryan kings to have ruled the illustrious dynasty. Chandragupta embraced Jainism while Ashoka embraced and spread Buddhism.

During the ancient ages, the history of Uttar Pradesh had witnessed the rule of mighty empires like Mauryas, Guptas and the Harshavardhana. The foundation of the order of Buddha was in Uttar Pradesh. Buddha gave his first sermon in Sarnath, which is near Varanasi. Both Hinduism and Jainism had their influences in the region of Uttar Pradesh. During the thirteenth-sixteenth century, Uttar Pradesh was part of the territory of several Sultans who ruled from Delhi, and during the Moghul era, UP became the focal point of Hindustan. The Mughal period brought its own traditions and culture to the province. Arts, architecture and music were cultivated in this era and reached their stations of high aesthetics. Agra and later Fatehpur Sikri were the capital cities of Akbar and he built the Agra Fort. Shahjahan built the Taj Mahal in Agra, which is the most well known landmark in Uttar Pradesh, and is one of the seven wonders of the world.

After the decline and downfall of the Moghuls, several kingdoms mushroomed in Uttar Pradesh. During the eighteenth century, different regions of Uttar Pradesh were under different rulers. The state of Oudh was ruled by the Nawabs who established the city of Lucknow; which went on to become a seat of Urdu literature and classical music and dance, whereas Afghans established their rule in Rohilkhand. In Bundelkhand, Marathas established their political hegemony. However, with the political ascent of the Britishers, the sovereignty of these states was compromised. Britishers went on to establish their paramount power in the region and consequently, across the country.

During the times of Sepoy Mutiny, the region of Uttar Pradesh was a political hotspot. The Sepoy Mutiny itself sparked off from Meerut and spread to the entire north India like a wild fire. Lucknow and Kanpur were important seats of Sepoy Mutiny. Mangal Pandey, the famous freedom fighter whose unrest is believed to have snowballed into the Sepoy Mutiny, was from Uttar Pradesh. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the region of Uttar Pradesh was known by the name of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh by the Britishers, and more popularly as United Provinces. Before that it was known as North Western Provinces of Agra and Oudh by the Britishers. In fact, it was the Britishers who defined and demarcated the area of present day Uttar Pradesh by combining the provinces of Agra and Oudh.

The region was also a major centre in the Indian independence movement and was witness to a series of political turmoils of those years. Allahabad was home to prominent leaders in freedom struggle like Motilal Nehru and Jawaharlal Nehru, Purushottam Das Tandon and Madan Mohan Malaviya. Gobind Vallabh Pant was another important leader of Uttar Pradesh who played his role in the freedom struggle. He was sworn in as the first Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh and it was he who renamed the United Provinces (named by the Britishers in 1902) as Uttar Pradesh in 1950. In 2000, a new state of Uttaranchal, comprising the Garhwal and the Kumaon region, was carved out from Uttar Pradesh.

Last Updated On: 2011/07/16

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