Tips for Travelers in Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is a state of diversity of food and cultures. It is one of the states which is known for being rich in its historical past and attracts tourists from across the country and globe. In order to make your trip experience a lasting one, there are small things and traveling tips that will help you plan your trip here in a better way. The tips are intended to help travelers pre plan and prepare before setting out for a tour to Uttar Pradesh.
Best Time to Visit Uttar Pradesh
It is important to plan your trip during the “best-time-to-visit” months to any tourist attraction as it helps you catch the real essence and many of the major attractions and festivals of the state. The best time to visit U.P. and especially Agra for Taj Mahal is between October-March while tourists are recommended to avoid visiting the city during the month of Ramadan when tourist access is closed for a month for the night view of The Taj. Cities like Varanasi and Allahabad which are known for its spiritual abode due to the presence of holy rivers, is a must visit during the monsoon season from September to November. Summer season for a trip to Uttar Pradesh is usually not recommended due to high temperatures.
Communication and Transportation in Uttar Pradesh
The state of U.P. is well connected with buses for inter-city and inter-state travel. Within the city, travelers get around in auto-rickshaw for a cheap mode of transportation. Travelers can expect unfriendly attitude of the drivers sometimes and are, therefore, recommended taking rickshaws when travelling through congested roads like old town of Benaras, congested markets in Agra, Lucknow, etc. The best mode of transportation for inter-state travel is the railways. For intra-city transportation apart from auto rickshaws, more popularly known as “Autos” in local language, taxis are also available. Always try and take prepaid taxis which are available at the airport, railway stations and bus stands. Be careful about the fares as they tend to overcharge tourists, and you must always bargain Rs. 50-100 less than what they quote for at least intra-city travel.
The state has no issues with cellular network coverage and is generally congestion free. International travellers can either buy national calling cards from the airport or buy one from the local markets by giving a valid ID Proof and a recent photograph. Such international tourists will only get prepaid calling cards which can be used in any compatible handset. The state is also well connected with internet facility at all the major as well as small cities.
Language Spoken in UP
The state is home to majorly hindi speaking population, however, due to a mix of cultures and diversity, the visitors can experience different accents and dialects as they go across cities. U.P. is also home to a few more languages which though are region specific but should not be confused with Hindi. Cities like Mathura and Vrindavan, known for their spiritual significance related to Lord Krishna speak Braj Bhasha popularly known as the Language of the Lord. Apart from that, Awadhi is another popular local language which is a mix of Urdu and Khadi boli. However, due to increase in tourism and exposure, the locals can manage to interact in English in case you are not familiar with any of the local languages. For all times, you must keep a language translator app handy and also get familiar with a few common words for daily usage in the local language. You can also hire tourist guides through your hotel’s travel desk for best deals in order to avoid communication hassle.
Shopping Tips in Uttar Pradesh
If you are a shopaholic then this state and the local markets will not disappoint you. However, tourists must keep the following things in mind that the local markets are generally overcrowded, congested and have a high possibility of pick pocketing. So make sure while you are out on a shopping spree, you leave your important documents like passport etc at the hotel, do not carry too much money and take only as many things as you need and make sure your bag is closed all the time. Once you cross check all of the above you are then ready to take over the local markets. Some of the must try is Moradabad which is famous for beautiful bronze and copper items, Saharanpur and Bareily for its furniture items and Firozabad for its glassware. But what rules the state is the city of Lucknow which is famous for its fine and famous Chikankari works on clothes. A chikankari cloth is a must buy here.
Must-Attend Festivals of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh is best decorated and lively during the local festivals which add a different world charm to the state and its cities. If you are planning to take a tour to the state then check out the list of the following festivals and try planning your trip around them.
- What- Ganga Mahotsava is a five-day festival where devotees come from across the nation to pray in the glory of the holy river of Ganges which includes Indian music and dance performances and a lot more.
- Where – Varanasi
- When – End of September to 1st week of Novemeber
- What – Janamashtami is one of the most famous and most celebrated festival of Uttar Pradesh. It is the festival to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna. Since both the two significant cities out of which one is Mathura being the birthplace and other Vrindavan which was Lord Krishna’s residence, fall in the state of U.P., the festival is a must witness event in the state.
- Where – Mathura and Vrindavan
- When – Month long generally during the month of September (monsoons)
- What – Kumbh Mela which comes every 12 years to Allahabad and every 3 years in rotation at other cities. It is a very important festival in the state and the country. It is one of its kind festivals which witnesses one of the largest fair in the world and the most populated one as well. The festival goes on for a month and is once in a lifetime experience.
- Where – Allahabad
- When – Month long generally during the month of February – March
- What – Latthmar Holi. Holi is a festival of colors which is celebrated all over India but the one celebrated in Uttar Pradesh is a unique and spectacular one. The celebrations with colors begin at least a week before along with folk dances and music. On the day of the festival, according to a mythological tradition women beat men with bamboo sticks in a fun manner, throw water and celebrate the festival of colors in a distinct manner. People from across the world come especially to witness the festival here.
- Where – Mathura
- When – Spring season
Street Food to Enjoy in UP
Uttar Pradesh is popular for its street food but once you’re in the state give your stomach at least a time period of two days to get used to the water and spices by eating at proper hotels and restaurants. If you have children with you, make sure you avoid eating from any street food cart as children are likely to catch stomach infections quickly which can spoil your rest of the trip. Ensure that the whichever place you are eating at has basic hygiene. Use only packaged mineral water for drinking and always keep oral rehydration solution handy. Be patient in order to try the local food. Also, check with your doctor and always carry a mini first aid with medicines for diarrhea, stomach infection, and fever and so on for immediate medical attention.
What to Carry while Travelling during Rainy Season
If you are travelling in summers or rainy season, always apply mosquito repellents and keep one handy as during these seasons mosquitoes are quite common and so are the diseases like malaria and dengue.
It is important to check the climatic conditions before hand and pack the right kind of clothes for you and your family. During the months of April – August the state experiences summer and temperature rises around 40-42°C. The ideal clothes to pack would be cotton clothes. If you have children traveling with you then make sure you carry loose fitting cotton clothes for them. Try and keep the body parts covered with cloth to save yourself from heat strokes. During this season carry a lot of sunscreen lotion, stay hydrated while traveling and eat proper meals during your tour trips.
In case you are planning your trip between August – September, then you must pack some things which will come handy during rains. The state witnesses heavy to moderate rains during these months. The weather can be humid at times and so summer clothes like light cotton clothes are ideal for adults and children. Be sure to pack an umbrella.
If your trip is scheduled somewhere around November – February, then you must be prepared for the winter season as winters are really cold in the state. During the daytime the average temperature remains somewhere between 20-25°C and at night drops down to 3-4°C. For Children below the age of 12 years, you must pack proper woolen clothing, ear puffs and scarf. Days can be slightly warmer but do keep your ears and feet warm at all times to avoid falling sick during a vacation.
Uttar Pradesh has a lot of amusement and theme parks in and around. Those traveling with children can plan a day with their children to the nearby park. If you plan on taking this excursion make, sure you are accompanying your children at all times during the amusement and water park rides. Although all these places have international safety standards and personnel but in any situation do not leave your child unattended.
Cities like Agra, are known for a lot of Mughal-influenced monuments. Make sure you dress properly while visiting any mosque or Muslim-influenced area as entry is denied if the dress code is not followed. Both men and women are not expected to have bare legs while entering places like mosques or temples in the state.
It’s good to be spontaneous and adventure always make a tentative itinerary, check for bookings, take down local addresses of the places you want to visit so that it’s easy to communicate using local transport, especially when traveling with children. Also always pre-check and save contact numbers of the local police, ambulance, hotels and taxis before landing for a vacation in the State. If you end up asking about the hotel from the local auto rickshaw people then you’re not in for a pleasant trip. It’s a very common practice in the tourist cities of U.P. where they often lie that the hotel you’re looking for has closed down or doesn’t exist and pester you to go with them for better accommodation option. Not only that these hotels can turn out to be disappointing and highly over priced and in case you don’t like it you anyway have to pay for the auto fare. So make sure you confirm with the hotel about the availability and address before you land here. You can also buy and keep a local travel guide book handy which generally has all the necessary information, maps, must visit places and contact numbers.
Traveling with the children into the local market and street of U.P. can sometimes be a hassle as they are overcrowded and congested. Make sure you never leave the child unattended and give always keep the children handy with your contact details. The best way is to make your child wear some kind of ID card with your contact details when going out, so that in case of some mishap, somebody is able to help the child get back to you.
Tourist Traps in UP
Watch out for some common tourist traps which you can fall prey to if you do not research well about the local culture. When visiting the beautiful Taj Mahal in Agra, you will witness a lot of hawkers standing who will try to upsale duplicate and first copy items which otherwise look exactly original and of the best quality. Not only that these items are fake but also sometimes stolen and used. It is not advised for tourists to buy anything from such street hawkers and avoid them as they approach.
When traveling to the city of Varanasi which is famous for its ghats by the River Ganges, you must be prepared to encounter some of the common traps which you can avoid if you are aware about them. Avoid any kind of communication with the men who try and initiate a friendly conversation with you about showing better viewing spots. If you fall to them, they charge high prices which you can’t avoid paying later unless you are in for an argument which can spoil your rest of the day. When attending the famous Ganga Aarti ceremony, a lot of locals will approach you in order to offer a better seat to participate in the ceremony at no cost. However, if you go ahead and follow them, they will start pestering you to pay them in terms of tip which can be quite a mood spoiler at times.
In short, when traveling to any of the famous tourist spots in U.P., avoid taking any kind of deals from these wandering street hawkers, instead use local tourist guide books or your hotels travel desk.
A very important tip while you’re traveling to cities in U.P. which fall near the water bodies like Varanasi ghats, is that you must not go near the water once it’s dark. Most of these places have poor or no lighting and have uneven paths and walkways and there is quite a possibility for you to trip and fall and sustain injuries or any other unfortunate mishap. If you have children accompanying you, make sure that they do not run or play anywhere close to water body areas. Always carry a small torch while going out for a walk in the dark at these places.
Go through the overview, warnings and dangers, local customs, tourist traps, other visitor’s reviews for region centric idea and preparation. As they say “precaution is better than cure” thus, a little planning effort will only help make your trip a memorable one.