When it comes to religion, Uttar Pradesh is like a melting pot. In spite of its horrendous record of communal riots, Uttar Pradesh is a very heterogeneous society. Nearly all the major religions have some or other pilgrimage center in UP. These pilgrimage centers attract lots of pilgrims every year and add to the coffer of state government.
Hindus constitute the majority of the inhabitants of Uttar Pradesh.
Some of the most important pilgrimage sites of Hindus are in Uttar
Pradesh only. None is holier than Varanasi if it comes to that.
Varanasi, on the banks of the Ganges, is invariably popular among the
followers of all the sects of Hinduism but has a special place in the
hearts of Shivites. Equally popular if not more is Allahabad. The
significance of Allahabad lies in the fact that it is situated on the
confluence of Ganges, Yamuna and a mythical river called Saraswati. A
fair, known as Kumbh Mela, takes place every 12 years at Allahabad and
attracts millions of people.
Mathura is another popular pilgrimage among the Hindus. The city is the
birthplace of Lord Krishna, a famous Hindu deity. Other famous
pilgrimage sites that are associated with Lord Krishna are Nandgaon and
Vrindavan are also very popular among the tourists. Ayodhya, the
birthplace of Rama is another popular pilgrimage destination. Though
this city has been marred by political and communal activism since
decades, it still attracts voices of sanity.
Uttar Pradesh is a very important destination for Buddhists too. The
Sarnath-Kushinagar-Shravasti circuit holds some of the most important
Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. It was in Sarnath that Lord
Buddha gave his first sermon after he got enlightened. This circuit has
various Stupas and monasteries that attract scores of tourists every
As far as Islam is concerned, Uttar Pradesh is home to many of the
shrines that belong to the hermits of Barelvi Sufi Order. The most
important and popular among them all is the mazaar of Sufi saint Hazrat
Salim Chisti at Fatehpur Sikri, near Agra. There is another place,
called Dewa Sharif, near Lucknow that has a shrine of Sufi saint. Both
these places attract thousands of zyareen (Muslim Pilgrims) on the
occasion of annual Urs (Birthday) of these Sufi saints.