Eastern Uttar Pradesh lies between 23°51' N to 28°30' N and 81°31' E to 84°39' E covering an area of about 85,298km2, with 16.6 crores population in 2001 and segmented into 27 districts. The region borders Nepal (International boundary) in the north, Bihar & Jharkhand in the east, Chattisgarh, M.P. in the south and many districts of U.P. in the west.
Situated in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, this region is endowed with a wide spectrum of natural beauty, wildlife and has a rich archaeological, spiritual, historical & cultural heritage. Many important centres of tourist interest have flourished here since ancient times. A good number of rivers & their tributaries (River Ganges, Ghaghra, Rapti, Yamuna, Son, Gomti) traverse this region, ensured the prosperity and their banks provided the right platforms for the development of religious/historical & cultural centres at different points of time.
This is the land of Lord Ram, Gautam Buddha, Mahaveer & other Jain Thirthankars. Many important religions have been associated with this region and their shrines, sacred pilgrim centres & monuments dot this entire area. Lord Ram was born here at Ayodhya and ruled over a great part of it in ancient times. Allahabad (Prayag) and Varanasi (Kashi) supposed to be the oldest living city in the world, are now the two biggest places of this region & are also among the most sacred pilgrim centres of Hindu religion.
It is a matter of great pride for eastern U.P. that this region has been the seat of Buddhism and could also be called the Cradle of Buddhism. The entire region is dotted with monuments, relics, legends & history of Buddhism, which emerged here as a religion & spread across the world. Out of eight important Buddhist sites, five are located in Eastern U.P.- Kapilvastu- where Buddha spent his early years & underwent the great renunciation, Sarnath- where he preached his first sermon, Sravasti- Buddha's favourite monsoon resort, where he spent 24 consecutive monsoon years, Kaushambi- where he delivered many sermons and Kushinagar- where he finally attained Mahaparinirvana.
This region also has special place among the followers of Jainism as well. Innumerable Jain shrines are spread over the eastern U.P. region, which had intimate association with the lives & activities of Jain Thirthankars. Many Jain Thirthankars were born here and preached their religious values. Pavanagar-present Fazilnagar (where 24th Jain Thirthankars Mahaveer attained Nirvana), Ayodhya & Varanasi are important Jain pilgrimage centres, located in the region.
Medieval Period brought in the influence of Islamic culture in the whole of India, including eastern U.P. Many monuments of Medieval Period seen in abundance, throughout this region are testimony to it. Jaunpur emerged as a major administrative seat during medieval times specially during the rule of Tughlaq & Sharqi dynasty, who were great patrons of architecture & constructed many majestic monuments during their regime. Mausoleums, Tombs & Shrines belonging to many rulers, nobles & Sufi saints also add to the major attractions of this region.
With the arrival of Britishers, Colonial architecture began to influence many a major cities of the region. Cathedrals, Churches & many buildings of those times stand witness to it. Other than religious attractions & monuments, the region is lined up with many structures of architectural grandeur in the form of forts and palaces. Some of the important ones are Allahabad fort, Jaunpur fort, Vijaygarh fort (Sonbhadra), Ramnagar fort etc.
Kabir the famous Sufi saint, who lived most of his life in Varanasi, spent his final days in Maghar, close to Gorakhpur city, where his Samadhi is situated. Another famous landmark is Gorakhnath temple-the seat of Nath Sampradaya, draws visitors from distant places.
Religious shrines located in eastern U.P. also have representation from Sikhs. Gurudwara Brahm Kund at Ayodhya, Gurudwara Pakki Sangat at Allahabad & Gurudwara Tapasthal at Varanasi & many others are associated with Sikh Gurus like, Guru Nanak, Guru Teg Bahadur & Guru Govind Singh. The region has been the epicenter of different religions & spirituality, preaching peaceful co-existence and spreading the message of peace & non-violence to the entire world. That is why the region draws tourists from all over the world irrespective of their religion, caste & creed.
Eastern U.P. has also been producing a variety of handicraft products; prepared by specialized artesian with the skill gathered through the generations & ages and long inherited experience. Some of the products are of international repute.
Varanasi is famous in the world for its brocade fine silk and tissue saries of exquisite quality, fine weaving & motifs. Earlier gold & silver threads were used in these saries but that has been substituted by cheap synthetic & gilt fibre. Areas in the vicinity of Varanasi are its main producing centres. Hand carved wooden toys; gold jewellery, glass beads, brass & copper repose work are the specialty of Varanasi and its surrounding region. The southern region of eastern U.P. is also an important centre of hand knotted woolen carpets (Mirzapur-Bhadoi belt) & rugs, Chunar is famous for its traditional manufacturing of blue potteries, toys, stone sculptures, brass, German silver & copperwares.
Surrounding region of Gorakhpur is famous for its terracotta products. The beautiful terracotta horse, elephants & figures, originally meant for dedicating to the village deities, have now reached the national & International market. Black potteries are produced in the areas of Azamgarh & Mau districts.
Art & Culture- Eastern U.P. has a rich historical & cultural heritage. A number of festivals are celebrated by different communities. Festival mood could be seen engrossing all segments of the society throughout the year. Though the major centres such as Varanasi, Allahabad & Ayodhya reflect these activities on a higher scale even other places of religious importance scattered throughout the region are also upbeat about it (details of the same can be seen in fair & festival segment).