Uttar Pradesh has a very enriching history to boast about. In fact history significantly defines the lifestyle of the present Uttar Pradesh. This land has been rules by many in the course of history. From the rule of Rama to the rule of British, Uttar Pradesh has seen it all.
Ancient History of Uttar Pradesh
The history of Uttar Pradesh starts with the advent of Aryans hordes from Central Asian region. Its tryst with the history started as early as 2000 B.C when Aryans started settling along the Doab of Ganges and Ghagra. This settlement, which was predominantly rural in nature, was named “Madhyadesh” i.e. ‘Central Country’. Various Vedic era kingdoms ruled Uttar Pradesh in turn. The most notable one was Kosala that was ruled by King Dasaratha and his successor Ram. They later became the protagonist of epic called Ramayana. Another epic, Mahabharata, also talks about kings who ruled in and around modern Uttar Pradesh and were participant in the war of succession between Kaurvas and Pandavas.
The middle of 1st millennium B.C saw the advent of Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Sarnath near Varanasi has the pride of becoming the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon. In that period, Uttar Pradesh was ruled by Magadh dynasty. In due course it passed do Nanda dynasty and then to Mauryan who toppled Nanda. In the post-Christ era, Kannauj became the center of power. Various rulers ruled from this city but it was during the reign of Harshavardhana that the city raised to its pinnacle.
Medieval History of Uttar Pradesh
The advent of Muslim rule acted as the catalyst in the history of Uttar Pradesh. The era saw the downfall and humiliation of Rajput rule in Uttar Pradesh and their influence was largely confined to the pockets surrounding the Rajputana strongholds of Rajasthan. Uttar Pradesh came under the rule of almost all the emperors that ruled during the Sultanate era. The real high came during the reign of Mughal when Emperor Akbar chose the city of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri as his capital cities. The Mogul reign saw the construction of some of the most magnificent monuments in Uttar Pradesh. The era also witnessed irreversible trends towards the development and consolidation of administrative and land holding systems. The era also saw the development of unique art, crafts and culinary traditions of Uttar Pradesh.
Modern History of Uttar Pradesh
The era saw the advent and conquest of British in Uttar Pradesh. The Mogul rule started weakening and was later confined to the Doab region. Other martial tribes ruled the rest of the areas viz. Oudh was ruled by the Shiite Nawabs, Rohilkhand by Afghans, Bundelkhand by the Marathas and Benaras by its own king, while Nepal controlled Kumaon and Gadhwal. The ‘Divani’ of Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Oudh later passed to British. It happened in the year 1764 when the British East India Company forces, in the historic Battle of Buxar, trounced the combined army of Nawab Suja-ud-Daula, Mir Kasim and Mogul Emperor Shah Alam. The state was also the epicenter of the Sepoy revolt of 1857. Some of the major protagonist of that mutiny namely Nana Saheb, Tantya Tope, Rani of Jhansi, Maharaja of Benaras and Begum Hazrat Mahal were the resident of Uttar Pradesh. A Sepoy named Mangal Pandey is said to have initiated this revolt in Uttar Pradesh when he opened fired on a British Sergeant in the Merrut Cantonment.