Plains (India)

The Plains of India are considered to be the country's heartland. The Ganges (Ganga in Hindi) and Yamuna rivers flow through this region. Major events of India's history took place here. This region contains the large and politically significant states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, and the country's capital, New Delhi.


Plains (India) regions - Color-coded map
Uttar Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh


Here are nine of the most notable cities.

Other destinations

Swamp deer


A morning on the Ganges in Varanasi

The Plains, watered by the holy Ganges and its tributaries, are the breadbasket of India. This region is also the Hindi Belt, formerly the Sanskrit belt where the Aryan ancestors of most of today's Northern Indians established themselves in ancient times when Hinduism was developing into the form known today. It is an area of densely populated cities and villages, including the very big cities of Delhi, the nation's capital; Lucknow; Varanasi and Patna. As a result of this area's continuous habitation for thousands of years and the creativity of the people under various dynasties, some of the most famous sights in the world are on the Indian Plains.


Given that the Plains are the Hindi Belt, Hindi and Urdu are widely spoken in almost all of the states, with the exception of Punjab, where Punjabi dominates. As in the rest of India, English is a very commonly learned second and third language.

Get in

The Taj

By plane

All major cities in the area have airports. Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport is large, and likely to be the point of entry for most foreign visitors to this region. Domestic flights from other parts of India are also commonplace.

By train and bus

Long-distance trains travel from all other parts of India to this region. The same is true of long-distance bus lines.

Get around

There are numerous train connections between the major cities in this region. Domestic flights for longer distances are also possible. Buses also traverse this area.


The Golden Temple in Amritsar

The Plains contain some of the most famous sights in the world. Agra is the home of the Taj Mahal; near Agra and covered in the Agra article is the former royal town of Fatehpur Sikri, which is made out of red sandstone. The Ganges at Varanasi is both a sight and an experience — the crowds of people ritually bathing in the river, the funeral pyres near its banks, the splendid ghats. There are quite a few other places along the Ganges, Yamuna and other rivers sacred to Hindus that are worth visiting. The small town of Khajuraho boasts Tantric temple complexes that some art historians consider to represent the pinnacle of erotic art. The towns of Bodh Gaya and Sarnath are two of the wellsprings of Buddhism; Bodh Gaya in particular has impressive temples. Amritsar's pride and joy is the Golden Temple, the world headquarters of the Sikh religion. And of course there is the capital city of Delhi, which has numerous sights including the Jama Masjid and Qutb Minar, two of the best known examples of Islamic architecture in the country, and the Red Fort.



Aromatic Awadhi gobhi is a dish from Lucknow

This region serves a lot of the North Indian cuisine many foreigners are somewhat familiar with, including tandoori dishes. As this is a wheat-growing area, people eat breads (roti, naan, etc.) often, though rice is also eaten. Much Plains food is hearty and generously and aromatically spiced, though only sometimes extremely heavy in chilis. Vegetarianism is not as prevalent in many of these areas as in Southern India and Gujarat, partly because there are many Muslims and other non-Hindus living in these states, which were influenced by hundreds of years of rule by the Muslim Mughal Dynasty, so it is not hard to find goat, mutton and chicken curries in restaurants, but do not expect to see much beef for sale. Instead, milk products such as yogurt (often in the form of raita, a yogurt-based sauce) and paneer (fresh cheese curd) are used often in a wide variety of foodstuffs.


Northern India is the land of milk-based drinks such as lassi. Masala chai — tea with milk and a blend of spices — is also a common beverage in this region.

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