The history of the State of Uttar Pradesh is very ancient and interesting. It is recognised in the later Vedic Age as Brahmarshi Desha or Madhya Desha. Many great sages of the Vedic times like Bharadwaja, Gautam, Yagyavalkya, Vasishta, Vishwamitra and Valmiki flourished in this state. Several sacred books of the Aryans were also composed here. Two great epics of India, Ramayana and Mahabharata, appear to have been inspired by Uttar Pradesh.
In the sixth century BC, Uttar Pradesh was associated with two new religions - Jainism and Buddhism. It was at Sarnath that Buddha preached his first sermon and laid the foundations of his order, and it was in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where Buddha breathed his last. Several centres in Uttar Pradesh like Ayodhya, Prayag, Varanasi and Mathura became reputed centres of learning. In the medieval period, Uttar Pradesh passed under Muslim rule and led the way to new synthesis of Hindu and Islamic cultures. Ramananda and his Muslim disciple Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas and many other intellectuals contributed to the growth of Hindi and other languages.
Uttar Pradesh preserved its intellectual excellency even under the British administration. The British combined Agra and Oudh into one province, and called it United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. The name was shortened to the United Provinces in 1935. In January 1950, the United Provinces was renamed as Uttar Pradesh.
The State is bounded by Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in the north, Haryana in the west, Madhya Pradesh in the south, and Bihar in the east. Uttar Pradesh can be divided into two distinct regions, (i) Southern hills and (ii) Gangetic plain.