Ozone dynamics in two urban background atmospheres over middle Indo-Gangetic Plain (IGP) were studied in two contexts: total columnar and ground-level ozone. In terms of total columnar ozone (TCO), emphases were made to compare satellite-based retrieval with ground-based observation and existing trend in decadal and seasonal variation was also identified. Both satellite-retrieved (Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument-Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy (OMI-DOAS)) and ground-based observations (IMD-O3) revealed satisfying agreement with OMI-DOAS observation over predicting TCO with a positive bias of 7.24 % under all-sky conditions. Minor variation between daily daytime (r = 0.54; R2 = 29 %; n = 275) and satellite overpass time-averaged TCO (r = 0.58; R2 = 34 %; n = 208) was also recognized. A consistent and clear seasonal trend in columnar ozone (2005–2015) was noted with summertime (March–June) maxima (Varanasi, 290.9 ± 8.8; Lucknow, 295.6 ± 9.5 DU) and wintertime (December–February) minima (Varanasi, 257.4 ± 10.1; Lucknow, 258.8 ± 8.8 DU). Seasonal trend decomposition based on locally weighted regression smoothing technique identified marginally decreasing trend (Varanasi, 0.0084; Lucknow, 0.0096 DU year−1) especially due to reduction in monsoon time minima and summertime maxima. In continuation to TCO, variation in ground-level ozone in terms of seasonality and precursor gases were also analysed from September 2014 to August 2015. Both stations registered similar pattern of variation with Lucknow representing slightly higher annual mean (44.3 ± 30.6; range, 1.5–309.1 μg/m3) over Varanasi (38.5 ± 17.7; range, 4.9–104.2 μg/m3). Variation in ground-level ozone was further explained in terms water vapour, atmospheric boundary layer height and solar radiation. Ambient water vapour content was found to associate negatively (r = −0.28, n = 284) with ground-level ozone with considerable seasonal variation in Varanasi. Implication of solar radiation on formation of ground-level ozone was overall positive (Varanasi, 0.60; Lucknow, 0.26), while season-specific association was recorded in case of atmospheric boundary layer.