The most colourful festival of the year is right on its way. While the celebrations all over the country are full of fervour, some cities outstand for their special Holi. This year, spend your Holi week touring these cities experiencing the best flavours of this festival.
Barsana & Nandgaon
Celebrations in these towns are unique in their own way. Legend has it that Lord Krishna used to visit his beloved Radha’s village on the day of Holi and the women used to chase him away with sticks. Carrying forward the tradition, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana only to be beaten by the women with sticks. Interestingly, this ‘Lathmaar’ Holi begins days before the actual festival.
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If you get to Barsana before Lathmaar Holi, then witness the unique laddoo Holi festivities in which sweets are thrown around and spiritual songs are sung.
Mathura & Vrindavan
Mathura is where Lord Krishna was born and Vrindavan is where he spent his childhood. The Sri Krishna Janmashtami in Mathura holds an interesting show in the week before Holi. The week-long celebrations at the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan are also legendary and culminate with the throwing of colours on Dhulendi. Colourful processions also start from Vishram Ghat and finish near Holi Gate. It is best to catch the throwing of colours at Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura. A day after Holi, Huranga marks the end of celebrations in Brijbhoomi when women raise a flag and the priest of Dauji temple declares the festivities over.
The ghats of Varanasi come alive with loud dhol, mish-mash of colours and free flowing bhaang induced thandai. If you are there just as a spectator, bag yourself a high perch on one of the terraces near Dashashvamedh Ghat to watch the fun below.
For a more dignified celebration, visit the Shantiniketan University in West Bengal, where Holi is celebrated as a part of the Vasant Utsav, with not just colours but by Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry, his songs, dances and folk music.
The festival of colours, Holi, gains much of light in the city of Udaipur as the royal family hosts an elaborate function at the City Palace. A huge bonfire is lit at the chowk and festivities are continued with dance, music and food. Tickets for the royal function in Udaipur can be obtained at the Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel.
The festival of colours is, thus, celebrated in Deeg with as much fervour as in Mathura-Vrindavan. On the day of Holi, each year, its palaces and around 900 fountains come to life splashing colourful water. The myriad colours that spurt from these fountains look as if you are watching a rainbow dancing to festive tunes.
An unusual twist to Holi is the festival of Hola Mohalla celebrated at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. An annual Sikh festival held for three days right after Holi, it has the drama, the sweat and the incredible colours that Indian festivals are known for and is an impressive, traditional display of bravery and valour by the Nihang warriors. Langar is an extremely important part of the festivities.
Delhi gets slathered in a more contemporary shade with parties organised for merrymakers. One such successful plug in the calendar is the Holi Moo party held every year. With unlimited music, dance, food and of course, colours, Holi is celebrated in style in the capital. Book your passes online.
-Holi is also the time, when a traveller’s safety might be compromised in the chaos. Ensure that you have a reliable local resource to accompany you, especially if you are planning on joining in with the locals to play Holi.
-Bhaang is commonly served in the form of a drink or ladoos in parties, in homes as well local sweet shops in all key cities on Holi. It can be potent and palatable to everyone. Refuse vociferously if you have to.
-Book your accommodation and tickets early to get confirmed rooms and to avoid high fares.