It is that time of the year again when colour is in the air. The country will wrap itself in a riot of hues and merrymaking. The best places to celebrate Holi in India really depend on what kind of experience you want to have. Diverse ways of playing Holi are seen across the country, ranging from traditional temple religious ceremony to modern parties with dhol, DJs, bhang and lots of colours. We bring you the best places across the country to celebrate this holi-day away from home.
Image source: Traveldudes
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
If you thought that your six-year-old neighbour flinging water balloons at unaware passersby was crazy, just wait till you experience Holi in Mathura, where celebrations last for a week preceding the festive day. The entire city is full of Holi huddang & understandably so being the birthplace of Krishna. Lath Maar Holi of Barsana, a village in Mathura is easily the unique way of celebrating Holi. The colourfully dressed women playfully beat up men who want to play Holi with them with sticks which is a part of the tradition.
For an unforgettable regal experience, join in the celebration of Udaipur’s Mewar royal family where the customs of lighting the Holika Dahan is traditionally performed by the current custodian of the Mewar dynasty. This is followed by a magnificent palace procession from the royal residence to Manek Chowk at the City Palace, accompanied by royal family members, sitting on ornated camels, elephants and horses. Finally, the cocktail and dinner are served at the royal palace and the celebration ends with magnificent fireworks.
The following morning, the celebrations of Holi are all out on the streets of Udaipur filled with people wrapped in different colours enjoying their time.
Shantiniketan, in the Birbhum district, observes Holi as the Spring Festival or Basanta Utsav, where the focus is more on cultural performances.
Started by the famous Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the students of the university dress up in colourful attire and put on a huge cultural extravaganza for the visitors, followed by the throwing of colours.
A huge number of tourists arrive every year at Shantiniketan to witness and participate in these celebrations.
The Holi aplomb of Northern India is unmatchable, but Hampi is a notable exception where celebrations are held for 2 days. People gather in the streets to splash colours and dance to the drum beats followed by a nice dip in the river. The whole town turns out to play Holi in the morning, amid drumming, dancing, and the evocative ruins of the grand Vijayanagar empire are alive with colours. Afterwards, the crowd slowly moves to the Tungabhadra river to wash all the colour off.
Holi in Punjab has a unique flavour. Experience the warrior Holi of the Sikhs where the warriors engage in fights to show strength and courage. Known as Hola Mohalla, the annual fair – popular for wrestling, martial arts, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises, and turban tying – dates all the way back to 1701 when it was started by Guru Gobind Singh. The extravagant presentation at this holy Sikh pilgrimages is truly worth your time if you are looking for an offbeat affair.