In the beginning of Spring, the entire nation awaits yet again to plunge into the festival of colours. Holi is considered as one of the spectacular Hindu festivals in India, which is officially going to be started on March 12 (Sunday), 2017 and the celebration will culminate on March 13 (Monday), 2017. The carnival of colourful carries a spiritual tale of Hindu myths underpinning its historical significance. An astounding fact about this festival is that Holi is also celebrated with equal fervour in Nepal and other south Asian countries. In India, the celebration of this festival is predominantly for two days, yet there are certain places where Holi is celebrated for one colourful week.
As per Hindu calendar, Holi in India is celebrated every year in the month of Phalgun i.e. on full moon day. The festival of colours teaches us to reach beyond the caste and creed. It helps humankind in bridging the gap between ego and affection. The festival allows us to overlook all trifles and grievances and step forward with great tenderness. People greet each other smearing the Gulal on their cheeks. On the other hand, kids get into the festivity of colours sprinkling colourful water through Pichkari and water balloons. The overall ambiance everywhere turns utterly colourful.
Let’s get into some useful information about this vigorous festival.
If you study any ancient manuscripts related to Holi, you will find that it has already been depicted in the text of Dasakumara, Puranas and Charita. In addition, ages back in the 4th century during the sovereignty of Chandragupta II, ancient poet Kalidasa has also mentioned about Holi.
It is said that Lord Krishna and Radha was closely associated with this sacred festival of colours. Lord Krishna is known for his dark complexion and he was envious of Radha’s fair complexion. As a result of this, he applied colour on Radha’s face in a playful mood. Following this instance, couples till wait to colour their beloved partner as an expression of love.
In Hindu mythology, there are many such significant tales depicting the festival of colour, which used to be celebrated by Lord Krishna and Goddesses Radha. This is why Holi is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the locations like Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon that are closely associated with Lord Krishna.
Moving ahead in the 17th century, the British colonial staff and some of the European dealers were amazed with this festival of colours. Consequently, over the phase of time the term ‘holi’ was mentioned with different spellings in some of the old editions of Oxford English Dictionary.
Diversity of Names:
Standing on the contemporary phase of spiritual fiesta, the festival is mostly celebrated for two days. The first day is referred as Jalanewali Holi, which is also eminent as Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan in many places. This is the day when Holi bonfire is done wherein people flock near the holy flame. In addition, various holy shrines of Lord Radha-Krishna are decorated with flowers and colours in various parts of the country like Gujarat, Mathura and Vrindavan. On the other hand, in South India this auspicious day is refereed as Kama Dahanam.
The second day is popular as Rangwali Holi or Dhulandi when people enjoy the actual delight of this fiesta filled with coloured powder and water. This is the main Holi, which is popular with different names in different parts of the country. For instance, Holi in North India, Phakuwa or Phagwah in Assam, Lath mar Holi in Barsana, Basanta Utsav in West Bengal and Dola Jatra in Odisha. Despite of its diversified names and ways of celebration, the entire nation gets united on this auspicious eve of colourful carnival.
On the day of festival, people start celebrating Holi by greeting each other and smearing different shades of colours. Many street vendors open their stores early in the morning showcasing various coloured powder, Holi Cap, pichkari, water balloons and sweets. Kids rejoice the festivity most while throwing the water balloons from their terraces. Everybody start chasing each other intending to be the first one to colour the other. On the other hand, elder members of the family come out of their houses and greet their neighbour smearing gulal or abirs.
In India, you cannot expect a celebration without taking a single bite of scrumptious sweets. The festival thus turns more gracious when people exchange snacks and sweets amongst neighbours and friends. Some of the renowned sweet platters that are mostly relished during Holi are Ladoo, Imarti, Burfi and Gujiya. For some people, a blend of loud music and beverage adds more thrill to the celebration of colours.
In metro cities, various vibrant events are also organised on the eve of Holi that mostly grabs the attention of college goers. They love to dance in the splash of colours with loud background music. On the day of auspicious Holi, all lanes and roadways of the city are layered under bright shades of colours. The festival brings colour into the lives of everyone allowing them to reunite with their relatives, families, friends and neighbours.
Important Places to Rejoice the Festival of Colours:
Having said, Holi is one of the most spectacular festivals in India, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the people of all age. It is true that on the day of festival entire nation turns colourful. But, there are certain significant places where you can feel the thrill of Holi to the fullest. This Holy 2017, if touring somewhere outside is in your travel plan then do not miss the following places:
Eminent as Braj region in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is reckoned amongst the most religious tourist destinations in India for the Hindi devotees. This location witnesses number of footfalls on the eve of Holi. Vrindavan boasts several holy shrines that are established here in the reverence of Lord Krishna. One such significant shrine is Bankey Bihari Temple where, Holi is celebrated in great gusto. Festival fever envelops the city days before Holi, when Phoolon wali Holi is celebrated here. The significance of this celebration is floral tribute to Lord Krishna wherein, the priests of the temple throws flower petals at the devotees. This festival is celebrated on ekadashi, a day before Holi.
One more addition to your delightful trip to the terrain of Vrindavan is Widow’s Holi. This event was initiated few years back. Accordingly to ancient beliefs, widows are restrained from all kind of enjoyment and vibrant colours. Widow’s Holi in Vrindavan is an offbeat initiative, which was brought into practice allowing the widows to take part in this spectacular Hindu festival of colours. If you happen to be there during this Holi, please be informed that Phoolon wali Holi will be celebrated at Bankar Bihari Temple and Widow’s Holi on the other hand is organised at Pagal Baba Widow Ashram on March 10, 2017. In addition, you can also visit some other temples like Radha Raman Temple, ISKCON Temple and Gokulnanda Temple.
How to Go:
Being one of the popular religious hubs for the Hindu devotees, Vrindavan is visited by ample of pilgrims throughout the calendar. People travel here from various parts of the country. This signifies the level of connectivity the place has with other parts of the sphere. Have a look into the important modes of transport to reach Vrindavan:
By Air: Located around 144Kms away from Vrindavan, the nearest well-connected airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), New Delhi. In addition, Agra airport is also there within 67Kms reach from the destination. From airport, one can easily hire a cab or taxi to travel till Vrindavan. The travel distance from IGIA to Vrindavan is nearly 123Kms that can be completed in 2.10-2.45 hours time.
By Train: Located in the Mathura district of Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the place has its own railway station called Vrindavan railway station, which is operated by North Central railway. This railway station is in regular touch with most of the key cities like Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, Nagpur, Jaipur and Agra. Mathura Vrindavan passenger train is also there through which you can reach your destination in 30-35 minutes time. Once you reach the city, you can hire a car or an auto-rickshaw to travel further.
By Road: The holy land of Vrindavan has convenient road connectivity between Mathura and other important tourist destinations like Agra, Jaipur, Haridwar and Delhi. Several regular buses are there that travel between Delhi and Mathura. Once you reach Mathura by bus, deboard at Chatikara Road. From Chatikara Road, get into an auto-rickshaw to travel further till Vrindavan. The distance between Delhi to Vrindavan is nearly 164Kms that can be travelled in 3-4 hours time. Visitors can also hire a cab to reach Vrindavan via Taj Express Highway, which will take around two and half hours time. If you want to commute within the holy city, rented vehicles, cycle and auto-rickshaws are also available.
Places to stay:
Keeping in mind the mounting footfalls of pilgrims, several budget and luxury hotels are set up in the holy city of Vrindavan. Some of the comfy hotels with all the amenities here may cost you around INR 2000 and more. Shubham Hotel and Giriraj Kripa Athithi Bhawan are two great places with quality accommodations and amenities. Some other budget accommodations are also there that can be availed with a price range between INR 500-INR2000. However, depending on the season of your visit and amenities you avail, the charges may vary. Some of the accommodations are recommended here for your convenience:
#Nidhivan Sarovar Portico Vrindavan
Khasra No. 797, Gopalgarh Tehra Road,
Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281121
#Krishna International Hotel
MVT – Bhaktivedanta Asharm, Bhaktivedanta Swami Marg,
Near MVT Iskcon Temple, Vrindavan,
Uttar Pradesh 281121
#Ananda Krishna Van
Near Iskcon, Madhuvan Colony,
Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281124
Another spectacular place to enjoy the exciting festival of colour is Barsana, Uttar Pradesh. This place is popular for Lathmar Holi, which is celebrated here every year. Tourists flock Barsana on the eve of Holi to witness this unusual and traditional way of Holi celebration. During Lathmar Holi, men are beaten up with sticks by women. This festival has been followed in Barsana since long. This is out and out an amazing experience for travellers.
How to Go:
By Air: Barsana is not that far from Mathura and the distance is around 45 Kms. The nearest airport is Delhi airport, which located around 110Kms from the destination. In addition, Agra airport is also there within reach of mere 80Kms. From airport, visitors can hire cab or taxi to travel further.
By Train: The nearest railheads are Kosi Kalan and Mathura, which are situated about 10Kms and 50Kms away respectively from the main city. From railway station one may hire a cab or a taxi.
By Road: The road connectivity between Barsana and nearby locations like Delhi, Mathura and Agra is quite convenient. You will get various UPSRTC buses, private cars and auto-rickshaws from the Braj region to reach Barsana. From Mathura, the bus journey will consume nearly an hour time to reach Barsana.
Places to Stay:
Barsana is visited by many Hindu worshipers and tourists from all over the country. During Holi, this place witnesses good number of crowds. In order to stay in a relaxing accommodation during your visit, you may refer the following hotels in and around Barsana within a range from INR 800 to INR 6000:
#Hotel Nidhivan Sarovar Portico, Mathura
Khasra No. 797, Gopalgarh Tehra Road, Vrindavan,
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281121
#Hotel Goverdhan Palace
Agra Delhi-National Highway, Station Road, Opp HP Petrol Pump,
Mathura, Uttar Pradesh 281001
Goverdhan Road, Opp. 19kms Milestone, Govardhan,
Uttar Pradesh 281502
One of the elegant places for intellects, Shantiniketan is a must visit on the eve of Holi, which is more popular as Basant Utsav. With an objective of reliving the prehistoric tradition, the festival of colour was introduced here by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. Till today, this unmatched festival is celebrated here every year as Basant Utsav. People rush here from all over the globe to experience various cultural programs arranged by the students of university. The students get into colourful attire and perform various cultural activities followed by folk songs and dance. The entire ambience of university premises turn completely colourful on the propitious eve of Basant Utsav.
How to Go:
Located around 170Kms away from Kolkata, Shantiniketan is well-connected to the city of Kolkata and other parts of the nation. Therefore, you can reach there by any of the following means of transports:
By Air: Shantiniketan has no airport; hence if you are travelling from other parts of India, you need to book your flights till Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata. Once you reach Kolkata airport, you can hire a cab or get in the bus to reach Shantiniketan.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Shantiniketan is Bolpor Station, which is within 3Kms reach. Once you reach Bolpor Station, you can hire cab or bus towards your destination. From Kolkata, reaching Shantiniketan is around 2-3 hours train journey. Some of the trains that you may travel by are Malda Inter-city Express from Howrah at 3.25PM, Kanchenjunga Express from Sealdah at 6.45AM, Sahid Rampurhat from Howrah at 12PM, Gana Devta Express from Howrah at 6.05AM and Shantiniketan Express Howrah at 10.05AM.
By Road: The road connectivity between Shantiniketan and Kolkata is quite convenient. The 163 km distance from Kolkata to Shantiniketan can be crossed in 3 hours by road. You will get number of busses for Kolkata-Asansol and Kolkata-Suri routes. For Kolkata-Asansol routes, you need to get down at Panagarh and change the bus to reach Shantiniketan. Similarly, if you get into the Suri bound bus, deboard near Ilambazar and change the bus that will take you to Shantiniketan. You can also travel from Dankuni by Durgapur Expressway, which is now a part of NH2.
Places to Stay:
In order to enjoy the sheer colour Festival in Shantiniketan, tourists often focus on finding some comfortable accommodations in nearby localities. Though the charges of hotels and guest houses drastically climb up during the festival, but visitors can still find some of the good pleases to stay here by spending an approximate amount of INR 2000 to INR 4000 or more. The following are few quality staying options listed for you with good amenities:
#Mark & Meadows, Shantiniketan
Sriniketan Road, Bolpur, Birbhum,
West Bengal India
Santiniketan,Bolpur Uttarapally (Goalpara),
731204 Bolpur, India
#Rangamati Garden Resort
Near Prantik Railway Station, Santiniketan,
Birbhum, 731235 Bolpur, India
Ahmadabad is one of the popular cities in Gujarat where Holi is celebrated in different style and zest. People here get into complete festive mood with luscious eatables, electrifying dance, heart-winning songs and coloured powder. On the eve of Holi, a pot of buttermilk is positioned at a reachable elevation and a group of young boys try to break that pot by making human pyramids. On the other hand, a group of young girls try to restrain those boys from reaching till the pot by throwing water on them. At the end, the boy who wins the encounter in breaking the pot is declared as the Holi King. This is altogether an incredible experience that an outsider must experience in Ahmadabad on the eve of Holi.
How to Go:
Visitors travelling from different parts of the country need to keep a tab on the means of connectivity to reach Ahmadabad. Here are the different modes of transport that you may choose as per your viability:
By Air: The nearest airport is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Airport, which is situated merely 14Kms away from the city area. This airport is well-connected to various important places of India and overseas. From the airport you will get cabs or pre-paid taxis to travel further in the city.
By Train: Travellers can reach Ahmadabad by train as well. Located at a distance of around 6Kms from the city, Ahmadabad railway station is the nearest station, which is also known as Kalupur Station. Ahmadabad railway station is well connected to the major places like Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Jaipur, Patna Hyderabad etc. From railway station visitors can hire taxis, buses and rickshaws to enter the city area.
By Road: Gujarat and its adjoining cities are conveniently connected by road. Through Ahmadabad Municipal Transport Service (AMTS), the place is in good touch with some of the major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Shirdi and Surat. If you are travelling from Mumbai via NH 8, you can cross the distance to reach Ahmadabad in almost 10 hours.
Places to Stay:
Ahmadabad has galore of luxurious staying options for visitors. The hotels and resorts of Ahmadabad cater quality services to the tourists. Though, depending upon the time of your visit the hotel charges may vary from time-to-time. Nevertheless, by spending INR 1500 to INR 4000 or more you may avail some good hotels here as well. Some of the nearby staying options are recommended for you:
15, Ashram Road, Old Vadaj, Ahmadabad,
Gujarat, India 380013
Gurudwara Govinddham lane, S. G. Road,
Thaltej, Gujarat, India 380054
#Sahaj Palace Hotel
Opp. Terapanth Hall, Behind Dinesh Hall, Income Tax,
Ahmadabad, Gujarat, India 380009
One more place, one more celebration but same colourful festival. One of the eminent seven sisters states Manipur celebrates the festival of colour in different style. In Manipur, people celebrate the event as Yaoshang Festival, which lasts for six days. During Yaoshang Festival, a group of musicians and folk dancers perform near the luminous lamps and bonfires. At the same time people of Manipur plunge in to the festival filled with gulal. Manipur is undoubtedly a great place to arrive on the eve of Holi.
How to Go:
If you are planning to visit Manipur during Yaoshang Festival, following are the best modes of transpiration you can travel by
By Air: The nearest air port is Imphal, which is situated around 6 kms away from the capital city. There are various flights to reach Imphal from the places like Silchar, Kolkata and Delhi. From airport premises, you can hire taxis or get into the local bus to travel further in the city.
By Rail: Manipur has no railway station. The nearest railway station is located in Dimapur, which around 215Kms away from Imphal. From the railway station you can hire private car and taxi to reach Imphal. It will take almost 9long hours to reach Imphal from Dimapur.
By Road: Manipur is well-connected to its adjoining states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya. From these locations, you will get various private cars that will take you till Imphal. However, due to uneven road condition, it is advisable to hire a 4WD.
Places to Stay:
There are various premium and budget hotels in Manipur that can be availed within the range from INR 1000 to INR 3500 and more. The following are few accommodations listed for you:
#The Classic Hotel
North AOC Petrol Pump, National Highway 150,
Imphal, Manipur 795001
Keisampat Thokchom Leikai,Wahengbam Leikai Road,
Imphal, Manipur 795001
MG Avenue, Thangal Bazar, Near City Police,
Imphal, Manipur 795001
Having mentioned earlier, Holi is identified as different names in different parts of the country. In Odisha, the festival is called ‘Dola’ or ‘Dol Purnima’ when a procession of deity takes place in villages and prashad is offered in reverence of the deity. The people of Odisha believe that Krishna is the synonym of Lord Jagannath. This is why on the eve of ‘Dol Purnima’ they place an idol of Lord Jagannath in place of Radha-Krishna. People mostly celebrate the festival with natural colour “abira”. The youths offer the colour on the feet of their elders seeking their blessings. In the evening, a palanquin is carried on the shoulders of milkmen. In addition, Holika is also burnt on the auspicious eve of ‘Dol Purnima’. This ritual is performed symbolising conquest of good over evil.
How to Go:
Getting there to Odisha is quite opportune for the visitors across India. This place is well-connected to other parts of the country via following modes of transports:
By Air: The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik International Airport. From the airport premises, you can hire a taxi or a private car to travel further in the city. In addition, auto-rickshaws and city shuttle bus services are also there to enter the main city.
By Train: Thanks to the Bhubaneswar railway station for bridging the gap between Odisha and other major cities of India. Bhubaneswar railway station is the nearest railway station. There are several trains that you can board from different major cities of India. From Bhubaneswar railway station, you will find many private cars and taxis to travel further.
By Road: Odisha or Orissa is in good touch with some of the adjoining destinations like Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Puri. Regular buses are there from Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar that run under OSRTDC (Odisha State Road Transport Corporation). Additionally, private buses and taxis are also available from all the nearby places to reach different cities in Orissa.
Places to Stay:
Every year on the eve of Holi, Odisha is visited by numerous tourists from various parts of the country. Therefore, providing comfortable accommodations with basic amenities to the visitors became an integral aspect of cordiality for the Travel and Tourism Authority. Keeping in mind the mounting footfalls of visitors, several reasonable as well as luxurious hotels are established in its nearby locations. You will find many comfy places to stay in Odisha by spending an amount ranging from INR 1500 to INR 3500 and more. For your convenience, some of these are listed as follows:
#Hotel Eden Roc
Old Station Bazar, Odisha, 751006
Palamandap, Link Road,Opp Mahaveer Apartment,
Cuttack, Odisha 753012
#Reba Beach Resort
Hotel Reba Beach Resort Gopal Ballav Road,
Puri, Odisha 752001
These are some of the important places that can be visited on the eve of Holi. In addition, there are some other places as well that you can add into your Holi trip. These destinations include Maharashtra, Punjab, Hampi, Delhi, Bihar, Assam etc.
The festival of colours knows no bound. So, let the festival of colour add lot more bliss and happiness in your life. However, considering the serious consequences, it is advisable not to use chemical-mixed powder and liquid. People having issues with their hair and skins are also suggested to take needful measures while playing colour. Let’s cheer, Happy Holi!!