While there are several reasons to travel in India and explore the country, the festivals of India are incomparable. Visiting a new destination to take part in a cultural festival provides travellers with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Holi is unarguably one of the most popular and exciting festivals of India. If you’re planning on going for a trip this Holi long weekend (7-10 March), you must check out some of the best places in India for Holi.
Here are 9 destinations you should check out:
If you want an immersive experience, Pushkar is one of the best places in India for Holi! The vibrant town which is now brimming with a hippie culture, has great Holi celebrations wherein people take to the streets and leave no colour untouched in the celebration. In addition to the exciting Holi celebration, you can also pack in a sunrise hike and some downtime at the cafes on your long weekend in Pushkar.
2. Mathura & Vrindavan
Mathura is 4 hours from Delhi and is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Vrindavan, on the other hand, is where he spent his childhood. Hence, if you wish to experience a grand Holi celebration, these 2 places must be on your list. Here, the preparation for Holi starts almost 40 days before the actual festival. From Phoolon waali Holi to temple processions to the aarti and the celebration with colours, this is a massive celebration of Holi for culture nerds who want to see it all.
While Rishikesh is already a tourist hotspot and can be visited any time of the year, it has been consistently ranked as one of the best places in India for Holi. During Holi, crowds gather near Lakshman Jhula Chowk with water guns, colours, bhaang and gujiya and participate in the festive fervour. With scenic views, a great music scene and a lively culture, Rishikesh is where you must head to if you want a bit of everything.
4. Anandpur Sahib
While Anandpur Sahib houses one of the most important Gurudwaras in the country. the Hola Mohalla celebration is one that it is most known for. A practice that reportedly dates back to 1701, instead of throwing colors, warrior Sikhs engage in a demonstration of physical agility. There’s wrestling, martial arts, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises, and turban tying. It is one of the most unique Sikh experiences and one you must not miss!
Holi is celebrated in a completely different manner at Shantiniketan. The celebration of Holi as Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan was started by Rabindranath Tagore. Inspired by spring and the colors of Holi, he introduced the occasion as an annual event in the University there. Students dress up in spring colors and put on a huge cultural program for visitors, including dances to Tagore’s songs. Since this is a unique experience, several foreigners flock to Shantiniketan each year to witness it.
Kumaon is one of the major regions of Uttarakhand and the communities in this area have a rich cultural heritage. Holi in this region signifies the beginning of the sowing season which is of great importance amongst the agricultural community. The Kumaoni Holi is of three types – Baithaki (sitting), Khadi Holi (standing) and Mahila Holi. In the Baithaki Holi, devotees sing classical ragas to appease Lord Krishna. In Mahila Holi, the gatherings comprise of women only. Khadi Holi refers to the gathering of townspeople who come to sing in unison. The Kumaoni people usually wear a kurta and churidars, alongwith a Gandhi cap.
The Maximum City offers different types of Holi Celebrations to different travellers. If you seek an immersive local experience, you can choose to visit Dharavi and celebrate Holi with the slum kids. This also gives you an insight into the life of one of the biggest slums in the country. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a Holi party, Mumbai offers great music lineups during Holi. MMRDA Ground and JioGarden, both in Bandra Kurla Complex, usually host grand Holi parties that party animals can sign up for.
While you wouldn’t normally associate destinations in South India with Holi celebrations, Hampi is an exception. Owing to its vibrant backpackers’ culture and the grand architectural beauty, it is one of the best places in India for Holi. The whole town turns out to play Holi in the morning amid drumming, dancing, and the impressive ruins. Afterwards, the crowd goes to the river to wash off, which is truly an incredible experience.
While Goa is usually associated with music festivals and beach parties, the Konkani diaspora of the state celebrate Holi in the form of Shigmahotsav. The festival welcomes the onset of spring with blessings of good fortune and a prosperous harvest. Several folk dances are performed during the festival. However, the main focus of the festival is a large parade. It highlights many painted idols and depictions showcasing several scenes from mythological stories and folktales.
Holi is just one colourful festival, and yet there are so many different ways of celebrating it! From cultural experiences to immersive ones to musical extravaganzas, pick the kind of Holi you want to celebrate this year and then hit one of the best places in India for Holi. If you need help planning your Holi holiday, Hire A Scout and indulge in a hassle-free trip!
So which destination are you visiting for Holi this year?