Holi is one of the favourite festivals of India, especially in the northern and western front. You do
not see much revelry in the South and the far North East. However, in the northern plains and
the western parts of India, you can see Holi in its full glory. Let us look at some of the best
places in India to celebrate Holi.
Mathura – Vrindavan
Normally, you associate Holi with the unsuccessful attempt by Hiranyakasipu and Holika’s
attempt to kill Prahlada. The festival got its name Holi from Holika. However, there are other
stories doing the rounds as well. These stories concern Lord Krishna and his unadulterated love
for Radha. Hence, it is but natural that you see Holi in its full glory in Mathura, the birthplace of
Lord Krishna and Vrindavan, the place where he spent his childhood.
The Banke-Bihari Temple in Vrindavan throws open its doors to anyone to come and enjoy the
spirit of Holi. The celebration for Holi commences a full week prior to the festival and culminates
in a frenzy of activity on the D-Day. The Dwarkadeesh Temple is also a popular Holi joint.
This is a nondescript village in Uttar Pradesh where you see women indulging in a different form
of Holi. Barsana is the birthplace of Radha. The story goes that Lord Krishna developed an
inferiority complex on seeing Radha. Radha had a milky-white complexion whereas the whole
world knows Krishna to be dark-skinned. Krishna complained to his mother that it was unfair
that God made him dark and showered all the beauty on Radha. He sought the permission of
his mother to spray colours on Radha’s face. His mother allowed him to do so on the occasion
of Holi. Krishna took this chance to not only tease Radha but the entire womenfolk of Barsana.
The women of this village started belting the entire gang of Krishna and his cowherds with
sticks. The practice continues to date with women beating the men with lathis on this day. Of
course, they allow the men to use shields for protection. After all, Holi is all about fun and
Pandit Rabindranath Tagore started this festival of Basanta Utsav (Spring Festival) to coincide
with Holi in the rest of the country. On this day, his students used to present some of his
beautiful poems and songs and enjoy throwing colours on their friends. You have a large
number of foreigners participating in this festival in Shantiniketan.
Just as you have the Bangla people having their own version of Holi in the form of Basanta
Utsav, the Punjabis have theirs. The Sikhs celebrate Holi in their unique style. They call it the
Hola Mohalla. In addition to spraying colours on each other, the Sikhs indulge in having mock
fights with real weapons. You have various competitions such as tent-pegging, bareback horse
riding, and so on. Some of the adventurous Sikhs go to the extent of displaying stunts like
standing on the back of two horses at the same time with the horses galloping at full speed. This
festival is usually celebrated one day after the Holi festival.
Of the southern states, Karnataka is one that celebrates Holi with great joy. This festival marks
the end of the winter season and signals the onset of summer. People in the historic town of
Hampi celebrate Holi on the full moon night of the month of Phalgun. The celebration is marked
by the beating of drums and splashing of colours on faces and bodies of others. The entire town
of Hampi becomes unrecognizable on that particular day because of the riot of colours all over
the place. The foreign tourists to Hampi have a great time with the locals on this day. It is truly a
great day of joy and happiness for the people of Hampi.
Mumbai has its own flavour of celebrating every festival in India. This is because you have
people from virtually every state in India residing in Mumbai. If ever there is a cosmopolitan city
in India, it has to be Mumbai alone. You have people from the Northern states of UP and Bihar
having a great time with the Maharashtrian and South Indians living in Mumbai. This is one
occasion when people forget their state affiliations and partake in the fun. Mumbai does witness
its share of accidents, especially with unruly youth throwing water-filled balloons at speeding
trains. Hence, you do have people ending up with unnecessary injuries. Nevertheless, Mumbai
is one of the best places in India to celebrate Holi. In addition, you have the added attraction of
Bollywood stars celebrating this festival in a grand manner.
Jaipur and Udaipur:
Rajasthan is truly a royal place to celebrate the festival of Holi. The cities of Udaipur and Jaipur
witness the maximum celebration where you see the rich royals mingling with the common
citizens on this day. Any festival in Rajasthan without the presence of camels and elephants is
incomplete. There are impromptu contests among groups of people with prizes being distributed
to the persons owning the well-decorated animals. People look forward to this annual parade of
decorated animals. You get to see the lighting of the special Holika Dahan at the City Palace in
Udaipur. This lighting of the bonfires kick starts the frenzy that lasts well into the next day
culminating in a riot of colours.
We have seen some of the best places in India where you can celebrate Holi with full fanfare
and colour. This is just a collection of about seven to eight places. In fact, every city, town, and
village in these states celebrate Holi with the same fervour. You have colours all over and most