The unusually warm winter is melting into summer and falling, as usual, in the cusp of this yearly weather transition is Holi, a heady festival of colour and laughter.
If you love the sights, sound and colours of Holi, then travel to some of the most spectacular places in India where it is still celebrated in deeply traditional manner.
Here’s a list of six such places where Holi celebrations are still full of verve and vigour.
Lath Mar Holi, Barsana, Uttar Pradesh: It’s one place on earth where people from all corners want to be in during the festival. No wonder — Govardhan, Barsana and Nandgaon — are the most visited places. The festival is popular here because of the way it is celebrated.
Lathmar Holi takes place around a week before the main day of Holi. It’s worth going to Barsana a couple of days in advance so that you can also experience the Laddoo Holi festivities there. Sweets are thrown around and spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna are sung.
Basant Utsav, Purulia, West Bengal: This is a three-day folk festival where you’ll get to sing and play Holi with the locals, as well as enjoy a wide variety of folk art. This includes the remarkable chau dance, darbari jhumur, natua dance, and songs of West Bengal’s wandering Baul musicians. What makes the festival special is that it’s organised by villagers as a way of helping sustain themselves. The location is around five to six hours by train from Kolkata.
Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab: The best way to experience Holi the Sikh way is at Anandpur Sahib. During the festival of Hola Mohalla, it is enthralling to see Nihangs (Sikh warriors) in action on the banks of the Charan Ganga.
Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib is one of the five temporal seats of the Sikh religion where lakhs of devotees visit during the three-day festival to seek the blessings of the Almighty. It is an extremely colourful festival where Nihangs dressed in their blue/saffron clothes engage in mock battles with their weapons before an extremely receptive crowds. This is a boon for photographers and for those who loves to experience an Indian religious cultural mela.
Traditional Holi at Mathura and Vrindavan: One must experience the festival in Mathura and Vrindavan and also pay a visit to the famous Banke-Bihari Temple. The crowdÂ’s enthusiasm for their beloved Lord Krishna needs to be seen to be believed. In Vrindavan, the festival is celebrated for a week.