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7 places to celebrate Holi

08-03-2017

Holi is the one time when all of India bursts out in Eastman colour. Undoubtedly the most fun of all Hindu festivals, the occasion is marked by the 4 Fs — fun, frolic, food, festivities. Though Holi is celebrated across the country with equal mirth and vigour, there are some that take celebrations to a whole new level, while others where the tradition is so strong that you can't help but give in to the flow. 

Here are seven places where Holi takes on a whole different dimension. If you love Holi, you'd definitely want to visit them all!

1. Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

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The birthplace of Krishna, the Hindu god, is the unsurprisingly main destination for Holi celebrations, and within the city, Holi Gate is the epicentre of all festivities. On the actual day (which falls on 6 March this year), there is a long procession of colours and music from the temples, along the river to the gate, wherein people from across the country — and even around the world — gather. 

2. Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

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Just half-an-hour away from Mathura, is Vrindavan — the place where Krishna grew up, and yet another hot spot when it comes to Holi. From the more sophisticated play at the ISKCON temple with dry colours and flowers to the more boisterous kind on the streets, there somethinge for everybody. The week-long celebrations at the Banke Bihari temple are legendary. 

What else to do in Vrindavan

3. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

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This is one for the bucket lists. The Lath-Mar Holi is probably the most amazing way to celebrate the festival. Here, the men would sing provocative songs to catch the attention of women, who would, in turn, beat them with sticks. According to the legends, Krishna visited his beloved Radha on this day and playfully teased her and her friends. Taking offence, the women of Barsana chased him away. Ever since, men from Krishna's village would come to Barsana to play Holi, and the same treatment would be meted to them. Barsana is also said to be the only town with a temple dedicated to Radha. Though you would have missed this year's Lath Mar Holi, but make sure you keep a note of it.

4. Santiniketan, West Bengal

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Known as Basanta Utsav here, unlike UP — where playing holi takes on a more aggressive persona at times — festivities here are more musical and lyrical. And why not, given that Santiniketan is the was started by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The day is marked by playing with 'aabeer' (dry vegetable colours), music and dance. Women dress up in the spring colours of yellow and orange, and usually fragrant flower petals are mixed with the colours while playing with each other.

Another popular destination for Holi celebrations in West Bengal is Purulia, where special programmes with dance and music are held all through the day. 

5. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

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Like Barsana, the Holla Mohalla at Anandpur Sahib is yet another unique way of celebrating the Indian festival. This is an annual fair that dates back to 1701, when it was first organized by Guru Gobind Singh. Here, instead of playing with colours, members of the community indulge in a demonstration of martial arts and physical agility. this includes wrestling, martial arts, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises and turban tying.

6. Jaipur, Rajasthan

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Now, this is a controversial one. Every year in Jaipur, colourfully painted elephants would kick of the Holi celebrations on the eve of the main day. There would be parades, beauty contests, dance formations — of elephants! And though this would be a spectacle by itself, it was cancelled/toned down after protests by animal rights activists. But even if much of the elephantine activities don't happen, there will be a string of cultural dances and music to celebrate the Hindu festival. 

What else can you do in Jaipur

7. Udaipur, Rajasthan

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Here the festivities start with the ritual of Holika Dahan, which takes roots in the mythological story of Prahlad. Come here for a regal experience as you join in with the Mewar royal family and the huge bonfire that is symbolic of the burning of Holika. Usually, a magnificent procession — including decorated horses, dancers, musicians and a royal band — starts from the royal residence to Manek Chowk at the City Palace. 

What else can you do in Udaipur

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