The splashing colors in the air, the shared laughter of family and friends wrapped in peaceful warmth is how we can best describe the Indian festival of Holi.
It is one of the most prominent festivals celebrated in India. The charm of this Indian festival is such that no one can refrain to indulge in the riot of colors for long. It is rightly said that the vibes of Holi bring your inner child to life.
Although, the festival of Holi is celebrated all over India, in many places, this Indian festival is celebrated in unique ways; Dhulandi Holi of Haryana, Rangpanchami in Maharashtra, and Barsana Holi in Varanasi to name a few unique Holi celebrations.
In ancient times, this festival was known as Holika. What’s interesting to know is that many historians also claim the festival of Holi was celebrated even before Christ.
In many religious works as well - like Jaimini's Purvamimamsa Sutras and Kathaka Grhya Sutras, the festival of Holi finds detailed descriptions. There was even a stone inscription, old as back as 300 BC, found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya, mentioning the festival as Holikotsav.
The roots of Holi can be traced back to medieval India. There are a lot of paintings and murals which have been found in various Indian temples exhibiting Holi in a vivid pictorial manner. For instance, in one of the paintings found in Mewar, Maharana Pratap can be seen bestowing gifts upon his courtiers.
In some parts of India, especially in Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. However, the main legend of the Holi festival is King Hiranyakashyap.
As per the legend, Hiranyakashyap wanted the people to only worship him as their God. However, as fate would have it, his only son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu contradicting his beliefs.
This left Hiranayakashyap greatly disappointed and furious with his son. In his anger, he commanded his sister Holika to enter the blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap.
Holika had a boon according to which, she could enter fire without setting herself ablaze. But there was a catch in her boon, she was not aware that the boon only worked when she entered the fire alone, which was not the case as Prahalad also went in the fire with her.
Thus, it happened so that Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu’s grace and due to his faith in the Lord, whereas Holika perished in the holy fire.
The onset of Holi sees a lot of cheerful commotion. This is the kind of festival which compels you to interact and indulge in warm conversations with your loved ones.
On the day of Holi, people visit each other's homes and smear colors on each other. Apart from that, people also relish in the taste of Gujia - a deep-fried stuffed Indian sweet made of all-purpose flour.
Here is the list of places where Holi is celebrated in different styles.
Taking place days before the actual festival, Lathmar Holi is all about getting to know the diversity of Indian culture. Majorly, it is celebrated in places like Barsana and Mathura. During this occasion, tourists get to witness a true riot of colors with a little twist. In order to celebrate this festival, womenfolk hurl sticks at the men who in return try to protect themselves to the best of their ability.
According to the legend, it was believed that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha on the festive occasion and playfully teased her. However, due to Lord Krishna’s behavior, the women of Barsana chased him away. And thus, ever since, this way of Holi celebrations came into being. Generally, it is celebrated a week before the main festival.
Holla Mohala is an annual fair. The origin of this fair dates back to 1701. This peculiar way of celebrating Holi was introduced by the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. What makes this festival different is that instead of colors, one can expect to see a spectacle of the physical raw power of traditional Sikh Warriors.
On the eve of Holi, people generally light bonfires to ward off evil spirits. Anyone who might be looking for a lavish way of Holi celebrations must not overlook Royal Holi of Jaipur, Rajasthan.
This Holi is celebrated on Ekadashi, in the Holi week. It is played with fresh flowers in the Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan with great fervor and enthusiasm by the disciples of Lord Krishna. The charm of it is unmissable as it is full of Lord Krishna’s grace.
In North India, you will find a number of top cities to witness Holi Celebrations. So, if you are looking for your part of fun then the best places to head for Holi celebrations in India would be Vrindavan, Varanasi, and Delhi. However, Delhi being the capital of India sees the Holi celebrations in the most contemporary style. But for a more traditional flavor, you might like heading to places like Mathura.
Mathura is an enchanting melange of traditions and Indian heritage. This is the city famously known for being the birthplace of Lord Krishna and, to date, oozes his spiritual charm. This is a place where people travel looking for salvation in his presence. Mathura is located at a distance of 183, 1,263, 1,359, 1,986 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Let’s discuss how you can reach Mathura by different means of transport.
By Air. The nearest airport is the Agra Airport (AGR) located at a distance of 60 km. However, this airport only handles domestic flights. Your second-best option would be the Indira Gandhi International Airport situated in Delhi at a distance of 160-170 km.
Agra Airport is a military airbase whereas the Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) is considered one of the busiest airports throughout India.
Depending upon your preference, you can choose either of the two. Various flights operate to and fro both the airports connecting Indian cities extensively. After deboarding at the airports, you can consider covering the remaining distance by some means of transport. You can also travel via trains.
From Agra, you can take Humsafar Express from Agra Cantt Junction and deboard at the Mathura Junction.
From Delhi, you can board Bhopal Shatabadi from New Delhi Station and deboard at the Mathura Junction.
By Train. Mathura has its own junction of the same name. It is considered as one of the most important stations located on the Agra-Delhi Chord of Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Chennai railway lines. This junction has 10 platforms and has fairly good connectivity with other major Indian cities.
By Road. Depending upon your location, you can also consider traveling to Mathura by road networks as well. Either you can choose to travel by your own vehicle or take a bus or even a cab.
From Delhi, the bus fares are starting from Rs.400. From Indore, the bus fares are starting from Rs.1,200. From Agra, the bus fares are starting from Rs.250
Here is the route you can take to reach Mathura by road.