Nanda Devi is considered as one of the most revered deities of Uttarakhand. Several shrines are also dedicated to her locally. The word Nanda in Nanda Devi means well-being and prosperity, and fair means a mela wherein various cultural activities like dance and folk performances are observed. Nanda Devi Fair is held on an annual basis honouring Goddess Nanda and Sunanda, mostly in the month of September.
It is believed that the fair started in the Kumaon region during the reign of Raja Kalyan Chand in the 16th century. The fair is celebrated in all the Nanda Devi temples which are spread throughout the area.
The Traditions and Rituals. Organized for a period of five to seven days, the onset of this Indian festival marks Devi's visit to her parents home and ends with her return to her husband’s home. This particular tradition is expressed very beautifully in many folk songs of Uttarakhand as well. People from all over the country come to offer prayers and flowers to the Goddess.
It is celebrated at various places like Chamoli, Mussoorie, Ranikhet, Kichha, and Nainital. However, out of all the places, the major celebrations are held in Almora. If you want to experience the local folk culture of Uttarakhand, then Nanda Devi Fair is a must-visit. It is truly a great opportunity for tourists to witness and learn about the local culture of the Dev Bhumi.
Day 1. The preparation for this festival starts on the fifth day of Bhadra month. On this particular day, the Goddess is worshipped along with Lord Ganesha.
Day 2. As the next day begins, some banana plants are chosen for making the symbolic idols of Nanda and Sunanda Goddesses. After the idols are made, these are worshipped using chandan and diyas. Apart from that, raw rice is also used in the ritual.
Day 3. The onset of the next day sees plants being worshipped. After the puja, a symbolic sacrifice is also made in which a coconut is used instead of a live animal. After this, the branches of the worshipped plants are taken to the temple amid a cheerful procession.
Celebrations. Apart from the procession and rituals, the fair also sees brilliant performances carried out by the devotees for the Goddess. Not just that, to make the whole scenario more lively, there is also a huge market where locals and tourists can buy a variety of things such as handmade items of art and craft.
By Air. The nearest airport is the Dehradun Airport a.k.a Jolly Grant airport. This airport is situated at a distance of 20-30 km. However, it doesn’t have any flight connectivity with many Indian cities. Thus, to visit Rishikesh, the passengers generally need to first deboard at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and after that, take a flight to Dehradun from Rishikesh.
The commercial operations at the Dehradun Airport began on 30th March 2008 and today, it is considered as the 37th busiest airport in India with a considerable footfall of passengers on an annual basis. Interestingly, Dehradun Airport is also known as the Air Gateway of Garhwal and plays a very important role in the betterment of Uttarakhand tourism. After you deboard at the airport, you will need to cover the remaining distance of 30-40 km by some means of transportation like a cab or a bus.
Here is how you can reach here
By Train. The nearest railhead is located in Haridwar of the same name. It is situated at a distance of 25 km from Rishikesh. This railway station falls under the Moradabad division of the Northern Railway Zone.
This station is located on Delhi-Dehradun and Howrah Railway lines. It connects Rishikesh with a branch line. After you deboard at the railway station, you will need to travel further by some means of public transportation like a bus or a cab.
By Road. You can also consider travelling to Rishikesh via road networks as well. Depending upon your location, you can choose to travel here either by bus, cab or your own vehicle. If you are travelling by bus, then, from Delhi, the bus fares start from Rs.400. From Ludhiana, the bus fares start from Rs.1500. From Shimla, the bus fares start from Rs.600.
Here is how you can reach here by road networks.
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