Get ready for Holi Festival 2017

In 2017 the Holi Festival will be celebrated on Monday 13th March. Otherwise known as the Festival of Colours, Holi is fast becoming one of the most sought after experiences for foreign visitors, especially photographers. In this article we look at the essential elements to plan your own trip.

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Destination

The first step in planning your Holi Festival trip will be to decide where you want to spend that day. The rest of the trip must be planned with that in mind.

Delhi

If time is limited than focusing on the capital may be your only option. There is much to see and do to fill days around the festival. On the day, head to Paharganj or Old Delhi for the most boisterous action. Both areas are popular with tourists and therefore attract more than their fair share of opportunists, so do pay particular attention to the security tips below.

Jaipur

Many visitors head for Jaipur because it was famous for its Holi Festival elephant parade. This is now banned (or under-review, depending who you listen to) but the fun continues. Take sensible precautions and you will enjoy the day here as well as most other spots with the significant advantage of the city sites to fill your other days and perhaps even as a backdrop to a colourful shot.

Udaipur

The royal family host a traditional Holika Dahan at the palace each year which is an amazing spectacle for anyone who is able to get a good vantage point. Udaipur has much else to offer and, as one of Rajasthan’s lesser known treasures, this is a good option for anyone planning a single venue trip.

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Mathura and Vrindavan

Lord Krishna was born in Mathura and spent most of his childhood in nearby Vrindavan. Celebrations therefore begin earlier here than anywhere else giving you the opportunity of a longer experience if you feel that a long haul flight for just one day is a little much. The best place to catch the throwing of colours is Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura. Be there early as the first rituals begin at about 07:00.

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Travel in India

Your choice of international airport will depend upon your itinerary. Delhi is the most obvious choice but consider Mumbai for any plans in the west, or Kolkata for any in the east.

There is a network of domestic flights and you could well choose to book these to connect different phases of your trip. However, for a real insight into the country consider travel by train. First class travel is a delightful way to

It is much easier to make your own arrangements these days but you would do well to retain the services of a good local agent as they will be able to guide you through the complex choices and ensure that your bookings are sound.

Depending upon your own travel experience you may want to have a local guide accompany you for the whole or just part of the trip – but do hire one over the Holi Festival period. A good local guide will not only take many of the stresses away from you. They will become your friend and reveal a whole new dimension to the country that the stranger cannot see. They will also, and this is critical for the Holi Festival day, recognise the early signs of trouble and steer you away from what might otherwise be a downer on your whole trip.

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Security

It is important that you plan your festival day in such a way that you and your personal belongings remain safe. Crowds always create opportunities for ne’er-do-wells but Holi generates other issues that you must be aware of, and prepared for.

To the outsider, the celebrations appear to be a matter of throwing coloured powders and liquids for fun. At a deeper level, the festival is a religious celebration and a time when intoxicants such as bhang (an edible preparation of cannabis) are more socially acceptable. In recent years the consumption of alcohol has also become more common. As such, gangs of young males can occasionally get out of control with very negative implications for females and anyone who looks different. You must be alert to signs of disorder and have contingency plans in place to escape an trouble that might develop. This issue gets worse as the morning progresses so try to get to a safe place for the afternoon. By the evening things calm down again as the worst offenders are usually sleeping off the ill affects by then.

The colours themselves provide the other major challenge. You can expect to become covered in various substances throughout the day. Wear old clothes that you will throw away afterwards. These should cover as much of your body as you can manage. Some people like to apply a cream to their face, to make cleaning paints off easier later.

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If you do plan to take photographs then you will need to think carefully about the risks to your equipment. Many photographers do get right into the crowds and get stunning images so it can be done. Look out for items sold as rain covers as these offer the most protection. A zoom lens makes the most sense as you would not want to try changing lenses during the event.

Many businesses close during the festival, either so that the owners can participate or to avoid any potential trouble. Be aware that you will need to have food and drink for the daytime at least, and do think where you will be able to go for toilet when required.

A quick search on ‘Holi Festival safety tips’ will soon throw out a longer list of things to do and others to avoid.

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Ian Ford is Operations Manager at Photo Tours Abroad.

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Comments (2)

  1. Mike says:

    Brilliant post Ian. Holi looks amazing but I think it is very helpful for you to point out what a traveller such as myself should be aware of.

  2. Mr Singh says:

    Cant wait for Holi. Its gonna get Messy :)and be fun.
    Loads of colour and dancing here in uk. Gonna play bahngra and Bollywood mix hits in our style.

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