For those who relish the colourful chaos that Holi brings, here are seven incredible places to witness the festival in its true colours, with some awe-inspiring rituals and traditions that embrace any passer-by.
In the heart of Punjab, 'Hola Mohalla' an annual religious fair is conducted to celebrate the festival of Holi.
Every year, a conglomeration of Nihang Sikhs or Sikh warriors display their martial arts, and mesmerising attire during this fair that takes place in Anandpur Sahib continuing a tradition set by the tenth Sikh guru Guru Gobind Singh in the seventeenth century.
The three day festival that can extend upto a week offers ample entertainment in the form of kirtans, and poetry, and ends on the day of Hola Mohalla with a long procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs.
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The festival of Holi is a quieter affair in southern India. However what the rest of the region lacks in exuberance is made up for in popular tourist spot Hampi that rests in the northern part of Karnataka.
Otherwise laid-back and quiet, this religious centre turns into a a city of colourful chaos. Women, men and children alike delight in welcoming the throngs of foreign tourists languishing in Hampi to join in the spring festival's vividly-hued celebrations.
Drums beat throughout the village and gulal flows freely across the streets, and eventually into the river where most people go to bathe after the celebrations.
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For several years, the traditional practise of lath mar holi has been attracting thousands of Hindus, Krishna devotees and other tourists to the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Paying a tribute to the legendary story of Radha and her female companions beating her lover Lord Krishna with a stick on being teased, the local shepherdesses (Gopis) beat up shepherds (Gops) with sticks or lathi accompanied by throngs of coloured powder and water, devotional music and traditional holi songs sung in pure Braj. The three-day festival commences with a giant ceremony at the Radha Rani temple where the playful beating takes place.
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Unlike other northern cities, Udaipur adds to its holi celebrations with a lavish ceremony the night before Holi, that is also attended by the royal family. Decorated horses and a royal band lead a grand procession from the royal residence to Manek Chow at the City Palace, where a giant traditional fire is lit, and an effigy of Holika is burnt to ward of evil spirits and mark the occasion. The following morning, the city bursts in a riot of colour with tourists and locals joining in alike.
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An integral part of Bengali culture, Basant Utsav is celebrated every year in Bolpur Santiniketan. The festival was started by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, the founder of Virabharati University to celebrate the colourful festival of Holi, a tradition that is joyously embraced even today by the students of the University and visitors alike.
Students of the university garb themselves in brilliantly coloured ensembles to then entertain guests with a spectacular cultural programme that includes song and dance followed by colouring each other with abeer, a particular dry powder.
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As a state, Uttar Pradesh is not for the faint-hearted, and should only be visited during the festival of Holi by the true blue, pink and purple Holi player. One of the most famous places to celebrate Holi within the state and in the country, Vrindavan is splashed with colour for an entire week as thousands of Krishna devotees converge for the occasion. Observers drown in shades of colour thrown in and from every direction, and the festivities are conducted with much pomp involves parades, performances of Raas Leela and other shows.
A few years ago, Vrindavan's holi-playing status was elevated when several widows who are otherwise banned from celebrating festivals decided it was time to join in the festivities and took to smearing themselves and others with coloured powder and flowers.
Aside from the usage of abeer – a coloured powder that is lovingly smeared on participants faces, the town of Purulia, West Bengal also celebrates Holi with some beautiful jhumur tunes by local baul musicians and a variety of unique folk art. The festival is celebrated for three days in this district usually in a rural setting with accommodation provided in tents.