Traditional Holi destinations of India are attracting sizeable younger and millennial footfalls with a usual dash of foreign flocks to indulge and bathe in splash of colours, reports Tapapriya Lahiri
Add a weekend to a festival, and bag packers are ready to head out of town towards the unchartered territory. Holi too has come with a long weekend and domestic travellers have booked their itineraries in advance to indulge and soak in a dash of colours and choosing traditional Holi destinations to enthral in hues of vivid shades. Flock of foreign travellers have started pouring in to the different parts of Rajasthan, especially in Pushkar for Kapda Fad Holi, which is a major crowd puller. Braj region of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana is also witnessing overseas bag packers to dip in vivid colours.
Journalist Archana Sharma who had been planning to visit Barsana for many years finally got a chance to fulfil her dream. She along with her journo husband and two kids had enjoyed a splash of colours. “Instead of city’s crass DJ party Holis, we opted to experience the traditional Holi this year. We wanted to see how it feels to play Holi in Mathura, the land of Krishna. We had heard a lot about Barsana’s lathmaar Holi but what we experienced there can’t be described in words,” she says adding, “The colours, love, music and the environment took us to the time of Krishna. It was a surreal experience; I would suggest everyone to visit Mathura-Vrindavan at least once in their lifetime during Holi. The colours of traditions and bhakti touched us.”
Though Braj, Nandgram and Vrindavan are popular destinations, few small groups also flock to Shantiniketan in West Bengal. “Shantiniketan is a place for sheer intellectuals, therefore, millennial or corporate people seldom visit and it hosts very limited flock of tourists from the state itself. But the Holi celebrations here have a charm of their own, says Pronab Sarkar, president of Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO).
State tourism trails
This Holi, state tourisms of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have geared up to facilitate and cater to the domestic as well as foreign explorers, as Holi of Braj region—Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana—is the primary attraction on a global stage. Even, Rajasthan Tourism has put their best foot forward to make the festive tourism an extravaganza. “This is a crucial year and security has been beefed up to celebrate and retain the essence and tranquillity of the festival,” says an UP tourism official. Rajasthan Tourism too is leaving no stone unturned to make the festival success. “Elephant Festival is one-of-its-kind, and we will ensure that all outbound tourists—domestic and international—enjoy to their fullest. We are delighted to see the response from the younger generations, that they are so eager to experience Holi in a traditional style,” says an official from Rajasthan tourism.
The festive tourism demand has been felt by the travel portals too, when huge number of bookings poured in. While witnessing the sheer enthusiasm of Holi weekend, Manheer Singh Sethi, Co-founder, Travkart, says, “Holi in Uttar Pradesh is unique carnival and draws a long tradition in the country. As it is falling on Monday, it has given a chance to weekend travel lovers to make an expedition to destinations, where Holi is celebrated in traditional style. To explore the history and tradition behind this festival, younger generations are very keen to head to Braj, Udaipur and Jaipur.”
Aurvind Lama Co-founder CEO of Travelyaari shares that festival tourism is on the rise in India as younger people are looking for long weekends. “Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana are flocked by millennials for the festivities. Jaipur is also in demand for the Royal Holi and Elephant Festival,” he adds.
Youngsters are keen to explore new places and experience. Abhijeet Ray, a digital marketing professional from Kolkata says, “After a long hiatus, I am going to celebrate Holi and this time, in a traditional style. I have booked my itineraries to Braj, and for the first time, I am going to experience colour carnivals at Mathura and Vrindavan.”
Similarly, Anikta Lall a management professional from Delhi is equally enthusiastic about her festive weekend outing to Rajasthan. “Being a passionate photographer, I want to captivate each and every moment of the festivity through my lens. I have planned to visit Elephant Festival in Jaipur and later, I will be vacationing at Udaipur for real-time experiences.