Mathura and Vrindavan
Mathura is where Lord Krishna was born, while Vrindavan was where he spent his childhood. Preparations for Holi start in Mathura after Vasant Panchami. Hence, these 40 days duration are completely dedicated for the upcoming festival of colors.
A week before Holi the Sri Krishna Janmastham holds a renowned show. The week long celebrations at Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan are also legendary. People start the celebrations by starting with the throwing of flowers known as Phoolon Wali Holi which will be held on 8th March 2017. Then starts the colorful Holi procession that starts from Vishram Ghat and finishes near Holi Gate which will be done on 12th March 2017. On Holi (March 13, 2017), the best place to catch the throwing of colors is Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura. Start the day early (at around 7 a.m) at Vishram Ghat to see priests making bhang which is again an epic scene.
Barsana has a very interesting and exciting ritual during Holi. All of us are aware about the story revolving around Radha Krishna, their love, respect and their relationship that based on faith is nothing new to us. Radha was born in the village of Barsana around 42 Km from Mathura. During the joyous festival of Holi, the men from Nandgaon, the land of Krishna visit Barsana to play Holi with the girls of Barsana. The girls of Barsana greets the men long bamboo sticks, sticking them, the men’s diffident them self with shields made of leaves and find there way to the temple of Shree Radha and hoist the flag on the temple top. The following day the men’s of Nadagow plays Holi with the girls of Barsana, with colours made out of the flowers of the Palash tree. Normally the colour derived from the Palash tree is orange and red. This way of playing Holi is known as 'LATHMAAR HOLI'.
Lathmar Holi takes place around a week before the main day of Holi. In 2017, it will happen on March 7. The following day, the celebrations move to Nandgaon village. It's worth getting to Barsana a couple of days in advance of Lathmar Holi so that you can also experience Laddoo Holi festivities there. Sweets are thrown around and spiritual songs (Bhajan) related to Radha and Krishna is sung.
West Bengal – Shantiniketan
The great poet Rabindranath Tagore started this colorful festival in West Bengal where they celebrated this day as a spring festival. Inspired by spring and the colors of Holi, he introduced the occasion as an annual event in his Vishva Bharati University. Students dress up in spring colors and put on a huge cultural program for visitors, including dances to Tagore's songs. This is followed by the usual throwing of colors. Vasanta Utsav has become a cherished part of Bengali history and culture, and it attracts numerous foreign tourists. Note that festivities happen a day earlier than the given date for Holi in other parts of India.
West Bengal – Purulia
A three day Basanta Utsav folk festival takes place in the Purulia district of West Bengal. This is celebrated with a lot of pomp and show among the locals. A wide variety of folk arts, dances and songs are conducted here. This includes the remarkable Chau dance, Darbari Jhumur, Natua dance, and songs of West Bengal's wandering Baul musicians. What makes the festival special is that it's organized by villagers as a way of helping sustain themselves. The location is around 5-6 hours by train from Kolkata, or transport in private vehicles can be arranged. Accommodation is provided in tents and there are portable toilets as well.
More famously known as the place where Ladoo Holi is played. Here people Holi in a very unique way by throwing sweets at each other. You can say more of a colorful yummy day.
The royal place of ancient times celebrate a royal Holi here. The festival of colors is played elegantly and in a posh manner here. A magnificent procession is carried out from the royal residence all the way to Manek Chowk. There is an elaborate band performance which is followed by the royal family offering prayers and lighting to the bonfire.
Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
The Sikhs of Punjab celebrate this auspicious day not with colors but to show their physical agility. It was first organized by Shri Guru Gobind Singh and is still continued. This festivity is a must watch by everyone. There's wrestling, martial arts, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises, and turban tying.
Hampi, South India
Holi in South India is more about religious aspects and rituals rather than colors. This festival belongs more to the northern part of the country. However a place in Karnataka known as Hampi is an exception. People in the town celebrate Holi in the morning, indulge in dance, songs and exchange delicacies. The old ruined capital of the Vijayanagara Dynasty probably throws the fanciest Holi party in south India. Though a bonfire is not lit, people in Hampi are all set to play Holi with colors and eventually end the day by bathing in the Tungabhadra river.
Mumbai – the city of parties and celebrities. Dharavi, Mumbai's largest slum, is not the depressing place that you may expect it to be and especially so on Holi. Join in and celebrate Holi with the locals in a safe and friendly environment, complete with colors and music. 80% of proceeds are devoted to helping the people of Dharavi.
The best plave for the enthusiastic youth to celebrate their Holi this year! Wrap your bags and land in Goa to celebrate ‘SHIGMO’ the much famous festival of colors. You will get to dance to the music of famous bands under the sun and in the beautiful beach. Night time musical fests and parades are also conducted here.
Delhi being the capital city of India is not behind in celebrating Holi. They do it the modern way. Huge bornfires are arranged by people and they sing songs and dance around it. The parties don’t stop here, with festivals and parades and of course the obligatory water and coloured chalk throwing taking place throughout the day of Holi.
Not only the people of Jaipur celebrate Holi but also the magnificient elephants do. Interesting! Elephant parades, elephant beauty contests, folk dances, and tug-of-war between elephants are held. Many people come here to see these awesome contests, locals as well as foreigners.