This will be our eleventh photo tour in India and is a repeat of our successful visits to Holi and Hola Mohalla celebrations.
We are combining a series of photography locations and events that have proven to be extremely rewarding.
VARANASI We commence the tour in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh in what some historians believe is one of the oldest occupied cities in the world – Varanasi. Formerly known as Benares, Varanasi is regarded as the spiritual capital of India. The city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites. There are over 2,000 temples to be found along the winding streets.
HOLI CELEBRATIONS IN MATHURA/VRINDAVAN Following our time in Varanasi, we move to Vrindavan and Mathura to witness and photograph the Holi celebrations. According to mythological records, Mathura is actually the birth place of Lord Krishna, whereas Vrindavan is the place where he spent the early days of his childhood. This is the place where Lord Krishna introduced the modern form of Holi, and is the reason that Holi is celebrated with such great zeal and exuberence here, as they present another reason for the followers of Lord Krishna to assemble at Mathura and Vrindavan. They come to be a part of the colorful amalgamation of festivity and divinity.
The main aim behind the festival of Holi is to celebrate devotion to the Supreme Being. The color and water washes away all the man made distinctions based on caste, creed, and other differences created by society. Celebrating Holi here is regarded as spiritually enlightening. The celebrations of the festival go on for about a week in and around Mathura and Vrindavan. One of the unique features of the festival here is that different temples of Lord Krishna celebrate Holi on different days. It is interesting to watch the devotees at the various temples, with people passionately chanting the names of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.
HOLA MOHALLA FESTIVAL Once we have completed the photography of the Holi celebrations at Vrindavan and Mathura, we drive to Delhi and board the train to Chandigarh which serves as the capital city of the two neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab. Holla Mohalla is a Sikh festival celebrated in the month of Phalguna, a day after Holi. An annual festival held at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Hola Mohalla was started by the tenth Sikh Guru, Gobind Singh, as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the festival of Holi. It reminds the people of valour and defence preparedness, concepts dear to the Tenth Guru who was at that time battling the Mughal empire. During this three-day festival mock battles are held followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army that was founded by Guru Govind Singh) carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. They perform daring feats, such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse-riding and standing erect on two speeding horses.
THE GOLDEN TEMPLE OF AMRITSAR (HARMANDIR SAHIB)
We are not done yet!
After the Hola Mohalla Festival we will drive to Amritsar and explore this city that is situated in the state of Punjab. The Golden temple will be a highlight since it is the holiest gurdwara (religious complex) of the Sikh religion. If we have time we may visit the Wagah Border ceremony.