Holi is the festival of colours celebrated in India to mark the beginning of spring season in the country. The colours sprinkled on people is like a metaphor to the colours of various flowers blooming in the nature. And considering the diversity in India, different regions have established different practices for celebrating Holi. This year, I planned to travel to make the most of my holidays and little did I know that my traveling plan would bring me across one of the best Holi celebrations of the country.
I am not exaggerating when I say that Jaisalmer is like a personification of some imaginary town from the Middle Eastern folk fables. The quaint size of the city, the thick density of old heritage buildings, beautiful sunsets over sand dunes and most importantly, the still inhabited (living) fort makes this city very unique and different compared to all the other towns of Rajasthan. For an outsider, this city is like a time machine wrapped in the covers of culture and architecture that will instantly take you to a different era.
My obsession with Jaisalmer fort is another story in itself and well, that’s exactly where I celebrated Holi this year. It was gonna be my last day of the trip on Holi and I was ditching my girl gang and the luxurious Club Mahindra property to stay inside the fort for that night. And must I say, what an absolutely fortunate decision that was! (The last moment plans have always worked in my favour somehow :P) Also did I mention that the Zostel property in Jaisalmer is located inside the fort???? How on earth, could I possibly have missed this chance?
Post a royal buffet spread for dinner at Suryagarh, I headed back to the fort around 10pm in the night and was pleasantly surprised to see large groups of people gathered at every nukkad singing folk songs at the top of their voices. I hiked my way up the fort gates and walked past the narrow cobbled streets to finally arrive at the Zostel. Much intrigued by the streetscape, I quickly dropped my bag in the room and headed outside to be a part of the festivities.
On the Holi eve, the celebrations commence by burning a large bonfire in public squares known as Holika Dahan, which represents burning (getting rid) of all the evil energies and negativity. While I walked through the bhool bhulaiya of several streets, the music and noise kept me guided. After every few steps, I would come across groups of kids and people throwing colour at each other and me. Eventually I joined in the festivities too as I was inside the fort for that night only and I did not want to miss a single thing. After having danced my heart out with the kids around the bonfire and eating some fresh sweets made in pure ghee, I headed back to the hostel to enjoy the best possible night view in the town.
Zostel has carved out some beautiful spaces inside of an old house in the fort and the balconies, mini terraces and the Jharokhas had me dying for them. The weather was pleasant and I decided to sleep outside under the starry sky making the most of the last few hours in the town.
The golden rays of the sun woke me up quite early in the morning. I decided to quickly freshen up and head out to explore some beautiful viewpoints tucked away in the extreme corners of the fort before I join the Holi festivities at the Dusshera Chowk. Thus, my morning started with exploring many more streets and especially the Canon point in the fort (it has one of the most beautiful city views). After the morning fort tour on foot, I arrived at Dusshera Chowk in front of the Palace inside the fort and was warmly greeted by a bunch of non-recognizable coloured faces.
The best part about celebrating Holi in Jaisalmer for me was
witnessing the thick culture that has been passed down various generations and
typical customs and rituals that are still being practised today. I was talking
to a localite to know more about this. The man told me that the Brahmin community
in the city begin the Holi festivities almost a week in advance and celebrate
it by singing, dancing, praying and offering various harvest crops and flowers
to God. On the day of Holi, the folks gather at the Palace and start the day by
first wishing the King and the royal family and there onwards the entire city
joins in the celebrations.
P.S. Don’t forget to try some bhaang, thandai, bhaang cookies and Gujiyas during Holi in Rajasthan.
With my stomach full of sweets, phone full of pictures and heart full of happiness, I headed back to Surat with some amazing memories from The Golden City. It was indeed one of the best Holi celebrations of my life and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else.
Read the detailed blog of Jaisalmer here: