It is said that the best time to visit India is during October. Well, that’s true but not because the weather is pleasant but it is also the best time when you can witness some of the major festivals of India like Navratri, Dusshera,Diwali and Bhai Duj etc.
Navratri is nine day fast festival dedicated to worshipping 9 different forms of Goddess Durga and ends with the tenth day festival of Dussehra or Vijayadashami. The festival of Navratri marks the victory of Durga over the demon Mahishasura and Dussehra for victory of Ram over Ravan.
From Ram Leela in Delhi & Varanasi to Garba in Ahmedabad and Durgotsava in Kolkata. Check out the best places to make the most out of this festive season.
1. Kolkata, West Bengal
Kolkata is one of the best cities to experience Navratri. Here Navratri is also known as Durga Pujo or Durgotsav . Themed pandals are set up all around the city, where life-sized idols of Durga are worshipped. On the last day that is Vijaydashmi, the Durga idol is immersed in water and the ceremony finishes. The celebrations of Durga Puja in West Bengal should be a “must-watch” for everyone once in his or her lifetime.
2. Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Nothing can be compared when it comes to the Navratri celebrations in Ahmedabad. During the first nine days, the sounds of dandiya sticks and dhol can be heard throughout the state. Devotees watch and worship Maa Shakti in the morning. A garbi is used for the evening aarti, an earthen pot with diyas which symbolises the origin of life, after which all the people perform traditional dances like, garba and dandiya. You can also book our guide Kavi, for an amazing tour to witness and be a part of the celebrations.
3. Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Himachal’s Navratri celebration is quite different from others as their celebration starts on the tenth day of Navratri i.e. on the last day and is known as Kullu Dussehra, as it marks the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhaya. Deities are carried out for processions for everyone around to worship them. It is one of the country’s most magnificent processions and every year attracts many visitors.
One of the prominent destinations to visit in North India, Delhi is no different when it comes to Dusshera celebrations. There are massive, elaborate pandals, where devotees arrive and worship the goddess. Each Lord Ram temple in the city is decorated with flowers and illuminated with lights & diyas. The best place to visit to enjoy the celebration is Ramlila Maidan, where a large Raavan, Meghnad and Kumbhakarna structures are burnt after a grand dance and music show explaining Ramayana.Check out the full-day or half-day tours or book Nidhi, a local expert from Odigos for Delhi.
5. Mumbai, Maharashtra
The celebration here is quite similar to Gujarat. For nine days you will find Garba Raas and Dandiya Raas events at different localities but with a twist to it. In big cities like Mumbai, they have their own version of these dances that are extraordinarily famous as Disco Dandiya where typical songs are blended with famous Bollywood songs. On the tenth day, effigies of ten-headed demon Ravana are burnt to mark the end of evil and the beginning of good.
6. Katra, Jammu
Jammu is another must-visit destination during Navratri as it houses one of the oldest and popular temple Mata Vaishno Devi temple located at Katra. Thousands of visitors from across the nation arrive here to offer their prayers. The entire path is illuminated with colourful lights and air filled with the chants of “Jai Mata Di” boost up your spiritual soul.
7. Mysore, Karnataka
Navaratri in Karnataka is popularly known as the Mysore Dasara (Nada Habba). It is still celebrated in the same way that it was celebrated in the 17th century by the Vijayanagara Dynasty. It was the day when Goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) killed the demon Mahishasura. Another attraction during this festival is the Mysore Palace. It is illuminated with light bulbs for all nine days which is an amazing visual treat. Also not to miss is the procession of elephants on the decorated streets of Mysore, which displays the city’s royalty and ethnic culture.
8. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Varanasi is one of the oldest cities in Uttar Pradesh and is popularly known as the spiritual capital of India as it occupies the prime position in the list of holy destinations for Hindus and tourists. The celebration of the Navratri festival is quite unique in here. You will see plenty of places throughout the city during Navratri, showcasing the traditional play of Ram Leela. Ram Nagar is one of the finest locations to watch the play of Ram Leela which is held over 31 days near the Ramnagar Fort near the Ganges.
9. Bastar, Chhattisgarh
Most of us have not heard much about Chhattisgarh and its festival celebration especially during the Navratri season. The festival is celebrated for 75 long days to honour Mother Goddess Danteswari with her sisters. Devotees gather at the Danteshwari Temple in Jagdalpur during this festival. The temple idols are taken out on a chariot in a holy procession for everyone to offer their prayers.
10. Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu has a distinctive way of celebrating Navratri compared to others. The goddesses Durga, Saraswati and Laxmi are worshiped and each of them is devoted to three days. Kolu is the most intriguing ritual, where an improvised staircase is adorned with dolls that are made with the use of wood, marble, and clay. Relatives are invited to the house in the evenings and gifts are exchanged. Chudiya (bangles), bindi and other decorations are provided to married females. You can book Goutam Ghosh, a local expert for a surreal experience.
These cities have a lot to offer during this festive season; the more one explores it, the more one falls in love with it. So whenever you are visiting India, please check out the Odigos app which offers private tour guides and curated packages.