Holi and Holla Mohalla
March 4 - 15, 2017
Holi is the Hindu festival that welcomes the Spring and celebrates the new life and energy of the season. Although Holi has religious roots, not much religious activity is involved in its celebration. Holi is the most energetic Indian festival, filled with fun and good humour; even the strict rules of separation between castes are abandoned. Holi is also called 'The Festival of Colors', and people celebrate the festival by smearing each other with paint, and throwing coloured powder and dye around in an atmosphere of great good humor. Holi is seen by some as the Hindu festival that is nearest in spirit to St. Valentine's Day.
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. On 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.
March 4- 15, 2017
Abhishek Hajela and Jeremy Woodhouse
Price: On Request
Day 1: Saturday, 4 March — Arrive Delhi
On your arrival in Delhi, you will be met by our representative who will escort you to your hotel. (Hotel check-in time is from 1400 hrs).
O/N IBIS Hotel
The rest of day is free to relax before we all meet for a welcome dinner and overview of the trip. We will talk about the program, photo walks and all the amazing things that we will experience.
Overnight at Hotel
Day 2: Sunday, 5 March — Delhi - Mathura
This morning after breakfast, we will start our 3½ hrs drive to Mathura, which will be our base for next four days during Holi celebrations. This is a perfect opportunity to take some stunning, colorful images. On arrival you will be assisted with check-in at the hotel. After lunch get ready to photograph some of the most vibrant and striking images as we take you to Barsana to witness the festival of colours – Holi.
Thousands of people from across India came together in Mathura and near by villages where the festival of color is celebrated with great fervor. Holi marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. The festival begins with Lathmar Holi played in Barsana, a small village in Mathura. Lathmar Holi usually begins around a week before the main Holi day. During the Lathmar Holi celebrations, women from Barsana village wait with wooden sticks to beat the men who come from the adjacent village of Nandgoan, the hometown of Lord Krishna.
Hindu Mythology says that Lord Krishna along with his friends visited Barsana, Radha's village (Radha was Lord Krishna’s girlfriend), to tease her and other gopis (girls) by throwing colored water on them. In retaliation, Radha and gopis chased him and his friends to beat them up with sticks.
Even today, people from Nandgoan and Barsana follow the ritual. Men soaked in colored water arrive in Barsana and tease women by singing provocative songs. The women then beat them with sticks (lathis) and men use shields to protect themselves. Holi is celebrated for more than two weeks in Vrindavan and Mathura, where lord Krishna was born and grew up.
Later in the evening, we will return to hotel for dinner and overnight.
Overnight at the Hotel
Day 3 - 6: Monday 6 - Thursday, 9 March — Mathura
We will spend the days taking some amazing images of the Holi celebrations in near by villages and temples. In the evening we will head back to Delhi.
Overnight at the Hotel
Day 7: Friday, 10 March -- Delhi-Amritsar
Early this morning you will be transferred to the New Delhi Railway Station to board the train to Amritsar.
Depart: Delhi Amritsar Shatabdi at 07:20 hrs
Arrive: Amritsar at 13:45 hrs
Upon arrival at Amritsar Railway station you will be transferred to your hotel for check in. After lunch we will head out in the city for our first walk in this bustling town.
Founded in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Ram Das, Amritsar is home to Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the magical Golden Temple, one of India’s most serene and humbling sights. Amritsar is divided in two the old and the new. 12 medieval gates bound the old city, with the Golden Temple and other historic sights - this is a fascinating area to explore, with a capillary network of narrow bazaars that seems to float between the centuries. To the north of the railway lines, ‘modern’ Amritsar has grown up in haphazard fashion around a scattering of colonial-era boulevards. Gleaming malls and upmarket hotels stand testament to the prosperity of the city, but the hectic traffic makes this area hard to love at street level. Crossing between the old and new cities is best done by cycle-rickshaw, but once you’re in the old city, walking is often the quickest way to get around.
Overnight at the Hotel
Day 8: Saturday, 11 March — Amritsar
Early this morning you we cover the Prabhat Pheri or the early morning procession at the Golden Temple.
There is a continuous singing of Gurbani Kiran, hymns from the opening of its portals (doors) to their closing. After the departure of the Palki Sahib (palanquin) carrying the sacred book - Sri Guru Granth Sahib to The Akal Takhat Sahib temple, the devotees, accompanied by the Gurdwara's temple staff, clean the Sri Harimandir Sahib for one hour. During this process these devotees sing the Gurbani Kiran religious songs in melodious and devotional tones. After purifying the precincts, the rugs are spread, on which the Peera Sahib (a small cot) is placed to install the Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the early morning. At the completion of the Ardas (Sikh Prayer), Karah Prasad (holy offering) is distributed among the devotees. We will spend most of our morning at the Golden Temple, which offers great Photo opportunities!
The Golden Temple is located in the heart of the city and is the most visited tourist attraction of Amritsar. Characterized by its four entrance doors (called deoris) in all four directions and the tastefully decorated shrines, in terms of art and architecture, the Golden Temple welcomes everyone regardless of the religion or faith one follows. The stunning sanctum, shimmering in the water of the holy tank, flanked by spotlessly clean marble walkways and pavements makes it breathtakingly beautiful.
Later this afternoon we will visit the Wagah Border. Located on the India/Pakistan border, Wagah is 28 kilometres from the Amritsar main town. A good number of visitors come to this place to witness the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony and the flag hoisting and lowering activities which are done with great skill and precision by the border security forces of both the countries. A sight you cannot afford to miss.
Overnight at the Hotel
Day 9: Sunday, 12 March : Amritsar - Anandpur Sahib (04 hrs)
This morning we will start our drive to Anandpur Sahib — where the very dramatic Holla Mohalla takes place.
The Holla Mohalla is an impressive traditional display of bravery and valor that is a must see.
The ultimate display of machismo - Holla Mohalla, an annual Sikh festival held a day after Holi, has the drama, the sweat and the incredible colours that Indian festivals are known for. With impressive displays of weaponry, archery and wrestling, there's also music, poetry and prayers, singing and chanting. An important part of the festival is the langar (community food) that is served to pilgrims irrespective of their religion or caste. One of the main attractions at the festival are the Nihangs — a prestigious armed sect of the Sikha who wear a striking blend of blue and orange, with thick twisted moustaches and overwhelmingly large and embellished turbans. They also demonstrate thrilling horse riding shows where the riders gallop bareback, performing tricks like riding astride two horses. Holla Mohalla is held at Anandpur Sahib in the state of Punjab, and it is estimated that over 100,000 Sikh devotees attend the festival. This is an amazing festival with great photo opportunities!
Overnight at the Tents
Day 10: Monday, 13 March: Anandpur Sahib
We will start early in the morning to witness and capture the various activities that take place during the festival. We will spend the entire day here photographing this colorful and amazing festival.
Overnight at the Tents
Day 11: Tuesday, 14 March — Anandpur Sahib/Chandigarh/Delhi
After a relaxing morning shoot, later today we will drive to Chandigarh to board the flight to Delhi.
Chandigarh – Delhi/Vistara UK 879/1520-1620 hrs
On arrival you will be transferred to you hotel and assisted in check-in. The rest of the evening is at leisure.
O/N IBIS Hotel
Day 12: Wednesday, 15 March — Delhi and Final Departure
After breakfast we will start our sightseeing tour of the ever-charming old Delhi.
Old Delhi - which includes iconic locations like Red Fort, Chandani Chowk, Asia’s biggest Spice market is the best place to cover the crowds, bazaars /markets, food and impressive diversity of Delhi city. The old mansions (Havelis), bazaars, colorful shops, thousands of people, temples, mosques, chaotic yet working traffic and more is unlike everything you will experience anywhere. Capture the daily lives of people and soul stirring sights which seems so quaint and out of reality in a modern metro city like Delhi. The sights of shops in Old Delhi, which are a mix of new businesses and old traditions, are hard to find anywhere else. Ride rickshaws, walk on foot, and take some great photographs of everything in this fast paced street photography tour of Old Delhi.
This will be the last evening of our trip and defiantly calls for a gala and enjoyable farewell dinner!
Ø Accommodation based on twin sharing rooms as per the itinerary for 12 nights.
Ø Rooms are based full board basis.
Ø Arrival/Departure transfers, sightseeing’s, excursion’s and surface transfers using an air-conditioned Mini Coach irrespective of the size of the group.
Ø Entrance fees (single entry) are included in the above cost as per the itinerary.
Ø Services of English speaking local guide during all the city tours
Ø All currently applicable taxes.
Ø Domestic Airfare (quoted separately)
Ø Visa charges, airport taxes, table drinks, telephone calls, tips to driver/guide/naturalist, laundry etc or any other items of personal nature.
Ø International Airfare
Ø Any other thing not mentioned in program or “Cost Includes”