-In Barsana, Nandgaon and Vrindavan
Roughly around 150kms. away from the Capital city of India, Delhi lies the twin villages of Barsana and Nandgaon. Apart from the lovely scenic views of the rural India, they are very popular for their unique way of celebrating Holi here.
A week before the actual celebration of Holi takes place. A wave of cheer, joy and colour moves across the district of Mathura, the birth place of lord Krishna. Notable among them are the twin villages of Barsana and Nandgaon. Legend has it that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased and drenched her in colours. Defending their Sakhi(friend), the women of Barsana chased him away with sticks. Today the story comes to life every year , when the men from Nandgaon visit the village of Barsana teasing and smearing color on the women folk, only to be chased by the stick wielding strong and confident women folk of the village. The ladies hurl sticks at the invading men, and those who are caught try to shield themselves as much as they can.
The event is one of a kind and, every year on this day, thousands of people from across the globe comes to be a part of this event.
How to reach
The village of Barsana is roughly 130kms away from Delhi via Mathura Road or NH44/19. The two villages of Barsana and Nandgaon are around 8kms apart. Vrindavan is the biggest town which is around 45kms away from either of the Villages. Private vehicle from Delhi is easily available.
During the event of LATHMAR HOLI many tour groups from Delhi provide tour packages covering the whole event across Delhi
The nearest Railway station is Vrindavan which is connected with major cities like Delhi and Lucknow via the Vast rail network system of The Indian Railway
The nearest airport is Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi
Protection of camera, electronic accessories and other valuables
Holi is a festival of loads of color, water and mischief. This makes caring for your valuables of utmost importance
Cellophane, Waterproof cover and casings are available online or in camera markets. Make sure to secure your camera and lens properly before you go in. Also cheap lens covers or filters are suggested for the front element of your lens which might be directly targeted by the people playing holi.
Use zip lock sachets to secure your cellphones from water and dust. They are cheap and easily available at any staionary shop in India.
WALLETS/ OTHER VALUABLES
It is advisable that you leave your WALLET/ID PROOF/PASSPORT etc. in the vehicle or at the Hotel before you come to visit. You don’t need any of them here. For money carry some small amount of cash inside the zip lock sachet, you have your cellphone in.
You have to leave your shoes/flippers outside the temples everywhere so either carry a bag in which you can carry them or request the local villagers if you can keep you footwears at their home, most of them are very friendly and will readily help you with anything they can.
Where to go
The Major locations to Cover are Barsana, Nandgaon and Vrindavan
The event of Lathmar Holi starts here. The village is engulfs multiple hills adjacent to each other. Many temples dating back centuries lay scattered on the peaks of these hills. The most famous and a must-visit temple among all these temples is the Ladliji Mandir or Radha-Rani Mandir. Today the men, equipped with shields for protection, come from the neighboring town of Nandgaon to apply color to women of Barsana. The women in retaliation chase them away, armed with strong and sturdy wooden sticks called lathi. The whole event takes place in and around the afore -mentioned temple of Ladliji.
Nandgaon is the other village which completes the saga of Lathmar Holi. It is located about 8.5 km to the north of Barsana. The place is named after Krishna’s foster father Nandji and mother Yashoda who are said to have their permanent residence built at this place after moving from Gokul. This Village of Nandgaon is also located around a hill. The Nandagram temple is on top of the main hill (which is called Nandisvara hill) here.
Today the event starts at the temple courtyard on the hilltop. From early morning u will find crowds gathering here for the gala celebration. Around afternoon men from Barsana comes to return the favour. The mob starts from the temple courtyard, paying their respects to Krishna and Balaram, and slowly move downhill where they gather at the village complex to conclude the event of Lathmar Holi.
This location of the town is the original forest of Vrindavana, where the Lord Krishna spent his childhood, on the banks of the Yamuna river. A 2 week long celebration takes place here prior to the final event of HOLI.
The town is littered with temples and missionaries dedicated to Krishna and his devotees. Notable among them are
Bankey-Bihari Temple: One of the most popular temple in Vrindavan, is home to the baby Krishna idol known as Thakur-ji. The idol is kept hidden from view behind a curtain, which is opened and closed every few minutes. Thousands of devotees everyday come here to get a glimpse of the IDOL.
ISKCON Temple: The temple is a base to thousands of Hare Krishna pilgrims to India. The temple is well equipped to deal with foreign visitors. It boasts of good restaurant with sober hygienic food and Comfortable accommodation.
Rangji Mandir: It is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Goda or Andal as she is popularly known in South India. The single largest temple in Vrindavan, it’s architecture resembles those of the South Indian Hindu Temples. inside is a 50-ft high wooden chariot, taken out yearly for festivals, and in the inner courtyard is the 50-ft high gold-plated Pole known as Dhwaja Stambha.
Do's & Dont's
- Act normal with the locals, being too conservative or too outgoing will only make you a prime target to be splashed with Gulaal and colored water to the point u might loose the joy of the event. Be polite and stay tuned to your surroundings.
- Be polite, most of the locals are heavily under the influence of Bhaang, a herbal intoxicant. So getting in an argument will achieve nothing and good behaviour goes a long way.
- Dress conservatively(Women particularly), the very essence of Lathmar Holi is men teasing women. So don’t think it’s just an enactment. Even if you are just visiting, men will go on to targeting you with colors, water and indecent comments. So the more you stand out, the more you get picked.
- Avoid any kind of footwear that might retain water or tend to get slippery
- Stay well prepared to deal with any kind medical emergency, Keep in mind that these are very rural villages. Medical assistance is only basic, so if you need to take regular prescription medicine. Carry them along with you.
- Do not take food offered by anybody, Any food the locals distribute might contain intoxicants and likely have been cooked in questionable hygiene. So it’s better to avoid them.
“Bura na mano Holi hai”
Don’t be offended it’s Holi, A very popular saying to keep in mind when you are ready to embrace the spirit of Holi
How to get around
Public transport is scarce and better avoided. The best way to move around is to take your own, or book a private vehicle.
Any private vehicle is left at the designated parking near the villages. The rest has to be covered by foot wherever you go.
UPSRTC, in tie-up with the Department of Tourism, has started a package tour which covers all important location centers under Braj area, the main center of activities of Lord Krishna. The tour starts from Mathura at 7:30 a.m. covering Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana, and Nandgaon terminates at around 19:55 at Mathura. details of which can be availed from the site of UPSRTC
During this event, many photography tour groups provide a complete package ,inclusive of stay, travel and food, covering te whole event across Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon.
What and where to Eat
Carry your own food, snacks and water which can last you atleast 10-15hrs. As most of the events take place under direct sun, need to stay hydrated will be more than normal. There is no decent eatery in either of the villages of Barsana and Nandgaon.
In Vrindavan, you can readily find restaurants and eateries. To mention a few are
- MVT Restaurant :Run by the popular Mayapur Vrindavan Trust (ISCKON) which is nice place to get hygenic , simple food.
11 Flowers Restaurant :The restaurant boasts of offering indoor AC sitting as well as upstairs terrace lounge. The food is said to be good and hygenic and carries positive reviews.
- Ammaji’s Restaurant :It is a good restaurant which might catch your interest with it’s intricate bamboo work. The restaurant serves good food at decent rates.
Many other good restaurants and Eateries are available across which one can browse at their own convenience. Street food however is better avoided.
Where to stay/sleep
There is No accommodation available in Barsana or Nandgaon so it’s well advised to plan your stay in advance. The nearest is Vrindavan. where you can find decent accommodation during your tour. To name a few
- Kridha Residency :A boutique hotel which facilitates for Parking, Restaurant, Forex service, On call doctor, gym, salon etc. The Hotel has good reviews by the guests.
- Hare Krishna Orchid :This resort is huge, with multiple high rise buildings. It has abundant compound space for parking. Has a swimming, restaurant, Yoga Hall etc. The staff seemed nice with helpful attitude
- MVT Guesthouse :Run by the ISKCON trust, they offer simple and good accomodation. All the Basic facilities of AC, Geyser, WiFI etc. are available. They have their popular restaurant which serves simple vegetarian food.
Other good and cheaper options are available too. It’ better to do some research prior to booking.
“Prevention is better than cure”
It is a town and is not equipped to handle huge volumes of crowd. So better come prepared to handle crisis the best you can. Services do not respond here as fast as you would prefer. So in case of serious emergency it’s better to retreat back to bigger cities nearby.
FIRE SERVICE: 101
MEDICAL ASSISTANCE: 102
Vrindavan is at a distance of 160 kms from Delhi via Taj expressway, which is the fastest, and 140 kms via Mathura Road or NH19/NH44
Barsana is at a distance of 130 kms from Delhi via Mathura Road or NH19/NH454.
Barsana is at a distance of 40 kms from Vrindavan via Mathura Road or NH19/NH454.
Nandgaon is at a distance of 40 kms from Vrindavan via Mathura Road or NH19/NH454.
Barsana is at a distance of 125 kms from Vrindavan via Mathura Road or NH19/NH454.
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