India · 5 Days · 25 Moments · March 2017

Experiencing Holi @Mathura

13 March 2017

Holi decorations at Delhi airport Terminal 3
Saw World's largest Charkha in Delhi airport Terminal 3
Felt very hungry, all restaurants were closed. Later found roadside Kulcha again as yummy as any UP roadside street food.
Back to room with Holi colours
Here Holi is played in temples with God himself. People offer colours in large containers to God and later priests‚Äč shower these 'holi' colours on the crowd which forms as a colour cloud. Priests play drums in the temple and people dance to Holi songs. Anyone will be astonished to people merry making with colour clouds, songs, drums and dance. This is second day of our Holi in Dwaarakadeesh temple, Mathura.
In order to reach the Holi temple, we need to pass through this street joining Holi gate & Vishram ghat, which is filled with many ambushes, surgical strikes from the windows and air strikes from roof tops ūüėČ.Usually enemies are fully loaded with colours, gulals, water filled balloons and water guns. After foreigners, most of them playing out there would be kids. I would suggest not to miss playing with them because they will surely bring out the kid present within us. Generally whenever we enter enemy's range there will a race of who first applies colours. In case of kids just surrender or rather act as if u r trying to escape and then get coloured, so that they would feel their victory is hard earned ūüėä. Due to which, first thing they return us is their smile, which is absolutely priceless. Just watching their joyful smile will be so soothing. Also try capturing this moment because that pic will surely bring a smile on our face every single time we look at it. ...
Kachori breakfast - Holi special. This is very important. We need to have some breakfast before we get into Holi mood, because after we are all done with Holi and if then we start to think about food, then you might end up starving as well. On the day of Holi most of the hotels around will be closed. And if u r late (after 1pm), even dharmashala's wouldn't be ur rescue.
Morning ferry ride on Yamuna River. Perfect way to start a day ...

12 March 2017

Holika Dahan. The effigy is of demon Holika sitting on pyre with her nephew Prahalad on her lap. The pyre is built from dried cow dung, where all the poeple within that society will contribute to the pyre. After sunset, people perform puja & then lit the pyre celebrating it as a victory of good over evil. Also found a tradition where people are half-burning few freshly harvested wheat and eating the half-baked fresh wheat grains, exchanging the grains among themselves (also to strangers like us), taking blessings from elders & wishing everyone‚Äč happy Holi. Stay in these street junctions where Holika is placed and be nice to the gathering during burning of pyre, so you will also be given those wheat grains as prasad.
Shriji Chaat Bandar near Holi gate. This is also a not-to-be-missed place during any Mathura trip. Although "aloo tikki" is most ordered, recommended to try all the items a plate each. Also the shop will be closed on Holi, so need to try it on the day before. But on that day in the night as soon as Holika Dahan finishes many localities when they are heading to their homes will come here and try something, hence expect a lot of crowd and if you are unlucky few items may be finished as well.
Then our chotu stirred our boat towards Vishram ghat where Yamuna aarti is given everyday. Legend says - Krishna after killing his uncle Kamsa at his fort (which is nearby and one can see during boating) walked to here and took vishramam(meaning rest) and hence the name 'Vishram ghat'. The sight that many foreigners capturing the aarti will slightly elate us as it is indirectly‚Äč showing how eminent our Indian cultures & traditions are. But at the same time the very next sight of Indians also doing the same(including me ūüėú) will however leave you despondent. Nevertheless, by the time aarti is finished we will feel secured that our great Indian culture is still closely intact.
A not to be missed experience. Cool breezes flowing over Yamuna waters, completely calm and peaceful souroundings and our chotu rowing the boat gently & slowly over the river which is flowing till the horizon, will definitely make us get lost in time. On top all these it was a full moon that night. With the full moon which rose just above the river and moon light reflecting & shining on waters also intensified the experience‚Äč many folds. No words can completely describe this feeling. It is purely ecstatic and transcendental, making you reluctant to come back. That moment on the banks of Yamuna we can somehow feel our soul connected to the heart of Mathura. This memory will probably be the one recollected first always on thinking of Mathura It was some random lucky turn of events in the evening which made us land at the banks of Yamuna which ultimately made us experience this bliss. But instead of calling"lucky" I would prefer to call it as 'Krishna leela'. ...
Processions and Holi shopping near Holi gate
This is the Iskcon temple in Vrundavan not far from the Banke Bihari temple. Although it is mostly like any other Iskcons I could find one uniqueness. Here one can feel people celebrating the joy of devotion & the joy of life. The endless kirtana of "Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare...." mahamantra and people singing & dancing to the beats of dhols & clinking of cymbals will make every soul present there dance in unison. After the bhajan is completed in the afternoon we were also lucky to get into Hare Krishna restaurant next to it. And I think I need not comment on how tasty Krishna food will be, in Iskcons especially.
'Banke Bihari' temple is where we first experienced‚Äč the thrill after we reached‚Äč the city. Inside the temple it seems like lord Krishna himself is around playing‚Äč Holi with us. All the people chanting "Hathi ghoda palki, jay khannaya laalki" in unison, priests throwing colours on us & people playing holi with the lord Krishna himself splashing colours around and the entire atmosphere inside temple's sanctum being filled with colours & Krishna - all these will definitely be a long lasting memory. No words or images can recreate the environment.

11 March 2017

UP Handloom and khadar store All the products are the handworks by central jail prisoners there. Few of their famous products are : 'bamboo saree' - where entire saree can pass through a ring, banana saree - which is completely wrinkle-free saree and Rastrapathi award is given in recognition of their work. Do make time to check this out to get a perfect surprise gift.
Light show at Agra fort, there were two shows one in English and other in Hindi, where they explain the history of Agra and Mughals from Humayun, Babur to Aurangzeb. Hindi narration is in Urdu and Shaayari style, and at times it was difficult to understand. It was cold and peaceful under the moon light.
Taj Mahal is truly magical. The moment we see through the entrance, it can make anyone to fall in love with it. Probably that's why it's labeled - the symbol of love. 'Sitting on a bench right in front of it, under a tree shade, with the cool breezes of Yamuna passing you, having only blue skies backdrop & watching the Taj Mahal' - this feel makes anyone to go back in time to the memories with their loved ones & make us miss them. Love itself provides great inspiration. It makes one reach any heights. I think that's why in order to fulfill Mumtaj's last wish - "Show the world our love", landed Shah Jahan here which now shows the world - 'what true love is'. ...
Results of elections in UP are out and most of the people here are celebrating BJP's grand win.
We had roti and paneer sabji as a late lunch in a small restaurant. Here all sabji's have a lot of oil, so we have to specifically mention to prepare will less oil.
We have not planned what to do in Agra, except for Taj Mahal. We came out of Agra Railway station and there is a prepaid auto service by govt. as a part of tourism which will take us to all site seeing spots and driver was responsible for our luggage. We found this a good deal for both of us at Rs.500
Every hour until 11:30 a.m. there's at least one train from New Delhi Railway station to Agra Railway station. By train it takes 2.5 hours to reach Agra from Delhi and is the most preferred mode of transport.
Reached New Delhi & met my friend Ravi who came from Hyderabad to join this journey with me for next 3 days
Once upon a time Capital to present Capital of India. While traveling from East to North over the cloud bed there's a chance to have a sneak peek at the greatest peak.

9 March 2017

'17 Holi started with Rangoli competition, few by my friends