Indeed the brightest date in the Hindu calendar, The Diwali festival of lights, celebrates the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil. Then, it is no surprise that the main component of the festivities is light in all its forms. Tiny clay Diya lamps brighten the pathways of innumerable homes, and temples glow with candles, while vivid fireworks sparkle the skies above the subcontinent. Here are the best places to celebrate Diwali in India.
The Golden Temple glimmers brightly on an ordinary day, but come Diwali, and its magnificent gilded exterior is covered with thousands of shimmering fairy lights. The sky above the Temple is a colourful mixture of fireworks. The Sikhs commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas, the freedom of their sixth guru from jail, on the same day as Diwali, and the area around the Sri Harmandir Sahib pulses with ecstatic pilgrims.
India’s most sacred pilgrimage site celebrates Diwali, Festival of Lights, twice. The celebration presents a trademark Diwali thali of candles, sparklers and fireworks, and on Dev Diwali, which is 15 days later, there’s a special service. The 7km of ghats along Varanasi’s holy banks are decorated with thousands of glowing Diyas in honour of Ma Ganga, Varanasi’s presiding goddess.
An incredible glide on a boat across Lake Pichola is the way to reach Udaipur’s magnificent Taj Lake Palace. Celebrators visit the hotel to experience an exclusive Diwali celebration, with candle-lighting rituals and devotions. Then, a glistening view of the stars at Bhairo, the palace’s rooftop restaurant, to experience lively fireworks scatter across the sky, reflecting beautifully in Pichola’s glassy surface.
Lakshmi, the benefactor of success, is the common Hindu goddess to celebrate Diwali. But Kolkata venerates its patron saint, the Dark Mother Kali. Representations made out of the clay of the goddess decorate homes of followers across the West Bengali capital for Kali Puja, along with beautiful hibiscus flowers and sweets presented in return for blessings.
It’s a good time to take a dip in the ghats of the Dashineswar Kali Temple if you can make your way through the crowds of pilgrims to get there.
The vast sweep of Jaipur’s skyline is better enjoyed than from the elevated perch of Narahgarh Fort. Add the colourful glisten of fireworks glittering across the night sky, and this is where the Diwali Festival of Lights lives up to its name.
The day before Diwali begins in Goa, giant papier–mâché models of the demon king Narakasura are filled with firecrackers and lit up at dawn. It’s a breathtaking, colour-saturated experience and the best place to experience such a view is in Panaji/ Panjim, Goa’s capital. Station yourself at luxurious boutique hotel Casa da Graça for a welcome escape from all the drama.
The charm of India’s largest metropolis exhibits itself at Diwali when the capital wears its brightest finery, and the city begins to celebrate in total energy. The same is said about its shopping emporiums. Boutique village Dilli Haat is filled with colourful lanterns, Diyas covered with glitter and luxurious materials. At the same time, the similarities of Blind School Diwali Mela and Dastkar Nature Bazaar Festival of Lights sell everything and anything, from Orissan bronzes and Rajasthani shawls to sequin-studded saris and chiming anklets.
Known as one of India’s holy cities, Ayodhya, particularly famous for its association with Ramayana, rings in the Diwali celebration with complete grand. It has been remarked that in 2018, Ayodhya obtained a place for itself in the Guinness Book of World Records for burning more than 300,000 earthen lamps along the banks of the glinting Saryu River. Diwali festivities might be a little different due to the pandemic but belief in Ayodhya to make it a delightful stay. With an atmosphere of festive spirit, Ayodhya will move you to a divine place