In March 2018 we spent three days in Udaipur, India. While we were there we joined in the celebration of the start of Spring – Holi. Celebrating Holi involves lots of colour and is a pretty joyful time!
Before we went to India I had known that we’d experience Holi while we were there, so I’d had a scout about the internet for things to prepare us a little. However, we didn’t really get the real idea of how it would be through the text on the screen! We also struggled to find anything that hadn’t been written from the point of view of a “traveller” in India, whereas we were visiting as a family of four – and two of us were children aged 5 and 3.
Therefore we approached Holi with a little trepidation; we had read about the drugged people, the opportunist pickpocketers, and groups of non-Indians separated through the surge of crowds.
Is it like that?
No. I’m not saying those things don’t exist – they definitely do – but they weren’t a problem for us and it was difficult to find a family-focused blog or site with advice about what Holi would be like.
We arrived from Amritsar (via Delhi) in Udaipur where we met our new driver, Bhati. Bhati was to be our driver for the next ten days, but we wouldn’t see him for the 3 days we were in Udaipur since the roads are too small for cars there!
Need to catch up on our visit to India? Read about Amritsar and the Wagah Border here.
Holi in Udaipur
Our hotel in Udaipur was the Hotel Aashiya Haveli, a beautiful family-run hotel with lake-views. It is up a hill, accessed only via narrow streets, and we arrived in the evening time. The whole town was pitch black, with lights only on the vehicles or the odd street lamp. At the bottom of the hill, our driver chose a tuk-tuk for us and told him the name of our hotel. The tuk-tuk made its way up the hill, and at several points, the driver was waved to slow, or instructed to stop by policemen. He began to speak excitedly to one of the officers, explaining that we were trying to get to our hotel, and requesting an alternative route. The second time he was stopped, after pointing out his passengers, the policeman told him to hurry but stop at the next junction. We soon discovered why all the restrictions were in place; there was a bonfire in the middle of the town square, and snap bangers in a row down the road leading to the bonfire. Spectacular and surprising! You can see the bonfire on my Instagram stories highlight.
After we checked in, we had a little wander across the road to eat and watch the fireworks. We returned to our hotel to find we had no electricity! Rob was not impressed… but that’s life, I guess.
Happy Holi in Udaipur
The next morning, we got ready to play Holi in Udaipur!
We made sure to put sunscreen on every part of our faces and bodies that would be exposed. Our hair was coated with conditioner (those who would tolerate such an act, anyway). I had read that we should put clear nail varnish on but we didn’t do that and had no regrets.
We wore light-coloured tees so that the colour would stick. Some of the research I had done covered travellers who had kept their Holi tee from years earlier, in a food storage bag. I later found that this is either unlikely or they were really keen on a particular shade of pink.
Playing Holi in Udaipur
The colours are bright, vibrant, and the powder feels soft and cool when it is wiped with gentle fingers on your cheeks and forehead.
Noah got increasingly brave and would gesture to people that he wanted to put colours on their faces, and not just receive the colour. We didn’t buy any bags of coloured powder but found everyone was generous with theirs.
At around 2pm the party is pretty much over. The only people left wandering about are die-hard tourists or high-as-a-kite revellers. We found a bar overlooking the lake and rested.
More from our time in Udaipur soon.
You may also enjoy our other Postcards from India.