Best Places to Celebrate Navratri in India
Navratri is a 9-day long festival of India which ends with the celebration of Dussehra on the tenth day. While the festival marks the triumph of good over evil in most parts of the country, the celebrations are quite different in many states. Visit West Bengal and you will see people bowing to the power of Goddess Durga. Head towards Gujarat and watch the locals enjoy playing dandiya or garba that is believed to have come from Lord Krishna. The victory of Lord Ram over Ravana is primarily celebrated during Navratri in the holy city of Varanasi. Each state of India welcomes and celebrates this festival differently, yet with much fervor.
Take a look at the 9 best places to celebrate Navratri. These will not only bathe you in festive vibes but will also give you a glimpse of the variety of Indian cultures.
1. Kolkata, West Bengal: To Celebrate the Power of Maa Durga
Step onto any corner of West Bengal during Navratri and you will see beautiful large statues of Maa Durga sheltered under elaborately decorated pandals. There is a constant buzz of religious chants in the air. Navratri Festival is popularly known as Durga Puja or Durgotsav in the West Bengal state. It is observed to celebrate the victory of Maa Durga over the shape-shifting, buffalo demon Mahishasura, who could not be defeated by any god or man. While Kolkata would be the most recommended city to visit in West Bengal for Durga Puja, other parts of the state also celebrate the festival with much joy.
2. Ahmedabad, Gujarat: For the Traditional Dances of Garba and Dandiya
Navratri in Gujarat equals to a traditional dance festival, probably the longest all over the world. Wearing vibrantly colored outfits decorated with mirrors, buttons, and needlework, the locals of Gujarat come together and show off their best moves, dancing to dandiya and garba songs. The traditional dance form called ras garba is believed to have come from Lord Krishna and his Gopis. It is at times even performed using dandiya (small wooden cylindrical sticks). The nine days of Navratri are equally divided to celebrate the power of goddess Durga, prosperity of goddess Lakshmi, and wisdom of goddess Saraswati.
3. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh: To Relive Ramayana through Lovely Enactments
Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh is one of the holiest cities in India and it leaves no stone unturned to celebrate the Navratri festival in high spirits. The ghats of Varanasi get enlightened with thousands of diyas and hymns of Ramcharitmanas keep reverberating for all 10 days. One of the most notable features of Navratri in Uttar Pradesh is the enactment of Ramleela - a traditional play presenting the gist of the mythological epic Ramayana. While Maa Durga's triumph over evil is celebrated throughout the nine days of Navratri, Lord Ram’s victory over Ravana is celebrated on the tenth day (Dussehra) by burning of huge effigies.
4. Mysore, Karnataka: To Mark Victory of Good over Evil the Royal Way
One of the prime reasons to land in Karnataka during Navratri is to view the Mysore Royal Palace lit up using thousands of lights. Known as Dasara or the Nadahabba festival, its ten days are marked with music and dance concerts in various auditoriums around Mysore, Karnataka. Popular and rising stars are specially invited for the events. Of all the festivities, people eagerly wait for the ceremonial procession that takes place on the last day of Navratri. During this procession on Dussehra, an idol of goddess Chamundeshwari is taken around on the back of a decorated elephant. While elephants, camels, and horses are a part of the procession, dance groups, music bands, and decorated tableaux add splendor to it.
5. Bastar, Chhattisgarh: To Celebrate Navratri 75 Days Long
Experience Navratri the tribal way by visiting Bastar in Chhattisgarh. Unlike any other place in India, the Bastar district celebrates Navratri or Dussehra as the time when their local goddess Devi Mavli meets her other sisters. The 75-day long celebration sees processions of different deities from neighboring towns arriving at the Danteshwari Temple in the Jagdalpur town. The deities are carried in chariots that have been made by local artisans using traditional tools.
6. Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh: To Take a Dip in the Holy River Krishna
Thousands of devotees flock to Vijayawada during Navratri. To bask in the festive vibes, you must make your way towards Kanaka Durga Temple where many events are organized. Watching the main deity of the temple being adorned in different avatars is a treat to watch each day. Being situated by the banks of the Krishna River, most of the devotees make a beeline for a holy dip in the waters. Another place where you may observe the celebrations in Vijayawada is Mangalagiri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple.
7. Mumbai, Maharashtra: To Watch Different Navratri Celebrations in One Place
Mumbai in Maharashtra has now become a place where a variety of cultures live together in harmony. Visiting different parts of the city, you will be able to observe different forms of Navratri celebrations in a single town. Right from Durga Puja to traditional garba dance, everything takes place in Mumbai. Walking along the streets, you will see pandals with large idols of goddess Durga. The end of the festival is marked with Dussehra when huge effigies of Ravana are burned to symbolize Lord Ram’s triumph over evil.
8. Kullu, Himachal Pradesh: To Watch Unique Celebrations
Kullu celebrates the festival of Navratri in a very unique way. Kullu Dussehra, as it is popularly called, goes on for 7 days and is celebrated to mark Lord Ram’s victory over the evil Ravana. During this period, around 200 deities from nearby towns and villages are carried in a procession to the Raghunathji Temple in Kullu. The famous goddess Hadimba of Manali is also amongst the many deities that arrive here. The end of the festival is marked by burning a pile of wood, symbolizing the burning of Lanka - the mythical empire of Ravana.
9. Delhi: To Enjoy the Navratri Garba and Watch Ramleela Plays
When in Delhi during Navratri, you must head towards the Ramlila Maidan. This is the center of all festivities. The capital of India organizes many garba and dandiya nights at various venues that are flocked by youngsters. Many Ramleela plays are also held in different parts of the city to entertain kids and seniors. You absolutely cannot miss the grand affair of burning Ravana’s effigies on the day of Dussehra.
These are the 9 best places to visit during Navratri. Are you planning to visit any of them to ring in the festival?