Diwali, known as the “Festival of Lights”, is the biggest festival of the year in India. This five-day festival commemorates the victory of good over evil, and in North India most famously honors the return of Lord Ram and his wife Sita to Ayodhya. While the entire nation celebrates Diwali with utmost gusto, these specific holy places commemorate the festival with a vibrant vibe and atmosphere. These places will give you an experience of a lifetime as they welcome you to celebrate Diwali with them.
For India’s biggest Diwali celebration, head to the holy city of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh where Lord Ram and his wife Sita returned on this day after 14 years of exile. In 2018, a record number of more than 300,000 earthen lamps were lit along the banks of the Saryu River, earning the festival a place in the Guinness Book of World Records. The grandness of the event increases every year, with the Uttar Pradesh government allocating extra funding for it. This year, Ayodhya residents will light 551,000 lamps. Cultural evenings will also be held during the festival, based on the theme of women empowerment.
Recognised as one of the holiest towns in India, Varanasi celebrates Diwali on the banks of the holy Ganges! There is a constant stream of firecrackers and fireworks set off to celebrate the festival of lights. The ghats illuminate with a gorgeous line of diyas and candles, there is the very special Ganga Aarti that takes place every evening, Hindu deities take up processions to celebrate Diwali and more. It is quite the big festival observed in Varanasi and should definitely in your list of places to visit for Diwali. In fact, it is recommended that you opt for a riverside hotel in Varanasi if you wish to watch the processions, the illuminating Ganges and Diwali in its prime celebrations!
While the entire country is busy celebrating Diwali, you can visit Kolkata to see how the Bengali community celebrates Kali Puja. Kali Puja is one of the most important festivals of Bengalis, which coincides with Diwali. Kolkata looks different during the festival season. The city comes alive with Diyas, lamps, candles, and fairy lights. People hop from one pandal to another to witness Kali Puja. It is this time when Kolkatans get over their post-Puja hangover and celebrate anew! You can also take a tour of the famous Kali Puja pandals in the city or visit the biggest religious shrines like the Kalighat Temple or Dakshineswar Temple, where Goddess Kali is worshipped by thousands of devotees.
If you want to see the best Diwali celebration in India, then you must visit Udaipur. The celebration starts right from Dhanteras. You will find many local musicians playing fold music at the market, which lights up with fairy lights. You will also find several options for gift items being sold in the market. While you are in Udaipur, you must try to Marwari cuisines, which are totally finger-licking. Not only this, the city bazaars brim with musicians playing folk favorites and some really meticulously made lamps and other artifacts. Indulge in the finest Marwari cuisine and shop for attractive souvenirs and handicrafts on your sojourn through Udaipur. You will also fall in love with the beautiful lakes of Udaipur that glow and shimmer with the reflections of fireworks and the lights of the palaces.
Goa is another wonderful destination to visit during Diwali. The celebrations start from Naraka Chaturdashi when people decorate their doors and windows with lanterns. Locals build several larger-than-life sized Narakasura effigies filled with firecrackers and grass and then burn them the next morning in the wee hours. This makes for a celebration worth beholding and you can also have a great time, visiting the hottest beaches, casinos, and swanky restaurants and lounges. There are several options when it comes to Goa hotels if you are on a budget including FabHotel The King’s Court Calangute and FabHotel La Flamingo Calangute. The cities in Goa light up with Diwali celebrations which come with several popular activities, including gambling. Floating casinos go house full during Diwali in Goa. If you do plan to take your Diwali celebrations to Goa this year, then you best start booking in advance!