Destinations - India Heritage Holi

Holi in Vrindavan & Mathura 2020 | Day Wise Detailed Guide!

Written by Poorna & Brinda

Holi in Vrindavan is once in a life time experience. Brajbhoomi as it is called is the place where Holi has to be experienced. Poorna who was posted in Mathura in eighties while serving in the Army always talk about this experience!

Holi in Vrindavan is a joyful event. It is not a single day ritual unlike in most of the places in the country. It is a weeklong festival with its own interesting themes and legends. We will give you the complete details of all the days. Pick and choose the days you want to attend. We will assure you that you will come back with rich, colourful and memorable experience of Holi in Vrindavan!

Holi in Vrindavan in 2020 starts on 4 March 2020 and ends on 11 March 2020. The weeklong festival has different activities in different places around Mathura and Vrindavan. Each day is known by a different name.

Here, we give you the details in a day wise easy to follow itinerary.

Day 1 – 4 March 2020 – Lath Mar Holi in Barsana

Holi in Vrindavan

Holi in Vrindavan

This is the first day of festivities in Braj Bhoomi and is held in Barsana. It starts almost a week before the main “Holi Day”. The traditional festivities involve women dressing up as Gopis (consorts of Lord Krishna) and beat men who come dressed as Gops (friends of Lord Krishna) with sticks  .

The legend is that Lord Krishna visited Barsana with his friends from Nandgaon and teased Gopis there. Gopis got annoyed, got together and wanted to teach Krishna and his friends a lesson. They chased them away from their village by beating them with stick! Hence the name Lath Mar which means give a kick or beat with with a stick!

Today, men from Lord Krishna’s town – Nandgaon – come to Barsana to tease women, get chased away and beaten by sticks! Of course, the men protect themselves with a shield and there is great energy and fervour in the atmosphere!

The men pay visit Radha Rani temple and after that gather in the streets. The women with sticks beat them on their shields! The bhang-laced ‘thandai’ gives more energy to festivities!. Elders of both villages sit inside the temple and sing ballads dedicated to Lord Krishna in ‘Samaj’ ceremony. It is a visual treat. The colour is red everywhere! in the air, on the floor, on the people!

Barsana is 50 KMs from Mathura and is an hour drive. Reach there early as the temple will get crowded. Enjoy the festivities and get drenched in colours on one of the spectacular events of Holi in Vrindavan!

Day 2 – 5 March 2020 Lathmar Holi in Nandgaon

Holi in Vrindavan

This is the reverse of Barsana. If Gopis have taught a lesson to Gopus of Nandgaon, should the Gopis of Nandgaon keep quiet?! On this day, the men from Barsana go to Nandgaon, tease women there and will be given beatings by women of Nandgaon! Be there in the morning and enjoy the fun filled festivities!

Nandgaon is 60 KMs from Mathura.

Day 3 – 6 March 2020 – Phoolwalon Ki Holi, Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan

Have you ever played holi with colourful flowers? Here is your chance to do that! In Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on this day which is Ekadasi, holi is played in petals of colourful flowers.

The gates of the temple opens at 4 PM and the priests showers colourful petals on the devotees. The whole event lasts for 30 mins. So be there in time when the gates open!

Day 4 – 8 March 2020 – Widows’ Holi

Holi in Vrindavan

Today, you can join the widows of Vrindavan and participate in holi with them. These ladies who are banished from homes come and stay in the Pagal baba ashram and devote their life to spirituality and god. Few yers back, they were not allowed to celebrate holi in colours.

For the last few years it has changed and one can play holi with them in colours. It is a good feeling and you can also donate to the noble cause. Go to Gopinath temple in Vrindavan around noon and take part in the festivities.

Day 5 – 9 March 2020 – There are three events on this day you should not miss!

Holi in Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan

  • This is the most important event and highlight of Holi in Vrindavan! The main Holi of Vrindavan! Just feel the energy and atmosphere as you play holi with Lord Krishna on this day! The temple opens at 9 AM and the festivities go on till 1.30 PM. Get drenched in colours. Priests will throw colours on devotees. Go with the flow and enjoy the energy and lovely atmosphere.
  • After playing holi in the temple, you can come out and join the locals in the narrow lanes around the temple and play holi with them. If you are hungry, then there are kiosks selling snacks outside the temple.

Holi procession in Mathura

  • After Holi festivities in Banke Bihari Temple, head straight to Mathura. The Holi procession in Mathura is colourful and lovely. You will find young boys and girls dressed as Lord Krishna and Radha sitting in these vehicles. As vehicles move people spray colours on those who are standing on the road side and they will reciprocate! Join the procession and get drenched in colours. The procession starts from Vishram Ghat at 3 PM and ends at Holi gate at sunset.

Holi ka Dahan

  • In the evening, stay put at Holi Gate to witness Holi Ka dahan when effigies of Manmatha – the god of love – is burnt. Enjoy the cultural programs.

Day 6 – 10 March 2020 – Holi in Dwarkadheesh temple, Mathura

Today is the actual “Holi” day. On this day head to Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura where the festivities start at 10 AM. It is good to go early and experience the life around the temple. You may also taste a glass of Bhang thandai in one of the shops!

Be there when the gates open at 10 AM. Play holi inside the temple. The scale and crowds are less than that of Banke Bihari temple but the atmosphere is lively! Dance to the rhythmic beats of dhol and join the fun!

Day 7 – 11 March 2020 – Huranga

The next day after Holi, head to Daoji temple, Baldeo which is 30 KMs from Mathura. Have your breakfast and reach there around 10 AM to get a vantage point. The festivities start at 12.30.

You saw lath mar holi in Barsana and Nandgaon earlier. Here in Daoji temple, men are not only beaten with sticks but also stripped! The large extended family of which manages temple gather here and celebrate it. Men are stripped and beaten! Colours are thrown and bhang is drank! You may also jump into the temple pond full of colours!

The Holi in Vrindavan and Mathura ends with Huranga. It is a weeklong festival of colours you will never see anywhere in the world!

Holi in Vrindavan & Mathura should be experienced. It is a lovely experience you will cherish forever. In fact, it may inspire you to go there again and again!

Travel tips

  1. Make Mathura as base and book your accommodation. You have good options to stay here. Vrindavan do not have many options. Book well in advance as Holi in vrindavan and Mathura has become very popular ins last few years. This link may help. – Mathura hotels on Trip Advisor
  2. Nearest airport to Matura is Agra but convenient airport is Delhi which has more flights. Mathura is well connected by trains to all parts of the country.
  3. ISKON Vrindavan has guest houses. You can book them.
  4. This Google map will give you an indicative directions of the places mentioned above from Mathura – https://goo.gl/maps/K6KkoNvFXiFUfton6
  5. A dedicated vehicle/taxi is necessary as the festivities are spread out around Mathura. Though the distances are not long, the public transport is very poor.
  6. Go to the event places early so that you get vantage point to watch the festivities.
  7. Join the villagers and locals in festivities. They will always welcome you.
  8. Don’t act funny and and misbehave with locals. Especially with women. Then you will get real “lath Mar” holi experience!!
  9. Everyone drinks Bhang on Holi. Bhang – made out of cannabis leaves – is intoxicating. Taken in large quantity will be harmful. Try out Bhang Thandai – flavoured milk laced with Bhang.
  10. Like the old saying “Be a Roman in Rome”, go with local fervour and just be part of it.
  11. Sometimes the crowd may get rowdy and create problems. Be aware of it.
  12. There have been few instances of men misbehaving with women. We advise women not to go alone and go only with a male partner.
  13. The day time weather will be hot. Wear a good hat which will also protect your hair from coloured water. Drink lot of water.
  14. When you are going in the morning, make sure you finish your breakfast and then go.
  15. You will find people playing holi everywhere especially in the narrow lanes around the temple. Join them and have fun.
  16. Don’t feel bad if someone spray colour on you. It is all fun. Just enjoy!
  17. Wear something which you will throw after Holi. Wear something loose and as you will be wet and it will dry fast as well.
  18. If you are carrying a professional camera make sure you protect it well from water. This link will help – https://ravikanthkurma.wordpress.com/tag/holi/
  19. Enjoy the street food. Mathura is famous for Lassi and Peda. Don’t forget to drink Bhang Thandai.
  20. Carry a good bag-pack and keep your valuables in a plastic cover inside it so that it won’t get wet.

Acknowledgements

First nine pictures are from Ashit Desai from his lovely Album which can be seen here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ashitdesai/albums/72157679126747932/page1

Last three pictures are from Retlaw Snellac Photography from his lovely Album which can be seen here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/waltercallens/albums/72157710370297591/page2

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About the author

Poorna & Brinda

We are Brinda and Poorna from Bengaluru, the “Silicon city” or “Garden city” of India.

We travel together. We caught the travel bug 20 years back. On our honey moon, we traveled over the sea, in the train, by bus and in an aircraft! Our adventures probably started in that year. It continues, ever since.

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