Celebrating South Indian style Holi in Hampi

Last year, before the lockdown pulled the brakes on our lives, I managed to visit Hampi and celebrate Holi in an unexpectedly flamboyant manner. Yes, you read that right. While South India is probably not one of the first regions that come to mind while thinking of celebrating the Festival of Colors, I decided to take a chance when a friend told me about Hampi growing as a preferred destination for Holi celebrations.

When it comes to travel-related decisions, I usually don't prefer researching too much. Hence, I opened my favorite cab booking app from Savaari and booked a cab to Hampi.

A Little bit about Hampi

Hampi is a historic town that is famous for the beautiful Vijayanagar temples and ruins and a unique landscape. Situated on the banks of the river Tungabhadra, Hampi is a popular destination among backpackers.


While the purpose of my trip was to experience Holi celebrations in Hampi, I also decided to extend my trip for 4-5 days to explore the city and its neighboring areas. I started my journey one day before the festival to find a place to stay and settle in before the festivities began. I found a nice backpackers hostel and some amazing friends from all around the world. Talking to them I realized that Holi in Hampi was more famous than I had imagined.

Interesting Trivia:

A German traveler told me that Hampi rose to fame as a preferred location to celebrate Holi since a 16th-Century portrait was found there carrying engravings of the Festival of Colors.

The Evening Before Holi

In Hampi, Holi is celebrated primarily on and around the banks of the river Tungabhadra. The evening before Holi, everyone in the hostel started getting ready to leave. While I had heard a lot about the celebrations on Holi, I wasn't aware of the fact that Holika Dahan is also done here.

Holika Dahan is performed across the country where people get together and light a pile of wood to celebrate the victory of good over evil. Holi is a celebration of the killing of the Asura Holika to save Prahlad – a devotee of Lord Vishnu.

By the time I reached the banks of the river Tungabhadra, hundreds of people had already gathered waiting in anticipation for the fire to be lit. There was excitement and a universal sense of joy in the air that engulfed anyone stepping foot around the area. Once the fire was lit, people started performing a parikrama of the fire, and soon there were songs and laughter all around.

The HOLI Day

The next day at around 9 am, I was woken up from my slumber with a lot of noise and commotion. Wondering if everything was alright, as I dragged myself to the reception area, I was greeted by a sea of humans dressed in white. They were all getting ready to hit the streets and celebrate the Festival of Colors.
I quickly ran back to my room and wore my Holi attire that I had handpicked for this day and joined the Holi Hooligans as my hostel roommates called themselves. As soon as we reached the main road, the sound of drums and people laughing and singing and shouting hit my ears and the celebrations began. From dry colors to colored water pichkaris, dhols and drums to people dancing on the roads, it was a true celebration of life. One sight that got etched in my mind was a foreigner carrying a local child on his shoulders throwing colors on people around. The joy on the child's face and the amazement that the foreigner felt was the defining moment of Holi celebrations in the city.

The HOLI Dip

The celebrations continued till around 4 pm with food and water available all across the town. With excitement finally giving in to tiredness, people started moving towards the Tungabhadra River. As I entered the river, it did feel magical. By the time I stepped out, I felt cleansed.

I spent the next few days touring the town and some interesting areas around but more on that some other time. As my trip ended and I booked a reliable taxi service by Savaari.com to return to my urban existence, I had a memory that I would cherish for the rest of my life – a memory of celebrating Holi in Hampi.


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