HOLI-FESTIVAL OF COLORS
Mathura & Varanasi -India
3rd to 16th of March 2020
Crazy, colorful, and simply unforgettable. Experience the festival of colors in Uttar Pradesh.
Everybody knows the Holi-Fest, but who knows its origin?
Take your chance to be part of the world’s oldest and longest Holi-Celebration, held in one of the most remote places in India!
Grab your gear and get ready for the photo travel adventure of your lifetime!
Download the travel-itinerary:
03rd to 16th of March 2020
Mathura & Varanasi, Uttar-Pradesh, North-India
4/6 seats left
€2450 per Person
1st PART: MATHURA - NANDGAON, VRINDAVAN, BARSANA, BALDEO
Mathura and its surrounding villages
We will be close to the roofs of the ancient temples when tons of Gulal (paint powder) and petals start raining on the ecstatic pilgrims. All and everything will be covered by a centimetre-thick layer of paint!
This spectacle, will give us wholly unique scenes to shoot, allowing you to capture utterly mesmerizing images.
In the legendary Pagal-Baba Ashram of Vrindavan, we will celebrate "widow-holi" on the 6th Day of our Tour.
This Ashram is the only place where widows from all over India gather to celebrate the Festival of Colors. The temple is secretly tucked away in the narrow alleys of the old town.
Mysterious legends are told about this place, and Lord Krishna himself is said to have appeared to the founder and has since held his hand over this place.
Experience Holi the way it was celebrated thousands of years ago.
Women dressed like Indian princesses from the villages of Barsana and Nandgaon gather in historic alleys to give the men a proper beating with overman-high bamboo sticks.
A wildly ecstatic hustle and bustle that lasts for an entire afternoon.
The bravest of men splash the ladies with coloured water, and in return, the women hit them with their sticks.
It is rumoured that the courage of the men comes from the consumption of the holy Bhang-Lassis.
A drink enriched with cannabis, that is served throughout the Holi celebrations from many of the temples, and in honour of the gods.
On the 7th Day of the boisterous celebrations, we will witness the lighting of the holy straw fires of Mathura.
These huge and lavishly decorated straw dolls were built-up in many places in the old town for this purpose.
This is your opportunity to take truly spectacular pictures of the ecstatic pilgrims from high-up on the ancient temple roofs!
Before we leave the region surrounding Mathura, and head in the direction of Varanasi; we capitalize on the opportunity of this wondrous setting and visit the "Huranga" festival, inside the 5000-year-old Dauji Temple!
This festival is celebrated a day after the end of Holi.
At the Huranga festival, a magnificent liquid orange colour is poured over the pilgrims until the temple looks almost like an orange lake. Spectacular pictures of the glorious pilgrims can be taken from the temple rooftops.
During our tour we will get to know 8 different types of Holi celebrations. These will take place over 9 days in 7 different temples in the area around Mathura.
Barsana - "Lathmar-Holi" in the "Rhada Rani" Temple
Nandgaon - "Lathmar-Holi" at the "Nand Bhavan" Temple
Vrindavan - Holi at "Bankey Bihari" Temple
Vrindavan - "Widow-Holi" at the Pagal Baba Ashram
Mathura - Street-Procession + "Holika-Holi"
Mathura - Holi at "Dwarkadhish" Temple
Baldeo - "Dauji-Huranga" at "Dauji" Temple
For detailed information on the individual temples, please download the travel brochure.
Holi - Nandgaontest
Holi - Barsana
Holi - Vrindavan
2nd PART: VARANASI - HOLY CITY OF LIGHT
India’s most sacred place.
Varanasi is the beating heart of India, with the sacred river Ganga flowing through it like a lifeline.
A mystical aura surrounds the entire city.
Varanasi retained its astoundingly natural beauty and dignity through time and preserved itself like a defensive fortress against the modern millennia.
The old part of Varanasi seems to have remained unchanged for thousands of years; historical buildings line the banks of the holy River Ganga.
Enormous stone steps leading to the riverbanks where Sadhus, palmists, snake charmers, sellers, artists, musicians, boatmen, and many more residents of Varanasi can all be found.
Meet the naked Nagar-Sadhus; these are Hindu-Ascetics with a passion for weed.
These ascetics spend most of their lives meditating in Himalayan-Caves, but from time to time, they honour the holy city with their presence.
Nagar-Sadhus have a passion for weed - or better said, smoking cannabis connects them deeper with their god.
If you appear to be an attentive listener, they might share their path to enlightenment with you.
Those who wish to feel India's heartbeat must come to Varanasi.
In such an atmosphere, we will create unique mystical images that simply cannot be found elsewhere.
Varanasi has, even more, to offer then you could ever expect. It is something in life you need to experience for yourself to fully appreciate what is on offer;
On my second visit to Varanasi, I was lucky to meet one of the very few Aghori-Sadhus.
The cremation grounds are the homes of these men. Here, they stay to perform rituals and meditate.
Of the many different sects of the Hindu priests, the Aghories are among the most mysterious and most feared.
Aghories eat the flesh of the dead, drink from human skulls, and carry the ashes of the burned on their bodies.
These men are servants of Lord Shiva but choose to follow the dark side of human existence to become enlightened.
I use my personal contacts in Varanasi to make it possible for us to meet one of these ascetics during our visit.
Because these men are not following any earthly rule, I am unable to forecast whether they will be willing to honour us with their spiritual appearance or not.
Naga-Sadhu - VaranasiPortrait of a Naga-Sadhu in Varanasi, Uttar-Pradesh, India. Picture by Runa Lindberg
Snake-Charmer at the GhatsPortrait of Snake-Charmers in Varanasi, Uttar-Pradesh, India. Picture by Runa Lindberg
Naga-Sadhu - VaranasiPortrait of a Naga-Sadhu, Varanasi, Uttar-Pradesh, India. Picture by Photographer Runa Lindberg.
The Legend of Holi
The "Holi" Festival is now famous all over the world. But its origins stem from two different tales out of Hindu-mythology.
The first tale explains the tradition of colouring each other playfully with powder (gulal), paint, and petals. The second tale explains the word "holi".
Throwing colour at others originates from the legend of "Lord Krishna" his "Radha". It talks about love and the fear of losing it.
Hindu God Krishna fell in love with a young woman named Radha.
Krishna had a much darker complexion then Radha, and the village people started to mock the couple.
Driven by the fear that Radha would leave him, Krishna threw the colourful powder at everyone in a playful manner, in a way to hide the real complexion and all distinctions.
The second tale explains the origin of the word "Holi", which can be translated as the expression "to burn". The mean and jealous demon god "Hiranyakashyap", wanted to kill his own son "Prahlad" as he turned to another god.
Hiranyakashyap ordered his sister "Holika" to step into a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap because she had the gift of resisting fire. But, as Holika went into the fire, she burned in place of Prahlad, her powers no longer worked, and she paid the price for her sinister collusion. Prahlad himself was saved by the grace of his God for his extreme devotion.
Holi is not merely a celebration to honour the Gods; it marks equality and justice. It conveys that ‘every colour is beautiful’ and that good always wins over evil.
Mathura and the surrounding villages including Varanasi are located in the northern Indian State of Uttar Pradesh. This state is connected to Nepal in the north and is traditionally regarded as religious (Hindu).
The villages surrounding Mathura are characterized by agriculture. The landscape is rather rough and also somewhat lonely. This has certainly contributed to the fact that tourism could never develop here – and to me, this makes it even more interesting a place to visit.
If you want to experience the Holi festival, just as it has always been celebrated, unchanged for thousands of years, then you need to come to Mathura. Varanasi has kept its authentic charm through the centuries. A small community of travellers can always be found here.
Locals and guests live in harmony, and there are always new exciting stories to listen to on the stone steps of the "Ghats".
Apart from the cremation grounds, Varanasi has a lot to offer. In several places along the holy river, "Aarti" takes place each night. -Aarti is a Hindu ritual to honour the holy Ganga. It is performed with candles, music, and flower petals. The ritual is best seen from the river on a boat.
Many silk merchants have also settled in Varanasi's narrow alleys. Here, the precious Indian saris are still carefully sewn and lovingly embroidered by hand.
Holi at "Pagal-Baba-Ashram"Holi at "Pagal-Baba-Ashram", Vrindavan, Uttar-Pradesh, India. Picture by Runa Lindberg
Sadhu in VaranasiPortrait of a Sadhu in Varanasi, City of Lights, India. Picture by Photographer Runa Lindberg
Holi celebrationHoli at "Pagal-Baba-Ashram", Vrindavan, Uttar-Pradesh, India. Picture by Runa Lindberg
YOUR NEXT STEPS
To become part of the expedition these are your next steps:
I'll get back to you within a day.
You get all important information as pdf.
Book your flights...
...and look forward to your Holi adventure.
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
1st to 10th Day - Mathura, 11th to 14th - Varanasi
Join us, and travel to a place where the legend of the Holi Festival first originated.
The remote temples of one of the least developed areas of India are our destination. We will experience how the Hindu’s have been celebrating their spring festival, unchanged for thousands of years.
Mathura & Varanasi
After 10 Days of Holi in Mathura, and the surrounding Villages and Temples, we pack our bags and continue our adventure in Varanasi - The City of Light, India’s most sacred place.
In Varanasi, we will meet the legendary Sadhus – the warrior of Lord Shiva. Their distinctive features show the body covered with human ashes, draped in long rasta braids.