Holi is a festival that is celebrated all over India but predominantly in the North.
One of the most popular places to celebrate is Pushkar and we found ourselves in this exciting town on March 13, the date on which the festival had fallen in 2017. The date of it changes year on year.
Every year, this small, sleepy town doubles in population as thousands of people from all over India and around the world descend upon it for one of the biggest and most celebrated festivals of the year.
The easiest way I can describe it is, it is like the Glastonbury Festival, if you’ve ever been to that?
A mix of hippies, young people and people who have had too much drink/smoke/something stronger. Then you have the locals, who look bemused at what’s going on but excited at the prospect of a big party.
I realise that this could potentially put families off going, but it really shouldn’t. If this is the first post you’ve ever read from us, we are a family of four from the UK. When we visited Pushkar for Holi, Alfie was four years old and Charlie was one. Both have blonde hair and blue eyes and both got loads of attention and loved it!
Pushkar is an amazing place to visit and during Holi. It comes alive, and yes we have taken them to Glastonbury!
If you follow our advice, you’ll have an amazing experience.
Tip 1: Stay on Vaam Dev Road.
This is very important. If you get the accommodation wrong, it could spoil your stay. Vaam Dev Road has plenty of accommodation options, from hotels and guest houses to Airbnb house stays. We opted for the latter and stayed with a lovely English lady called Helen. Her property on Airbnb can be found here.
Pushkar has few roads, but if you stay too close to town then you won’t be able to sleep for loud trance music and constant fireworks. On the other hand, pick a place too far out of town and you have to get a TukTuk in everyday, or have a long walk.
We found Vaam Dev Road to be a perfect mix of a quieter street, but one which has nice places to eat, including the most amazing French bakery!
Tip 2: Buy/Wear clothes you don’t mind ruining.
Your clothes will get destroyed at Holi, there’s no two ways around it. In the lead up to Pushkar the shops in the town have ‘bargain buckets’ set up outside, where you can buy trousers, tops and t-shirts for less then 100 rupee (£1).
Take up this offer, don’t go wearing your favourite top, it’s just not worth it!
Also, make sure that you and your children have disposable sunglasses to wear. Again, you can buy these for less than 100 rupees from the local shops. Paint gets everywhere and when it’s being thrown it can get in your eyes, which isn’t nice!
Lastly, wear hats. The paint stains your skin if it’s not covered. Our youngest took his hat off for one minute and his scalp was stained for a good two weeks!
Tip 3: Start your Holi experience early
On the actual day of Holi, make sure you get up early and make your way into town for around 8:30am-9am. The location you choose to have breakfast is vital here. Our recommendation is to go to the Hart Rock Cafe.
It’s situated in the perfect location, just on the edge of where the Holi madness happens. If you get here for 8:30am-9am you’ll beat the crowd and you’ll have a great view of people starting to hit the streets to cover each other in paint.
I want to take a quick minute here to show you a video of the Holi Festival in Pushkar in full flow.
The best things about the Hart Rock Cafe are that it offers a great breakfast, proper Italian coffee and the people there are really cool.
Tip 4: Leave before it gets too out of hand.
Holi properly kicks off around 10am, that’s when the backpackers, tourists and locals wake from the big party the night before. Holi isn’t just one day, it goes on for around 3 days, like I said, just like going to a festival.
For us, two hours was just enough. The boys were about done after breakfast and the iPad had played all of their favourite videos. Also, there’s only so much of people throwing paint at one another you can watch! We made our way back to Vaam Dev Road at around 10:30am, at that point it was getting very busy.
The great thing about starting the day early at Hart Rock Cafe is that it’s right on the edge of where it gets crazy. It’s where the police stand and check for people who have had too much to drink or look like they are going in to cause trouble, so you feel quite safe.
Everyone we encountered around this area was very friendly, asking kindly if they could put paint on us and the boys.
There has been a lot written about Holi Festival over the past few years, including locals getting touchy-feely (especially with young female travellers). You’ll still get this in the main bit of Pushkar, but you won’t on the outskirts.
As you can see from the photos, we got covered head to toe in paint. We didn’t have a single bad experience though. Just lots of people wanting to have a good time, but at the same time not wanting to be idiots.
We got back to Vaam Dev Road for around 11am. We went to the Yas Star French Bakery and had our own mini Holi there. Along with some of the other families staying on the same street.
Tip 5 – Buy snacks for lunchtime on Holi
Apart from the bakery, we couldn’t find anywhere at all open for lunch, anywhere. It’s Holi day and everyone either parties, or spends it with family.
A couple of the hotels with restaurants will open for dinner past 5pm, but practically nowhere will be open for lunch. Our advice, stock up the day before on crisps, biscuits , etc.
As long as you plan for it, Holi will be an amazing experience. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach us via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @2TravellingTots
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