From September 21 to 29, 2017, India will be celebrating the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology, in the form of Navratri and the subsequent festivals of Durga Puja and Dussehra or Vijayadashami. Depending on the region and the festival itself, the whole ten-day celebration honors the victory of the goddess Durga over Mahishasura, the demon that took the form of a water buffalo. In some other places, Dussehra marks the victory of the god and mythological king Ram, an avatar of Vishnu, over Ravana. In either case, it is a classic victory of good over evil that is celebrated by the people, and no matter where you are in the country, you are promised a spectacle. But the best places to visit in India during Navratri and Durga Puja are mentioned below. ALSO READ: Why and how is Navratri celebrated in India? Also Read - Navratri 2020 Day 5, March 29: Worship Maa Skandamata; Know Puja Vidhi, Fast Time, Mantra
Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
The scenic hill town of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh will be celebrating its own version of Dussehra, mostly within the Dhalpur Maidan. Kullu Dussehra, as it is called, goes on for seven days and celebrates the victory of Ram. The Raghunathji Temple in Kullu is the center of the whole event, hosting around 200 deities from nearby villages and localities, including the famed goddess Hadimba of Manali. The festivities end with a massive bonfire of grass and wood by the Beas River, as a symbol of the burning of Lanka, the mythical kingdom of Ravana. Also Read - Navratri 2020 Day 4, March 28: Worship Maa Kushmanda; Know Puja Vidhi, Fast Time, Mantra
Navratri in Gujarat
You cannot list out the best places to celebrate Navratri without mentioning Gujarat. The state plays a big role in making Navratri the massive pop culture spectacle that it is. And if you want the quintessential, popular version of Navratri festivities, look no further than Ahmedabad, the largest city of the state. For nine days, devotees observe a fast from sunrise to sunset and then dance the night away in Garba events throughout the city. The Garba folk dance and events are what you probably picture when you think of Navratri festivities today. Also Read - Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 Goes on Floor, Kiara Advani-Kartik Aaryan Mark 'Shubharambh' With Clapper
Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh celebrates Dussehra or Vijayadashami with as much pomp and fervor as Gujarat, and the best place to experience celebrations is in the city of Vijayawada, where the Kanaka Durga Temple plays host to most of the festivities. Located by the banks of the Krishna River, the temple’s main deity is decorated during the ten-day festival in various avatars every day. Hundreds of devotees come to the temple to take part in the festivities and take a dip in the holy river. The Mangalagiri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is another famous spot to visit in this city.
For a different take on Dussehra, head to the district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. Specifically, travel to the town of Jagdalpur, whose Danteshwari temple hosts deities from other villages during Dussehra, much like Kullu. But what makes Bastar’s celebrations different is that it is not dedicated to Ram’s victory. Instead, it celebrates Dussehra as the time of the year when Bastar’s presiding god and protector, Devi Mavli, meets all her sisters. Another interesting thing about this festival: it goes on for 75 days. Tribes from neighboring areas come together for processions to Danteshwari. CHECK OUT: 9 places in India that celebrate Navratri in nine different ways
Kolkata, West Bengal
For a classic Durga Puja experience, there is no better place to be than Kolkata. Durga Puja is a five-day festival that starts on the sixth day of Navratri and runs up to the tenth day of Dussehra. For five days, idols of Durga are places across the city, like with Ganesh Chaturthi. The idols are ultimately immersed in the water on the final day. Explore the city’s hundreds of Durga Pandals featuring different themes and intricate decorations, along with some of the most delicious street food on offer.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Ramnagar Fort, Varanasi
The ancient city of Varanasi, one of the oldest in India, is considered by many to be the seat and fountainhead of Indian spirituality. It comes as no surprise then to see the city celebrate Navratri and Dussehra with all its heart. You will find plenty of spots across the city where the traditional Ram Leela play will be performed; do not miss on the enchanting folk reenactment of this ancient mythological epic. Ramnagar is one of the best places to catch the play, where the Ram Leela is held for a month at the ground. NOW READ: 6 Durga temples you must visit in India during Navratri
Mysore Palace, Mysuru
The royal city of Mysore celebrates what it calls the Dasara or Nadahabba festival, a ten-day extravaganza that sees the royal family participate as well. The Mysore royal palace is bedecked in shining lights for all ten days, and on the final day of Vijayadashami, a massive procession called the Jumboo Savari takes place through the city. The idol of the local goddess Chamundeshwari can be seen during the procession, placed on a golden Mandapa on an elephant, complete with music bands, dancers, camels, horses and other elephants as part of the procession.