An extended Holi weekend has made Vrindavan the top destination for revellers this spring fest.
With Lathmar Holi having already started in Vrindavan last Sunday, people are planning their stay in the north Indian religious town to celebrate the festival of colours.
“I have heard a lot about the Lathmar Holi of Vrindavan and Mathura and always wanted to witness it. My office remains closed on Saturdays and Sundays, and Monday is the holiday for Holi. I have taken a leave on Tuesday as well and going to Vrindavan with my family and a few friends to experience Lathmar Holi,” said Shailendra Dixit, a state government employee.
According to myth, the carnivalesque festivities began with Krishna smearing his beloved Radha with colours. Following the tradition, men and women of Nandgaon and Barsana villages, not too far from Vrindavan, play Lathmar Holi.
The women of Nandgaon, the home of Krishna, beat the men from Barsana, the legendary domicile of Radha, with wooden sticks in response to their teasing.
“Few packages of Vrindavan and Mathura cover Agra and Delhi as well. Many people take the comprehensive packages so that they can cover more places in one go,” said Naresh Arora, co-proprietor of Sewak Tour and Travels.
Besides going to cities of the Braj region, many are seeking a quick getaway to the sun and sand, claim tour and travel operators.
“Most offices would be closed for three days starting Saturday. Accordingly, many people make a plan for outing at this time of the year. Apart from Vrindavan, we have received good number of bookings for other places like Puri, Gangtok and Kerala as well. Most of these people would start departing Patna on Friday and return by Tuesday or Wednesday,” said Naresh.
About expenses on these vacations, the tour operator claimed that the packages vary from Rs 22,000-25,000 per person for a weeklong stay at Kerala and Goa. The tariff for packages for hill stations, including Gangtok and Shimla, mostly vary in the range of Rs 10,000-13000 for four days and three nights.
Hill stations in and around Darjeeling have always been popular destinations for tourists from the state.
Indian holiday destinations apart, people have also made bookings for tourist hotspots in Southeast Asian countries as well. “We are sending a few people from the city to Bangkok, Singapore and Hong Kong over the next few days. The bookings were however done several months ago. The package rate for Bangkok is around Rs 15,000 per person for five nights and six days,” said Upendra Nath Mishra, chief executive officer of Jatak Travels.
Those heading for Thailand also need not worry much as the impact of anti-government protests since December has come down or has not affected the tourists.
Flying back home for Holi has also become a “costly-affair” with airfares going north because of seat crunch.
Travel and tour operators in the city have claimed that the airfares on different sectors have shot up twice to thrice their normal value because of the Holi rush.
The normal fare of Rs 4,000-6,000 on Delhi-Patna route has gone as high as Rs 10,000-15,000 and that on Mumbai-Patna route it has soared from around Rs 9,000 on normal days to Rs 14,000-20,000.
“Holi is a festival, which most people want to celebrate with their families. The highest rush in the air traffic in this regard is being observed on Delhi-Patna route. The fare on other routes is abnormally high for the same period. For instance, a flight ticket on Delhi-Patna route is available for around Rs 19,000 for Friday and around Rs 15,000 on Saturday,” said Raman Jha, manager, Super Travels.
The airfares would remain high for a couple of days after Holi in the outbound flights from the city. Those who had come to their native places from Delhi, Mumbai and other cities would be heading back, prompting a similar rush in flights and the resultant surge in airfare.