You must be aware of the popular festival of Dussehra celebrated all over India. Showstopping the 9-day celebrations of Navratri, this festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. And each year with the celebration of Dussehra, every Indian’s belief in this triumph keeps growing. Though most of you may know this festival by the name of Dussehra, it is known by different names in different parts of India.
Not only is it known by different names, but is also celebrated in unique ways. Witnessing each of these unique celebrations is like reading a new chapter of a book on Indian culture. So, here are the 6 best places to celebrate Dussehra in India that reveal how the festival is observed in so many ways.
Dussehra is one of the most joyous celebrations awaited eagerly in the ‘City of Joy’. If you decide to travel to Kolkata during the celebrations, you will witness the pomp and enthusiasm of the festivities. The streets will be noisy but full of light and happiness.
The festival of Dussehra is also known as Vijaya Dashami in Kolkata and the word carries the connotation of ‘victorious tenth’. This is because the festival is held on the tenth day following the nine-day grand celebration of Durga Puja. In its essence, Dussehra is the last day of the long celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over Mahishasura (mythological buffalo demon).
On the tenth day, it is believed that Goddess Durga is immersed in water and this signifies her return back to her husband’s home after her victory in killing a demon. On the day of the festivities of Dussehra, you will find the city featuring beautiful colorful pandals (covered canopy devoted to Goddess Durga).
Each of these pandals follows different themes of decoration ranging from traditional to contemporary styles. You must definitely go ‘pandal’ hopping to be in the awe of Goddess Durga and then follow processions that take the idol for immersion in the river.
Witnessing the drums and cymbals being played along the vermillion-covered streets is also a great experience to be part of during this time. You must also check out the ‘Sindoor Khela’, which is an event where the ladies dress up in traditional sarees offer sweets and vermillion to the goddess, and smear vermillion on each other. This event adds more color to the grand celebration of Dussehra in Kolkata, quite literally! At the time of immersion of the goddess, you can take a boat and enjoy the fireworks.
In Mysore, the festival of Dussehra is known as Dasara. The tradition of celebrating Dasara has been going on for over more than a hundred years now. You can witness the glitz and glam of the city can be seen through the extravagant celebration led by the Head of the Wadiyar family, the Mysore Royals. It is believed that Mysore was previously called ‘Mahishur’ based on the legend that Chamundeshwari, a form of Goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura here.
The Mysore Palace is the main hub to get a closer look at the Dasara festivities. On this day, the Mysore palace is lit up with thousands of lights and various cultural events take place all over the city. These programs are truly fascinating to watch and you surely would not want to miss out on these sights.
Some of the highlights of Mysore’s Dasara is the Jambu Savari. This is a procession where 12 trained elephants are dolled up with one of them carrying the idol of the goddess, and a procession is started from the Mysore Palace to Bannimantap. Before the procession, the royal family holds a grand Durga Puja at the palace and when the procession comes to an end you can watch the majestic Torch Light Parade.
The parade displays the royalty of former rulers and the state’s ancient history. Other than these, you can also attend the exhibition of the city’s religious and cultural heritage at Doddakere Maidana, the Nada Kusti (wrestling event), and the Flower show held to showcase all exotic flowering plants. Visiting Mysore during Dasara would make you feel like you’re a part of a huge mela (a grand fair)!
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At Kota, you’ll witness a Dussehra celebration unlike any other. Extending to over 25 days the Kota Dussehra Mela is what makes Dussehra in Kota an astonishing event. On this day, the representative of the former royal family shoots an arrow at the effigies of Ravana. This depicts the scene of Lord Ram avenging Ravana from Ramayana.
The Kota Dussehra Mela was started by the Maharao Durjanshal Singh Hada in the 1723 A.D., with the celebrations lasting up to 3 days. Later it was extended to 25 days by Maharao Ummed Singh II. Several programs come together to add color to this month-long festivities.
One of the most important events during the Mela is Ravan Dahan where effigies of Ravana, Meghnath, and Kumbhkaran, are set on fire by loading them with firecrackers. Adding to the euphoric environment are various cultural programs including dance and music. You can also witness interesting competitions like mustache and turban competitions, mehendi, rangoli, and mandana competitions. If you’re a brave heart you can watch a 10-min act called Maut Ka Kuan, where stuntmen ride cars and bikes in a confined well. Other than this, you can also devour some delicacies like kachora and pakode, enjoy a ferris wheel ride or any other ride, look at elegant Rajasthani art and craft exhibits, or go shopping for some Rajasthani specialties.
Dussehra in Gujarat is celebrated as Navratra. Even though the festival has a different name in the state, the reason for its celebration remains the same. The one thing that makes the festivities different in Gujarat is Garba which is a traditional folk dance. Due to this, the festival nights in Gujarat are full of dance, color, music, and bling!
During this time, men and women dress up in traditional outfits called Ghagra Choli and Kedia, with multi-colored sticks in their hands, and stay up all night dancing to the music. Songs by famous artists like Falguni Pathak, are sure to be on the playlist. Dancing to these tunes once would really make you want to spend all nine days of Navratra in Gujarat.
Navratra or Navratri in Gujarat is also the time to celebrate soil fertility and monsoon harvest depicted by sowing seeds in fresh soil. And, the soil is then watered and worshipped for those nine days and on the tenth day, the celebrations come to an end. You should also know that it is considered an auspicious day to purchase new vehicles or do pooja (ceremonial worship) of the existing ones. So if you see people worshipping their vehicles during the festival, you now know why!
Another place to make it to the list is Kullu, the “Valley of Gods” which is a breathtaking part of Himachal Pradesh. Offering the rustic and mystic experience of life, this valley is known for its Dussehra celebration. Witnessed by over 4 to 5 lakh tourists per year, this week-long festival was declared an international event in 1972. It is celebrated for the victory of good over evil and the Dussehra here starts when the festival comes to end in most of the other states in India.
One of the prominent features of this festival is that it starts with a procession where the idol of Lord Ram or Raghunath is carried around the town on the devotee's shoulders. It then comes to an end at River Beas.
On the second last day, there’s an event where all village idols come together to create a unique sight. And, on the last day, they sacrifice a fish, a crab, a rooster, a lamb, and a buffalo in a huge bonfire. Later, the idol of Lord Ram is then brought back to its original place. The picturesque views and pleasant weather add to the sacred atmosphere of the Kullu Dussehra.
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Delhi being a dramatic city in itself, celebrating Dussehra has to come with pomp and splendor. The significance of this festival here is the victory of love and truth over hate and evil, similar to how Lord Ram and his brother Laxman defeated the demon king Ravana.
With the diverse culture and warmth of its people, Delhi manages to attract lakhs of tourists from all over the world, especially during the season of festivities. Sprinkled with lights and colors the city sets a new benchmark every year.
The festival of Dussehra marks the win of Lord Ram in the colossal battle against Ravana. And the same is highlighted every year, through the Ravan Dahan event at the Red Fort, where the effigies of Ravana and his demon brothers are set ablaze. One of the popular events that take place is the Ramlila musical, in which the entire story of Ramayana is enacted by the locals of the city.
Some of the venues for watching Ramlila are Ramlila Maidan, Subhash Maidan, Lal Qila Maidan, Dwaraka Ground, and Red Fort Lawn. You can also attend Durga Puja’s at the nearby pandals (covered canopy), and even delve into the musical dance nights hosted in the city. And you have to agree that Delhi’s Dussehra festival would never be complete without relishing the mouth-watering street food or a colorful shopping spree.
Also Read: 12 Things To Do In Delhi
Where Is Dussehra Celebrated Most In India?
The city of Bastar in Chandigarh celebrates Dussehra for the longest period of time. Dussehra is celebrated in a grand and weird way here and it lasts for up to 75 days in a year.
Which Is The Most Crowded Place On Dussehra?
Delhi is the most crowded city during Dussehra, as the celebrations here come with a bang and never fail to get the attention of people in and around India.
What Is Famous In Dussehra?
Dussehra is known to signify the legend of the victory of Lord Rama over Ravana or the triumph of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. So, the main event that is common in most places is the Ravan Dahan, Durga Puja, Ramlila, Pandals, and immersion of idols.
Where Is Dussehra Not Celebrated In India?
The Bisrakh village situated in Greater Noida is believed to be the birthplace of Ravan. So, the villagers don’t celebrate but instead mourn the death of the Lanka ruler. Just like other villages like Kanpur, Baijnath, Mandsaur, Mandore, and others.
Where Can I Go For Dussehra Holiday?
Here are some of the places best suited for a perfect Dussehra holiday - Kolkata, Mysore, Kota, Gujarat, Kullu, Bastar, and Delhi.
Why Is Dussehra Celebrated In Mysore?
In Mysore, Dussehra is celebrated to glorify the victory of Goddess Durga over Mahishasura. So, the festival is celebrated to honor her victory.
Where Can I See Dussehra In Delhi?
Some of the best places to witness the Dussehra celebration in Delhi are - Ramlila Maidan, Lal Quila Maidan, Red Fort, DDA ground, Subhash Maidan, and Dwaraka Ground.
Which States Are Famous For Dussehra In India?
Popular Indian states to enjoy the festival of Dussehra are Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Karnataka.