Every mile of India speaks of diversity. The same festival of lights is celebrated differently in different cities of India. The biggest Indian festival, Diwali, is best experienced when you step out of your home. Crackers, sweets, and lamps aren’t the only things that make Diwali special, it’s the unique culture that makes it such a loved festival all over India.
From the grand Dev Diwali of Varanasi to the Golden Diwali of Amritsar, this festival opens its arms to anyone wanting to witness joy. When different Indian states have different ways of celebrating Diwali, why would you spend the festival cooped inside your home hearing the firecrackers outside your window? Open your windows to new possibilities and explore the festival and its offerings like a true traveler. Here are 7 places to celebrate Diwali in 2023:
If you want to see the grandest Diwali in India, visit Varanasi during the festival. The entire city is lit up with lights and people set diyas afloat in the waters of Ganga. You can go boating on the river and see the illuminated banks of Varanasi. The bright and pompous Ganga Aarti that takes place every evening is a sight to carry with you. It is believed that the Gods themselves celebrate Diwali in Varanasi. That is a reason why Varanasi is so decked up much before Diwali and stays lit even after the festival ends.
Just like how Diwali is special, the Dev Deepawali that comes 15 days after Diwali is all the more special in Varanasi. It’s said that Gods themselves descend and bathe in the Ganga on this special festival. That’s why the steps leading down to Ganga are decorated with a million earthen lamps, you can just sit on the banks and marvel at this sight. There is tight security in Varanasi around this time because 100,000 pilgrims flock to the city to see this festival in action and to take a dip in the holy water.
You can either photograph this sight and carry it with you in your camera roll or go ahead and light lamps on the banks. But it isn’t over yet; hop on a boat the morning after to see the migratory birds that have made their way to Varanasi from Siberia. Gliding on the peaceful with the birds around you makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Finally, roam the lanes of Varanasi and try out the exotic Diwali sweets, especially the popular Malaiyo, a sweet dish made from raw milk and dew drops.
Also Read: Varanasi Travel Guide
If you want to witness a golden Diwali, head over to Amritsar. The Sikhs celebrate Diwali in a grand way every year. That’s because the Golden Temple’s foundation stone was laid on Diwali of 1588. Also, Guru Hargobind Sahib who was the sixth Sikh Guru was released from prison on Diwali of 1619. These are the reasons that make Diwali such a sought-after festival in Amritsar. The temple that’s already golden is made more beautiful in Diwali because of all the lighting.
When devotees set diyas afloat on the water, the reflection of thousands of lamps makes the Golden Temple gleam in the dark. The sight of the Golden Temple will leave you rubbing your eyes because of the illumination on Diwali. The fireworks near the Golden Temple look beautiful both in the sky and in the reflection of the water on Diwali evening. Many paper lanterns are also left in the sky on this auspicious day.
The small earthen lamps set afloat by the devotees hug the shore of the Holy Sarovar and make it seem like a sparkly necklace. If you want to witness such a spectacular view, try not to miss visiting Amritsar during Diwali. While you’re busy appreciating the sights, don’t forget to try the langar food in the Golden Temple. You must already know how seriously Punjabis take their food, so it’s impossible that you will leave Amritsar without trying the ghee-drenched rich Diwali sweets the city offers.
Also Read: 6 Interesting Things To Do In Amritsar
This ‘City of Lakes’ with its grand forts, vibrant white houses, and bustling markets is a popular tourist destination for both Indians and foreigners. Now imagine if you multiply such a lovely city with a grand festival, what unparalleled beauty it will produce. Udaipur that sits nestled between the ancient Aravalli Hills comes alive in shades of yellow and gold on Diwali every year. The traditional Rajput-style architecture around Udaipur is lit up and looks as if studded with gems on the occasion of Diwali.
What you shouldn’t miss while you are in Udaipur during Diwali is the Udaipur Festival of Lights. This is when many artists from across the country come to show their talents. People leave paper lanterns in the sky, and the reflection of hundreds of golden lanterns in Lake Pichola makes for a royal sight.
You can eat the different delicacies in the food stalls or just sit by the lake and marvel at the sights unfolding in front of you. The entire place comes alive with DJ performances, art installations, and local performances. But Diwali in Udaipur isn’t all pomp and splendor, there’s ample spirituality too that makes Diwali special in Udaipur. Devotees flock to Mahalaxmi temple in Bhatiyani Chauhatta to offer their prayers.
Once you have your camera roll full with pictures of Lake Pichola and the grandly lit palaces, you can head over to the markets of Udaipur. You’ll find traditional artifacts, beautiful clothes, and footwear, and intricate handicrafts in markets like Bapu Bazar, Hathipole, or Chetak Circle. You can take with you some souvenirs to remember the amazing Diwali you spent in Udaipur. Before you leave, devour some Marwari delicacies and gulp down some hot crispy Jalebis at Bhole Mishthan.
The five days of Diwali are very bright and colorful in Ahmedabad. People are high on energy right till the end of Diwali on the fourth day of the festival, also known as Padva. You can see all this enthusiasm in action in the temples and markets of the city. The city is decked up with lights and there’s a mood for celebration in every corner of Ahmedabad. People buy gold and expensive gifts on the day of Dhanteras because it’s auspicious to do so on this day. The streets are lit with firecrackers, lamps and are decorated with rangolis.
Gujaratis love celebrations and one can learn from them about the right way of celebrating this pompous festival. There’s a lot of activity happening around Kankaria Lake and other tourist attractions. The local melas and fairs add to the beauty of the city during Diwali. The second day of Diwali in Ahmedabad, known as Kali Choudas, sees people worshipping Goddess Mahakali or Shakti. You can see temples of the goddess bustling with devotees offering flowers and sweets.
The last day also called Bestvarsha or Gudi Padva is most auspicious as it marks the start of a new year. It’s on this day that everyone adorns new clothes, jewelry, and visits friends and families. You’ll see families greeting each other and new businesses being inaugurated since it’s considered lucky to start new things on this day. If you’re wondering what to eat during your time in Ahmedabad, try out the authentic Gujarati Thali in Gordhan Thal. Diwali time makes for some tasty Gujarati sweets like Sukhdi, Doodhpaak, and the traditional ghee-loaded Sutarfeni.
Also Read: 8 Architectural Wonders In Ahmedabad
You must be wondering why we have included Goa, the land of carnivals in this list. Surely the carnival during Christmas in Goa is never to be missed, but the same rings for Diwali too! Take a round of Goa before Diwali and you’ll know why. The energy in the atmosphere before Diwali is contagious, young and old work together to make Diwali grand in Goa.
You can see youngsters showing their talents by making huge effigies of Narakasura, the powerful asura king who is defeated every year on Diwali. There are competitions held for those who will make the biggest and scariest Narakasura effigy. These are then burnt on the Narakasura Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali. Every village and city lane is busy in the preparation of an effigy in preparation for this festival, spurring a feeling of brotherhood amongst all. The city is decorated to celebrate the victory of Lord Krishna over the asura Narakasura.
Many people love visiting the casino to try their hand at gambling on this day. If you too feel like giving it a chance, remember to book in advance since all the casinos are full on Diwali. The beaches and streets of Goa are decorated for Diwali and it seems like the entire state is celebrating together. Even the nightclubs and pubs are decorated to welcome the hordes of tourists pouring in during Diwali time. There are dance performances and folk dances on ferry boats and casinos that make this festival a grand event.
Also Read: Best Historical Places In Goa
How can we talk of the Diwali celebration and not mention Lord Ram’s own abode, Ayodhya? It’s believed that Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya after serving 14 years in exile. That is when the people of Ayodhya lit lamps and welcomed their king. Just like in Varanasi, Diwali in Ayodhya too is a grand affair. The banks of the River Sarayu are lit up with thousands of lamps on the occasion of Diwali.
The recent Diwali was all the grander after the foundation stone for the Ram Temple was laid, to celebrate which, Ayodhya was decked up like a bride. There were week-long celebrations, with rangolis and lamps all over the holy city. Entire Ayodhya was lit up with 5.51 lakh diyas in Diwali of 2020. There were cultural evenings with different themes and the city got a life of its own. Surely this year too the celebration in Ayodhya will be grand.
You can sit on the bank of the Sarayu River and watch the city light up in golden hues as the darkness descends upon it. Light an earthen lamp and you’ll feel the same positivity within you. Diwali is also the time when temples like Hanuman Garhi Mandir, Kanak Bhavan Temple, Nageshwarnath Temple, etc are decorated with flowers and lamps. All this escalates the beauty of the holy city. Relish some Rabri and Litti Chokha to complete your trip to Ayodhya during Diwali, because a full stomach is always the indication of a successful trip.
How about a royal Diwali fit for the kings and queens. To witness a grand Diwali replete with royal processions and great celebrations, head over to Mysore. The Mysore Palace is decked up in golden lights and lamps. There are performances, dances, and sport performances which gather lots of people from all over India. People light lamps outside their homes and you’ll see large rangolis on the streets on the occasion of Diwali.
There’s also a big fair that welcomes many visitors. You can photograph, eat, and celebrate to your heart’s content. The historical city indeed looks like a blast when Diwali comes knocking. The fountains in the Brindavan Gardens are illuminated in festive colors to celebrate the festival of lights. If you’re lucky, you can catch the light and music show in the garden.
The markets are the hotspots of activity; you’ll see people shopping for silk sarees, sandalwood products, and rosewood artifacts. There is a lot of Mysore Pak available to carry home during Diwali. Take our word and pack some extra because this sweet will have you drooling just after a single bite.
Also Read: Mysore Travel Guide
India is a treasure waiting to be explored, especially during festivals. You should make sure to carry extra memory cards with your camera because there’s so much to see and capture in India during Diwali. Even places like Kolkata, Madurai, Delhi, Jaipur, and Hampi have so much to offer during Diwali. After all, India is the land of festivals, all of which should be experienced to understand India’s core culture and heritage.
Where To Celebrate Diwali In India?
Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur, Kolkata, Goa, Ayodhya, Mysore, Madurai are some places where Diwali is celebrated grandly in India.
How Do Indians Celebrate Diwali?
Indians celebrate Diwali by lighting lamps, firecrackers, drawing rangolis, making sweets, and worshipping Gods on the occasion of Diwali. Different states in India celebrate Diwali differently.
What Places To See In October?
Munnar, Jammu, and Kashmir, Jaipur, Darjeeling, Ooty, Udupi are some beautiful places to see in October.
What To Eat On Diwali?
Diwali sweets and farsan like laddoos, barfis, Mysore Pak, chaklis, murukku, rice kheer are all made and devoured on Diwali.
What To See In India During Winter?
Hill stations like Dalhousie, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Binsar, Rann of Kutch are all popular tourist places to visit and see during winter in India.
What Is Special About Indian Festivals?
The diversity of India is reflected in its festivals. All religions come together and celebrate festivals by taking part in each other’s celebrations, that’s what makes Indian festivals so special!