Travel By Numbers: Holi Festival
The vivid colours of India explode more brilliantly than ever this weekend, as this vibrant Hindu festival begins. By Laura Holt
Saturday 19 March 2011
The number of days the Holi festival usually lasts for – though it often spills over and can last for up to two weeks. It begins with bonfires being lit across India on Holika Dahan, the eve of the festival, to mark the triumph of good over evil. The following day, the main event gets underway with coloured powder and water being thrown by revellers at each other in the streets. It's believed that the practice of smearing colours originated after a young Krishna – envious of his love Rahdna's fair complexion – mischievously decided to colour her face with paint. Festivities end with Rangapanchami – and more coloured paint. holifestival.org
The percentage of the Indian population that is Hindu, according to the CIA World Fact Book. The festival of Holi is embraced most enthusiastically in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, particularly in the towns of Mathura – the birthplace of Krishna – and Vrindavan, where the deity grew up. Base yourself at the Oberoi Amarvilas around 30km away from Mathura and Vrindavan and take in these two holy towns as well as the Taj Mahal. Doubles start at R18,900 (£255), room only. oberoihotels.com
The number of Hindus living in the UK. To experience Holi on home soil, visit the Orleans House Gallery near Twickenham in London tomorrow for Indian food, live entertainment and, of course, the obligatory powder-throwing. The event is free and begins at 1pm. richmond.gov.uk
The number of days on Ampersand Travel's "Colours of Rajasthan" tour, which allows you to see India in its myriad hues at any time of year. From the lavender walls of Jodhpur – known as the Blue City – to the gleaming Pink City of Jaipur, via the Amber fort and the ochre sands of the Thar desert, the tour packs in colour and experience by the hour. Prices start at £2,455 per person, including flights from Heathrow. ampersandtravel.com
The altitude, in metres, of Nepal's capital Kathmandu. Some of the biggest Holi celebrations outside India take place in Nepal. Virgin Holidays offers a 16-day "Explore Nepal" tour which starts at £2,080 per person including flights from London. virginholidays.co.uk
The number of years that have passed since Lord Shiva founded Varanasi, considered to be the holiest place in Hinduism. It's also another particularly lively place to visit during Holi; people fill water guns with coloured liquid to spray at passers-by. Find a spot on the southern most ghat, or set of riverbank steps. From here, there are dramatic views of the Ganges and the entire city to the north. Tailor-made tours are available between September and April from On the Go, which can organise a nine-day Golden Triangle tour from £1,349, including flights from Heathrow. onthegotours.com
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