This two-day experience with transport by private, air-conditioned vehicle includes an overnight stay in a 3-star hotel plus one dinner and one lunch. With all of your itinerary details taken care of, and accompaniment by a private local guide, this overnight trip is an ideal way to experience India and its lively spring Festival of Colors. Your guide will assist you every step of the way, ensuring both an enjoyable and enlightening experience!
Day 1: Delhi -- Mathura (L, D)
After meeting your driver in your hotel lobby, hop in your private, air-conditioned vehicle toward Mathura, an approximate 4-hour drive from Delhi and considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Upon arrival in Mathura, meet your private guide and check in at your hotel and freshen up a bit before heading out with your guide for lunch. Afterward, your guide will accompany you to the Gulal-Kund, a marvelous lake near Govardhan Hill in Braj -- a 7-mile (11-km) ridge that annually draws millions of Hindu pilgrims to temples and shrines at the sacred site.
First, watch local theater troupes re-enact scenes of Holi, with young boys and girls playing the roles of Lord Krishna -- a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu -- and Gopis. As the drama unfolds, your guide will help you understand these legends about the demoness Holika and the triumph of good over evil.
Then, join the celebration as both children and adults throw abir (colored powder), toss buckets full of dyed water or squirt balloons -- drenching themselves and each other in magnificent hues, marking the end of winter and the abundance of the upcoming spring. Be sure to wear clothes you won't mind getting stained with color! Or, if you prefer not to participate, you're welcome to hang back and watch the fun.
In the midst of the festivities, your guide will introduce you to a selection of mouth-watering treats savored during Holi, and you can enjoy a cool glass of thandai -- a sugared-milk drink mixed with almonds, fennel seeds, rose petals and cardamom (own expense).
To complete your day, your guide will accompany you to dinner at a local restaurant before returning you to your hotel for a night's rest.
Overnight: 3-star hotel in Mathura (or Agra)
Day 2: Mathura -- Delhi (B, L)
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and join your guide for a drive to Vrindavan, just nine miles (15 km) from Mathura. As you pass the woods where Lord Krishna frolicked with the Gopis and tenderly wooed Radha, learn about this cow-herding community where he spent his childhood.
In Vrindavan, continue the Holi celebration in full glory with a visit to the famous Banke-Bihari Temple. Accompanied by your guide, watch Hindu priests throw colored water and marigold garlands over the devotees, and feel the crowd surge forward to get a better glimpse of their beloved Lord Krishna.
See the town come alive with more abir-tossing, folk theater re-enactments and singing contests in the streets. Finally, when you've had your fill of bright colors and boisterous fun, enjoy a sumptuous lunch in a local restaurant with your guide. Afterward, return by private vehicle back to Delhi, where your guide will drop you off at your hotel.