Holi in Mathura (Uttar Pradesh, India) - Logistics
Mathura is the place to be in Holi! It is crowed, it is fun and there is a great atmosphere.
The city of Mathura is in between New Delhi and Agra. It is about 150 km South of New Delhi, about 60 km North of Agra. This is what the Lonely Planet travel guide says about this city:
¨Famed for being the birthplace of the much-loved Hindu god Krishna, Mathura is one of Hinduism´s seven sacred cities and attracts floods of pilgrims, particularly during Jan-mastami (Krishna´s birthday; Aug/Sep) and Holi in February/March. The town is dotted with temples from various ages and the stretch of the sacred Yamuna River which flows past here is lined with 25 ghats, best seen at dawn, when many people take their holi dip, and just after sunset, when hundreds of candles are sent floating out onto the river during the evening aarti ceremony¨.
Getting there from New Delhi is very easy. I went there to celebrate Holi 2023 on March 8 and I will share with you the logistics.
I went there by train.
Booking trains in India is quite easy using the Indian Railway´s Website:
-The first time you will need to register in the Website (I tried with my Yahoo account and it didn´t work, with my Gmail account all good).
-You need to have an Indian phone number.
In New Delhi there are a few main train stations.
In my case I usually book tickets from New Delhi Railway Station (NDLS) or from H Nizamuddin Railway Station (NZM). Entering those letters (NDLS or NZM) the full name (New Delhi – NDLS or H Nizamudin NZM) will appear in the Website.
To go to Mathura I booked the following train:
12280 Taj Express: NDLS (6:55am) – Mathura Jn – MTJ (8:35am).
It costs 315 rupees and the ticket says that it was 141 kilometres.
When booking a train, in the Website you can click on ¨Train Schedule¨ and it tells you the itinerary. For this specific one it was the following:
1.- New Delhi (NDLS) – Departing station - Departure at 6:55 am
2.- H Nizamuddin (NZM) – Arrival at 7:06, departure at 7:08
3.- Faridabad (FDB) – Arrival at 7:26, departure at 7:28
4.- Mathura JN (MTJ) – Arrival at 8:35, departure at 8:37
As you can see, in New Delhi there are two options: to take the train at NDLS or at NZM. I chose NDLS, because departing from there you can go ahead of time, find the train, sit and relax. If you get it from NZM you have 2 minutes to board the train. Not a big deal, as in the signs it will show where you need to embark, but having the opportunity I prefer to start from the departing point. If there is a delay (the train departed about 10 minutes late from NDLS) you are already sit in the train comfortable, and not waiting at an station for the train to arrive.
To come back from Mathura I booked the following train, on the same day:
Samta Express 12807: Mathura JN – MTJ (15:42) – H Nizamuddin – NZM (18:05).
This train didn´t start in Mathura, but it started in Visakhpatnam (Andhra Pradesh). That city is 1785 km from Mathura and Mathura was the 34th stop, looking at the ¨Train Schedule¨ in the Website. The train departed Visakhpatnam on Tuesday March 7th at 9:20 am and it was expected to arrive to Mathura on Wednesday March 8th at 15:45. However, it had a delay. How did I know? Because the railway company sends you updates through text messages to your phone. The first one that I received was on Tuesday March 7th at 11:36 pm: ¨The train is running late by 2:10 hrs from the last destination station. It is likely to make up. Please check exact status from NTES or 139. Indian Railway¨. During Wednesday I received a few updates. Close to the time when I had to depart the delay was of 3h33´. So I decided to forget about the train and come back to New Delhi by bus.
To return by bus was very easy. I just told an autorickshaw driver to take me to the bus station in Mathura, and there were a couple of buses ready to depart for New Delhi right away. I boarded one of them, the ticket cost 199 rupees (you are charged in the bus).
That is about getting to/from Mathura.
When I arrived by train in Mathura I took an autorickshaw to the area where Holi was celebrated. How is it? Here you can see some photos (159) and a video (3´56¨) to have an idea. You are going to get wet and if you cannot stand crowds is not the place for you.
One sentence that you are going to hear is "Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!" (बुरा ना मानो होली है), meaning ¨don´t feel bad, it´s holi¨. Pretty much meaning that if anybody throw water to you, colour powder or anything you don´t have the right to complain or get angry, because it is Holi and if you left the house you knew what you could expect. Therefore go with the right attitude and you will love it! (thanks Srishti for the info).
In this Relive video (3´32¨) it is recorded the journey from the American Embassy School in New Delhi to Mathura and back to the American Embassy School. My whole trip took 9 hours and 24 minutes, so it is not even a whole day trip.
When looking for information I found this Website pretty useful.
Entering the Dwarakadheesh Temple is a must! However, watch out the time. I was there at around 11:30 am and we were told to leave the temple. I asked to some people and they told me that it closes from noon to 4 pm. Go early if you can.
Another activity to do in Mathura is renting a boat and go along the Yamuna, seeing the ghats from the water. Lonely Planet says that is about 300 rupees. If you are a foreigner they will ask for more, it is on your bargaining skills the final price.
I hope this info helps and you plan a visit to that area during Holi in the future because it is definitely something to experience while you are in India. Super fun!