1. Uttar Pradesh - Varanasi
Celebrating Diwali or Dev Deepavali (“the Diwali of the Gods”), as it is called in Varanasi is a unique experience. The tradition of lighting lamps on Diwali was started at the Panchganga Ghat about 25 years ago. Like a starry night, millions of lamps adorn the stairs on the bank of the holy river Ganga. Oil lamps, candles, fireworks, crackers and colorful decorations present a spectacular view of the city. As thousands of floating diyas dance in the waves of the river Ganga, one is floated into a different world altogether. Besides the rituals and the mystic experience, one can experience the rich cultural heritage of Varanasi through the five-day tourist centric festival, the Ganga Mahotsav, which is held around this time of the year.
2. New Delhi
Diwali in Delhi is an extravagant treat. Besides being the capital of the country, the city ablazed with light, color, exquisite floral decorations and the cracking sounds of the mixture of the crackers and the rhythmic beating of drums; it is also the capital of the festival. One would be amazed at the jaw-dropping display of lights and fireworks in every nook and corner of the city. Having gained notoriety for loudness, pollution and commotion during Diwali, eco-friendly mode of celebration have been encouraged in the recent years. Delhi would be a favorite destination for those who want to experience chaos amidst happiness. Celebrating Diwali in Delhi with a family, a relative or a friend is the safest bet, which otherwise would still be an unforgettable thrill.
3. Rajasthan - Jaipur, Jodhpur, Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Pushkar, Bikaner
Rajasthan is known as a land of festivals and fairs. It is a destination that accommodates the expectations of both, the people looking for a vibrant Diwali celebration or people looking for a tranquil Diwali. For those seeking to enjoy a joyful rowdy Diwali with raucous bursting of crackers and hues of celebration all around, the big cities of Rajasthan are not-to-be-missed. Everywhere people are clad in bright coloured attractive traditional attires. The occasional touch of mirror works in the fabrics and the spotting of vivaciously bright turbans worn by the men and the mesmerizing music of the arid paradise are answers for why you should be in Rajasthan in Diwali. For those hoping for a quieter Diwali far from the madding crowd, the small villages in the outskirts of the main cities of the state, is a treat as it provides a soothing Diwali with all the traditions still intact.
4. Punjab - Amritsar
Amritsar is a great Diwali destination to experience a sacred yet a pulsating Diwali. Although the people of Punjab predominantly follow Sikhism, the idea of Diwali is integrated into their religion to give a unique flavor of Diwali. For the Sikhs, this day marks the return of the sixth Sikh guru, Guru Hargovind Sahib from the prison after he had been falsely accused and imprisoned, in 1619. Also the foundation stone of the famous Golden Temple was laid on Diwali in 1577. With mind-boggling display of lights and fireworks, the place is flocked with devotees and tourists.
5. West Bengal - Kolkata
Besides Durga Puja, Diwali is a grand festival in Kolkata. It is the best time to catch up with family and friends. In Diwali, the Bengalis perform the auspicious ritual of lighting 14 lamps to observe ‘chothyo saag’, which is to pay respect to 14 ancestors. 14 lamps are lit and placed in 14 corners of the house to drive out evil and darkness. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped and the city hums with radiance, shades, resonating drum beats, delicious sweets, bursting crackers, and visiting the kalibaris of the localities to relish the sumptuous14 varieties of vegetable cuisines prepared for the occasion with rice. Diwali in Kolkata in the quintessential Bengali style would be an unconventional way to celebrate Diwali for anybody.
6. Gujarat - Ahmedabad
Diwali is celebrated with great zeal and fervor in Gujarat. Diwali is one of the biggest and the holiest festival for the Gujaratis. People offer special prayers to Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth and prosperity) and the religious myth of the coronation of Lord Rama in Ayodhya after the defeat of Ravana (the demon king of Sri Lanka) is evoked. With five days official holiday, the markets are buzzing with shoppers, the people are dressed in their traditional attires of Jhabbha (kurta) and dhoti for men and Sari for women, people prepare the best of sweets, showers of fireworks illuminate the night sky, multicolored rangolis and lighted lamps present a glittering panoramic cityscape. The whole of Gujarat comes to live on Diwali and for anybody keen to experience an exhilarating Diwali, there can be no place like Gujarat.
7. Maharashtra - Mumbai
Diwali is great occasion to be in Mumbai. Mumbai being the commercial hub of India, in Diwali, the city comes in full bloom. The city sparkling with light from ground to the stunning skyscrapers purely mirrors goodness that symbolizes the spirit of the festival “the victory of good over evil”. One can experience a mixture of sophistication and serenity as one celebrates the festival of lights in the city, with the dazzling loudness and glaze of the city on one hand and on the other, the peace and nostalgia reflected from the shimmering water of the Arabian Sea.
8. Tamil Nadu – Chennai and the hill stations
In a culturally and naturally rich Tamil Nadu one can always opt for a splendid Diwali getaway. Diwali in Chennai is a radiant affair of joy, light and happiness. One can also break away from the hurly-burly of the city into quietude by hopping into any of the nearest hill stations from Chennai. Nestled in the heart of the Nilgiri Hills, Ooty often called the “Queen of the hills” in South India is a perfect exotic hide out. Also, the other resorts for an ideal escape to rewind and renew include superb hill stations like Coonor, Kodaikanal and many other divine hill stations cuddled in the Nilgiris. Nothing can be more tempting than the serene environment loaded with lofty greenness all round, peaceful meandering streams and the relaxing music of nature. It is an experience in which one is at once united with “Mother Nature”.
9. Himachal Pradesh- Shimla
Himachal Pradesh celebrates Diwali with great gusto. Shimla celebrates the festival in a spectacular way feasting in light and sounds of joy and happiness. In interior Himachal, the people observe the festival in a poised indigenous style. People white-wash their houses and decorate them with flowery rangolis incorporating art and nature. They paint ‘Auloo’ (little vessels) with clay enhanced with drawings in red paint and lit earthen lamps. Surrounded by the scenic beauty of the hills and with a salubrious weather in this time of the year, to celebrate Diwali in Shimla or in the restful little hamlets in the neighboring towns in Himachal would be a decision one can never regret.
For anyone choosing to escape the sounds and sights of the city in Diwali, there can be no better place like Goa. Harbored against an idyllic beach, Goa is a city that gives a combo delight of the festival in its essence, as well as a getaway, into the lap of nature. In the light of the festival, amidst the glistering cities replete with fun and gaiety, one can spot the burning of the effigy of the great demon Narakasur, whom Lord Krishna killed. For a change of atmosphere one can idle away ones time to indulge in pure pleasure by taking a walk down the beach swayed by the sounds and cheers of the blissful surrounding.