What is the one thing that any city in the world is known for? Its culture, its food and the famous places it houses. In India, you can add one more thing to that list – its festivals. Every city in India takes its culture and festivals rather seriously.
Gujarat is one such state, that is known for its two major festivals – Navratri and Uttarayan. As December draws to a close, a sense of revelry starts picking up in Gujarat. Uttarayan, or Makar Sankranti marks the change of winter season to summer while also commencing the harvest season for farmers. Uttarayan is one of the most eagerly awaited festivals and is celebrated with much fervour and delight. Here, you find people waiting with anticipation for this kite flying day. Those who usually sleep till late can be seen waking up predawn to give their kites the drift.
What started as a mere hobby, later grew into a competitive sport for the then kings and royalty who would fly kites to display their strength and tactic. This later evolved into a fun-filled competitive festival as we know it, today.
The International Kite Festival was started in the city of Ahmedabad in 1989 for kite-makers and kite-designers to showcase their work, from across the world. This festive event usually lasts for over seven days, commencing on a Sunday and closing down on 14th January – Uttarayan.
Kites of all shapes and sizes are flown in air, starting out as a friendly game to an intense competition. The planning and making of the kites start from as early as November, where people visit their favorite kite-makers with specific design requirements. The most famous stop across Gujarat is the Patang Bazar in Ahmedabad which is famous for its kite designs, variety and the number of shops. You can find this market open for 24 hours, one week before Uttarayan, such is the demand.
Although Ahmedabad is the pioneering city for the International Kite Festival, it is celebrated with as much zest in Surat, Kutch, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Porbandar, and even in some cities in Rajasthan – Jaipur, Udaipur amongst others.
This day which usually starts pre-dawn, often ends quite late with locals refusing to let their kites fall and later lighting oil lanterns in air. It serves as a perfect end to the winter, as they welcome the new harvest season with eagerness.
Coz’ it’s a sky full of kites!
How to reach:
Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport (Ahmedabad Airport) provides excellent connectivity to all major cities in India. There are daily flights between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai which in turn are well connected with rest of the country’s airports. Besides this, there are also direct international flights to and from USA and UK operated by Air India. You can book prepaid taxis to take you to the festival’s destination.
Ahmedabad is one of the most important railway junction in India, extremely well connected with other major Indian cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Outside the station, you will find a number of buses and autorickshaws that can take you to the festival’s destination.
The roads in Gujarat are in excellent condition and very well maintained. Ahmedabad has very good road connectivity with Mumbai, Pune, Surat, Udaipur amongst other cities in India.
Though Uttarayan marks the end of winter, it does not settle the cold breeze that keeps blowing in January. Expect very chilly nights and mild temperatures in the afternoon.