After having been inside temples, castles, forts and the tourist industry around it for days, we emerged into something genuine Indian – the Holi Festival of Colors. Something we had not dreamed to experience, simply because we neither had a clue that it was celebrated during full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna nor what that translated into.
In Udaipur, the Holi Festival is even celebrated a few octaves higher. The evening before Holi, the present maharani hosts a colorful ceremony and reception in the courtyard of the palace. On our last day there, we watched the extensive preparations – mosaics of flowers were laid out, lights installed, chairs dressed in white were put on the lawn, carpets laid out… and a bonfire erected (on there later the demoness Holika would be symbolically burned) – All this involved an army of people, most of them watching those who really did the job.
The visitors attending this ceremony naturally resided in style and stayed in one of the two hotels inside the City Palace. How we know all this – we also happened to spend the afternoon in style at the pool of Shiva Niwas Palace Hotel and watched the arrivals. One party of 36 from Italy had come to celebrate the birthday of one member of the group. It goes without saying that they attended the Holi Ceremony, but that was just the warm up. They had rented a whole courtyard in the palace for a private banquet. What a way to party!
Not being invited, we hopped on the train to Bundi to be there for the real Festival the following day.