Best Places to Celebrate Dussehra in India
Updated: Oct 24
Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami is one of the most important and widely celebrated festivals in India. Mostly celebrated during the month of October or September, it brings with itself an array of joy and an atmosphere of festivity. Dussehra signifies the victory of good over evil as Lord Ram defeated the ten-headed Ravana, who had abducted his wife Sitadevi. Some people also believe that Goddess Durga defeated Mahishasura, a powerful demon under whose leadership the asuras(demons) waged a war against the demigods and defeated them. The demigods sought the help of Goddess Durga to kill Mahishasura. Durga Devi, the divine mother, mounted on a lion, fought the mighty demon for nine days, and killed him on the tenth day. Vijaya Dashami commemorates this victory of Mother Durga over the demon Mahishasura.
Many such myths and tales can be heard all over India. Each and every state in India is seen celebrating the festival in a unique and flamboyant way. Let's have a look at the best places to celebrate Dussehra in India.
1. Kullu Dussehra
It is one of the most famous celebrations of the Dussehra festival in the Dhalpur maidan in the Kullu valley of Himachal Pradesh. It is also given the status of an International festival which attracts tourists in large numbers. Dating back to the 17th century, Kullu Dussehra starts on Vijaya Dashmi and lasts for seven days. It is a lovely blend of rich culture, history, and ritual. This festival is only held to celebrate the success of good over evil. While music and color create a peaceful ambiance, thousands of people gather on the first day of celebration to pay respect to Lord Raghunathji. The whole maidan is decorated with colorful flowers, tents, domes, etc. One can also see a variety of dances in Kullu like Ghadai, Panjragi, Pheti, Basahri, Lahuli, Kortha, Charase-Tarase, Bandhu, Rakhs, and Phagli, etc, Lalhri dance is very popular. To know more about this festival, read this amazing blog.
2 .Mysore, Karnataka
Known as Mysore Dasara, it is a royal celebration that marks the victory of truth over evil. The Mysore Palace is decorated with colorful lights. The Dasara festivities have a rich history of more than 400 years. During this 10 days festival, the normally calm and peaceful city transforms into a hub of celebrations and activities. On the last day of the celebration, an elephant carries a large idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari in a procession that begins from the palace and ends at Bannimantap Ground. The myth goes that Goddess Chamundeshwari killed demons and in her honor people celebrate this festival. Aside from the processions at the end of Mysore Dasara, several other events take place throughout the ten days. These events manage to captivate its visitors with a wide range. The activities vary from sporting events, cycling and heritage tours, wrestling, yoga, film festivals, pet shows treasure hunts to events celebrating the art and culture of Mysore. Food is also a huge aspect of this festival, and you will find a variety of different food stalls showcasing their delicacies to all visitors. While most of the Mysore Dasara remains free for the visitors, the most important events, "The Torchlight Parade" requires a ticket.
3. Bastar, Chhattisgarh
Bastar Dussehra is one of the most unique festivals in the state. It is a 75 days long Dussehra celebration. The festival is celebrated to honor Devi Danteshwari, the main goddess of Bastar’s tribal community. The origin of Bastar Dussehra dates back to the 15th-century when the Kaktiya ruler King Purushottam Deo went to Jagannath Puri temple for worship and came back as ‘Rath-pati’ with divine permission to mount on a chariot. Since then, Dussehra is being celebrated by the people of Bastar in this unique way. The festival brings a great deal of ardor and enthusiasm among locals, irrespective of their caste. All presiding deities from chota mandirs around Bastar travel to the district headquarters of Jagdalpur. The Khaki tribe worships the rath before it is used. The Parja provide ropes to pull the chariot, while Maria and Dhurwa tribes pull the Dussehra rath made of wood. The festival gives you a peek into the tribal culture and their rituals. You can also witness unusual ceremonies and rituals like worshipping wood, posting pillars, installing urns, setting up a throne for Devi Kanchan, holding a meeting of tribal leaders, and so on. At the end of this festival, tribals bid goodbye to their deities through cultural music and dance performances.
4. Kolkata, West Bengal
One place you definitely should be during Dussehra is Kolkata. Dussehra along with Durga Pooja is celebrated with great pomp and show. The city is loaded with decorated pandals representing a unique story. The pandals that are put up during Durga Puja in Kolkata are a visual delight. One can find more than 3000 pandals in Kolkata. The preparations for these pandals begin three to four months prior to the festival. Some of the most famous pandals in Kolkata are in Kumurtuli Park, Suruchi Sangha, Jodhpur Park, College Square, and Bagbazaar. They offer various mouth-watering Bengali sweets. On the last day of celebration, married women participate in a ceremony called ‘sindoor khela’, where they wear traditional sarees and smear each other with sindoor. The celebration is concluded by submerging the deities of Goddess Durga in the river.
5. Kota, Rajasthan
Dussehra is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Kota. The Dussehra Fair of Kota, popularly known as Dussehra Mela, is the most admired festivals in the country. The huge fair is accompanied by artisans, cultural performers, and programs that make you immerse in the essence of rural India. It is believed that Dussehra was started in the reign of Mahrao Durjanshal Singh Hada. But the credit for making this religious event more attractive and colorful goes to Maharao Ummed Singh II. Since then the festivities have changed, now the Dussehra fair is observed for 25 days. The height of the statue of Ravan and his family has been raised to 75 Feet. On Vijayadashmi, somebody representing the royal family shoots an arrow toward the effigy of Ravan which depicts the death of Ravan by the hands of Ram. More than 1 Lac people from Kota and nearby villages reach Dussehra Maidan to witness this event. From the next day onward the series of cultural programs start. Prominent artists from all over the country are invited to participate in various cultural programs.
6. Ahmedabad, Gujarat
In Gujarat, Dussehra is called Navratri. Navratri is celebrated with all-nighters of dance and music. You will witness Garba nights where people worship Goddess Durga followed by Garba and Dandiya nights. Garba is the main attraction of the festival that brings people close and make them tune on folk songs with multi-colored sticks. Garba is played throughout the night. Men and women wear traditional attires that are Lehenga Choli for women and Kedia for men.
All these celebrations are unique and add to the already existing vibes of festivity. Witnessing these joyful celebrations should definitely be on your bucket list.