Harsh Holidays > Festivals


Harsh Holidays > Festivals

One of the most celebrated festivals of Gujarat. In the month of January, people in large numbers gather on terraces to fly kites of various colors to celebrate Uttrayana, the welcome to the sun after the cold winter months. The atmosphere at the festival is electrifying-glass strengthened threads of the Indian fighter kites are matched against each other in the air, and the kite fighter who cuts the other thread is the victor.

Lohri marks the end of a long winter with the return of the sun to the Northern Hemisphere and hence the name Uttarayan. It is celebrated all over Gujarat but the excitement runs highest at Ahmedabad, Surat (known particularly for the strong string which is made by applying glass powder on the row thread to provide it a cutting edge) Nadiad and Vadodara. To be in any one of these places during this festival is to feel the heart and pulse of Gujarat and its people.

The day of Uttarayan has special importance and is regarded as very auspicious. It is also believed that the Gods sleep for six months closing the doors of heaven, which open at the entrance of the sun in northern zone, i.e. in the orbit of Makara , when the Gods awake from a long slumber.

Uttarayan also has a significant relationship with the agricultural economy of the state. By this time, the Kharif crops are ready and are brought home. In an economy which is purely agricultural, domestic animals are not forgotten and grass is freely distributed to the village cattle. Uttarayan, thus, becomes a harvest festival in the true sense of the term.

In Gujarat grain from the new harvest is used to cook ‘khichdo’. Typical food like Undiya, sugar cane juice and local sweets are served to celebrate the day. Cows and trees are also offered pujan since man’s existence depends on them. People forget and forgive ill will. For this, they ritually offer each other food balls made of sesame seed and jaggery. This is common in Maharashtra too. In east India, at Gangasagar, thousands of pilgrims throng to Kapil Muni’s ashram on this day for darshan.

At a glance

Psychedelic hues of red, yellow, green lights illuminating nooks and corners of intricately carved the Sun Temple of Modhera, during dark and breezy nights of January, create a Chiaroscuro effect of time and space! The Sun Temple of Modhera is a masterpiece of the Golden Age of the Solanki Empire, which hosts the annual Dance Festival and flaunts the glory and splendor of that era. The Modhera Dance Festival which is also prevalently known as the Uttarardh Mahotsavor Modhera Utsavis is one of the most famous celebration of art, music, dance and culture, in this part of the country. This unique occurrence showcases traditional dance forms of the region as well as acts as a platform bringing together the cultural ethos of other regions expressed in form of dance or nritya.

Modhera, the temple of the Sun narrating the history and grandeur of its patrons, the Solankis, is an architectural marvel. This peerless temple space acts as a grandiose backdrop for the vibrant expression of dancers and aesthetical ethnicity of the country. Dance troupes and performers from all regions of the nation bring along a panorama of varied dance forms and styles, interlaced with the essence of their origins. The performers blend in the ambience and bring life to the sandstone figurines carved on the edifice of the temple, singing and narrating legends of times bygone.

The three day festival of Uttarardh Mahotsavis is organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL), to venerate and celebrate the inherited treasure of performing arts of the country. The Modhera festival is an ideal opportunity to experience living heritage of Indian dance and music while traversing back in time sitting in the lap of golden history.



The exclusive three day Modhera Dance Festival is held every year during the third week end of January after the conclusion of Uttarayan festival.


The environs of the Sun Temple in Modhera act a venue and host of this enchanting festival. Modhera is located in the South-west of Mehsana District and is 25 km away from the town of Mehsana.

Interesting facts

This incredible festival of dance, Uttarardh Mahotsav, derives its name from the planetary and astronomical configuration of the Sun. The festival which takes place every year after Uttarayan, at the Modhera temple dedicated to the Sun God venerates the rotational cycle of the earth around the Sun. Uttarayan, the day when the sun starts his voyage towards Uttar or North indicates the end of winter and the beginning of longer days with a pleasant breeze. During Uttarayan, the Sun transmigrates from one planet to the other, it travels from Dhanu or Sagittarius to Makara that is Capricorn. Halfway through this voyage, the time when ‘ardh’ or half of ‘uttar’ or Northward journey is over, the period is known as Uttararadh.

The noteworthy technological splendor of the Modhera temple architecture is the planned engineering based on the planetary position of the planets and the Sun. The main temple or the sanctum is designed focusing on the rays of rising and setting Sun during Equinox. The way the edifice is structured, it ensured on the days of Equinox, that soft, linear rays of Sun showered it with illumination.


Dance or nritya in India is considered an artistic yoga revealing the spiritual through the corporeal. In the history of India, classical dance forms and temple architecture have enjoyed a very amiable alliance. Innumerable literary and historical evidences state the close association of the expressional form of dance and sacred vicinity of temples. Dance performances presented in the holy premises venerated god while also serving as a platform to convey messages to all social strata on an equal echelon. ‘Nagar Utsav’ was organized in the vicinity of all temples including the sun temples. In respect of the rich cultural legacy of the country and to revive the tradition, the State Government created the annual event of the Modhera Dance Festival.

Nearby destinations

Mehsana, Becharaji temple, Unjha, Patan, Sidhpur

Event calendar for the next five years

Disclaimer: You are requested to check the exact dates with Gujarat Tourism office before finalising your travel plans for this festival.

Who Comes

The dance festival is frequently visited by art and dance connoisseurs from all across the world. Classical and folk dancers and musicians from different states of the country exhibit their talent and flair while culture enthusiasts become part of the festival to witness this splendid event. Inhabitants and natives from near by villages also are an indigenous part of the occasion.

At a glance

Tana Riri festival honours the story of Tana and Riri, two singers from Vadnagar who were Naagar sisters. It is said that the famous court musician of Emperor Akbar, Tansen, sang Deepak Raag so fervently that the unlit lamps were lit and he was affected with a burning fever. Knowing that only hearing the pure rendering of the Megh Malhar Raag, he headed for Vadnagar where Tana and Riri sang for him and brought him back to health. Inspired by this quality of singing, Akbar summoned them to his court but owing to the conservative norms of the community and society, rather than refusing or disobeying Akbar’s summon, these two sisters immolated themselves at Vadnagar. A samadhi is created in Vadnagar called Tana Riri Samadhi and the annual classical music festival is held near this Samadhi .

Interesting facts

Vadnagar is a showcase of Indian History comprising of an ancient fort wall, gates and the street structure. A visit to Vadnagar will take you to the days of the golden era of Gujarat- the Solanki Era and beyond.

Hiu-en-Tsiang- The Chinese scholar, a traveler refers Vadnagar as Anandpur in the 7th century A.D., as a major urban centre of Buddhist religious activities. According to a famous English historian, King Kanasen, founded Vadnagar in 144-145 A.D. For centuries Vadnagar remained an important cultural and trading centre connected to Malwa, Saurashtra Rajputana and Deccan.

Event calendar for the next five years

Disclaimer: You are requested to check the exact dates with Gujarat Tourism office before finalising your travel plans for this festival.

At a glance

Rann Utsav is a celebration of life, festivities and culture of Kutch and Gujarat. It is a landmark bestowing grace and elegance where the world gathers for more than 2 months. A riot of colour sprinkled on the barren lands, Rann Utsav offers visitors an excellent opportunity to experience the diverse traditions and the generosity and hospitality of Kutchi people.

The picturesque “White Desert” is waiting to welcome you. On a full moon night during Rann Utsav, the region wakes to an endless cycle of dance, and where century old traditions are revived in a celebration.

The colorful fairs held near the beach or the banks of a lake swings one with the spirit of festivity, fervor and flamboyancy while the organized tour around Kutch is an ideal occasion to be part of the region and experience the zeal and uniqueness of the people through a celebration of life!

Rannutsav hosts activities such as Horse Rides, Camel Safaris to Bird Watching,Pool Table,Table Tennis,ATV Riding,Paramotoring, Archery,Giant Chess, Net Cricket, Bicycle.Tourists visiting Rann of Kutch during Rann Utsav will surely enjoy remarkable moments.

The Online Booking sites are:   http://rannutsav.net and whiterannresort.com

On popular demand, it has been decided to commence the Rann Utsav during the festive season from 1st November, 2016. As on date,  the  formation of the White Rann has taken place in some sections and as a part of the natural process it will take a few more weeks for the White Rann to emerge in its full majestic splendour all over.  A general  disclaimer is already there on the respective booking sites. However, in case of any inconvenience, prospective tourists are advised to get in touch with the Operators or Gujarat Tourism.



1st November, 2016 to 20th February, 2017


Interesting facts

Kutch or Rannutsav, a unique manifestation of varied cultural ethos of the region is known for the ethnic flavor and celebrative zest. This festival provides an exclusive opportunity to witness the creative ingenuity of the artisans and craftspeople, assorted array of folk music and performances, mixed representation of culture and communities, along with a vast diversity in ecology. All this and much more describe and define Kutch and the people.


A seasonal salt marshland situated in the heart of the Thar Desert with Gujarat on one side and Pakistan’s Sind province on the other, the district spans about 7,505.22 square kilometres (2,897.78 sq mi) and is one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The Great Rann of Kutch, the Little Rann of Kutch and the Banni grasslands at the southern fringe, makes up for some 30,000 square kilometres of white lands, sweeping the Gulf of Kutch at one end, and the seat of the great Indus Valley Civilization on the other, falling in southern Pakistan.

A cradle of craftsmanship, Kutch is known for its exquisite variety of weaving, patchwork, block-printing, bandhani, tie-and-dye, rogan-art and other ethnic styles of embroidery, pottery, wood-carving, metal-crafts and shell-work. The variety emerges from the enchanting terrain that provides a perfect backdrop to an extra ordinary fair. Perhaps because the landscape is so white and ochre, even a hint of colour adds a fascinating element to the rustic life of Rann.

Nearby destinations

Aina Mahal:

Also known as Palace of Mirrors or Aina Mahal is located in the corner of Hamirsar Lake in Bhuj. With the fascinating history, this 250 year old palace was built in the 18th century by chief architect and craftsman Ramsinh under the patronage of Jadeja ruler Lakhpatji.

A blend of Indian and European artistry, the walls of the great hall are of white marble covered by mirrors separated by gilded ornaments, lighting being provided by elaborate candelabra, with shades of Venetian glass. Another remarkable feature is the pleasure pool, in the middle of which rises a square platform where the maharao composed his poems and gave encouragement to the classical arts of dancing girls, bards and musicians.

The attention to detail is impressive. Immerse yourself in the history of the city and admire its Victorian architecture.

Kala Dungar:

Kala Dungar is the highest point in Kutch. This place has to be on your bucket list once you are in Rann of Kutch. Kala Dungar is around 95 kms from Bhuj. On a clear day, the sunset point here offers breathtaking views of the Rann.

If you are feeling energetic you can climb the dunes to the summit of your choosing, where the view along the sand ridge opens up for excellent photographic opportunities. There is also a temple called Dattatreya Temple at the top. It offers free lunch to everyone who drops by.

The place promises a different view of Rann of Kutch. And the journey there can be an adventure in itself. Make sure that you don’t forget the quintessential kala dungar experience.

Vijay Vilas Palace:

A must-see and one of amazing attractions in Rann of Kutch, for its role in a key scene, the Vijay Vilas Palace is a distinctive place. Built in 1929 by Rao Vijayrajji, the palace is an epitome of graceful curves built in the fusion architectural style of local Kutch, Rajasthan and Bengal.

The palace is nestled in 450 acres of lush greenery, with 2 kilometers of private beach. It was built of red sandstone in the Rajput style, with a main central dome and colored glass windows. The interior is a magnificent, unpretentious playground of Rajputana art, as appealing to the amateurs as well as art experts.

Vijay Vilas Palace standing at the seashore of Mandavi has been the location for filming many Bollywood Blockbusters. The place with a breathtaking panoramic view and the beautiful site is a recognizable landmark in Rann of Kutch which is definitely not to miss.

Mandvi Beach:

Mandvi Beach is one of the finest deluxe camps situated along the 1666 km long Gujarat coastline. An oasis for the thirsty tourist, Mandvi beach is a very peaceful and serene place. It is located on the banks of the Rukmavati river and is 1 km away from the Arabian Sea at the Gulf of Kutch. As this beach is just near to the Kashi – Vishvanath Temple, this beach is sometimes also known as Kashi – Vishvanath Beach.

The sun-kissed sands and cold and breezy waters make Mandvi Beach a great destination for the honeymooners, family celebrations, etc. Enjoy an idyllic beach getaway, watching the windmills and birds, take a short camel ride along the beach or simply walk along the soft sand enjoying the foot massage with cool sea water.

This place is also well-known for its crafts and heritage and a full day excursion trip in this town offers enroute numerous old buildings of princely times, chronological palaces and ancient temples.

Swaminarayan Temple:

Like most Swaminarayan temples, this temple also has the typical brightly colored wood carvings around the building, mostly depicting Lord Krishna and Radha. Located just down the road from the Ramkund step well and the Alfred High school, the temple marks the spot where Swaminarayan sat with local holy men when he came through Bhuj.

The visit here promises a truly quality time. As the weather cools, the streets near the temple begin to sparkle with festive lights, and the atmosphere offers a cozy retreat. Surprisingly rich in attractions and certainly worth a visit, this temple is a real residence of a sovereign!

Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial:

The British ruled over India for over two hundred years. They ruthlessly exploited India’s economic resources and mercilessly oppressed the people. Many individuals took on the might of the British to free India. Shyamji Krishna Varma chose to take this fight to British soil and made London his base.

Shyamji Krishna Varma was born on 4th October, 1857 in Mandvi town of Kutch district of Gujarat. He was one of the foremost freedom fighters in the history of the freedom movement of India with high sense of patriotism and selfless service for the nation. He had organized a revolutionary center in “India House” at London and propagated the cause of India’s independence through his writings in his publication journal called The “Indian Sociologist”.

Shyamji Krishna Varma was not alone in his work. He was joined by many other great radical Indian Nationalists who were committed to free their motherland from the yoke of British rule. Many great revolutionaries made the supreme sacrifice and laid down their lives to see their country free, both in India as well as abroad.

The Memorial’s objective is to pay tribute to the contribution of Shyamji Krishna Varma and also to educate the young generation about those great Indians who sacrificed everything for the country’s freedom.



Who Comes

It is a quirky and eccentric festival that showcases the enlightening wonders of Kutch. Last year thousands of tourists graced this desert extravaganza and the much talked about hospitality. With intimate and spell binding time, Rann Utsav will engrave Kutch in your heart and mind for eternity.