A rainbow of kites twists and turns above the pink city of Jaipur like giant fluttering confetti for the annual Kite Festival (Uttarayan). Running up to this occasion, the markets are full of excited people choosing from kites of every colour and pattern. Determined to get everyone involved, the Karnot Mahal Hotel where we stayed had kites for guests to borrow too so we can celebrate from their rooftops.
On my previous trip to Jaipur, we bombed around on Royal Enfield motorbikes on our heart stopping, epic road trip to Galta Ji Temple at Diwali. Wandering round Jaipur for the Kite Festival, soaking up the joyous atmosphere was a different kind of exhilarating.
The people of Jaipur, and India as a whole, adore a festival. The city is always full of colour, light and music in honour of that day’s religious or cultural celebration and each is greeted with the same joy and enthusiasm. I love their infectious zest for life and a good party.
What is the Kite Festival about?
The Kite Festival is celebrated on the 14th January and marks the day when winter begins to turn into summer, according to the Hindi calendar. It is the sign for farmers that the sun is back and that harvest season is approaching which is called Makar Sankranti, or Uttarayan. This day is thought to be very auspicious and will bring good fortune. The festival is to give thanks.
Celebrating the Kite Festival
The bobbin that controls my kite felt awkward in my hands whilst the young men on the roofs all around are having much more luck than me with making their kites fly high. Kite battles are a big part of the festival, the aim is to cut down your opponent’s kite and it can get very competitive, all in good spirit though.
There isn’t a roof anywhere on the horizon that doesn’t have groups of families and friends smiling up at the sky with dancing hands and glorious tissue paper and fabric birds to control. Sweet, gooey, sesame seed treats are the delicious traditional food of the festival, maybe sticky fingers help keep control of a kite string!
When we arrived into the city in the middle of the celebrations, we passed The Amer Fort of Jaipur, a stunning historic building situated 11km outside of the city. We were keen to make the most of the height of the kite festival so didn’t stop but a visit to Rajasthan is not complete without exploring this gorgeous palace, thank goodness I’ve visited Jaipur before so I could focus on the festival… flying kites and dancing.
As the sun goes down behind the hills surrounding the city it’s time for the release of hundreds of Chinese lanterns. The music that has been a constant thrum of percussion and drum gets louder and the beat more insistent. Standing here, amongst a throng of locals teaching us how to dance Indian style, I can feel the throbbing bass notes in my blood and bones. It’s overwhelming in the best possible way.
Booking to see the Kite Festival in Jaipur
Jaipur is a popular destination for travellers of every type. It’s easy to see why after a few days here. Backpackers, organised tours and business people all arrive in this beautiful city looking for somewhere to stay. Sophistication, peace, service and food aren’t just available in the big corporate hotels on the outskirts of Jaipur. City centre hotels such as the opulent ITC Rajputana are worth considering too.
At Kite Festival time Jaipur is busier than usual as kite enthusiasts from all of the world arrive to take part. It’s a good idea to book ahead to relieve the stress of finding somewhere suitable within your budget, this guide on Jaipur will help with choosing your hotel.
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