PATNA: An extended weekend and quest for celebrating the festival of colours in “high spirit” has prompted many in the state capital to go out on short Holi vacations.

Though the inflow of people staying outside Bihar coming back to their hometowns is quite high in Holi, tour and travel operators have claimed that a number of people, mostly young professionals, are looking for an extended weekend as a gateway for celebrating the festival of colours with gusto at exotic locations.

Barsana in Uttar Pradesh, which is famous for ‘Lathmar Holi’, is one of the most favoured destinations for revellers. Tourist spots in the coastal areas and hill stations are also being preferred for the short trips (2 to 5 days). Tour operators claimed that per night charges for staying at a three-star hotel at Barsana, Vrindavan or Mathura vary anywhere between Rs 3,000 and 7,500.

“Many people, mostly professionals, prefer to go on vacation during Holi. As the traditional Holi celebration at Barsana, Vrindavan and Mathura are quite popular, we are getting a number of bookings for these places from our clients this time,” said Amitabh Keshav, director of a tour company.

One of the many myths associated with origin of Holi states that the festival of colours began with Krishna smearing his beloved Radha with colours. This mythology is quite famous in Mathura and Vrindavan in UP.

Residents of Nandgaon and Barsana villages, not too far from Vrindavan, play ‘Lathmar Holi’ following the tradition of playing colours set by Lord Krishna. The women of Nandgaon, the home of Krishna, beat the men from Barsana, the birthplace of Radha, with wooden sticks in response to their teasing.

Besides going to the cities in the Braj region, some travellers are also looking at the Holi vacation as a quick getaway to the coastal areas. “Kerala, Andaman and Goa are some of the preferred destinations for young professionals as the packages are comparatively cheaper for these places. The four-day, five-night package for Andaman is around Rs 25,000 per person. It includes accommodation, food and travel,” said Upendra Nath Mishra, chief executive officer of a Patna-based travel firm.
Indian holiday destinations apart, people have also made bookings for tourist hotspots in Southeast Asian countries as well. “We are sending a few people from the city to Singapore and Maldives over the next few days. The bookings are normally done several months ago and people mostly opt for cruise packages,” said Alok Kumar, director of a city-based tour company.

Airfares skyrocket: With the festival of colours round the corner, airfares for the inbound flights on different sectors have skyrocketed. The normal fare of Rs 2,700-3,500 on Delhi-Patna route has gone as high as Rs 12,900 and that on Mumbai-Patna route, the fare has soared from around Rs 4,000-4500 on normal days to Rs 14,500 now.

“People want to celebrate Holi with their families. The highest rush in air traffic is being observed on Delhi-Patna route. The same surge is also expected to be observed post Holi in the outbound flights from the state capital,” said Raman Jha, manager of a travel company in Patna.