Here's Where You Can Experience The Festival Of Doljatra In Bengal

Explore the colourful rituals of Doljatra, West Bengal's Holi celebrations, and discover some unique cultural traditions
The colours of Holi light up faces in Shantiniketan
The colours of Holi light up faces in Shantiniketan soumen82hazra/Shutterstock

The festival of colours, known as Holi in rest of India, is called Doljatra in Bengal. Also celebrated in Odisha and Assam, the festival is celebrated on a full moon day and is dedicated to Lord Krishna and welcomes the spring season. Although Holi and Dol symbolise the same festival, they follow different legends as per Hindu mythology. While Holi is based on the legend of Prahlad, an incarnation of Vishnu in North India, Doljatra in Bengal revolves around Krishna and Radha. A primary element of the celebrations is the way women and men indulge in exuberant festivities with a touch of culture during Doljatra. Here are three places in Bengal where you can enjoy different moods of the festival.


The Chaudhuri home at Amadpur is fronted by terracotta temples
The Chaudhuri home at Amadpur is fronted by terracotta temples@ricketyroads /Instagram

Head to Amadpur, tucked deep inside Burdwan district of West Bengal, if you want to celebrate Doljatra with a traditional flourish. The picturesque setting and a chance to play with colours with the local people add to the festive fervour. The Chaudhuri family, the former zamindars (landlords), have not only beautifully maintained their nearly 400-year-old family home but also observe all the major festivals. The Chaudhuri home, which sits on the edge of a lake with a paved bank and steps going into the water, is fronted by four terracotta temples dedicated to Shiva and a Dol Mancha (a stage for celebrating Doljatra). Radhamadhav, the family deity, resides in another old terracotta temple nearby. The temples, over two centuries old, reflect typical old Bengal architecture and contain carved terracotta panels on the outer walls. The Dol Mancha, also a reflection of typical Bengal architecture, backs onto the bank of the lake.

Women indulging in exuberant festivities with a touch of culture during Doljatra
Women indulging in exuberant festivities with a touch of culture during Doljatrachowdhury arindam/Shutterstock

On the eve of Doljatra, the Lakshmi Janardan shaligram shila is carried to the Dol Mancha prior to the holding of the bonfire or the chanchor festival. After the festivals, the shaligram shila is taken back to the temple. On the day of Doljatra, the deities of Radha Madhav are carried in a procession to the Dol Mancha. Among several rituals performed here, one is the Deb Dol, where the deities are believed to play with coloured powder or abir among themselves. Subsequently, the family members and the local people offer abir to the idols. It is also customary to apply coloured powder to the feet of any senior first. Then begins the play of colours in earnest.

Getting There

Amadpur, less than 100 km by road from Kolkata, can be covered in a day's visit. A part of the house has been converted to a heritage homestay but advance booking is a must.


Noble Laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore, the great visionary that he was, introduced season-based festivals, shorn of any religious association, to Viswa Bharati, the school and university founded by him in Shantiniketan in West Bengal. So on the day of Doljatra, Shantiniketan observes Vasantotsav or the Spring Festival.

Singing and dancing is an integral part of Dol in Shantiniketan
Singing and dancing is an integral part of Dol in Shantiniketan soumen82hazra/Shutterstock

The day dawns with students and teachers performing a prabhat feri, or a morning procession, singing songs penned by Tagore. Then students, teachers, and other residents start gathering at the university complex. While men usually don white attire, women wear a yellow sari with red borders. Earlier, women would use the abundantly found red Palash flower to make floral ornaments but the practice has stopped over the past few years. Singing and dancing, to songs penned by Tagore, is the highlight of the day. The participants break into smaller groups and spend the day with more singing and dancing.

Getting There

Bolpur can be easily reached by road and rail from Kolkata. By road, it is about 60km, and by train, it takes around 2.5 to 3.5 hours. Accommodation is aplenty but advance reservation is advisable because Doljatra is a popular festival here.


The little known village of Nimdih, located on the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand, has a predominantly tribal population. It is also your window to observe Dol/Holi celebration by the local people.

The most convenient way to visit Nimdih during Holi, especially if you are a solo female traveller or a women's group, is to avail package trips. Simple but clean accommodation is provided at the Loksevayatan complex located within the foothills of the Dolma range. Here too, while you celebrate Holi by day, the evening is devoted to cultural programmes by the local people.

Cultural performances are a big part of Doljatra
Cultural performances are a big part of DoljatraKakoli Dey/Shutterstock

Getting There

Nimdih can be reached by road from Purulia (West Bengal) or Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) depending on where you are coming from.

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