Nine nights of feverous dancing, bustling midnight buffets, shimmering chaniya cholis and kediyus twirling to the beat of the dhol is reason enough to swing by Gujarat for Navratri. The iconic Gujarati dance, dedicated to the mother goddess, is a sight to behold: thousands of people dancing in a circle around an earthen lamp, to commemorate the triumph of good over evil. If you’re in Gujarat between October 13 and October 21, here’s the low-down on some of the best garba venues to hit this season.
For those who prefer the massively crowded, extravagant garba set-ups with a gigantic stage, celebrity appearances and easily accessible entry passes, Ahmedabad has much to offer by way of local clubs like Rajpath, Karnavati, YMCA and Gulmohar Greens. If you prefer a more vibrant, exclusive and upscale garba, there are college campuses like NID and CEPT and places like Kalhaar Blues & Greens, where gaining an entry can require anything from paying hefty amounts to trading favours. Never fear. A few exclusive venues that are easier to access are:
USP: Great crowd, good décor and ambience
Dates: October 8 and 9, 2016
Contact: email@example.com for passes
Pro-tip: Most eateries are open until 2a.m. on garba nights. However, if you want to do it the desi way, head to Manek Chowk Khau Galli in the old city for some buttery pav bhaji and dosa.
The markets at Law Garden, Rani no Hajiro and Nehrunagar are your best choices for great bargain buys. You can also pick up oxidised jewellery and garba accessories while you’re there.
Baroda, or Vadodara, is more cosmopolitan and the garba venues are limited, but their energy pulsates throughout Gujarat! The MS University garba is an institution, with its easy-going, laid-back environs and a signature “no taali” (no clapping) garba. It is difficult to get in, but worthwhile trying anyway. Otherwise, see:
Passes: ₹2,750 for boys, for a season pass; ₹300 for girls.
USP: About 30,000 people swaying in a single circle around a massive ground – the experience is thrilling! The food is great, too.
It’s Nava Bazar for the girls and Mangal Bazaar for the boys. Seeped in the heritage of the old city, shopping here is an experience in itself. If you love a good bargain off the streets, don’t miss going here during Navratri!
Surat, the state’s diamond and textile capital, hosts some of the most happening garbas in Gujarat. It’s the unique garba culture that sets them apart, with youngsters enrolling in garba classes or groups weeks in advance. Every evening, hundreds of youngsters gather in their respective garba groups to practice and learn garba together, and then these groups unanimously decide where all of them will dance this season. The garba group owners arrange passes for their own participants. This year, the place to be is:
Passes: ₹2,100-₹2,500 for a season pass; ₹500-₹1,000 for a single day pass.
USP: This is where everyone’s going to be. Thousands of youngsters dancing in perfectly choreographed synchrony will be a sight to behold!
Contact: Passes will be available with the owners of garba groups, or can be bought directly at the venue.
While most have already shopped at the various exhibitions held especially for Navratri around the city, there are some who prefer the old world charm of Adajan Sahaj and Chauta Bazar, where traditional mirror work and embroidered chaniyas are available all year round.
A small, peaceful city, Bhavnagar does not have too many options for garba, which makes Navratri even more of a social event. Bhavnagar has two main places for garba: the crowd favourite, Galaxy, and Rangoli Resort, where the passes cost slightly more.
Passes: ₹900 for a season pass; ₹200 for a day pass
USP: The crowd is more sophisticated and the food is great.
Contact: Season passes will be available at the Rangoli Restaurant from Sept 20; day passes will be available at the venue.
Passes: ₹1,000 for a season pass; ₹200 for a day pass
USP: The kind of place that makes you want to let your hair down and dance like nobody is watching – because everyone here is actually busy dancing.
Contact: Passes available at the venue.
Haluriya and Roopam Chowk are two markets in the old city that are frequented by garba enthusiasts for their chaniya cholis and kurtas.
It won’t be an exaggeration to say that Rajkot is a garba-crazy city! For one, most garba venues charge exorbitantly for passes. Rajkot is known for its elaborate baporiya (lunch)! The entire city shuts down between noon and 4p.m. for lunch and a long afternoon siesta. The city of the calm, no-nonsense Rajkotians who live a content and no-rush life gets a lively makeover during Navratri. Rajkot has a lot of options but the youth prefer:
Passes: Daily passes will be available at the venue on the days of the garba; price to be announced.
USP: It’s always been the ”it” pace for garba. Everything at this luxurious resort is premium, from the orchestra to the crowd and food stalls.
Contact: neelscityclub.com; 0281-2561513.
Mirror work, bead work and bandhani are very popular here; you can pick up souvenirs and Navratri paraphernalia from Dr Yagnik Road.