While India’s western state, Gujarat, plays host to more than 2,000 festivals annually, no celebration is as large or as well-loved as Uttarayan. Observed in cities throughout the region, the epicentre of this one-of-a-kind festival takes place in Ahmedabad, where local residents and international visitors flood the streets to partake in this joyous occasion.
Welcoming more than 8 million participants to the state of Gujarat, this once modest celebration to signal the beginning of summer is now one of the region’s most anticipated annual events. Beginning on the 14th of January each year, Uttarayan sees the colourful creations of international kite enthusiasts and revelling locals alike take flight, setting the sky ablaze in an awe-inspiring spectrum of colours.
Once a sport reserved only for royalty, Uttarayan originally served to reawaken the Gods from winter’s slumber while putting the power and skill of kite-flying kings on display. Since 1989, however, the International Kite Festival has welcomed participants from all backgrounds to build, sew and fly their kites through Gujarat’s skies.
Not only a showcase of India’s signature rhombus-shaped kites, known as ‘patangs’, the international recognition of Uttarayan has led to a number of unique kite types featuring prominently during the two-day festival, from ornately decorated Chinese dragons to traditional Balinese layang-layangs. While the kite flying is typically recreational, there are competitive participants who outfit their patangs with reinforced string in order to cut down nearby kites in their path, creating a thrilling spectacle for onlookers.
A delight for kite flyers and spectators alike, Uttarayan is more than just a feast for the eyes. A time of seasonal celebration, Ahmedabad bursts to life with local food stalls serving everything from Gurawat’s signature mixed vegetable dish, Undhiyu, to Jalebi – a decadent combination of deep fried wheat and sugar syrup. Once you have a full belly, head to Sardar Patel Stadium for the best views in the city, or make a beeline for Patang Bazaar, where local hawkers have plenty of kites you can call your own.
Want to join in the fun this January? Experience the magic of this one-of-a-kind festival with a stay at Radisson Blu Ahemdabad. Enviably located in the heart of the city, our 5-star accommodation stands out amongst other hotels in Ahmedabad, with spacious suites, gourmet dining and a full-service spa on site.