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Celebrate India Dusshera with What exactly was the purpose of airing Incredible India!

! tourism campaign on Indian television? This, I never understood. We Indians tend to make a major chunk of our decisions based on word-of-mouth recommendations rather than advertisements. On top of that, being an Indian makes it all the more difficult for us to develop a sense of fascination for the things we have already seen and done since our childhood (the kind of stuff that usually attracts foreign tourists to India). The vibrancy of colours in our lives & clothes, the overdose ofmirchmasala in what we eat & what we say and the myriad variety of events & festivals that we Indians experience in our day-to-day life do excite us, but in no way they fascinate us anymore. Well, all of the above was before I visited the Kota Dussehra Mela (fair), Rajasthan. It was on the grounds of this mela that I realized that you could be 100 years old and could claim to have seen it and done it all, but Incredible India will always have something up its sleeve to mesmerize you with. Dussehra is the precursor to Indias biggest festival, Diwali and is celebrated exactly 20 days prior to it. It usually falls in the month of September or October and also marks the occasion for the culmination of Durga Puja festival, primarily celebrated in eastern parts of the country. 9 days prior to Dussehra are considered the auspicious days of Navratri Puja. During this time Goddess Durga is worshipped all over the country. For the period of these 9 days Hindu religion strictly prohibits all Hindus from eating nonvegetarian food and encourages fasting. Dussehra is the most symbolic occasion for the victory of Good over Evil. According to Indian mythology it was on this day that Goddess Durgaslew the demon Mahisasura and Lord Rama slew the Demon King Ravan and rescued his wife Sita from his clutches. Nowhere else is this victory celebrated with more fervor than in Kota, Rajasthan. Kota hosts probably the biggest Dussehra Mela in India. The mela was a riot of colours and activity, the likes of which I had never seen before in my life. Visiting similar melas with my Nana Ji (grandfather) in Delhi as a kid is one of my pleasantest memories. However it had been a while since I had been to a mela and I am glad that I got to do it all over again and that too in the biggest and the best mela of all.In recent times, the charms of such melas have been out

shined by the growing shopping-mall culture.Yet there are some distinct mela attractions because of which melas ,such as the one held in Kota continue to flourish. A mela is incomplete without a gol-gappa&chaat stall and that is exactly from where I started my affair with the mela. Although local specialties from all the regions can be found there, but I would still suggest you to start with the chaat stalls. The joy rides are essential for the true mela experience for both kids and adults alike. The rides that were available made me feel as if I had entered a mini amusement park. Shopping is especially another key ingredient of the Kota mela. I was surprised to find the same cheap toys that I bought when I was a child. Small toy bows, arrows and mace (so that small boys can imitate Lord Rama,Laxman and Hanuman) could be seen in every childs hand, especially boys. I guess few things never go out of fashion. The adults can also buy a few handmade puppets of Kota as souvenirs; they also make for wonderful gifts. The Kota mela has something special for the ladies LaakhkiChudiyan (bangles) or heavily decorated and carved Kadas. All these can be categorized in the section of pleasant distractions, but the real attractions of the Kota Dussehra Melaare its cultural performances and the burning of 75 feet tall effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakarana and his son Indrajit. Cultural performances feature the Ram Lila (An on-stagemelodramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Lord Rama, ending with the depiction of his epic battle with demon Ravana). I had no idea that the famous personalities like Kumar Shanu and Hariharanhad come to perform at thismela. Being a music fanatic myself, I really liked that pleasant surprise. There was also a stand-up comedy and poet recitation competition to entertain the crowd. The mela officially came to an end with the burning of the effigies by a kid, dressed up as Lord Rama, who shot a flaming arrow into all the three effigies, which were filled with fire crackers. This act symbolizes the victory of Good over Evil. In case you get an overdose of the mela, you can also visit a few tourist spots in and around Kota. The following are some of the few places that I visited during my stay. There is the Khade Ganesh temple; the only temple in the entire country which houses an idol of Lord Ganesha in standing position.Jagmandir is a must visit; it is a beautiful red stone monument situated right at the center of the artificial Kishore Sagar Tank. If nature & wildlife are your calling, then there is the Chambal garden which houses a pond with raregharials and crocodiles. There is also the Darrah Wildlife Sanctuary at a distance of about 50kms from the city, the only place I did not visit. After this experience, I am starting to get the gist of the Incredible India campaign. I understand now, that it is not meant exclusively for the firangisbecause, of India, there is so much to see and experience and so little I know and have experienced. My limited years may stretch to infinity, but India as I now see will never lose its incredibility. Well, if you are truly a

happy traveller (btw is there any other kind?) and think that it cannot get any better, just wait until you have set foot in India. This is Joy, the happiest traveller in the world, signing off. Until Next time, Ciao. Connect with on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well.