The state of Gujarat dons a variety of kites on the eve of Uttarayan, the festival that marks the transition of winter into summer according to the Indian calendar. It also marks the beginning of the Harvest season. Uttarayan is such a massive celebration that these two days have been declared as public holidays. The International Kite Festival is among the most prominent festivals that are celebrated in this State. Ahmedabad, where the main event takes place, becomes an abode for visitors from all over the world. During the week leading up to the International Kite Festival, the local markets are flooded with numerous kite buyers and kite sellers. The most popular kite market is the Patang Bazaar, which stays open for 24 hours a day during this festival.
International Kite Festival - Dates and Duration
The International Kite Festival takes place on 14th January every year on the eve of Uttarayan or Makara Sankranti. It usually goes on until 15th January.
Entry to International Kite Festival
The entry to the International Kite Festival of Gujarat is free for all the visitors. However, access to the Kite Flying area is limited to participants only.
Venue of the International Kite Festival
Various cities across Gujarat hold kite flying competitions among its citizens. However, the showstopper contest, the International Kite Event, is held in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is also known as the Kite Capital of Gujarat. It is believed that the Sabarmati Riverfront, with a capacity to accommodate over 5 lakh visitors, is the best place to witness and enjoy the festival. A bunch of tourists also prefers the Ahmedabad Police Stadium. People make themselves comfortable and lie down to get a view of the sky that is filled with hundreds of thousands of kites.
How to Reach Ahmedabad
Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport serves both the cities of Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar. It is well connected to all the major towns and cities and sees regular flights from all the locations. There are also direct flights operated to and from the USA and UK. Ahmedabad, being a major city, is very well connected by road and rail as well. There are regular trains to and from the major cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. The Ahmedabad railway station is at an approximate distance of 6km from the city’s centre. The roads are also well maintained and are linked to important towns and cities surrounding Ahmedabad. In the city, you can easily find buses, rickshaws or taxis to take you either to the venue or to the place of accommodation.
Main Attractions of the International Kite Festival of Gujarat
Nationals of over 45 countries participate in this one of a kind event. They consider it to be more of a battle and less friendly competition. Kites of all shapes, sizes and designs are flown throughout the day. Participants also have their favourite kite makers who they turn to for strong and resilient kites which they can fly on this special event. The string, also called Manjha in the local language, is specially made by combining glue and glass over its fibre. The string is prepared to be as sharp as possible so that it is easy to cut rival kites during the competition. The excitement fails to die even after a long day of kite flying. Lanterns are attached to the string or manjha, and the kites are continued to be flown. This makes for a spectacular night view of the festival as well.
History of the International Kite Festival
Kite flying was a common hobby in the streets of India. However, the ruling nawabs of that period took it up as a major sport. They looked at it as an opportunity to compete with each other and display their strengths. It was also considered to be highly entertaining. With time, the competition grew very serious, and there were varied kinds of kites and individual strings being made for the participants. Invitations were sent out to expert kite makers and kite flyers from all across the globe to exhibit their kite flying prowess and beat all competition. The tradition continues to this date, and the International Kite Flying Festival is held every year in Gujarat.
The considerable participation and the number of varieties of kites flown in the International Kite Festival, make it a unique event that unites passionate kite flyers from across the globe to network and collaborate. The entire skyline is decorated with different kinds and colours of kits and presents a sight to behold. Visitors can plan a relaxed picnic in the backdrop of this colourful festival or can also participate and fly kits along with family. Either way, the International Kite Festival promises a memorable time.