Uttarayan International Kite Festival Gujarat

Some of you must have read the international bestseller from Khaled Hosseini, ‘The Kite Runner‘ which has made the kite flying festival world famous. So for all those loving this magnificent tradition, there is good news. The international kite festival is coming on 14th January 2011 in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India. The festival marks the days in the Hindu calendar when winter begins turning to summer, known as Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan.

Uttarayan is celebrated across Gujarat, with bestseller in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Nadiad, among others. Though Uttarayan is originally a special day of the Hindu calendar, it is said that the idea of flying kites to celebrate the date was a concept that arrived with Muslims from Persia, and it has now transcended all religious boundaries. Now irrespective of who you are, if you are in Gujarat in January, you will no doubt find yourself flying kites with everyone else.

Lets see some glimpses of earlier kite festivals

International Kite Festival, Gujarat-Uttarayan Kite Festival
Giant Kites Roaring into the Sky

Gujarat Chief Minster Narendra Modi at the Kite Festival, Ahmedabad 

This Kite festival has become an important tourist attraction and is one of the flagship attractions of Gujarat tourism. Visitors come from around India for the celebration, many Gujaratis who live outside the state choose this time to make their trip home. International visitors also make their appearance during this time. Usually the prominent countries, include Japan, Italy, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, Malaysia, Singapore, France, China, and many more.

A little history

Kites or ‘Patangs’ in Hindi are believed to have first arrived in India either through Muslim traders coming eastward through Persia or Buddhist pilgrims coming from China in search of sacred texts. Either way, they have a long history of nearly 1000 years in this part of the world with numerous classic miniature paintings of typical scenes depicting people flying kites. Since Gujarat is at the westernmost edge of India, it is one of the regions where Muslim and Hindu cultures have blended to a great degree in many aspects. Hence, kites which probably introduced by Muslims, end up as the symbol for celebrating Uttarayan, a Hindu festival. Still, no one knows exactly when this tradition began but this kite festival lives as the best example for national integrity and secularism of India.

Celebrations during Uttarayan kite festival

Kite flying begins at dawn and continues without a pause throughout the day. Friends, neighbors and total strangers battle one another for supremacy and cries of triumph rend the air when someone cuts the line of a rival. A tremendous variety of kites are seen and the connoisseur can choose precisely what he wants. People of all ages including men, women, boys, girls, grant parents gather on terraces or rooftops and engage in kite flying. There is music in the air and traditional delicacies are especially prepared for this day.

The Gujarat State Tourism Corporation organizes an International Kite Festival every year and the venue of the event is either the Sardar Patel Stadium or the Police Stadium in Ahmedabad. This festival attracts international kite flyers and local champions as well, who demonstrate their skills in flying exotic kites. Come night and the illuminated kites known as tukals soar into the sky to compete with the stars.

Another must visit place during the kite festival time is the world famous Patang Bazaar, which is open 24 hours a day in the heart of Ahmedabad during the Makar Sankranti week. A visit to this bazaar in the middle of the night proves beyond all doubt that the entire population of the city is obsessed with patangs and they crowd the streets and buy their stocks while haggling and enjoying through the night.

Major attractions of Ahmedabad, Gujarat

  • Gandhi Ashram at Sabarmati
  • Sundarvan
  • Akshardam temple
  • Walled city and gates
  • Sardar Patel Museum

How to get there?

By air: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel airport at Ahmedabad is an international airport with direct flights to USA, UK, Singapore, Dubai and other international hubs.

By rail: The main railway station is located in Kalupur area. This station falls under the prominent national railway circuit and is connected to all major cities of India.