Celebrated by Nihangs- the Sikh Warriors

Photo Opportunity offered by Green Dot Expedition


Holla Mohalla is an event that coincides with the Indian festival of Holi celebrated all over northern India. Together the words “Hola Mohalla” stands for “mock fight”. During this festival, processions are organized in the form of army type columns accompanied by war-drums and standard-bearers and proceeding to a given spot or moving in state from one gurdwara (Sikh Temple) to another.

The roots of this festival  originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh 10th Guru of Sikhs, a great warrior, who held the first march at Anandpur on 22nd February, 1701. Unlike Holi, when people playfully sprinkle colored powders, dry or mixed in water, on each other the Guru made Hola Mahalla an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles. Holla Mahalla became an annual event held in an open ground near Holgarh, a Fort across the rivulet Charan Ganga, northwest of Anandpur sahib.

Anandpur Sahab is only second to the city of Golden Temple Amritsar from the point of religious significance. It is a great pilgrimage center that is recognized as the birthplace of the Khalsa. There are around 35 Gurudwaras in and around Anandpur Sahab.

Experience the magnificent display of horsemanship and the Gatka – exciting mock fight, witness the tremendous colours of the Sikh faith, including the stunning blue and orange blend of the Nihang Sikh Army. Nihangs are the descendants of the soldiers of the tenth Guru of Sikhs.

  • The event is a grand festival of Punjabi culture for three days, full of colour and activities.
  • Performance of daring feats and mock battles by Nihangs
  • Display of traditional weapons
  • Religious music (kirtan) and poetry competitions are organized.
  • Nihangs perform daring feats with weapons and horses, tent pegging, bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses and various other feats of bravery.
  • Gatka (traditional martial arts, mock encounters with real weapons), display of martial arts
  • Punjabi cuisine.

Photo Expedition Leader: Capt Suresh Sharma

DATES: 28th Feb 2018 to 2nd March 2018.

DURATION: 4 days.

Special Offer: Extension of the Tours: On the culmination of the event, we are offering free journey upto Chandigarh, onboard Taurus, incase you wish to explore Chandigarh or catch flight or train Chandigarh for homeward journey.


Day 1: 28th Feb. Arrive at Anandpur Sahab, check in onboard Taurus. Enjoy welcome cup of tea or whatever else is there onboard. After the basic formalities, Captain will brief the group about the expedition and how to make the best of this lifetime experience.

Relax, rejuvenate and charge all the batteries and align your camera gear for the action, after all we are going to photograph warriors and their mock battle drills.

Today, we take a stroll to explore the atmosphere of the Festival and to inoculate with the action to be unfolding. We visit one of the camps of Nihangs and spend time to establish coordination with them to follow the basics of good photography, i.e. familiarize with the event, make your models comfortable, etc.

There is plenty to shoot here, we shall explore and capture the best.

Night stay onboard Taurus.

Tea: An infusion of earth, water, fire, air and space. There is harmony after all in India and it simply comes as a cup of hot tea: Its fragrance, taste, colour, feel and sound within your clasp. With tea, Punjab gently entices you into another day teeming with its culture.

Day 2:  1st March. After early morning cup of steaming tea/coffee (along with a wide choice of biscuits, cookies, and rusks), we set out to explore the various nooks and crannies of Anandpur Sahab, to explore ‘life’ under golden rays of the morning sun and visit Nihang camps which are called ‘Nihang Chhawni’ (Nihang Cantonment). It seems that whole humanity celebrates the event and its teeming culture over three action-packed days during the Holla Mohalla Festival.

After breakfast, the camera toting gang of passionate photographers will advance towards the Nihang camps which are called ‘Nihang Chhawni’ (Nihang Cantonment); while gyrating around anything we find on the way worth capturing digitally! Don’t forget to take along your personal flask of tea (one for each participant) and your choice of dry snacks to energize yourself during the exploration and shoot.

And it’s time to download the memory cards which would have been filled to the brim; thanks to the today’s technology they do not burst when they’re full.

Dinner and night stay onboard Taurus.

Day 3: 2nd March. Morning tea and followed by breakfast. Today, everyone have to prepare own self for the grand event, mentally, physically, logistically and camera equipment etc. There shall be whole sea of humanity on the roads and tough to move around. Today, we may not get time to eat our lunch properly onboard Taurus, it won’t be easy to get back to Taurus for lunch. But not to worry about that, Sikhs are the most unique people as you shall see it to yourself to believe about their hospitality. There shall be so many Langars (free kitchens) and there is no bar of any kind for anyone, rather they shall be extending invitation with folded hands to everyone. Very rightly said, “Sikhs have hearts larger than their chests”.But if you wish to have lunch onboard Taurus, you may shuttle between the two on your own, at the risk of losing track of the event.

We have to be on time to witness the procession of Nihang warriors, much awaited item of the Festival, explosion of cultural events to enjoy and capture. And then make a quick retreat to the main ground for the evening events. We shall follow the procession. At the ground, there shall be sword fighting display, archery, mock battle drills (Gatka) and daring acts of riding two horses simultaneously, tent pegging, etc. It’s an action packed event at the ground and not for a slow and faint hearted persons.

Once the event is over, we head back to Taurus. On arrival back at Taurus, you are greeted with hot tea and soup. Eat early, sleep early; some of you may have early morning train for homeward journey. And some may leave by night train.

Night stay onboard Taurus.

Day 4: After early morning tea some of you may leave for railway station. Others are welcome to take a ride to Chandigarh to explore the most modern and well planned city of India. If you need we shall help you coordinate your sight-seeing at Chandigarh.

  • Stay and three veg meals, simple food onboard Taurus for the duration of the event at Anandpur Sahab. And extended to those who are travelling to Chandigarh with us.
  • Drinking water with food.
  • Travel from hometown to Anandpur Sahab (Distt Ropar) Punjab and back to home town. Details about how to reach are given at the end of the itinerary details.
  • Any kind of modeling fee for photography.
  • Any food ordered at any commercial places i.e. dhabba, roadside stall, restaurant, etc.
  • Any medical emergencies and rescue.
  • Any surface transport.
  • No personal servants or assistants are accepted, unless paid full tariff. Need to be booked on the day of your booking itself.
  • Your drivers’ stay and food (will be charged as extra).
  • On all days, lunch will be in the field.
  • One should be fit enough to walk around with own equipment.

Train No. 12057 UHL  Janshatabadi, Departure from New Delhi (NDLS) at 14.35 hours,  arrival at Anandpur Sahab at 21.08 hours.  CC 2S Total travel Time:  6 hours 33 minutes.

Train 14553 Himachal Express Departure from Delhi 22.55 hours Arrival 06.16 hours. 2A, 3A, 2S Total Travel Time: 7 hours 21 minutes.

Air: The nearest airport is Chandigarh. Thereafter, depends on the choice of traveler, whether to take bus, train or taxi.


There are two trains to depart from Anandpur Sahab railways station. One early morning and then one at night.

Train 12058. Janshatabadi Exp. Anandpur Sahab to New Delhi : Departure 0546 hours.

Train 14554. Himachal Exp. Anandpur Sahab to Old Delhi: Departure 2205 hours.