The annual Surajkund Mela is the quintessential mela, just like its cousin in Kumbh, the kind where the twins and loved ones get separated. The mela happens every year in the Surajkund grounds which lie just ahead of the Badarpur border, a small distance ahead of Delhi.
On reaching, the site that hits you most the moment you enter the mela is that of giant wheels and other rides looming large against the skies. It's almost like the giant wheels have been planted there to hypnotise one in to surrendering selves to the mela and well, what can I say, they were successful in their motive.
As you follow the labyrinthine pathways winding up and down, you find yourself losing, partly in the milling crowd and partly to the colour and festivities of the mela.
At first, the colourful sights of dangling lanterns, ornaments and the general hustle bustle is almost dizzying. But then you soon get used to it and before you know it, you are part of the chaos and enjoying it.
The excitement is infectious. From the child who is obsessed about the spinning top and wants one in every colour to the girls who are cheerfully giggling over the bargain they managed, everyone wants everything in the mela.
"I try and come to the mela every year with my family or my friends and each time I enjoy it as much," says a pleased Pooja Sharma, carefully balancing her shopping bags.
One walks past the potter's wheel that lies unnoticed next to its 'idol'istic creations, till the wind decides to give it a spin. There's a loud drumming sound somewhere in the background, as I trace my steps to the source of the sound, I have no trouble spotting the hundred odd people surrounding a round clearing where five painted men are dancing to the beats. The men have painted on them a tiger's face and each of them seems lost in their 'Tiger dance' from Kerala, which seems like some kind of martial jumping; a closer look reveals the intricate facial expressions.
There are several mesmerizing performances from different states, which reminds you once again of the variety in our culture, balancing acts, bioscopes, you name it and it's all there.
A man stands behind a bioscope and winds it as two children peep through the steel vessels.
"I have been bringing my bioscope for the last 25 years with my father and now that my father has retired from this job, I make sure I'm here every year," Sanjay Chauhan, the bioscope man says.
All the excitement is too much for the stomach, which ensures you now head to the food stalls. There's something from everyone state, the theme state is Andhra Pradesh this year so yeah, Biryani and South Indian was available, although I must warn you that there is no non-vegetarian allowed at the mela. Other than that, everything is available from the chhole bhature and the pav bhajji to the regular 'Indian Chinese' and even Kala Khatta barf golas.
The mela celebrates 25 years and the theme state this year is Andhra Pradesh, while the partner country is Uzbekistan.
All in all, the Surajkund Mela is a must-see, at least once. The commute is a bit long and winded by road but it's fairly simple to get here by the Badarpur line. And it's well worth it, the mela is on only till the 15th so make the most of the weekend.
What we like:
The variety and the fact that there is something for everyone, rides, good greasy food and lots of shopping for all age groups.