An old folk tradition from India's coastal state of Karnataka is called bhoota kola. The purpose of this rite is to worship the bhootas, who are regarded as the area's protector spirits. Ghosts or spirits are referred to as ‘bhoota’ in Kannada. In order to respect these spirits and enlist their blessings for the welfare of the populace and their society, Bhoota Kola festival is performed.
The Bhoota Kola festival is carried out by professional actors known as ‘bhoota aradhakas’, who don elaborate masks and costumes to represent various bhootas. Music, dancing, and other artistic mediums are used to accentuate the performances. The rites are carried out in public settings like community centres, temples, and other open areas.
While initially stemming from the regions of Udupi and Dakshin Kannada, Bhoota Kola shot to popularity with the widely acclaimed Kannada film, Kantara. Not only did it manage to bring the story of the mysterious forest and the ritual to the limelight, but the film also influenced the state government to provide a monthly allowance to performers over the age of 60. The film also managed to make it big at the Dadasaheb Phalke Awards in 2023.
The top five locations in India to see the Bhoota Kola festival are listed below:
1. Udupi, Karnataka
This coastal town is well-known for its temples, beaches, and cuisine. It is located in the state of Karnataka. In Udupi, there are numerous temples and community centres where the Bhoota Kola festival is done. The months of November through February are the best for travelling to Udupi to see the Bhoota Kola ceremony.
2. Kasaragod, Kerala
The temples, forts, and beaches at Kasaragod, a town in Kerala, are well-known. In Kasaragod, the Bhoota Kola ritual is carried out in a number of temples and community centres. The months of November through February are the ideal times to travel to Kasaragod in order to see the Bhoota Kola festival
3. Mangalore, Karnataka
Another coastal town in Karnataka, Mangalore, is well-known for its culture, beaches, and temples. In Mangalore, the Bhoota Kola festival is carried out in a number of temples and community centres. November through February are the best months to travel to Mangalore to see the Bhoota Kola tradition.
4. Karkala, Karnataka
Karkala is a tiny town in Karnataka's Udupi district. It is a historic town renowned for its extensive cultural legacy and scenic surroundings. The Jain temples at Karkala are renowned for being among the most exquisite in South India. The Chaturmukha Basadi, a Jain temple constructed in the 16th century, is the most well-known temple in Karkala. The temple is a well-liked Jains pilgrimage place and is recognised for its beautiful carvings and sculptures.
Karkala is renowned for its picturesque scenery in addition to its temples. The town is a wonderful location for environment enthusiasts because it is surrounded by verdant hills and forests. The Gomateshwara monument, a 42-foot-tall monolithic statue of Lord Bahubali, is one of Karkala's most visited sights. The statue, which is perched atop a hill, provides stunning vistas of the surroundings. At Karkala, there are numerous temples and community centres where the Bhoota Kola festival is carried out. The months of November through February are the ideal times to travel to Karkala in order to experience the Bhoota Kola festival.
5. Moodabidri, Karnataka
The town of Moodabidri in the Indian state of Karnataka is well-known for its Jain temples and historical significance. At Moodabidri, there are numerous temples and community centres where the Bhoota Kola festival is done. The months of November through February are the ideal times to travel to Moodabidri in order to see the Bhoota Kola festival
Take a flight or train to the closest airport or train station to go to these locations, and then hire a taxi or take a local bus from there. Some of these locations have excellent road connections, and one can choose the self-drive option.
These locations offer a variety of additional activities, such as sightseeing, temple visits, beach activities, adventure sports like trekking, and water sports, in addition to letting visitors observe the Bhoota Kola festival. Explore the regional cuisine and culture of these locations as well.
The Bhoota Kola festival is a distinct and old custom that is still carried out in the coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka. These top 5 locations in India provide a fantastic opportunity to experience this ceremony and learn about the heritage and culture of the area. Plan your visit accordingly and take advantage of this special opportunity.