Indian cultural tours at its charming best – India is a land of diverse and rich culture! A consummation of energies of more than 3000 years is churning the country today, into a bowl of political, scientific, cultural, humanistic growth; which is an invite to all the people of the world to experience the grace, compassion, struggle, hope, delight of a civilization.
Check out some of the Indian cultural tours at its charming best!
The Desert festival happens in February and comes to end on the full moon day. You could experience the sandcastle and magical castles here; fancy camel rides, camel races, polo matches, turban tying competitions, snake charmers, puppeteers, acrobats, folk performers and fire dancers; plus a folk dance festival.
The Bikaner Camel Festival happens in January and could last for two days. Camels take part in the performances which could include: camel decoration, camel hair cutting, camel dancing and fireworks on the final day.
Pushkar Mela which takes place in November is equally famous which could attract upto 50,000 camels; a space to buy, sell camels and horses. The gathering is a meeting place of people from all over the globe; camel dancing bump riding, neck shaking. The camels are beautifully decorated with paints, jewelry and clothes.
Nagaur Fair which happens in Jan end and early February takes place around at a distance of 137 km from Jodhpur. It is a fair to buy and sell cattle, cows, bullocks, oxen and horses. Competitions like tug-of-war, camel races and cock fights also take place! But, elephant fair is a popular gathering and they are used across kingdoms for travel, warfare and pride, which could last for one day. Like camels, the elephants are groomed, painted, dressed and decked up with jewellery. Wildnest suggests you do a tour to Bikaner Camel Festival, the Desert Festival, Nagaur fair combined with a trip to Ranthambore National Park. Time of the trip could be end Jan and early February. Alternatively, you could come for Pushkar Mela in November and do a Ranthambore National Park tour. Watch out for the Jaipur weather! Also, the city of Jaipur has started with its own TEDX event, which is adding to the cultural exposure to the state; best time of the year to visit India is anytime.
The cultural tour to Rajasthan is a must to do with family.
Let’s take a cultural tour in Mahrashtra.
The state harbours the business capital of the country Mumbai and cities like Aurangabad, Nashik, Pune, Solapur, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Nagpur and Satara on the Maharashtra map. You have to go for the Kumbh Mela at Nashik which happens periodically here. One of the biggest-peaceful-gathering of people on the planet, it is so well organized that MIT Media Lab actually did a study of it in 2015. On this day, Hindus gather to bathe in the holy river, Godavari. You could read on the legends here. The Naga Sadhus are quite a sight to see, naked-covered in ash; a result of years of penance. If you are a religious observer or into religious studies; this is quite a gathering to study. You could also find sects of Hinduism here. But, kindly be cautious with your friends, family and children; take care of your belongings; it being a mass gathering. Follow instructions carefully, check with local help desks. Also, photographers who need to probe a slice of the culture of India, this could be the place! There are Kumbh Melas at other parts of the country also happening, which could also be the best time of the year to visit India!
Kala-Ghoda Festival is also must-must visit tourist spot (a new addition to the arts and culture group of Indian festivals) in Maharashtra. It is a 10 day annual festival held in Mumbai; organized by the Kala Ghoda Association. The festival hosts various events in music, heritage walks, visual arts, literature, workshops, lectures and special events and platform for artists to sell their creation. The festival has taken place in cultural hubs of Mumbai like National Gallery of Modern Art, David Sassoon Library, Elphinstone College, Max Mueller Bhavan and K R Cama Institute. Wildnest suggest you add to your trip to Nashik or attend the Kala-Ghoda Arts Festival in February followed by a trip to Tadoba National Park (very ideal for photography in April) and Flamingo watching at Sewri Jetty, Mumbai and Birding at Karnala Bird Sanctuary. Go to Maharashtra in early season of summer, Indian tourism being one of the best experiences of your life.
Some jamborees in Goa are so popular, that they have come to become a cultural heritage of many generations of people. It has also been a darling of Indian tourism.
Shigmo festival of Goa is one; it depicts the life of a Goan in all its colours. It is also a kind of festival which welcomes the warriors who had left their homes and families and are coming back. Watch out for the costumes of the people with toy-swords. A local dance form Ghode Modni and Fugdi are performed on the streets! A famous dessert of Goa called ‘Bibenca’ is available in shops which you could try!
Sao Joao is a typical Goan festival with the chilling, merry-making, wild flowers, alcohol and jumping into wells, which is celebrated on June 24. On this day, Catholics around the world celebrate the feast of Sao Joao. The merry-making is done to support good monsoons. After praying, breaking of coconuts is common with feni and dancing with fruits decorated crowns. A major tourist attraction is the decoration of boats.
Christmas in Goa is one of the best you could experience. The celebration on the street is flamboyant and telling! Watch out for Santas, children with gifts and Christmas trees. A good thing world be to go to a church for a Christmas carol. The celebration in Goa begins ten day before the day with singing of carols and collection of funds. The funds go to the poor or the diseased. Goa has its own Christmas sweets like neureos, dodol, coconut nest and fruit cake or plum cake.
In the last couple of years, a new dance festival (part of Indian festivals of Dance) has caught up called Goa Contact Festival. Teachers from around the globe come and explore different aspects of dance, improvisation and performing arts. Dance jams take place besides the ocean with live music. The festival deals with the contact improvisation form of contemporary dance. The festival generally happens in January and you need to pre-register. The founder of the festival is Volker Eschmann.
The Shigmo festival takes place in March, Sao Joao in June and the Contact Festival in January. Wildnest suggests if you are coming for any of these festivals combine it with a trip to Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary, Mollem National park and Mhadei wildlife sanctuary; any time of the year.
Goa can always find you more things to do in India and you can make you own best time of the year to India!
A visit to Dussera of Kullu could add quite a unique feature to your India travels; probably due to its legends. The festival begins on the tenth day of the rising moon known as “ Vijay Dashmi” and it could go on for seven days. Legend has it that the Raja Jagat Singh of Himachal desired the jewels of a poor farmer. The peasant did not agree and the Raja in his rage burned the house with the peasant in it. The peasant left a curse which made the king ill. The king wanted to atone for his misdeed and went to a baba. The baba advised him to get the idol of Lord Ragunathji, for which he sent for to Sri Lanka. The idol was installed in Kullu and he drank the holy water which cured him. And, this started the celebration of Dussera in the beautiful Kullu Valley of Himachal. You could also get a chance to buy some Himachali handicrafts. There is also a week long fair held at Dhalpur maidan. Besides this you could also enjoy the folk music and dance (pahari music). India is quite a land to tell stories and you could look for them through your pen or cameras! Himachal also receives snow in the winters; the best time of the year to visit India could also be then.
You could also go to Dharamshala, where the Tibetan Children Village has come to occupy a cultural importance. The village shelters the Tibetan children living in exile and also has a school. The Tibetan parliament is also close by! You will love interacting with the kids who protect their ancestry and it is also known as ‘Mini Lasha’. Enjoy your trip to Himachal!
Countless stories revolve around Lohri festival in Indian films. It celebrates the shortest day of the year. It is based on the story of Dulla Bhatti. Lohri is celebrated also in Delhi but its origin is in Punjab. It marks the start of the harvest season and the longest night of the year in Punjab. A bonfire is lighted and all families come together to celebrate the night! Food items like puffed rice, popcorn, sesame seeds, peanuts and sugar cane are thrown into the fire to receive the blessings of the fire god ‘Agni’. Traditional dishes like sarson da saag (spinach) and makki di roti (flatbread) is served in the feast. The Punjabi dance ‘Bhangra’ is danced to in these festivals. Wildnest suggests in your Punjab Tour , you could go to Kaiser Bagh Park in Amritsar’ Le Corbusier Centre, Butterfly Park, Chandigarh Botanical garden and Nature Park in Chandigarh, Tiger Zoo and Nehru Rose Garden in Ludhiana, Bir Talab Zoo in Bhatinda and Nurpur fort in Pathankot! Yes! Lohri could be the best time of the year to visit Punjab. It’s also celebrated with gusto in the UK, could be counted in top 10 festivals in the world. As you travel take some hygiene precautions, like what water to drink, you could read more here.
Thaipusam a Hindu festival, is also sometimes referred to as the ‘freak show’ with body piercings; yes, it is a part of Indian festivals. it is an occult festival, also celebrated in other Oriental Countries (wherever there is a Tamil population) like Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, South Africa, Guadalupe, Reunion, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Thaipusam is celebrated the day when Parvathi gave birth to Lord Murugan to kill the evil demons. There is a different interpretation of the day too; some say it does not mark the birth of Lord Murugan. Like Pongal, this is also celebrated in the month of January-February. Both the fete happen in January and February, Wildnest suggests you combine it with a trip to Indira Gandhi Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Mukkurti National Park, Kalakuddu Wildlife Sanctuary (Tirunelveli District), Point Calimere, Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel. For some places in Chennai particularly, you could read here. Thaipusm is good make it a best time of the year to visit India and other orient countries for that matter!
Nature has played an immanent role in the shaping of celebration in society, with festivals pirouetting around the harvest of crops, Pongal is another festival in South India. ‘Pongal’ literally means to boil and rice, sugar-cane and turmeric are harvested. It takes place around Mid-January and February. During this festival Tamilians joyfully say “Thai pirandhaal vazhi pirakkum.”
Rann Utsav could be a long-drawn affair of two months! Pack your backpacks to the brim, bring some close friends and discover the pride of India, Gujarat. It takes place on a full moon night. Activities like Horse rides, camel safaris, bird watching, Para motoring, archery, giant chess, net cricket, bicycle tours could be organized. The legendary India artist Amitabh Bachhan says “why people go to the moon when they can see moon here on earth in Kutch during full moon” during the Kutch Utsav. It takes place from November to February. You could book a tent here. On the tents or the small houses you could see “ Kutch ki Karigiri”. You can also witness: traditional lores, puppetry, folk melodies on the desert and ‘shahi shewari’ on a camel! The Kutch brings you to a serene scape, festival of kites, a library, handicraft artistry, memorial to Indian soldiers, and friendship with the locals. You could read Wildnest’s experience here! Wildnest suggests you check out these places in Kutch too: Aina Mahal, Vijay Vilas Palace, Mandvi Beach, Swaminarayan Temple, and Shyamji Krishna Varma Memorial. Gujarat could certainly give you more things to do in India! And feel free to spread Rann Utsav as the top ten festivals in the world.
Yes! Elephants and Indian festivals are calling! Kerela welcomes you to God’s own country. Cities like Kozhikode, Thrissur, Ernakulum, Alappuzha and Kolam dot the map of Kerela. Kerala is quite an unexplored destination in the country gives you space to explore! You have to witness the Indian festival of Onam while you are in Kerela (and your love for masala dosa, butter milk and roasted fish could double.) Onam is celebrated in August-September. It is the harvest season and the fields are full of golden paddy grain. A grand meal, play and dance making takes place on Onam! Some traditional dance forms like Kummattikali, Pulikali and Kathakali are performed. Harvest season is perhaps the best time of the year to visit India. Wildnest suggests you have to go to Kochi, the sea area and the fort and you may also plan to go to Thekkady (Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary), Mangalavanam Bird Sanctuary & Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary, near Kochi. You could be falling for Indian tourism certainly!
If you are taking the Mizoram tour, call yourself lucky as the common language there is English. It is used in education, administration and governance. You could love learning languages, so why not go and learn regional dialects like Hmar, Mara, Lai, Thadou, Paite and Gante (yes, the adjective Incredible India smiles at you!)
The Mizo festival ‘Chapchar Kut’ takes place in the month of March. The literal meaning of the festival is: the trees and bamboos which could be cut are put together for jhumming. You could hear the gongs and the Assam rifles. In the festival each villager has a role to play.
“Chapchar Kut has come to be a very important medium through which we could express to the world outside that the Mizos all over the world remain united and that it shall remain so. No matter where in the world we live or to which ethnic tribes of the Mizos we belong to, we should never allow economic, cultural and religious differences do us apart,” says the Chief Minister Zoranthanga. Wait till you have witnessed the bamboo dance, Khullam, Chheihlam, Chai and Sarlamkai. It reminds you of Karl Drogo of Games of Thrones.
Mim Kut seeks to invoke the dead souls and placate them.In the process to placate the dead souls, offerings of vegetables, maize, bread and necklaces are made. Bread lunch is served profusely! Rice beer, singing and ballads are part of the festival! It is celebrated in the month of August and September. An offshoot of the festival is also celebrated in Singapore! Wildnest highly recommends these two!
Pawl Kut, which could be celebrated in the month of December, thanks God for his blessings and a rich harvest. Drinking, singing and hunting form a normal part of the celebration. Wildest suggest if you are coming for any of these festivals; combine it with a trip to Phawngpui, Dampa Tiger Reserve and Murlen National Park. Get out your scribbling pad and cameras, and keep travelling! Anytime is the best time of the year to visit India!
Shad Suk Mynsiem means the “the dance of the joyful soul”. It is a dance of the Khasis which takes place in Meghalaya in the month of April. The festival is about fertility and the woman bears the seed and men are the cultivators. A dance takes place on the ground and the young girls hold a handkerchief showing virginity. One restriction of this festival is that only unmarried women can take part in it. Wildnest suggests besides coming to this festival do a trip to Balphakram National Park, Nokrek Ridge National Park, Baghmara Pitcher Plant Wildlife Sanctuary, Nongkhyllem Wildlife and Siju Wildlife Sanctuary. Indian Tourism could show you something new in every state; a museum of cultural diversity! (another part of Indian festivals). To get a better understanding of the topography of the state, you could look here.
Nagaland is such a culturally active state that the life revolves around fairs and festivals.
Display of colour, feast of music, agriculture mark Tsungrem Mong festival. Thanks are offered to the Supreme Lord for the good yield of crops. It comes in the month of August and the Ao tribe celebrates it with gusto. Wildnest suggests when you come for the festival, combine your trip with a visit to the Nagaland Zoological Park, Pulie Badze Sanctuary, Ghosu Bird Sanctuary, Fakim Wildlife Sanctuary and Intanki National Park. (A tip for the traveller, the north east is such an unexplored destination, you could get awesome content for photograph and art there; Indian tourism at its unexplored best) A festival like Tsungrem Mong is incredible India, could be top 10 festivals in the world.
You need to go to the Sonepur Cattle Fair in the state, which witnesses a gathering of birds and cattle from all parts of the country. It’s also a good place for photography in the melee of trade! You could also pick up some wares in the fair and the folk dance, about which the BBC seems to have remarked “there’s nothing like the Sonepur Cabaret.” Come here early morning!
In the rainy season, there is a huge chance of a snake bite. The people appease the snake bite through celebrating this festival at Rajgir. It’s unique to the state!
The festival takes place in the month of September, where people come for the Shraddha ritual. The preparations take place for the Vedic Shraddha ceremonies or the Pindan, a ritual for the departed soul. The tradition could be traced to the time of the Buddha! Do go for these festivals!
Yesterday was the birthday of the poet Kahlin Gibran from Lebanon, who says: “I was eighteen years of age when love opened my eyes with its magic rays and touched my spirit for the first time with its fiery fingers, and Selma Karamy was the first woman who awakened my spirit with her beauty and led me into the garden of high affection, where days pass like dreams and nights like weddings.” A tour to Jammu and Kashmir could certainly make your days pass like dreams and nights like weddings!
The idyllic Ladakh hosts the Losar carnival one of the most important festival of Tibetan Buddhists; It is one such cultural tour that celebrates the Tibetan New Year. The festival witnesses a huge quantity of incense being burnt which are used in gratification to the local deities, spirits and protectors. The festival is celebrated keeping in mind the rule of the King Jamyang Namgyal’s mythology. Dance, music and merry-making take place. The local people visit the monasteries and stupas during Losar, do go for this festival; incredible Jammu! Wildnest suggests besides going to the festival you could take a peek at some wildlife sanctuaries too: Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary, Limber Wildlife Sanctuary, Lachipora Wildlife Sanctuary, Overa – Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary. Have an amazing stay in Ladakh and tell us about it! Best time of the year to visit India could be during the Losar Festival
In its attempt to promote Wildlife, Wildnest encourages you to understand the wildlife behavior and ecology too; during your photo safaris. The ecology should not be disturbed at any cost!