These are tough times, when there is a big tragedy so close, as seen in Nepal. Wouldn’t it have been first choice for many of us to visit in summer vacations, had it not been for this earthquake! In this modest mood we bring you our choice of top ten ideas for the month of May- first of India’s traditional two months of summer vacations. Many festivals around and a few adventures to boost the adrenaline. Go ahead.
- Escape the heat at Coorg Escapade
A perfect one for those who love fitness and the great outdoors. Organised for the first time in 2014, the Coorg Escapade is set out to be India’s premier outdoor sports festival. Last year the Coorg Escapade was but was restricted to a 10K Trail run. This trail run took runners through coffee plantations, waterfalls and hills. Focus was on ensuring that it was a breathtaking experience for the runners. The encouraging response and positive post event feedback has given organisers the confidence to take this event to a whole new level. Hence comes the India’s first full fledged outdoor sports festival – The Coorg Escapade! This adventure filled and adrenaline charged weekend will see events such as Trail Running, Road Cycling, Mountain Biking, Kayaking and a few more. Almost all events are prize money based and aim is to tap local talent and make it one of the most challenging yet satisfying events in the country. Accompanying the events will be live music, food and a market selling local produce. Participants will be exposed to Coorg culture and hospitality and we hope you will be left wanting more.
When: 2nd-3rd May 2015
2. Ganga Dussehra at Varanasi
Though it is called as Dussehra, it has got nothing to do with traditional Vijayadashami, called as Dussehra commonly. It is called Dussehra as it falls on Dashami (tenth day) of Hindu month of Jyeshtha during the brighter nights.The Ganga Dussehra festival is celebrated to mark the time that the holy Ganges River descended to earth. A large number of pilgrims congregate alongside the holy river, to bathe in it and worship. Ganga Dussehra is also known as Gangavataran which means ‘the descent of the Ganga’. Usually Ganga Dusshra is celebrated one day before Nirjala Ekadashi. Ganga Dussehra is dedicated to Goddess Ganga and this day is commemorated as the day when Ganga was descended to the Earth to accomplish her mission to purge the cursed souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors. On Ganga Dussehra devotees worship Goddess Ganga and take bath in Ganges. Taking bath in Ganges and offering charity. It is widely believed that holy dip in Ganges on Ganga Dussehra day can purge all type of sins. Devotees flock to Allahabad/Prayag, Garhmukteshwar, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Varanasi to take a holy dip. Ganga Dussehra celebrations are legendary in Varanasi. On Ganga Dussehra day thousands of devotees do Ganga Snan and participate in Ganga Aarti at Dasaswamedh Ghat. Ganga Dussehra should not be confused with Ganga Jayanti when the Goddess Ganga was reborn.
When: 28th May 2015
3. Ooty welcomes the summers with flowers
Every May Ooty comes alive with the Summer Festival. The 119th flower show will be celebrated on May 15th 2015, around 200 countries national flowers will be displayed on this year show. Flower show is conducted every year in the mid of may in botanical garden Ooty. In this festival large varieties of flowers are displayed and organised activities like floral arrangements, vegetable carvings, flower rangoli etc.There is separate flower show for roses, held at rose garden.The rose tower is created using large varieties of roses, it is major attractions for flower lovers. This year, the festival at the souther Queen of Hills will start with a two day vegetable show at Kotagiri on May 2-3. There will be a spice show at Gudalur on May 8-9 and a rose show at the Ooty Rose Garden on May 9-10. The flower show at the Ooty Botanical Gardens, which will take place on May 15-17, is particularly stunning. The festival will conclude with a fruit show in Coonoor on May 23-24. Other activities include cultural events, boat racing (scheduled for May 12 on Ooty Lake), and trekking. There is also a Dog show at South of India Kennel Club (SIKC). Ooty Botanical Gardens covers an area of 22 hectares.It is a treasure house of temperate flora, consisting of flowering trees, beautiful shrubs, colourful lilies, bulbous planets, enchanting orchids, curious cacti and succulents, pleasing pteridophytes, breath taking glass house plans and charming annuals with bright colours.
When: 2nd-24th May 2015
4. Buddha Purnima at Bodhgaya
Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima as it falls on the full moon day, celebrates the birthday of Buddha. It’s the most sacred Buddhist festival. Actually Buddha Purnima is day of his birth, his enlightenment and his death as well, making it a very rare day. It’s the most sacred Buddhist festival. Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha. Across all monasteries in India including major Buddhist pilgrim centres like Dharamshala, Sarnath and Bodhgaya and predominantly Buddhist regions such as Sikkim, Ladakh, and Arunachal Pradesh as well. At Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi Temple wears a festive look and is decorated with colorful flags and flowers. Special prayers are organised under the Bodhi Tree (the tree under which Lord Buddha attained enlightenment).
When: 4th May 2015
5. Ultimate cycling challenge of MTB Uttarakhand
Cycling Federation of India in association with Department of Tourism, Government of Uttarakhand is organising an MTB event from 6th to 14th May 2015. This eight day race starts at Nainital on the 7th May 2015 and will finish at Mussorie on the 13th May 2015 covering close to 600 Km. This race probably will be the longest MTB race in Asia and will have a prize money of Rs. 15-20 Lakhs depending upon the participation. This event will have 6 stages, while keeping a day off before the last two legs. It will have a halt at Almora, Gwal dam, Rudra Prayag, New Tihri, Chiryali Sore and finish at Mussorie. The trail for one day will be at Tihri Dam. A valid rider licence is required for the participation in the said MTB event. This will be a yearly event for which a Memorandum of understanding between the Govt. of Uttarakhand and CFI has been signed. The registration for the event will be limited to 90 participants on the first come basis and will be done at the CFI website. No entry fees and boarding lodging & local transportation will be provided by the organizers.
When: 6th-14th May 2015
6. Summer festival at Mount Abu
The only hill station of the Aravali ranges welcomes tourists for the summer with a festival. The summer festival is held every year during the month of May on Budh Poornima. The festival celebrates the warmth and cheerfulness of the people of hill station, who welcome the tourists from the depth of their hearts. Mt. Abu Summer Festival kicks off with ballad singing, followed by regional folk dancing. The festival also offers sports such as boat racing on Nakki Lake, and a roller skating race. It concludes with a fireworks display. The highlight of the festival is the Sham-e-Qawwali musical show, which features some of the most renowned qawwals from various parts of India. The hospitality of the people, their colorful culture and exotic locations made this festival a-never-to-be-forgotten experience. The festival begins with a ceremonial procession, which starts from the RTDC Hotel Shikhar and gather at the Nakki Lake Chowk followed by folk performances of Rajasthan and Gujarat states. The grand finale of the festival display dazzling fireworks. This two day colorful festival is organized by the Rajasthan Tourism, Municipal Board, Mount Abu & District Administration. Both the days of festival are interesting because of various competitions that take place the whole day. Skating Race, skater’s Show, CRPF Band Show, Boat Race, Horse Race, Tug of War, Panihari Matka Race and Deepdan add to the excitement of the celebration.
When: 3rd-4th May 2015
7. Moatsu at Nagaland
Moatsu Festival is celebrated by the Ao tribe of Nagaland. Moatsu is celebrated in the first week of May every year. Various rituals are performed during this period. The Aos observe Moatsü Mong after the sowing is done. The Moatsu festival provides the Aos a period of recreation and entertainment after the stressful work of clearing fields, burning jungles and sowing seeds, cleaning up the Tsubu (Wells) and repairs and construction of houses by elders of the Putu Menden, stretching over a week. This tribal festival is marked by peppy songs and dances. The whole festival with full of merry making and fun is observed only for three days from 1st to 3rd of May. During this festival one of the symbolic celebrations is Sangpangtu, where a big fire is lit and men and women sit around it. Men & women putting on the complete best attire and the womenfolk serve the wine and meat. The natural customary practice of the forefathers was competing in making the best rice-beer and rearing the best possible pigs and cows to be slaughtered during the festival. The women weave the best of traditional garments and adorn themselves with all their finery. They join the men in dancing, eating and drinking and composing warrior songs. Singing songs in praise of the lover and the village as a whole is done and the older men encourage the young people to be bold and heroic to defend and protect them from enemies as head-hunting was practiced during their fore-fathers time.
When: 1st-3rd May 2015
8. Love the nature at Matheran Green Festival
For five days, the lush vehicle-free forest of Matheran will come alive with this green initiative focusing on nature and conservation. In the misty mountains of Matheran’s reserve forest, visionaries, makers and believers from all walks of life are joining hands with the real artist – nature, to create solutions with the common goal of leaving behind a better planet than the one we inherited. Architects, designers, artists, musicians, writers, directors, engineers and scientists will all join together to share their perspectives and contributions through different mediums. These include public art, photography, cultural performances, food, music, poetry and film. In addition, there will be tree planting and more than 50 different workshops. The five day festival will be attended by Musicians and Bands like Neel Sarkar- Composer/ Guitarist, Dr. Benny Prasad- World record holder Musician from Bangalore who’s “world’s most travelled musician” in the world and Riddim Funktion Band (Kolkata). Matheran which means ‘forest on a forehead (of a mountain)’ is a hill station in the Indian State of Maharashtra. It is the smallest hill station in India located in the outskirts of major cities Mumbai & Pune. This is an eco-sensitive region, declared by Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India, is the only automobile-free hill station of Asia.
When: 21st-25th May 2015
9. Belief and adventure at Chardham Yatra
The most popular pilgrimage in India, Chardham yatra has already began in its full swing with the opening of doors of the famous Badrinath temple after a six-month winter break. The doors of Gangotri and Yamunotri shrines were opened for pilgrims on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya; while Kedarnath temple was also opened earlier when even Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi made it here on trek. With all the four shrines located above 10,000 feet in Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, the temple doors remain closed in October-November owing to low temperatures and heavy snowfall, and are reopened in March- April. The pilgrimage season of six months witnesses hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists travelling to Dehradun, Haridwar or Rishikesh for an onward journey to the four shrines, making it the economic backbone of Garhwal region. However, there was a dip in footfall in 2013 following the natural calamity in the region. According to government figures, while the number of tourists visiting the state in 2012 and 2014 stood at 2.84 crore and 2.26 crore respectively, the figures stood at 2.09 crore in 2013.
When: May-September 2015
10. Land a hand, support Nepal
Since long Nepal has been India’s favourite neighbouring destination. A place for many as the first ‘foreign’ trip without a VISA or even a passport. In this time of crisis Nepal needs our support. The first logical reaction to a tragedy like this is of fear and avoidance. But with world crumbling around at this peak of the tourist season, what Nepal needs is to build again. It needs support by any means- physically, economically, psychologically. Himalayan tourism is Nepal’s bread and butter, and it needs people to lend a hand, not turn their face away out of fear.
When: May-June 2015