World through my eyes
This is culmination of one of the holiest month of the year- Kartik. There are number of festivals- including some world-famous ones on and around Kartik Purnima (full moon day). That also makes it one of the best months to travel. Weather generally remains clear and winter is yet to make some ground. Many people even like to travel to hills during this month to have some good views of snow-clad peaks in blue skies. For those who want a pretext, here is a list of top 10 travel moments of the month of November
The charm of Pushkar
The Pushkar Cattle Fair is one of the largest in India and the only one of its kind in the entire world. During the fair, Lakhs of people from rural India flock to Pushkar, along with camel and cattle for several days of livestock trading, horse dealing, pilgrimage and religious festival. This small town, becomes a cultural phenomenon when colourfully dressed devotees, musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, traders, comedians, ‘sadhus’ and tourists reach here during Pushkar fair. According to Hindu chronology, it takes place in the month of Kartika (October or November) beginning on ‘ashtmi’ 8th day of Lunar Calendar and continues till full moon (‘Poornima’). The camel and cattle trading is at its peak during the first half of festival period. During the later half, religious activities dominate the scenario. Devotees take dips in the holy “Sarovar” lake, as the sacred water is known to bestow salvation. This small town is transformed into a spectacular fair ground, as rows of make shift stalls display an entire range of objects of art to daily utility stuff. Decoration items for cattle, camel and women, everything is sold together. Small handicraft items are the best bargain for buying souvenirs. The camel and horse races have crowds to cheer. Camel judging competitions are quite popular with animal lovers. Each evening brings different folk dances and music of Rajasthan, performers delivering live shows to the roaring and applauding crowds. Pushkar fair has its own magic and it’s a lifetime experience for travellers. It has featured in numbers of travel shows, films and magazines. According to the Lonely Planet: “It’s truly a feast for the eyes. If you are any where within striking distance at the time, it’s an event not to be missed.”
Date: 18th to 25th November 2015
Getting there: By Air, nearest airport is Jaipur, which is connected with major cities. A newly built air strip at Kishangarh can cater to small charter flights. Helipad at Ghooghra (Ajmer) and Devnagar (Pushkar) can cater to clients travelling by helicopter. Ajmer is well connected by Rail to all important cities. Pushkar is just 13 kms away from Ajmer. Ajmer is also well connected to important cities of Rajasthan and country through roads and is on Delhi-Mumbai National highway no 8.
Dev Deepawali at Varanasi
Ganga mahotsav is a festival only once of its kind, certainly doubles the attraction of this city of temples, Ghats and traditions. As classical music fills the atmosphere, a mystique seems to envelop the environs awating a mood both celestial and soulful. The classical music rendered by maestros indeed imparts an unforgettable flavour. The attraction of the five-day-long Ganga Mahotsav is its message of faith and culture, that increase with the daily Shilp Mela and the unique Dev Deepawali with innumerable ‘Diyas’ or earthen lamps in chain, lit by devotees and which floating down the river on the full moon night of Kartik, a spectacle both mystical and heart winning. Thus, on the final day (Poornima), which coincides with the traditional Dev Deepawali (light festival of the Gods), the ghats on the Ganga River glitter with more than a million lit-up earthen lamps. It is believed that Ganga nourishes the Varanasi civilization for long and it has been a great religious importance in the Hindu society. It provides the people a great sense of different identity and belonging. For the religious and cultural beliefs of the people to the River Ganges, a festival of Ganga Mahotsav is organized every year. People at Varanasi celebrate Ganga Mahotsav continuously for 5 days at the banks of the River Gange. The trend of celebrating the Ganga Mahotsav in the Holy city of India, Varanasi, tends to keep the importance of the Varanasi as a cultural, religious and traditional capital of the India. At this occasion, pilgrims celebrate the event by performing an Indian classical style music and dance. It provides an immense chance for tourists to see the real presentation of the Indian classical dance and music. Many of the great personalities of India have participated and performed their enchanting performances at the Ganga Mahotsav such as Ustad Bismillah Khan, Bal Murli Krishnan, Vilayat Khan, Pundit Chhanulal Misra, Birju Maharaj, Girija Devi, Sujat Khan, Bhimsen Joshi, Amjad Ali Khan, Zila Khan and Zakir Hussein. This festival attracts pilgrims and tourists from all the corners of the world.
Date: 25th November 2015
Getting there: Varanasi is accessible by all means- air, road and train. It has an airport with daily flights from Delhi. It is also on main Delhi-Howrah rail line. Road connectivity to all nearby cities- Allahabad, Lucknow or Patna is also very good.
Tradition through the Ages at Sonepur
The annual Sonepur Fair in Bihar is an authentic rural fair that combines spirituality with elephant, cattle, and horse trading. It gets underway on the auspicious Hindu holy occasion of Kartik Purnima, when pilgrims take an early morning bath in the river, and continues for around three weeks. Street magicians, spiritual gurus, snack stalls, handicrafts, amusement rides, circus performers, and theater all create a carnival like no other. Apparently, the Sonepur Fair has ancient origins back to the rule of India’s first Emperor Chandragupta Maurya, who used to buy elephants and horses from it for his army. The Fair also commemorates the intervention of Lord Vishnu to end a great curse and long fight between elephant and crocodile in Hindu mythology. The elephant was saved, after bathing in the river and being attacked by the crocodile, by Lord Vishnu. Originally, the venue of the fair was Hajipur and only the performance of the puja used to take place at the Harihar Nath temple of Sonepur. However, under the rule of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the venue of the fair got shifted to Sonepur. The temple of Harihar Nath is believed to have been originally built by Lord Rama, on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of Mata Sita. It is further said that Raja Man Singh later got the temple repaired. The Harihar Nath temple, as it stands today, was built by Raja Ram Narain, an influential person during the late Mughal period. Since Sonepur is situated at the convergence of the sacred rivers Ganges and Gandak, the Hindus regard it as a holy site. One of the purposes of the people visiting the Sonepur Cattle Fair, apart from the fair, is to take a holy dip at the convergence and pay respects at the Hariharnath Temple. Traditionally known as a cattle fair, while still wonderfully off the beaten path, the Sonepur Fair now has a more commercial focus with the aim of attracting both domestic and international tourists. In order to facilitate this, Bihar Tourism took over its organization, including tourist accommodations, in 2012. A new leaf in famous Harihar Kshetra Sonepur fair chapter has been added this year as the organizing committee has opened an account on Facebook for circulation of its events. The fair is scheduled to be inaugurated on November 4 and will be officially declared closed on December 4. While the Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan is famous for its camels, it’s the elephants that are the star attraction at the Sonepur Fair. They’re decorated and lined up on display in rows in an area known as the Haathi Bazaar (Elephant Market), and reportedly even raced. The special thing about it is that you can go up to the elephants and touch them, and even feed them.
Date: 25th November to 10th December 2015
Getting there: Sonepur is easily accessible by Roadways and Railways. Moreover, it is only 25 kilometers from Bihar’s Capital Patna, which is well connected by Airways, Railways and Roadways to the other parts of the country. During the time of Fair, BSTDC also organizes Ferries from Patna to Sonepur.
Celebration of culture at Majuli
Majuli, the largest riverine island in the world, nestles in the lap of the mightly Brahmaputra. This is where the 15th century saint and fountain head of Assamese culture, Sankardeva, first established a Satra or neo-Vaishnavite monastery, born of insightful discourses with his spiritual successor, Madhabdeva. Its spans about 1,250 square kilometers but is gradually losing its terrain due to soil erosion and now only has an area of 421.65 square kilometers. Majuli is shrinking further as the vast Brahmaputra keeps getting bigger. The island is formed by the Brahmaputra river in the south and the Kherkutia Xuti river (a branch of the Brahmaputra), joined by the Subansiri River in the north. The island is about 200 kilometers east from the state’s largest city, Guwahati. Majuli is enveloped in lush greenery and the flora, fauna and the natural scenery found there is breathtaking. The Majuli festival is one of the most popular festivals and is celebrated on the picturesque banks of the river Luit situated 1.5 kilometers from Garamur, the sub divisional head quarter of the island. It is celebrated during the month of November keeping in mind the climatic conditions of the region. The celebration takes place for 4 continuous days. The Majuli festival is an enlightening celebration where various the cultural aspects of the different communities living there are revealed and honored. This is the one place where the artists of such different communities gather to celebrate their unity amongst this diverse gathering. On this day, they put aside their differences and hardships in their life, share their love for music, dance, arts, crafts and food. Elaborate events are organized on this day and people from these various tribes living in India and all over the world congregate to celebrate their heritage and culture. Rasleela is also a three day festival held usually in mid-November. It celebrates the legendary love of Radha and Krishna and the devotion of the gopis to Krishna.
Date: 21st to 24th November 2015
Getting there: Majuli is 20 kms fom Jorhat town. Buses ply regularly from Jorhat town to Neamati Steamer Ghat, the main ferry boarding point for Majuli. The entire journey takes about three hours, involving a half hour bus ride to Neamati Ghat, which has a few tourist information booths, lodging facilities and food stalls catering to transiting ferry-goers, and ferry ride to the southern tip of Majuli island. Though Jorhat remains the principal entry point, Majuli can be approached through Lakhimpur on the north and Dibrugarh on the east.
Revived Kalidas Festival at Ramtek
After being discontinued in 2010, the much awaited Kalidas Samaroh is all set to be revived this year. Kalidas was a great Sanskrit poet and dramatist, famous for his historical drama, Shakuntalam, and for the epic poem, Meghdoot. The Kalidas Festival brings back memories of the golden period of the Vidarbha region. Ramgiri, or Ramtek as it is popularly known today, is the place that inspired Kalidas and its beauty features predominantly in his literary work. Every year, in November, some of the greatest exponents of music, dance and drama perform in the picturesque setting of Ramtek, celebrating its glorious heritage over two exciting days and nights. The festival aims to recall the golden period of Vidarbha region. The celebration of Kalidas Festival is a tribute to Kalidas and his eternal contribution to the field of poetry. The Kalidas festival is packed with stupendous performances of some of the most recognized artists in the field of dance, music and drama, celebrating the rich heritage of the serene Ramtek town. There are also luminous performances by theatre artists to further add enthuses to the festival. Kalidas Festival also endeavors to promote the Vidarbha region and its rich legacy throughout India and world wide. In this year’s inaugural ceremony on 20th November there will be a dance drama on Kalidas’s Meghdootam by Prabha Deuskar and troupe, Nagpur; Marathi play Eka Gurakhyache Mahakavya presented by Aneeha theatre group, Mumbai and Meghdoot concert presented by Pt Rakesh Chaurasia (flute), Pt Vijay Ghate (tabla), Pt Ravi Chari (sitar) and Pt Bhavani Shankar (pakhawaj). In the concluding ceremony on 23rd there will be Kathak performance by Yasmin Singh, Raipur; Sarod recital by Aman and Ayan Ali Khan Bangash; Bharatanatyam by Sucheta Bhide Chapekar and Hindustani classical vocal by Pt Ulhas and Sameehan Kashalkar.
Date: 20th to 23rd November 2015
Getting there: Ramtek is one of the important pilgrim centres and tourist attractions of Maharashtra State. It has both mythological and historic importance. It is about 45 kms from Nagpur and is well connected by road and rail. Nagpur has direct flights from all major big airports. Trains ply on a regular basis between Ramtek and Nagpur.
Spirituality at Puri Beach
Puri Beach Festival is held on a beautiful Sea Beach of Puri i.e. the citadel of all religious culture. This festival is a celebrated with all beauteous and splendid Oriya spirit. This year it is going to be celebrated from 23rd to 27th of November and it is all set to bedazzle the art lover across the world. This Beach Festival has gained enough popularity as tourists from all over the World gather here during the Festival. This is a perfect opportunity for the visitors to interact with people from varied race and creed to understand their culture. A large number of attractive and entertaining events by the great artists of different parts of the country are performed here for the visitors. Fashion shows, exhibitions, cultural programs and delicious cuisine form a part of this colourful festival. This is the best platform to showcase talent for the local people and for magnanimous spectacles from the other parts of the Country. While on a visit to Orissa, the Beach Festival is the most enchanting experience of all. Right from cultural performances to beach fun, the whole holiday package offers a lot for every age group. The festival is not only popular among the domestic tourists but also famous among the International tourists who come to feel the true essence of Orissa. The Puri Beach Festival unveils the rich cultural History of Orissa to the tourists. It is a secular festival and does not bear any religious colour. People from various background and culture together can enjoy the festive mood of this grand occasion. Different cultural shows take place including traditional dance, music, performing arts etc. The local stalls display intricate handicrafts and hand woven items like Saris, Shawls, Fabrics, Bamboo Baskets and Filigree Works etc. A variety of sports such as Beach kabadi by girls, Country Boat Race among the Nolias (Local Fisherman Folk of Puri), Kick-Boxing, Karate, Indian style of Wrestling, Beach Volley Ball by both boys and girls, Fire Banati and Malkhamb are some of the attractions which would keep both the domestic and the foreign tourists busy and enchanted all through the 5 days of the festival. This feast for the fun lovers at the city is conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (Orissa) (HRAO), co-sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha (Orissa), Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, Calcutta. Being a festival of various classical and folk dances of India, this festival offers a unique opportunity to the visitors to interact with the local populace and enjoy the bountiful charms of Odisha (Orissa).
Date: 23rd to 27th November 2015
Getting there: Nearest airport for Puri is Biju Pattnaik Airport located 60 kms from Puri in Bhubaneshwar with flights from all major cities in countries. Puri is well connected through Railway network to the different cities of India. From Bhubaneshwar it is a 60 kms drive on State National Highway 203.
Chandrabhaga Fair, Jhalrapatan
The Chandrabhaga fair is held every year at Jhalrapatan (6 kms from Jhalawar) in the month of Kartik (October-November). The River Chadrabhaga runs here and is considered holy by the people residing in this part of Rajasthan. On the full moon night of ‘Kartik Purnima’, thousands of pilgrims take a holy dip in the river. The fair, held on the last day of Kartik, attracts devotees who bathe in the holy waters at this spot which is known as Chandravati. A big cattle fair which blends religion with commerce is held here. Livestock like cows, horses, buffaloes, camels and bullocks are brought from distant parts for sale. Traders from various parts of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra converge here and brisk trading takes place. The fair provides an opportunity for the tourists to acquaint themselves with the people of this region and their rituals and traditions.
Date: 24th to 26th November 2015
Getting there: Ramganj Mandi is the nearest Major Railway Station (25kms), however local train between Kota and Jhalawar also available at Jhalawar railway station. Jhalawar is well connected to Kota, Bundi and Jaipur. National Highway No.12 passes through Jhalawar. Buses are available from all major cities.
A carnival for city beautiful
The City Beautiful- Chandigarh is among the few Indian cities to have their own city carnival. For three days every November city is turned into a stage for fun and frolic. The stage is set for the another Chandigarh carnival at Leisure valley. Every year this carnival has a special theme. There are comedy shows, musical shows and rides. For music buffs, two mega-musical nights are held by renowned Bollywood singers and Punjabi artists are something to look forward to. The fair marks a highly innovative step taken by the Chandigarh administration that has over the years been a great promoter and contributor towards exposing and exhibiting the talent breeding in the city. An elaborate food court will take care of the visitors’ taste buds. Last year the theme was science fiction which drew a large crowd. Apart from Souvenir Shop and Le-Corbusier Centre, Vintage Car exhibition at Museum and Art Gallery are also a part of the Chandigarh Carnival. To give it a carnival feel, a parade is also held on the streets of the metro. The beats of Bhangra and Giddha force a many to shake their legs. A fun to be in the city on those days. All the three days of the Carnival are well planned and packed with numerous activities. Numerous competitions, events are present for every generation and taste of people. Over the years the carnival has become so popular that viewers come from far and wide to witness this mega event.
Date: 28th to 30th November 2015
Getting there: Chandigarh is one of the most important cities of north India, hence it has a high speed connectivity to other cities through road and train network. It has also got an airport which connects it through to major airports with direct daily flights.
Celebration of culture of Awadh
Lucknow Mahotsava is a celebration of the Awadh culture (the culture of Lucknow of the yesteryears). The festival is organized by the state government and continues for ten days. Colorful processions, traditional dramas, kathak dances in the style of the famous Lucknow gharana, sarangi and sitar recitals along with ghazals, qawalis, and thumri are the prime attractions of this festival. The Fascinating city of Lucknow has ever been associated with a rich tradition of hospitality, exotic cuisine and architectural grandeur. Lucknow attained unparalleled heights of excellence in art, craft and culture during the period of Nawabs. Lucknow Mahotsava is organized every year in the month of November / December to showcase the rich cultural heritage of Lucknow. Mahotsava provides an opportunity to hundreds of awarded artisans from more than 20 states of India to display their exquisite handicrafts. The Mahotsava also provides a platform to upcoming talented artists and venue for sportsmen to revive traditional sports and events like Kite competition, Ekka Tanga race, Vintage Car rally etc. Highlight of this year’s festival will be performance by Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali whose concert at Mumbai last month was cancelled last month because of protest from Shiv Sena.
The opening ceremony of this year’s Lucknow Mahotsava (on November 25) is all set to witness Sarod maestro Amzad Ali Khan along with his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali. Comedians Ali Asgar and Sunil Grover will perform as their television characters of Daadi and Gutthi on November 26. The group ‘Meet Brothers’ will perform during Punjabi night on December 1 while playback singer Sonu Nigam will perform on December 4 for Bollywood night. Classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj and Kathak dancer Pandit Jai Kishan will perform on the concluding night on December 5.
Date: 25th November to 6th December 2015
Getting there: Lucknow, being the capital of India’s largest state, is one of the most important cities of north India, hence it has good connectivity to other cities through road and train network. It has also got an airport which connects it through to major airports with direct daily flights.
Guru Purab at Golden temple
All those who can’t go to Nankana Sahib in Pakistan to pay homage to Guru Nanak at his place of birth, may still find solace at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The birthday of Guru Nanak Sahib- the founder of Sikhism- falls on Kartik Purnima (i.e. full moon day of month of Kartik in Hindu calender) and is celebrated with great enthusiasm by the Sikhs throughout the world as Guru Purab. This day is widely celebrated throughout Punjab but especially so at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the main shrine of the Sikhs. This is one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. Apart from Sikhs, Hindus and other followers of Guru Nanak’s philosophy also celebrate this festival. The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurab (or Gurpurb), are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs. The celebration is generally similar for all Gurpurabs; only the hymns are different. The celebrations usually commence with Prabhat Pheris. Prabhat Pheris are early morning processions that begin at the Gurudwaras and proceed around the localities singing hymns. Generally two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurdwaras. The day prior to the birthday, a procession, referred to as Nagarkirtan, is organised. This procession is led by the Panj Pyaras. They head the procession carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Guru Granth Sahib. They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns and devotees sing the chorus. There are brass bands playing different tunes and ‘Gatka’ teams display their swordmanship through various martial arts and as mock battles using traditional weapons. The procession pours into the streets of the town. The passage is covered with banners and gates decorated flags and flowers, for this special occasion. The leaders spreading the message of Guru Nanak.
Date: 25th November 2015
Getting there: Amritsar is one of the most important cities of north India, hence it has a high speed connectivity to other cities through road and train network. It has also got an airport which connects it through to major airports with direct daily flights.