This post is couple of days or more late, but still worth perhaps. Its the Monsoon time. Kerala will be receiving it in a few days, although it is already late by a week. Rest of India will be patiently waiting for its turn sweltering in humid heat until then. But it is still the vacation time for the most parts of India and hill stations will be packed of tourists. Besides the routine trips, have a look at the some of the other ideas for travel this month that I can recollect.
1. Boat race season kicks off at Champakkulam
The snake boat race of Kerala or the vallamkali (boat race) is not just an event that lasts for a few hours or a day. Rather, it is a phenomenon the impact of which will last for a lifetime. In Kerala, the season of boat races starts with the famous Champakkulam Moolam Vallam Kali. The festival takes place on the placid waters of River Pamba at Champakkulam, a serene village in Alappuzha district. It is held on the moolam asterism in the Malayalam month of mithunam (roughly June/July). Since it is by far the largest sporting event in the world, the snake boat race is often considered to be the ultimate test of endurance, strength, speed and skill. On the day of the race, people, both locals and travellers from far and near flock to the river bank to enjoy the race. As the sun comes straight on top of all gathered, boats in various categories like the chundan (snake boat), veppu, iruttu kuthi, churulan and others from nearby regions assemble at the starting point of the race. Among these boats, the snake boats with its fascinating design are the cynosure of all eyes. The largest team sport in the world, the sheer grandeur of the vallamkali and the regal bearing of each of the mammoth snake boats need to be witnessed firsthand to be understood.
When: 20th June 2016
Getting there: Nearest railway station is Alapuzha, about 17 km, while nearest airport is Cochin International Airport, about 85 km from Alapuzha town
2. Ambubachi Mela, Kamakhya
Very popular annual festival of the Kamakhya temple in Guwahati. But it is unusual too. In this annual festival the temple remains closed for three days because these are the days of annual menstruation period of goddess Kamakhya. On these three days devotees neither worship nor read holy books. even farmers do not plough the land. Temple reopens on the fourth day, with a rush of devotees who come to receive bits of cloth that are supposedly soaked with her menstrual fluid. It’s considered to be extremely auspicious and powerful. One of the 52 shakti peeths, Kamakhya temple is also known for its tantric rituals. This particular festival is considered to be the haven for that. Devotees come from far off places to meet the Tantric Sadhus and take their blessings.
When: 22-25 June 2016
Where: Kamakhya Temple, Guwahati, Assam
3. Celebration of Indus at Sindhu Darshan
As the name suggests, the Sindhu Darshan festival is a celebration of River Sindhu or Indus. It’s one of the world’s longest rivers, and gave India its name. Not an old festival though, this started as a political statement and then slowly converted itself into a cultural event. It was first started in the October, 1997 and continues to be held every year since then, attracting large number of foreign as well domestic tourists. This is the time, when holiday season starts in Ladakh region. Festival adds to that. The festival aims to project the Sindhu as a symbol of multi-dimensional cultural identity, communal harmony, and peaceful co-existence in India. It promises a kaleidoscope of Indian culture and an exciting array of performing arts. This year, it would be the 20th Sindhu Darshan festival.
When: 23-26 June 2016
Where: On the banks of the river Sindhu, Leh, Ladakh
4. Summer Festival, Shimla
Shimla is of course one of the India’s all time favourite hill stations. At a time when the holiday season is at its peak, there is a big festival to keep tourists in high spirits. This renowned event has been held regularly in Shimla since the 1960s. It features musical performances, some from famous singers, food and fashion. Plenty of local handicrafts are on sale too. The entire stretch of the Ridge road in Shimla comes alive with a riot of colors and a flurry of events like fashion shows, flower exhibitions, a sporting event for children and adults alike and a photography competition, among others. What sets the festival apart is its heartfelt dedication to showcasing the folk culture of the place.
When: 1-9 June 2016
Where: Mall road, Shimla
5. 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: 14th June 2016
Where: Ghats of Ganges, Varanasi
6. Holy month of Ramadan
Holiest month for the muslim community world over. The ninth month of the Muslim calendar is known as “Ramadan” and is a time of fasting and prayer throughout the Islamic world. This month-long fast is done to commemorate what, according to Muslims, was the first Quranic revelation to Muhammad, and its observance is one of the Five Pillars of Islam- a list of the great deeds every Muslim ought do in his life to secure salvation. he month of Ramadan lasts 29 or 30 days, depending on the year, and its beginning date is based on local moon sightings. The “Iftar” is the time of breaking the fast, and it occurs right after the evening call to prayer. Since people fast all day, family and friends eat late-night meals during Ramadan. Non-Muslims can sometimes participate in these meals, and there will often be big street tents near mosques where free food is given out to the needy during Ramadan. Traditionally, Eid El Fitr marks the celebrations at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
When: Starts 6th June 2016
7. Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist
Catholics across the world celebrate the Feast of St John the Baptist on June 24. This day, they believe, John kicked around in his mother’s womb when Mary was visiting because he knew Jesus was going to be born soon after him and wanted to indicate how happy he was. Only in Goa do they celebrate by jumping into wells. Its for all those who love feni. The most popular festival in Goa, Sao Joao (the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist), involves the interesting feat of men jumping into overflowing village wells to retrieve bottles of local feni alcohol. People break coconuts after praying, down feni in liberal quantities, and jump into the closest water body they can find. The artistically inclined make crowns of fresh fruit and wildflowers and one large garland for the local cross. There are also boat races, and singing and dancing. this one is made especially for the newlyweds. The festival involves the husbands getting drunk on the local feni alcohol and jumping into wells to impress their wives, adorning floral wreaths on their heads. The festivities take on a more surreal outlook if it rains while the ceremonies are still underway, which it often does. People revel in delectable food and music while witnessing one of the most quirky and eccentric, yet interesting round of celebrations in the coastal state.
When: 24th June 2016
8. Pratap Jayanti in Mewar
Maharana Pratap (1568-1597 C.E.) was a Hindu Rajput King of Mewar in Rajasthan. Maharana Pratap belonged to the Sisodiya clan of Rajputs. He is revered and worshipped by many royal families in Rajasthan for his bravery and courage.Maharana Pratap is always held in very high esteem by the whole Mewar region. His birth anniversary (Maharana Pratap Jayanti) is celebrated as a full-fledged festival every year on the 3rd day of the Jyestha Shukla phase. The birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap is celebrated as per Hindu calendar. Maharana Pratap Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) is always celebrated with great enthusiasm in Udaipur and all places associated with Pratap such as Gounda, Chittorgarh and Kumbhalgarh. Actually, there are many historical places attached with Maharana Pratap’s life and death. Haldighati, Gogunda, Khamnour, Udaipur, Aravali etc. Every place has its own importance in Pratap’s life but Gogunda is the place where the historical Raj-Tilak (coronation) of Maharana Pratap was done. It means a lot to the followers of Pratap and even for historians. Gogunda, situated nearly 20 kms far from Udaipur is a place known for its dense tribal belt (kotra). Tribal in Mewar majorly come from bhil/garasia tribe and they have a close relation with the great Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap. A good time to visit Udaipur and share some of the history of the land.
When: 7th June 2016
Where: Gogunda, 20 kms from Udaipur,
9. Kundalini Shakti Festival, Kasol
Kasol is located in picturesque Parvati valley in Himachal Pradesh. Off late Kasol has gained some reputation for particular festivals. Kundalini Shakti Festival is one of them. With a growing inclination among tourists towards Indian spirituality, this is turning out to be an event to watch. This is one not to miss for psy-trance lovers! The lineup features more than 40 local and international artists spread over four days. There will be stalls as well. Well, the organisers say, “the kundalini shakti is the life force; it is the essential energy of existence. It is the hidden ingredient in life. It is what makes it all work.If you take the time to bring the light of the supra-conscious into your being, then automatically all blockages will go away. These are just ways of talking, there are no blockages, schematically.So let’s join this kundalini shakti festival to open your kundalini and generated through cultivating humility, purity, through meditation, selfless giving, and by studying with an advanced teacher on a personal level”. Interested! But remember, its not free. You need to buy tickets or have some passes.
When: 9-12 June 2016
Where: Kasol (Bhuntar-Manikaran road), Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
10. Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul or Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a liturgical feast in honour of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient origin, the date selected being the anniversary either of their death or of the translation of their relics. Goa celebrates this festival with religious fervour. The tradition of Sangodd is also seen in the Christian festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul held on June 29 every year, by the fishing community particularly in Bardez taluka. The fishermen in the villages along the northern coast of Goa celebrate the festival in the monsoon. They tie their boats together to form rafts which serve as makeshift stages. On this stages miniature models of chapels or churches are erected. After a church service in the morning and a large feast, the festival of Sangodd is held. Tiatrs (local drama theatre), folk dances and music are performed before an audience who watch from the banks of the river. The Sangodd in the villages of Candolim and Sinquerim are well known. Here the rafts carrying the models slowly make their way down the river up to the Chapel of St. Peter. At each stop, firecrackers are set off and the entertainment on the stage begins. The origin of this celebration is unique to Goa. It is the celebration of the fisher folk community because St. Peter was a fisherman.
When: 29th June 2016