Why: An exhilarating combination of incredible powder snow and the clear blue sky, Gulmarg is the best place to go long-run skiing and snowboarding in India. Gulmarg is known for its legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar. “We went to Gulmarg in Feb 2015, nice powder snow which was good for skiing, the skiing area is very large and one can learn to ski and have awesome first-time experience of it.” shares HolidayIQ traveller Mannu Singh.
Enjoy the bird’s eye view from ‘Gulmarg Gondola’, which is the highest cable car in the world. “Gondola experience was amazing travelling over hills covered with snow, it feels so awesome from the top station of Gondola that experience can't be described in words.” adds HolidayIQ traveller Govind Babu.
When: December to March
How to get there:
Closest airport - Srinagar
Railway station - Jammu (290 km)
Srinagar-Tangmarg Road - 49.5 km to Gulmarg from Srinagar
Why: The white vastness of the salt marsh that is the Rann of Kutch comes alive during the Rann Utsav. The three-month long festival seeps deeply into the colourful culture and heritage of Gujarat. HolidayIQ traveller Nishith shares “If you are travelling to Bhuj during December to March time frame; you must visit Rann Utsav arranged by Gujarat Tourism. There is tent city created over here in which you can rent a tent. Renting a tent is a little bit expensive, but it's worth if you want to experience a night in the white desert.”
The Utsav is peppered with numerous tents, thriving with a host of activities like camel safaris, horse rides and desert cart rallies. Thronged by locals and tourists, and the rich smell of mouth-watering local cuisine wafting through the air, the Rann Utsav celebrates the enigma and mysticism of Kutch.
When: November to February
Key days: New Year’s Eve, Makar Sankranti (Kite Flying Festival) - 14th Jan, Republic Day 26th Jan, Valentine’s Day 14th Feb and Holi 13th March
How to get there:
Closest airport - Bhuj (220.8 km)
Bhuj to Dholavira - Bhuj - Bhachau highway and GJ SH 51
Closest railway station - Ahmedabad (257 km)
Tip: If you are taking a private vehicle, it's necessary to take permission from the Kutch Tourism office. You also need to register your vehicle and the number of people travelling. Optionally, you can also get an instant permit at Dhordo also.
Why: The Bikaner Camel Festival is dedicated to the tough animals surviving the harsh desert conditions.
The 2-day extravaganza begins with a magnificent procession of bedecked camels against the backdrop of Junagarh fort. Witness these majestic creatures in all their glory, folk dances and music of the region. Rakesh Jha, a HolidayIQ traveller shares, “Bikaner is a sleepy district town in Rajasthan India carrying the history of about 600 years of its existence.”
The first day hosts a camel pageant where the owners show off their camel’s jewelry. There is also a dance performance and camel milking competition. A camel race is held on the second day followed by an obedience test, acrobatics and a competition for the best of the breed.
When: 14th - 15the January 2017 in Ladera, Bikaner
How to get there: The Bikaner Camel Festival is held in the village of Ladera
40kms by road via NH 62 from Bikaner
Closest railway station - Bikaner
Closest airport - Jodhpur airport
Why: An annual festival featuring Bengali folk music, especially baul music, the Poush Mela also offers dancing, tribal sports, and thousands of stalls selling an array of merchandise including handicrafts.
HolidayIQ Traveller Soma Chatterji says, “No one really visits restaurants at Santiniketan during the Poush Mela till the end of the season when winter ends because roadside dhabas and street food takes away the clientele of hotels and restaurants where you can get everything from a traditional Bengal meal of fish curry and rice to Chinese to Mughlai fare including Thai's famous momos and thukpa.”
When: 11th - 14th January 2017
How to get there: The Poush Mela is held in Santiniketan
The nearest railway station - Bolpur just 2 km away
DumDum Airport - the nearest airport from Bolpur-Santiniketan
Why: The Mamallapuram Dance Festival is a celebration of the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu dedicated to the universal dancer Lord Shiva (also known as Lord Nataraja). Hosted against the backdrop of a Pallava rock sculpture, this 4-week long vibrant fiesta of dance features exponents of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, and Kathakali.
Milo Ankha one of HolidayIQ traveller shares her experience of Mahabalipuram. She states, “If you are a lover of architecture, art and love time travelling Mahabalipuram is a place to be. Shore temple, arjuna's penance, the 5 rathas and the lighthouse are really close to each other.”
If you are a lover of the performing arts, there is no way you want to miss this great event.
When: 1st Jan- 15th Feb 2017
How to get there:
Closest airport - Chennai (58 km) via East Coast Road
Railway stations - Chengalpattu (29 km) and Chennai (58 km)
Why: The Jaipur Literature Festival is the world’s largest free literary festival. January marks the start of the 5-day literature gala with authors from all over the world. Nobel laureates and local language writers get together to read, debate and discuss literature at the beautiful Diggi Palace in the Rajasthani capital.
HolidayIQ traveller Ashwini Das talks about her experience of the Pink city. She shares, “Full of royalness and hospitality. The city has good infrastructure and nice hotels. The food is just awesome like Lalo mansh and Rajasthani thali. Local bazaars sell embroidered leather shoes, pottery items, tie and dye scarves and other exotic wares. ”
When: 19th – 23rd January 2017 at Diggi Palace
How to get there:
Jaipur airport - Sanganer town
Closest railway station - Jaipur
Why: Pongal is a 4-day festival that celebrates the dawn of the harvest season in Tamil Nadu. ‘Pongal’ means ‘to boil’ in Tamil and this festival is observed in the month of Thai (January-February).
The first day which is referred as Bhogi is commemorated on the last day of the month of Margazhi to honor Lord Indra (the god of rain). The sun God is worshiped on the second day. On the third day, cattle are honored by bathing and decorating them with multi-colored beads, tinkling bells, sheaves of corn and flower garlands tied around their necks. The last day of Pongal is also known as Kannum Pongal day for thanksgiving to one's family, relatives, and friends for their support.
HolidayIQ traveller Vikash Patel shares, “Some of the important festivals in Tamil Nadu is also celebrated during winter season including 4-day harvest festival Pongal starting from 14th January every year.”
When: 13th - 16th January 2017
How to get there: The best places to experience Pongal are Madurai and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu.
Closest airport - Madurai airport
Railway station - Madurai
Closest airport - Trichy International airport
Railway station - Trichy Junction (58 km)
Why: The Modhera Dance Festival, also known as Uttarardh Mahotsav Modhera Utsav is organized by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL). To venerate and celebrate the classical dance forms in an atmosphere that they were traditionally supposed to be presented in. The gala showcases classical Indian dance forms as well as folk dance and music in the backdrop of the Modhera Sun Temple.
HolidayIQ traveller Abhishek Singh shares, “Modhera is around 100 Kms from Ahmedabad and the road connectivity is good. The temple premises consists of Surya kund, Sabha Mandap and the main temple surrounded by the greenery. The best time to visit is during the Modhera festival in Jan.”
When: 20th - 22nd January 2017
How to get there:
Railway station - Baroda(144 km) from Modhera
Airport - Ahmedabad (102 km) via Ahmedabad - Palanpur Highway Road
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