It’s time to recharge the travel spirit to take on the great Indian summer. Here’s your roadmap to the months of March and April.
When: 4 March – 5 March
The Palakkad based festival is a culmination of grand elephant processions, art forms and brilliant food. Pack your bags for Kerala to submerge in the cultural extravaganza as the Sree Chinakkathoor Bhagavathy Temple comes alive with performances of the Panchavadyam, the traditional Kerala orchestra, and various art forms like vellattu, theyyam, poothanum thirayum, kaalavela, kuthiravela, aandi vedan, karivela and more.
When: 6 March
India’s most colourful festival should be reason enough to book tickets to hot spots like Barsana, Varanasi or even Delhi. Dry and wet colours, bhaang, music and dancing consume the atmosphere on this day. Make a choice between more contemporary Holi parties in the city or head to more traditional grounds to get the real flavour. If you happen to be in Rajasthan, look out for elephant processions on the eve, where the pachyderms are bedecked with ornaments and a dash of try colour.
When: 7 March 20 March
Goa’s answer to Holi, this festival marks the arrival of spring. History suggests the festival started as celebrations when Goan warriors arrived home after months of battle. Some attribute the celebrations to commemorate the arrival of pleasant weather. Expect folk songs and dances, like Ghode Modni and Fugdi, in the interiors.
International Yoga Festival
When: 1 March – 7 March
The first week of March has a more sedated atmosphere where Rishikesh is concerned. The International Yoga festival has been a constant on the town’s calendar for the 16 years. The stepped ghats make for the stunning backdrop for workshops, talks, yoga classes and holistic healing sessions under the guidance of world famous yoga Gurus.
When: 15 March – 24 March
The ten day festival is organized at the Thirunakkara Mahadeva Temple in Kottayam, Kerala. Be prepared to be mesmerised by Kathakali, Mayilattom and other dance performances. The highlight of the festival is the nine-elephant procession. The nights of the festival are equally interesting as the day rituals so don’t retire too early.
Mewar and Gangaur Festivals
When: 22 March – 23 March
Head to Rajasthan for two of the most colourful festivals of the state – Gangaur and Mewar, both celebrated on the same days. Gangaur is a women centric festival focussed on Parvati. Streets of Rajasthan are seen spilling with women dressed in fineries and carrying offerings to the goddess. At the Mewar festival in Udaipur, images of Goddess Gauri are submerged in Lake Pichola, amidst much fanfare.
Konkan Turtle Festival
When: Mid to end March
This event can be counted as a masterstroke from the Maharashtra government. The Konkan Turtle festival engages young environment enthusiasts who would want to see the endangered Olive Ridley turtles come to the shores of the state to lay eggs and the hatchlings make a frantic dash into the sea. Ratnagiri becomes the hub of all activities.
When: 21 March – 22 March
Rajasthan can easily be given the moniker of ‘land of festivals’ in the first few months of the year. The Godwar festival adds to the inventory of festivals that the state has in store. During the event the backdrop of Ranakpur temples is privy to folk dances, musical performances and cultural activities like turban tying, bullock cart rides and a fair.
When: Between 17 March and 22 March
This festival held at the Elankavu Sree Bhagavathy Temple in Vadayar, Kerala sees large replicas of temples are floated on lit up canoes. This out-of-ordinary festival is hardly well known and does not see the deluge of tourists as the other popular festivals. Decorated elephants sway gently as part of the regular processions on this day (22 March). Other elephant focussed festivals like Arattupuzha Pooram (1 April), Kottakkal Pooram (17 March – 22 March) and Guruvayur Anayottam (2 March) are also occasions to see temple elephants bedecked in finery.
When: 28 March
The end of the month is reserved for the wedding of Ram and Sita in all parts of India. The festival is dedicated to the hero of the epic Ramayana. Temples in north India, Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh and Rameswaram see much more momentum than any other part of the country.
Jodhpur Flamenco and Gypsy Festival
When: 3 April – 5 April
Reserve the beginning of April for performances by world famous flamenco and music artistes in the enchanting backdrop of the Mehrangarh fort in Jodhpur. This year’s stellar line up consists of names like Chano Dominguez, Pepe Habichuela, Josemi Carmona, Karen Lugo and Javier Romero.
When: 8 March
Even though April brings in a muggy heat wave in Kerala, the sight of more than 50 decorated elephants at the Kodimoottil Bhagavathy Temple in Kollam is enough to keep any traveller on his toes. The ten-day festival is replete with cultural programmes and several invocations to Goddess Bhadrakali.
When: 1 April – 6 April
The Konyaks of Mon district in Nagaland are considered the fiercest tribe, which continued with the practice of head hunting till as recent as 1960s. The Aoling festival, however, is a celebration of spring when the countryside explodes into green, a perfect time to visit the state. The experience is far removed from the orchestrated touristic festivals; this one urges you to immerse in the local culture.
When: 14 April
A harvest festival, it also commemorates the beginning of the Sikh religion. Folk music, dance, food and fairs make for the carnival like atmosphere. If you want to decide on which part of Punjab to visit, combine this with a trip to Amritsar and witness the celebration at the Golden Temple. If you happen to be in Assam, the Baisakhi equivalent, Bihu, is celebrated with tremendous fanfare in the state.
When: Between 28 April and 29 April
One of Kerala’s most famous elephant festivals it’s held in the Swaraj ground at the Vadakkunnathan Shiva Temple. The close by Bhagavathy and Krishna temples also participate in this. The highlight of the festival is the elephant face-off that happens between the two sides (Bhagavathy and Krishna) at the Shiva temple; midnight fireworks and day long festivities amp up the energy in the air.