It’s an autumn fest in October as we are set to welcome the festive season. Bringing some respite from the rains and heat, this month proves to be perfectly pleasant for travellers. Keeping in mind the weather conditions and the season for activities, here is a list of places you can plan for your October vacation.
The village of Bir, between Palampur and Jogindernagar, is internationally famous as the base for some of the best paragliding in the world. The take-off point at Billing, 14km up a winding road from Bir and 1000m higher, hosts major competitive flying events most years in October or November (including a round of the Paragliding World Cup in 2015). Experienced paragliders fly as far as Dharamsala, Mandi and Manali from here.
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The magnificent ruins of Hampi dot an unearthly landscape that has captivated travellers for centuries. Heaps of giant boulders perch precariously over kilometres of undulating terrain, their rusty hues offset by jade-green palm groves, banana plantations and paddy fields. While it’s possible to see this World Heritage Site in a day or two, plan on lingering for a while.
Ringed by an arc of green mountains, Srinagar’s greatest drawcard is the mesmerisingly placid Dal Lake, on which a bright array of stationary houseboats form a colourful scene and a unique opportunity for romantic chill-outs. Famous Mughal gardens are strung out over several kilometres around the lake’s less urbanised eastern shore; these contrast with a fascinatingly chaotic old city centre that is topped by a fortress and dotted with historic wooden mosques. Add in a mild autumn climate, feisty Kashmiri cuisine and the tomb of Jesus Christ, and you have one of India’s top domestic tourist draws.
The historic settlement of Mysuru is one of South India’s most enchanting cities, famed for its glittering royal heritage and magnificent monuments and buildings. The palace and the festival of Mysore Dasara form an integral part of the city and huge tourists are drawn towards the colourful celebrations. Mysuru is also rich in tradition with a deeply atmospheric bazaar district littered with spice stores and incense stalls.
India’s second-biggest city is a daily festival of human existence, simultaneously noble and squalid, cultured and desperate, decidedly futuristic while splendid in decay. The month of Durga Puja is the best time of the year to be in the city as it comes to life like never before. Engage yourself in pandal hopping and indulge in delicious Bengali cuisine.
Spectacularly jagged, arid mountains enfold this magical Buddhist ex-kingdom. Picture-perfect gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) dramatically crown rocky outcrops amid whitewashed stupas and mani walls. Colourful fluttering prayer flags share their spiritual messages metaphorically with the mountain breeze. Prayer wheels spun clockwise release more merit-making mantras.
Madhya Pradesh’s only hill station, Pachmarhi, is surrounded by waterfalls, canyons, natural pools, cave temples and the forested ranges of the Satpura Tiger Reserve, offering a refreshing escape from steamy central India. It’s popular with Indians but few foreign travellers also get here.
Founded in the 5th century AD, Nalanda – 15km north of Rajgir – was one of the ancient world’s great universities and an important Buddhist centre of academic excellence. When Chinese scholar and traveller Xuan Zang visited sometime between 685 and 762 AD, about 10,000 monks and students lived here, studying theology, astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and philosophy. It’s said that Nalanda’s three libraries were so extensive they burnt for six months when foreign invaders sacked the university in 1193.