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    Photo Credit : Arian Zwegers - flickr

    India is popularly known as a country of festivals. There are so many interesting festivals in India that it is impossible to pick out one that is the best. The major reason for celebrating such vast Indian festivals is due to the cultural diversity prevalent here.

    There are religious Indian festivals as well as those that are a part of folklore. No matter where you are in India, there is always a festival that is around the corner.

    There is a festival for every reason in India. The most common reasons are to celebrate the harvest season, commemorate the victories of Hindu gods and goddesses, commemorate historical events, and to express devotion to particular gods and goddesses.

    Any Indian festival is incomplete without prayers and rituals. Devotees seek the blessing of god. Goodwill is exchanged in the form of sweets and clothes. Houses are decorated. Floral designs are arranged on the floor.

    Music and dance is always a part of Indian festivals. People celebrate festivals by wearing new clothes. And the most important part is the feasting process. Indian festivals are known for their grand feasts. Given the varied and vast cultural fabric of India, each festival has its distinct cuisine.

    The emphasis of a particular festival varies by region. So if a festival is being celebrated with great fervour in a particular part of the country, there will be several other regions where this festival is not observed at all.

    For instance, holi is celebrated with fervour and excitement throughout north India. But if you come down to south, holi may not be celebrated at all in many regions. In fact, many people would not even know that holi is being celebrated.

    Whatever the case, India is definitely the most celebrative place in the world considering the number of festivals being held here! We list out some of the popular Indian festivals worth checking out:

    Popular Festivals of India:

    1. Temple Festivals of Kerala

    Image Credit: Ramesh NG - flickr

    Festivals celebrated in Kerala temples are a sight to behold. These exotic festivals are held in the southern state of Kerala. The main attraction of these temple festivals are elephants. There are scores of such elephants at these festivals decorated with much grandeur.

    [Treat yourself to bliss on a spiritual tour in Kerala]

    In fact any annual ritual is not complete without an elephant procession in this part of the world. The use of elephants is common in Kerala and they are a part of the various processions that are held to pay tribute to the gods in the temple.

    The Time of the Festivals

    Kerala temple festivals start in the month of February. There are festivals that are conducted in various parts of Kerala up to April. The average length of each festival is around ten days, with the Thrissur Pooram being the biggest of them all. It is held in the district of Thrissur in Kerala at the Vadakkumnathan temple.

    Features of Thrissur Pooram

    Image Credit: Challiyil Eswaramangalath Pavithran Vipin - flickr

    It is a colourful festival with scores of elephants standing still while drummers work together creating an orchestra of sound and music.You witness this festival during April/May. This is the time of the year when the Malayalam month of Medam falls into.

    [Discover one of the oldest temples in Wayanad with a trip to jJain temple ruins]

    If you want to see more elephants then you have to witness the Arattupuzha Pooram – the most emphatic of all Indian festivals. This festival is held close by to Thrissur. If you land in Thrissur during the Thrissur Pooram time, you can easily be guided to where the Arattupuzha Pooram is held. The specialty of this pooram is the number of elephants used in the procession. A staggering 60 elephants are brought to the festival!

    Photo Credit : Brian Holsclaw - flickr

    Kerala temples are always teeming with activity. Temple rituals are simplistic. But temple festivals are held in great pomp and show. These temple festivals are important events for the people of Kerala. Everybody here plan their activities around these festivals and temple activities. The festivals of Kerala feature bejewelled elephants that are decked up in armor-type headgear.

    Specially skilled drummers are part of these festivals. The drumming ceremony is mesmeric. People flock from all parts of the state to hear this special drumming activity. The drumming is accompanied by trumpet music.

    [Check out our Kerala honeymoon tour, the idyllic destination for honeymooning couples]

    After the Thrissur Pooram, fireworks are organised and people flock to shops for religious items and other items of festival interest. Festival revelers are treated to a thunderous exposition of light and sound. The fireworks are burst in an open field and they generate an earth shattering sound. Fireworks are sent to the skies illuminating the sky with beautiful arrays of colors.

    2. Onam in Kerala

    Image Credit:  Syam Subramanian - flickr

    Onam is a harvest festival. It is celebrated over a period of ten days. It marks the homecoming of King Mahabali. The Onam festival is specific to the state of Kerala and its people are known as Malayalees. This festival is considered to be one of the richest Indian festival in terms of culture and heritage.

    Onam is celebrated on the first month in the Malayalam calendar. This month is called Chingam. The Malayalam calendar is named Kollavarsham. Being a ten day festival, the most auspicious day of Onam is the Thiru Onam.

    The place of celebration

    Onam is chiefly celebrated in the state of Kerala. Due to the mass diaspora of the people of Kerala to other nations of the world, this is one of those festivals of india that is celebrated in these nations as well by the malayalees that reside there. Therefore, Onam is one of the truly international Indian festival. The places to visit in Kerala on the occasion of onam are Trivandrum, Kottayam, and Thrissur. The time of onam is also when the Tourism Week is celebrated. This is a special initiative of the state government. During this time plenty of international tourists visit the state to witness the celebrations.

    The Pookalam and Ona Sadya

    Image Credit: Madhu Kannan - flickr

    Onam is celebrated in various ways. There is no restriction as to how people can celebrate onam. But one of the chief attractions of this festival is the pookalam, or the arrangement of flowers in front of homes. This floral arrangement is laid on the ground by the women of the house. Sometimes, there are pookalam competitions that are held between households. A jury decides the best pookalam design and gives an award for the people who laid it. Could this be called one of the creatively competitive Indian festivals?

    [Experience the cultures of Kerala on a cultural holdiay tour]

    The pookalam competition is competitive. It features one of the finest and most beautiful expositions of floral designs. No other floral arrangement competition in the world can come close to the creative artistry that is displayed in this festival.

    The best part of onam is the food. The Ona Sadya takes centre stage as the feast of all feasts. This is a vegetarian feast that features a rich variety and assortment of food items. Rice is the main item of the feast. Even though this is a Hindu festival, even Christians and Muslims celebrate onam to mark their solidarity of being malayalees and belonging to Kerala. For non-Hindus, the Ona Sadya would be customized with some non-vegetarian dishes prepared in their homes. So this festival is unique of all Indian festivals considering that it is celebrated by people from all religions.

    3. Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan

    Photo credit: Sheetal Saini - flickr

    What happens if you see more than 50,000 camels at a single point of time at a single place? You can simply call this a giant camel fair. Pushkar hosts this world famous camel fair called the Pushkar Camel Fair. This festival is probably amongst the bizarre festivals of India.

    Pushkar is a small village in the state of Rajasthan. Chiefly a desert town, Pushkar’s name is etched in history purely due to its association with camels. The sight of these huge number of camels is unusual and worth watching.

    Origins

    Originally, this fair was an opportunity to buy and sell camels. It brought camel traders together and gave them a platform to trade camels. This process of trading was typically held during the Kartik Purnima festival. Kartika is the lunar month in the Hindu calendar. The Kartik Purnima festival is held during the time of the full moon.

    [Experience the way of life in the desert with the locals of Rajasthan]

    From being a camel trader’s congregation, the Pushkar Camel Fair turned out to be an international camel festival. This festival attracts hundreds of international visitors who want to see the spectacle with their naked eyes rather on television, videos, or pictures.

    The festival is celebrated in the month of November. It is usually held during the full moon period. The initial phase of the festival starts off with the camel attraction. Then the festival proceeds into religious ceremonies.

    Features of the Pushkar Camel Fair

    Photo credit: Sheetal Saini - flickr

    Pushkar is the place where the festival is held. Pushkar is a desert town. The town is located in the Thar Desert in Rajasthan.Camels are paraded across for a period of five days. Camels are dressed up and decorated. They are even shaved clean and pitted against each other in a beauty contest. Races are held to select the best camel.

    [Experience the cultural pride of Rajasthan with the Bbest of Rajasthan tour]

    The carnival that is held during this time is truly spectacular. Rajasthani musicians throng the place playing exotic regional music. Magicians perform street magic. Dancers and acrobats leave the audience amazed at their gravity defying acts. Snake charmers leave the audience charmed more than the snakes. Carousel riders inspire admiration in the minds of festival goers.

    There is a lake at Pushkar. This lake is believed to be holy. People bathe in this lake to rid them of their sins. Bathing during the full moon period is said to be the most beneficial.

    Around 50,000 camels and more than 200,000 people on average are seen in the Pushkar Camel Festival. It is a giant exposition of people and camels.

    4. Nag Panchami in Maharashtra

    Photo credit: Natesh Ramasamy - flickr

    This is the festival of snakes! Considering this, it is yet another amongst the bizarre festivals of India. And it is definitely not for people who fear snakes and run for cover at the very sight of them! The gist of the Nag Panchami festival is the worship of snakes.

    Hundreds of snakes are found, dug out and brought to the festival. On the day of the festival, villagers carry the snakes in pots on their heads. They dance to the music of drums. They chant mantras.

    They recite verses to celebrate a beautiful creation of god. They take the snakes to the temple and conduct snake worship using a combination of rituals and processions.

    Once the rituals are complete, the snakes are released from the pots. The temple priest puts turmeric and red powder on the released snakes. Even flower petals are sprinkled onto the snakes. After this, the snakes are fed with milk and honey. They are then released yet again. This time it is not into the wilderness, but in the temple courtyard!

    The Nag Panchami is full of surprises. The most surprising is that none of these snakes have their fangs removed. In spite of all this, there is no known incident of a snake bite that has caused a fatality. This is partly because of the experience and expertise the villagers have in handling these snakes. One of the reasons why snakes are less aggressive is that before being taken to the festivals, snakes are fed with a generous meal of rats and milk.

    The place of the festival

    The Nag Panchami is held in the village of Battis Shirala, in the state of Maharashtra. Battis Shirala is a remote rural village. You can get to this place from Mumbai. It is approximately 250 miles from here. The Nag Panchami has a world record congregation of snakes. You cannot see these many snakes at a single place anywhere in the world. Not even in a snake park. To view this spectacular event, people flock to the village of Battis Shirala from all over the country.

    There is a healthy influx of international travelers who want to view this bizarre and unusual festival amongst all the festivals. Nag Panchami is not only celebrated in Battis Shirala. It is celebrated in many other parts of the country as well. But none of these can beat the number of snakes on display at Battis Shirala. Some of the popular places where this festival is celebrated apart from Battis Shirala are the Nagaraja Temple in Kerala and the Hardevja Temple in Jaipur.

    5. Krishna Janmashtami Festival

    Photo credit: Bill William Compton - flickr

    Lord Krishna is believed to be the eighth manifestation or avatar of Lord Vishnu. This festival commemorates Lord Krishna's birthday. Also called as Gokulashtammi or Govinda, Krishna Janmashtami is also a celebration of Lord Krishna's knowledge and intelligence. He is regarded as the ultimate oracle on how to live life through rightful means and attain god's abode.

    [Experience one of the most pious places in India, Mathura together with Agra]

    This two day festival is held in August or September. The month in which it is held depends on the moon cycle. The festival is celebrated with much ado throughout India. The best place to experience the true essence of the festival would be the city of Mumbai.

    In the state of Maharashtra, there are hundreds of locations that are the venues of elaborate Krishna Janmashtami celebrations. So this is one of those Indian festivals that is held at multiple locations. Maharashtra Tourism has special travel plans for international visitors to experience this colorful festival. You have to visit the massive ISKCON temple in Juhu to witness splendid festival celebrations. You can take this a step further by visiting Mathura – the place where Lord Krishna was born. The temples of Mathura are decorated with grandeur on this occasion. Many of these temples have giant displays of important scenes from Lord Krishna's life.

    The Dahi Handi Ceremony

    Photo Credit: Jay Hariani - flickr

    The second day of the festival is when the action starts. Called the Dahi Handi, clay pots are strung high from high-rise buildings. These pots contain a combination of items. Some of them are curd and butter. Even money is mixed with the curd and butter. The participants in this event are called govindas.

    [Enjoy a trip through Delhi and Agra and be charmed by various sights]

    They construct a human pyramid, tall enough to reach the claypot. One of them reaches to break the claypot open. This process of breaking the claypot signifies Lord Krishna's penchant to enjoy butter and curd that was stored by his mother in a claypot.

    Lord Krishna also ate the butter and curd stored in other people's homes. Krishna was a mischievous child. So to protect their curd and butter, housewives would string their claypots high so that he could not reach it. But this would not deter him. He along with his friends used to form a human pyramid and reach these claypots eventually.

    The first day of the festival is observed as a day of fasting.People spend their time worshipping, singing and reciting Lord Krishna's life.Cradles are arranged in temples with a statue of Krishna in each one of them.Huge crowds congregate at temples chanting and reciting mantras.

    Children are dressed up as Lord Krishna with the flute in their hands and peacock feather placed in the hair.Various dances are held imitating Krishna's playful nature.

    6. Diwali

    Image Credit: San Sharma - flickr

    Diwali is one of the popular festivals of India. Being a five day festival, diwali is also known as the festival of lights. The festival is characterized by the bursting of crackers and lighting of lamps. Firecrackers are burst as a celebration of the good over evil. It is also to dispel darkness and bring in light.

    [Visit the holy Gauri Temple on our heavenly trip to Badrinath and Kedarnath]

    Diwali is celebrated for various reasons across India. But the most common reason is the return of Lord Rama with his wife Sita followed by his brother Laxman. Rama returns to his kingdom of Ayodhya.

    Lord Rama returns victorious following his vanquishing of demon Ravana. Partnering Rama is his able friend, the monkey god Hanuman. Therefore, the good finally triumphs over the bad. So diwali automatically becomes the celebration of all things that are good and divine.

    The festival is celebrated in October and November. Diwali is celebrated throughout India. There are some states where this festival is not celebrated with the same amount of passion. But by far, this is one the festival that is close to the heart of almost every Indian.

    Diyas and Rituals

    Image Credit: Harpreet Singh - flickr

    The diyas are an integral part of this festival. People light these small earthen pots and keep them in and around their homes. Some people light candles as well. The essence of this festival is to keep ones home illuminated with natural sources of light. During this time, people decorate their homes with rangoli – which is a type folk art where circular designs are made on the ground, typically from flower petals.

    The rituals performed during this festival vary according to regions. However, the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped by all. A certain section of people also worship Ganesha – the remover of hindrances. According to Hindu mythology, Laxmi is said to have manifested when the ocean was churned on the first day of diwali.

    [Exlpore the holy town of Rishikesh on the various tours we offer]

    Invoking the blessings of Lakshmi is said to bring good fortune and prosperity. People decorate their homes and lay rangoli to invite the goddess to their homes. It is believed that the goddess is a stickler for cleanliness. She always visits the cleanest houses as a priority. People win Lakshmi’s attention by illuminating their homes with lights.

    Diwali is an endearing festival. It is full of happiness. The festival is observed with a combination of fun and spirituality. It is a noisy festival, but the noise is sweet music to your ears given the context of this festival.

    7. Ganesh Chathurthi

    Photo credit:  Schröder+Schömbs - flickr

    This festival is all about the beloved elephant god – Ganesha. This is the god people worship to defeat the obstacles in their path. Lord Ganesha is also said to bring good fortune and luck to his devotees.

    The festival is celebrated between August and September. The festival is celebrated on a grand scale only in some states. They are namely Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Goa.Ganesh Chathurthi is best experienced in the city of Mumbai.

    The epicenter of all celebrations is the Siddhivinayak temple. On the day of the festival, thousands of devotees throng to the central suburb of Prabhadevi where this temple is located. This is also the time when thousands of Ganesha statues are available to be purchased.

    Gigantic Ganesha Statues

    The festival begins when statues of Lord Ganesha are erected in podiums on streets. Devotees also keep the statue of Lord Ganesha in their homes. The Pranapratishhtha Puja is conducted as a form of worship and to invoke the Lord’s blessings.

    Following this, sweets and coconut is distributed. The statue is anointed and smeared with chandan powder. Every day, worship is conducted and songs of worship are played continuously. Special events and speeches are conducted as well.

    [Embark on a spiritual journey on a trip to Gangotri and Yamunotri]

    When you visit Mumbai, you can see numerous gigantic installations of Lord Ganesha. The decorations and podium construction is elaborate. Some of these statues and associated paraphernalia are done by specially skilled artisans who work for months together to create excellent statues that are gigantic.

    The Immersion Ceremony

    You should not see the moon on the first night of Ganesh Chaturthi. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha fell off from his vehicle, the rat. The moon was an onlooker and the moon laughed at this event. Therefore looking at the moon on this day is said to bring bad luck.

    The last day of this festival is as spectacular as the first day. Statues are taken to the ocean or water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and ponds. These statues are then immersed into the water. It is believed that in Mumbai city alone, more than a million statues are immersed every year.

    The immersion of the statue is a symbolic reminder to people that the universe is under constant change. Form soon becomes formlessness. But the energy of the form remains. The immersion process essays this fact and it helps people believe that they are in a transient world. It helps them be reminded of their mortality and submit themselves to a higher force.

    8. Holi

    Photo credit: Harsha K R - flickr

    Holi is the celebration of the good over the bad. It is celebrated to rejoice the destruction of demoness Holika. Holi is called the festival of colors.It is based on the premise that Lord Krishna played pranks on the girls in his village by purposely making them wet with colored water. Apart from being a celebration of goodness, the festival is also a precursor to hopeful times. It signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. It is to pray for a good spring harvest season.

    [Discover the colours and beauty of the cultural capital of India on a Rajasthan Holiday tour]

    The festival is celebrated in late March. Holi is celebrated in almost every region in India. People spend the entire day smearing color on each others’ face. The colored water is jetted out through special hand-held pipes.

    People carry water sprinklers and sprinkle colored water to any known person they see. People are expected to be sporty during the festival. Revelers also drink Bhang – a semi-liquid made from cannabis during holi. Bhang is consumed to feel high in spirits. It helps holi participants shed their inhibitions and participate in the celebrations.

    On the eve of the festival, Holika Dahan is performed. Bonfires are erected and the fire is kept burning throughout the night. It is to symbolize the destruction of the evil Holika. The bonfire is also believed to bring warmth and ward off evil spirits.

    Be smeared in the colors of Holi

    Photo credit: Steven Gerner - flickr

    Holi is one of those festivals of India worth traveling thousands of miles to watch, witness, and celebrate. You should not mind getting wet and colored all over your body. Your skin will be stained with colors and it will take some time before this color wears away.

    You can rub coconut oil before playing holi to prevent the colors from being absorbed into your skin. Enquire with the people playing holi if the colors they are using are safe. Some colors may take several days to wash off. So if you want to play with colors that wash off within a day, you have to choose and buy such colors from a store.

    During holi men and women are in an inebriated state. It is advisable for women to stay at home during the night as holi revelers may still linger on the streets at night. So it is best to play holi during the day and get back home during night. Or the best option would be to play holi only with known people.

    9. Kumbh in Godavari and Haridwar

    Image Credit: Philipp Eyer - flickr

    Kumbh or Kumbh Mela is one of the biggest pilgrimage festivals of India. It begins and ends on Makar Sankranthi and Maha Shivaratri respectively. Kumbh is considered to be a peaceful gathering of people. Millions of people make it to this festival every year. The festival takes places on the banks of many rivers on a rotational basis.

    If last year’s Kumbh Mela festival was held on the banks of Godavari, this year’s is held on the banks of the Ganges river in Haridwar. This rotational policy brings people across all of India and unites them for a common cause. Apart from Godavari and Ganges, this festival is held on the banks of the Shipra River and on the confluence of the Ganges, Yamuna, and Saraswati rivers in Prayag.

    Some facts about the Kumbh Mela

    The festival is held in one particular location or venue every 12 years. The time and place where the festival is held is based on astrological and religious observations.The festival has different varieties – the Maha Kumbh Mela and the Ardh Kumbh Mela. The former is considered as the more auspicious of the two. It is held only in Prayag.

    The mythological inferences of Kumbh Mela

    Kumbh means pitcher. Mela means festival. Together Kumbh Mela means the festival of the pot. Mythologically, this has significance. Once it so happened that the Gods lost their vitality. To reclaim their lost strength, they had a partnership with the demons. They decided to churn the ocean of milk. By doing this they hoped to find the nectar of immortality. However, the Gods and demons sparred. The fight carried on for a period of twelve years.

    [Unfold the richness of India and its golden past along with the sacred city, Haridwar with the Golden Triangle Tour]

    During this period, the celestial bird Garuda got hold of this nectar of immortality held in a kumbh and flew away. Some drops of this nectar is said to have fallen down on some areas – which are now the sites use as places to celebrate this festival.

    The Sadhus and Rituals of Kumbh Mela

    Photo credit: Luca Galuzzi - flickr

    The sadhus or sages of this festival are the holy men who attend the festival without fail and inspire others into a life of spirituality. There are various types of these sages. There are the naked ones who smoke marijuana, sport long hair that covers their bodies, and live a recluse and unconventional life. There are the Shirshasinse sadhus who meditate by standing on their heads. They even sleep in this position.

    10. Jagannath Yatra in Puri, Orissa

    Image Credit: Pat - flickr

    The Jagannath Yatra or the Rath Yatra is the symbolic representation of gods going for vacation. It is one of those festivals of India that celebrates the spiritual process involved in carrying gods for vacation. It is to celebrate the vacationing of Lord Jagannath.

    His elder brother Balabhadra accompanies him. Also accompanying him is his sister Subhadra. Lord Jagannath has his temple in Puri – which is a coastal town in Orissa. He also has a garden palace in the fringes of the region.

    [Also check our popular tours of ancient Orissa that we offer]

    The Yathra or travel is from the temple to the garden palace. Lord Jagannath is believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The statue or prathima of Lord Jagannath is decorated with the same grandeur that befits Lord Vishnu. The procession is held in gigantic chariots. A chariot looks like a temple on wheels. The chariot is called a rath. It is pulled across to its destination by thousands of devotees.

    The Yathra Procession

     

    Photo credit: Krupasindhu Muduli - flickr

    On the morning of the procession, pujas (worshipping the lord) are performed. This part of the procession is called Ratha Prathistha.

    By afternoon, the chariots start to be pulled and moved across to their destinations. The statues of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are in each chariot. The chariots are named according to the god they carry. Therefore the names of these chariots are Nandighosa (Lord Jagannatha), Taladhvaja (Balabhadra), and Devadalana (Subhadra) respectively.

    Each year, new chariots are constructed. The statues of gods are made of wood. These statues are replaced every twelve years.

    The gods vacation at the country side palace for a period of nine days. Their summer vacation ends after this. They are brought back to the temple of Lord Jagannath.

    [Take a brief visit to the important religious sites in Bhubaneswar town with spiritual walk experience]

    The Jagannath Yatra is one of those festivals of India that celebrates of unity. It brings together artisans, pilgrims, devotees, and international and national tourists. Some of the best artists of the country and in the world create the designs of the chariot. They painstakingly design, and sew the richly textured fabric. Brilliant painters lay fine paints on the chariot with intricate detail.

    This Yathra is touted as the festival of unity. It requires people to pull the chariots with united effort. There is no differentiation as to who can do this. The rich and poor can do this. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs can participate in this festival.

    In fact anyone can participate in this festival provided they truly believe in the spiritual process associated with the Jagannath Yathra – the most spiritual amongst all festivals of India.

    11. Kila Raipur Rural Olympics

    The Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is now an international rural Olympics cum festival. From its humble beginnings, this sporting event has attracted the attention of the international community. The festival is held during the month of February.

    This three day festival is the time when more than four thousand men and women participate to win and be gracious in defeat as well. Surprisingly, this rural sporting festival has plenty of spectators. They are not in thousands. But in millions!

    Animal Races

    Image Credit: The Hindu

    The animals used in the sporting events are camels, bullocks, mules, and dogs. This aspect makes this festival unique amongst festivals of India. The main draw of the Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is the bullock cart race. This is an adrenaline pumping event. It brings the best, fastest, and muscular bullocks on the race track. Expert bullock riders with years of bullock riding practice vie for the prize money.

    [Exlpore the mud houses of villages in Rajasthan with our Rajasthan Village Tour]

    There is also the dog race that draws a lot of applause and excitement. The horse race is a classic. The tractor race establishes the fact that this Olympics was started off as a source of entertainment for bored farmers! And not to forget the tug-of-war. The strongest and fittest men pull each other with all their might.

    There are plenty of off-beat events that will make a lasting impression on you. There is the bicycle lifting competition! Strong men lift bicycles not with their hands, but with their teeth. They also lift bicycles with their ears. Truly, this is among those festivals of India that tests the endurance and willpower of the participants.

    Cultural Events

    If you thought that this was about it on the Kila Raipur Rural Olympics, then there’s more. Every evening cultural events are held. Local and international musicians entertain the crowds. For three days, the cultural events can keep you without sleep. You will be reveling in a heady dose of entertainment as these events go well past midnight.

    [Learn more about the rich and unique cultural heritage of Rajasthan]

    The place where this rural Olympics is held is in Kila Raipur, which is south of Ludhiana, in the state of Punjab. Getting here is never a problem. Getting out of here definitely is! Because you will be addicted to the excitement, action, and entertainment that you get here.

    12. Dussehra

    Image Credit: Navrooz Singh

    This is yet another of the festivals of India that celebrates the victory of good over evil. Being a national holiday, Dussehra is a very popular festival in India. Sometimes people get confused over Dussehra’s closeness in context to Diwali.

    Unlike diwali, dussehra is celebrated only for a single reason – Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana. Hindu mythology tells the story of how Sita, the wife of Rama, is kidnapped by Ravana and held hostage in Lanka.

    Lord Rama then goes in search of Sita along with his trusted friend – the monkey God, Hanuman. Along with his brother Lakshman, Lord Rama takes the help of Hanuman and reclaims Sita. While doing this Lord Rama destroys Ravana in an epic battle.

    People observe Dussehra by conducting prayers. Many of them offer food to people. They visit temples and take part in temple processions.

    This festival is best experienced in Mysore, Karnataka. Goddess Chamundeshwari is carried on a throne. The goddess is carried on an elephant. The procession is a combination of scores of elephants accompanied by music and fireworks.

    The gods are invoked through rituals to bless household items such as books, electronic items, and vehicles in the state of Karnataka.

    If you are in Bengal, expect a mass preparation of Dussehra specific foods. They are namely luchi, which is a type of flattened bread deep-fried in oil. There is also alu dom which are potato snacks richly fried in oil and great to taste.

    The occasion of Dussehra is considered to be a good time to start off ventures. It can be a new project that is to be undertaken, a travel plan or even marriages.

    [Get the unconventional experience of discovering Mysore on our Mysore walking tours]

    On the day of the festival, all government offices are closed. So don’t be surprised if you see a bank, or post office closed during this time. Private establishments, stores, and businesses could be closed as well. There is also reduced public transport as this amongst the festivals of India where you may witness a mass exodus of public transport employees returning to their homes on leave to celebrate the festival.

    So much is the importance of this festival that everything comes to a standstill. People embrace a spiritual process. They celebrate their belief systems with great conviction. They re-establish the legacy of the good which always triumphs over the evil.

    13. Durga Puja or Navaratri in Bengal

    Photo Credit: Srijan Kundu - flickr

    Durga Puja is the grand celebration and worship of Goddess Durga. This is chiefly a religious festival out of all the festivals of India. It is also considered as an occasion for family reunions. During this time, people bring back to the fore traditional customs.

    The heart of the action is Bengal. This is the place where the Durga Puja is held in all its might. Durga Puja is all about worship, traditional customs, culture, feasting, fasting, and in general a celebration of life. This festival is observed not only in India, but in many foreign countries by Indians who reside there.

    [Get transported to a land like no other in Sikkim on a cultural holiday to the land of hidden paradise]

    The festival is held between the months of September and October every year. It marks the time of the year when millions of years ago Lord Rama invoked the goddess Durga before his advent into Lanka to fight the demon Ravana.

    British involvement in the Durga Puja

    The Durga Puja was popular with the British during their reign over India. They attended the ceremonies and many of them participated in the events. Many of these British soldiers and bureaucrats even turned to Hinduism and became staunch devotees of the goddess. The involvement of British nationals and officials continued until 1840. During this time a law was passed banning British participation in this festival.

    Significant processions of this Festival:

    Photo credit : Travelling Slacker

    Mahalaya – This phase starts seven days before the Durga Puja festival. The festivities invoke the goddess to descend on Earth. The procedure to do this is to sing devotional songs and chant mantras.

    Maha Shashthi - This is the day when the goddess arrives on Earth. It is on the eve of Durga Puja.

    Maha Saptami - This is the first day of the festival. On this day nine types of plants are placed in a central place and worshipped. These nine types of plants symbolize goddess Durga. During this time, the Saptami Puja is conducted with tremendous participation from the public.

    Maha Aastami - The second day of the Durga Puja is for sacred Sanskrit verses being chanted and recited out by numerous people from holy books. It is on this day that the Sandhi Puja is held. Thousands of devotees offer anjali to the goddess Durga. They pray fervently to her making the Durga Puja one of the holiest of all festivals of India.

    [Witness the lush greenery of valleys, mountain peaks and hill on our custom tour in Sikkim]

    Maha Navami - This is the third day of the festival and the second last one. The Navami Puja begins on this day.

    Dashami & Vijaya - This is the last day of the Durga Puja. The goddess is bade farewell by thousands of tearful devotees. Truly, an emotional festival. None of the other festivals command such emotional connection.

    14. Makar Sankranti

    Photo credit:  Saloni_desai - flickr

    Makar Sankranthi is a harvest festival. It is celebrated across the length and breadth of the country in myriad forms. The festival is celebrated in the month of January, and typically on the 14th day.

    Makar Sankranti is celebrated to commemorate the ascending of the Sun God into the northern hemisphere. It signifies the philosophical meaning that the more you go higher, the more light and warmth you give. Out of all festivals, this one has a philosophical meaning and significance. The Sun has an important philosophical and spiritual stature for Hindus. The Sun signifies knowledge and infinite wisdom.

    Mythological Backdrop

    On the day of Makar Sankranti, it is believed that the Sun God visits his son Shani. The two people aren’t the best of friends, but on this day they forget their differences and embrace each other as father and son.

    Makar Sankrathi is considered to be the holy period of transition as the Sun ascends northwards.

    [Check out the various adventurous activities related tours in North India]

    Hindus believe that any person who dies during this period reaches the heavenly abode. This person is free from the cycle of births and deaths.

    It is during this time that thousands of people take a dip in the holy Ganges River. They offer water to the Sun God in pots. For those who can’t make it to Prayag to take the holy dip, chanting the Gayatri Mantra is considered the alternative way to offer worship.

    15. Hanuman Jayanti

    Hanuman is a divine ape. He is a monkey God who helped Lord Rama reclaim Sita from the hands from Ravana. Hanuman is considered by many Hindus as the avatar of Lord Shiva. Hanuman is worshiped to bestow physical strength and perseverance.

    Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated to commemorate the birth of this powerful monkey God. The festival is celebrated on the 15 day of the month of April. It is celebrated in praise and admiration for the God Hanuman who is understood to posses numerous divine powers in addition to great physical strength.

    Hanuman was himself an ardent devotee of Lord Rama. He had unflinching devotion to Lord Rama. Hanuman played a vital role in the battle of Lord Rama against Sita. Hanuman is understood to have great magical powers. He was the all-powerful and mighty considering that he could even lift huge mountains on his shoulders.

    Hanuman Puja is a simple festival that is begun early in the day. Devotees visit the temple of Hanuman to offer their worship. Devotees gather and offer prayers to God Hanuman to protect them from harm and danger.

    They pray to him to give them strength, endurance, perseverance, and willpower. Devotees spend the entire day praying to Hanuman. Devotees apply red Sindur on the feet of their god. They reapply this sindur on their foreheads and take back home some of this Sindur.


Attractions

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Pangong Lake

Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.

The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favorite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.

Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above the sea level.

Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.

Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.

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Nubra Valley

Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.

Except the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the entre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.

Height: 3048 meters above the sea level

Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.

Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley

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Khardung La

Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.

The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.

Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.

Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.

Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.

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Tso Moriri Lake

It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve.  It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish. 

The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.

The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.

Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.

Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.

Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.

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Shanti Stupa

The white dome of Shanti Stupa is clearly visible from a far distance when you are on a tour of Leh. Peace Pagoda got its name like that because of many reasons mainly the silence persists in and around the pagoda always. This Buddhist prayer center is the most beloved attraction in Jammu and Kashmir. At a height of 4267 meters, the two storied stupa stands holding its head high and overlooks the bustling Leh town. The uneven mountain terrains in the surrounding gives the pagoda a remarkable shining. It is at a location which is 5 km away from Leh town and one who visits the stupa has to climb five hundred steps. The exotic view of the Himalayan peaks turns the beauty of the stupa also, a peace lover would dedicate his life to have such overjoying moments.

History

The stupa was constructed by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists. The construction was started in 1983, many Buddhists and Indian Government officials have supervised the procedures throughout.

Structure of the stupa

Among the two structures of the pagoda, the first level depicts the central relief of Dharmachakra which has deer on each side and the turning wheel of Dharma also has a golden image of Buddha at the center. The second level displays images which show the birth of Budhha and the death as well. In addition, both the level have smaller images of Buddha meditating. The stupa came into existence in order to spread the word of peace and harmony among people and it came into establishment as a commemoration of the valuable 2500 years of Buddhism.

Location: Any one can reach the stupa via road from Leh, only 5 kms from the town, a walk of fifteen minutes would require.

Timings: 05:00 am to 09:00 pm

Highlights: The sunset and sunrise views from the stupa are inevitably beautiful


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Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.

 If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term. 

Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.

Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.

Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.

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Havelock Island

Being one of the topnotch attractions in Andaman is the sublime Havelock Island brimming with silky beaches and exuberant greenery. A lot of tourist locations, resorts, hotels, attractions and much more are creating the perfect background to Havelock Island to host as many tourists as possible. This is the largest of all the islands in Andaman and comprises of a lot of small islands. The administration in Havelock promotes eco-tourism on a large scale.

 The lighthouse established in 2005 at the northern part of the island gives additional recognition for the island. The accommodation options on Havelock will let you be surprised. Ranging from high-end, luxurious resorts to camps with basic amenities, the stay arrangements done by the administrative people here are unbelievable.

Highlights: The long stretches of different types of beaches are the main highlight to be pointed out. Declared the best beaches in the world, almost all of them are blissfully located on Havelock Island, connected to closely to the main boat jetty on the island.  

Elephant Beach, Radhanagar Beach, Vijaynagar Beach, Kalapathar Beach which are known in numbers also are proclaimed to have the highest number of tourists every year. The green fringed shorelines, the clear sea water, the colourful marine animals, the long coral reefs, the wild fauna and flora bring forth the astounding picture of Havelock incomparably beautiful.

Activities: Snorkeling and diving are the favourite activities done on the islands though other major water based activities like boating and kayaking are frequently done.

Distance from Port Blair: Havelock Island is lying 42 kms northeast of the capital city, Port Blair. There are regular boat services by the Directorate of Shipping Services which connect Phoenix Bay jetty in Port Blair to Havelock daily.

 

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Chidiya Tapu

As the name suggests, Chidiya Tapu is the perfect haven for unseen migratory birds and common native birds found in Andaman Islands. Recognized as the most enchanting beach in Andaman and tourists arrive here on a large scale as the beach extends the best ever sights for them including the eye catching sunrise and sunset views. This is a silent yet crowded beach encircled by evergreen forests on one side and the short hills on the other side. 

As it is considered to be the presenter of the most finishing touch of sunset and sunrise views, it is the main hub in Andaman Islands. The beach is filled with 46 varieties of endangered species of birds, and white spotted deer. There are a lot of seasonal orchids and other varieties of plants.

Highlights: The major attractions of Chidiya Tapu are the Chidiya Tapu Biological Park, the Sylvan Sands, the Munda Pahar Beaches etc. You will be able to stay at a forest guesthouse located nearby atop a hillock and from there, the panoramic view of Chidiya Tapu in detail.

Activities: Apart from sunset and sunrise views, people come in plenty toward this beach to identify the rare species appear in multiple colours and size. Even though many of the birds are commonly found on the beach, you would find it as a unique and unnatural scene to find the colourful gathering of them. Boating is an attractive activity done here as well as snorkeling and swimming are also a part of the adventure activities usually experienced by those who visit here.

Distance from Port Blair: It is located about 25 kms from Port Blair.


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Neil Island

A tiny island located to the south of Andaman is Neil Island, brimming with less explore marine diversity, coral reefs, long beaches and bewitching greenery. Being one of the tourist destinations in Andaman, Neil is so happy to become the host with revealing all what it has. A romantically silent island unlike the hustle of Havelock Island, Neil Island is termed as the vegetable bowl of Andaman. A perfect place to simply relax and chill is the beaches here and the deserted shores are favourite to those who love to relax in utmost peace.

In two hours, one can explore the island by walking around. It got the name Neil after the British Brigadier General James Neill who stubbornly dealt with the rebels during the 1857 Mutiny. The rich cultivation of paddy is found in Neil Island that belongs to the Ritchies’ Arhcipelago between Havelock Island and Rose Island.

Highlights: One of the major highlights of Neil Island is Neil Kendra, a beautiful curving bay full of white sand and holding the major jetty of the island made attracting by disarraying numerous colourful wooden fishing boats. Known to be the heart of the island, Neil Kendra has Bharatpur Beach on its left and Laxmanpur Beach on the right. The richest collection of marine lives and coral reefs have given Neil Island the peculiarity of being one of the most thrilling scuba diving sites on the island. In addition to diving, Neil Island is home to those who love snorkeling, swimming, birding, cycling etc.

Activities: Glass bottom ride and snorkelling are the major activities available on Neil Island though there are enough opportunities to do diving and other prime adventure activities.

Distance from Port Blair: The island belongs to the South Andaman district is located about 36 km northeast from Port Blair.

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Radhanagar Beach

Radhanagar Beach in Andaman has ranked 8th among the top ten beautiful beaches in the world based on travelers reviews and rating available on multiple sources and Radhanagar Beach deserves it for many reasons. One of the most ravishing beauty in Andaman with a lot of tourists visiting it every year, Radhanagar Beach is the gem of Havelock Island. 500 meters away from the beach, one can see only the expansive blue water and the lush green tropical forests but when you reach the beach, the sights are apparently awe-inspiring.

 Radhanagar is commonly called as Beach No.7 and this is one of the closest beach located near to Havelock Island ferry tier. The silky beach is kids friendly as well so that families are found in plenty on the beach to spend their vacation or a short holiday. There are nothing to be worried as the coast guards are roaming around always and the number of people here will be a pleasant sight to see.

Activities: Snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, boating, parasailing etc are some of the most commonly seen activities on the beach and among them Scuba Diving is the best as it offers the clear interaction with the wide range of marine animals and coral reefs around living in harmony. 

The turquoise water gives a rejuvenating experience while you swim across or do snorkeling and since the number of tourists are relatively higher, the Government opens more opportunities for them to spend an ample time on the beach. As it is a superb place adventure lovers also would covet, the fame it has achieved international importance in no time.

Distance from Port Blair: From Port Blair it will take more than three hours to reach Radhanagar Beach as it is located about 72 kms away from the capital city.

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Baratang Island

One of the aboriginal tribes of Andaman lives in Baratang Island, a highly blessed region with years-old wilderness. Earlier, the tribes did not let outside people to enter their community but presently, Baratang Island is a vibrant tourist destination as people love to spend time amidst the huge forests, limestone caves, mangrove ranges and the mud volcanoes.

Baratang is a part of the Great Andaman Chain with an area of 243 sq.kilometers and that marks it as the main island of the group. Middle Andaman is lying to the north and South Andaman in the south of Baratang Island. And it belongs to Rangat Taluk.

Highlights: The active mud volcanoes are the highlights of Baratang Island along with the abundant mangrove forests and evergreen rainforests and the limestone caves located beyond the forests. So adventure lovers find Baratang as a wise choice to indulge in mind blowing trekking and nature walk. Among the multiple number of mud volcanoes, jalki, as the locals call it, is the famous one.

Activity: Nature walk through the wild forests and the extensive mangrove forests is one of the prime activities done on Baratang Island. Boating, trekking, hiking etc are some of the other, identified activities available on the island.

Distance from Port Blair: The island is located about 150 kms north of Port Blair and one can reach the island by ferry services only.


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Elephant Beach

Settled on the sands of Havelock Island, Elephant Beach is a reveling beauty well presented by the long coral reefs and the shining shoreline. A peaceful beach with pure serenity and silent ambience will offer the visitors a soothing melody and that would be the perfect time to relax, to walk around with your love or just to do sunbathing. Among the different beach on Havelock Island, Elephant Beach has a special significance because of its friendly atmosphere and not so crowded shoreline. In addition to the adventurous activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, tourists find time to do boating and similar activities on the beach. The clear water, the calm waves, the cool breeze and the magnificent sights on the shore have their own impacts on the number of people visiting the beach, and it increases only year by year.

Highlights: The long array of private boats, fishing boats and buoys extend a riveting beauty to the beach. Moreover, it is a kid friendly beach as well so that families are found here aplenty. The huge shoreline is the key factor behind the countless visitors appear on the beach every day. 

During monsoon also, tourists would love to come to Elephant Beach. People have reported that at times, the wild elephants from the nearby forests come to the beach and stroll along the white sandy bed.

Activities: An ideal place for snorkeling and scuba diving is Elephant Beach though boating and other fun, water based activities are also done by the visitors often. Tourists have experienced the best sea walking as well on Elephant Beach.

Distance from Port Blair: Elephant Beach is located on the famous Havelock Island. It is lying about 69 kms away from the capital city of Andaman, Port Blair. One can reach the beach via boat from Havelock jetty after reaching there from Port Blair by road or by boat.


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Diglipur

A marvelous town in the north part of Andaman Islands is Diglipur, an amicable tiny town with a lot of good people around. For eco- friendly tourists, this town is an inevitable choice. Though the marine life is the prominent feature of this town but the cultivation of orange and rice has enormous importance in the economy of Diglipur.

Highlights: Lamiya Bay Beach is a highlight of the town, it is located a few kilometers away from Kalipur Beach. The beach is lying in the foothills of Saddle peak, the highest one in Andaman. Around 20 kms from Diglipur is the green Shyamnagar covered by thick jungles and why Shyamnagar is a priority for tourists is because of the presence of mud volcanoes here. Kalipur Beach and Ramangar Beach are the other famous beaches at Diglipur and they are famous for turtle nesting. Moreover, visitors are quite eager to visit Alfred Caves as well where a huge collections of limestone structures are found.

Activities: Since there are plenty of beaches, caves, greenery etc, Diglipur offers the visitors a huge number of activities ranging from refreshing trekking through the jungles to the water based activities like island hopping, snorkeling, boating, fishing etc. Near to Diglipur there are famous spots to do multiple activities.

Distance from Port Blair: Lying 290 kms away from Port Blair, the small town of Diglipur that can be connected by boat from both Port Blair and Mayabunder. The boat services from Port Blair are available twice a week. But one can reach the town by road via ATR from Port Blair.

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Vijaynagar Beach

Known as Beach No.5 is Vijaynagar Beach in the north east part of Havelock Island. Very remote from the crowded locations on Havelock Island, Vijaynagar Beach is close to heart for those who love to spend time in utmost calmness. The regular touch of the sapphire blue water on the pearl like sandy beach makes no noise and it is one of the reasons why tourists chosen it as the perfect space for romantic couples and families. 

The beauty of the beach has been praised so much by those who visited it. It is always better to come here freely, just to roam around, or to float on the shallow water, or to read under the large shade given by the huge trees on the shore or to do sunbathing. The collection of Mahua trees and palms is the significant ornament making the beach a splendid place to sit back and relax as much as time one wants to. This is one of the magnificent attractions in Andaman.

Highlights: A photographer's paradise is Vijaynagar Beach; especially the sunrise views from the beach is incomparably magnificent. When the sun’s fresh rays spread all over the wide sea, the entire atmosphere starts blushing in all possible colours and there is no better sight from the beach would satiate a photographic mind. The native birds appear during the fresh mornings add effective colours to the sunrise pictures.

Activity: The beach is recognized for relaxed swimming and sunbathing. Adventure activities are not yet a fashion on this inevitable part of Havelock Island.

Distance from Port Blair: Vijaynagar Beach is located at a distance of about 38 kms from Port Blair but from Havelock jetty the beach is lying 9 kms away only.

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Chadar Trek

For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level. 

The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long. 

A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.

Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.

Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.

Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.

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Markha Valley Trek

Adventure lovers always had an affection to Markha Valley and still it fulfills the dreams of a trekker or adventure seeker with the unrivalled collection of natural spectacle. Long day trekking tours are offered by a lot of tour providers all over India which promise a journey through the most scenic locations and villages. The awesomely exciting feature of this trek is that it will let the trekker cross two high altitude passes in Ladakh; Gandala La at 4980 meters and Kongmaru La at 5276 meters.

 Being one of the diverse treks in Ladakh region, Markha Valley trek offers a lot of adventurous moments throughout. The barren land of Ladakh and the Buddhist temples found throughout the journey make the trek special. The route winds past the Ladakhi villages and it goes to Hemis National Park where the chances to spot some rare wildlife species are comparably high. The nomadic groups of people will be a unique picture to keep in heart. The symbols of Buddhism like ‘chortens’, stupas, multi colored prayer flags and numerous monasteries narrate the story of Buddhist culture embraced Markha centuries ago. Another interesting fact heard about Markha Valley trek is that it is also called ‘tea house trek’ due to the accommodation provided in parachute tents in most of the villages during the tour.

Maximum altitude: 15000 feet is the maximum altitude the trek will cover.

Location: In most of the cases, the trek starts from Leh. The trail usually goes through Chilling, Skyu and then to Markha. From Markha it would take the trekker to reach Hankar and Nimaling and finally return to Leh. The ideal trekking distance is 75 kms and it would be graded as difficult.

Best time to visit: The months of June, July, August, September and October are recommended as the best time to do Markha Valley trek.