The autumn-winter months are the best for travelling in India, as the rains subside and the weather turns cooler and drier. It is during this period of time that the skies become clear, giving way to many festivals and celebrations throughout the country.
Along with the popular Diwali and Dussehra festivals, other festivals, like Karva Chauth, Chhat Puja, to worship the moon and sun gods, are celebrated with fervour in many parts of the country. Visiting a destination during their local festivals provides the travellers with a unique experience and great insight into the tradition and culture of the place.
So if you looking for a rich travel experience along with good food, music and more, here's where you should travel to this November.
Festival destinations of India
28 October - 4 November
Visit the vibrant desert town of Pushkar in Rajasthan for the famous, annual Pushkar Camel Fair and Balloon Festival. Held around the Kartik Purnima-full moon in the Hindu month of Kartik-this festival is the most enjoyable time to visit Pushkar. Thousands of camels are brought to the fair where they partake in beauty contests, camel races and parades, some of them are even traded.
It is also at the Camel Fair that the International Hot Air Balloon festival happens. Gliding over the sand dunes of Pushkar in a hot air balloon will surely be etched in your memory for a long time. The Pushkar Camel Fair commences on 28 October and goes on till 4th of November.
Travel Tip: Opt for the early morning ride on the hot air balloon; watching the horizon around sunrise is a thrilling experience.
1st Nov - 3rd Nov
Travel to banks of the sacred river Ganga in Varanasi, for the beautiful Ganga Mahotsav. Famously known as Kashi or Banaras, Varanasi is regarded as a one of the oldest cities and the spiritual capital of India. Commencing on the Ekadasi and concluding on the Kartik Poornima (full moon day), the Ganga Mahotsav is one of the important festivals of Kashi.
A wide range of cuisines, cultural, arts and crafts skills can be witnessed here, along with sports and entertainment like boating, kite-flying, traditional wrestling and Ganga marathon. The last day of the festival, called the Dev Deepawali, is especially not to be missed. It falls on the Kartik Poornima and is the 15th day from Diwali. The Ganga river sparkles with the thousands of diyas or lamps that float on it against the sounds of holy chants and hymns.
Travel Tip: Try and catch a glimpse of the numerous floating diyas from the top of a building near the ghat. Also, you must try the Banarasi paan (betel leaf) while in Varanasi.
Rann of Kutch, Gujarat
PC: Rann Utsav
1st Nov 2017 - 20th Feb 2018
Celebrating one of the most spectacular festivals, the Rann Utsav, is the best way to experience the beauty of the salt marshes of Gujarat. With increasing popularity, it is one of the significant festivals of Gujarat that reflects its cultural heritage. Stay in luxury tents and witness the folk dance, folk music, displays of traditional art and crafts, taste the authentic food, walk around the salt desert on cool nights and more.
Travel Tip: Plan your trip around the full moon days as the beauty of the salt desert around the time is unparalleled.
Travel to the tranquil Golden Temple at Amritsar in Punjab on the occasion of Guru Nanak Gurpurab. It is also known as Guru Nanak Jayanti and Prakash Utsav. The festival to commemorate the birthday of Guru Nanak is celebrated throughout the country but it is especially significant at the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
During the festival, the beautiful, golden shrine is illuminated, processions are carried out, sounds of Gurbani or the verses and hymns of the holy scripture and devotional songs sung live by musicians and artists reverberate in the air.
Travel Tip: Do not miss eating at the langar at the Golden Temple. Visit the Wagah Border and Jallianwala Bagh while in Amritsar.
8th Nov - 11th Nov
Head to India's own Cherry Blossom Festival in Shillong, Meghalaya. And what more? It is free and open to all! The International Cherry Blossom Festival will be held next to the picturesque Ward's Lake along with multiple venues in Shillong. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in November 2016; so, plan a trip and be among the first few this year.
The Khasi Hills of the mesmerising Meghalaya bloom with the pearly pinks and whites of the Himalayan cherry tree and it is a sight to behold. The festival days will be filled with numerous activities including the Cherry Blossom Run, storytelling, traditional archery competition, food and wine fest, arts and crafts, rock shows and more.
Travel Tip: Do try the plum wine along with the other fruit wines at the fest.