With changing topography, demographics, traditions and culture in different parts of the country, we are lucky to host some of the most unique festivals in the world. If you haven’t figured out your travel plans till now, then just read on and pick your favourite.
Kottiyoor Festival, Kerala
This one is closer home! The Kottiyoor Vysakha Mahotsavam is a mesmerising festival held in a dense forest with lush greenery and the gorgeous River Baveli forming a stunning backdrop. This 28-day long festival in Kannur is conducted by two temples, Akkara Kottiyoor and Ikkara Kottiyoor, situated on the banks of the River Baveli. The Akkara Kottiyoor Temple serves as the venue for the festival and is opened only during the festival days. The religious rituals and ceremonies are performed in thatched huts. The festival commences with the Neyyattam (pouring of ghee) ritual which is attended by hundreds of devotees. The celebrations start with the bringing of a sword from Muthirerikavu in Wayanad. One of the main ritualistic programs in this festival is Elaneer Vayppu in which tender coconut brought by the devotees is offered before the shiva linga. The festival concludes with Elaneerattam in which the collected tender coconut water is poured on the linga by the head priest.
When: June 6 to July 2
How to get there: The nearest railway station is Thalassery (about 65 km) and there are trains plying from Chennai regularly. You can take a taxi or private car from Thalassery. The nearest airport is the Calicut International Airport (about 160 km away).
Shimla Summer Festival, Himachal Pradesh
We need not tell you that June is one of the best months to visit Shimla but what you need to know is that the popular hill station hosts a summer festival during this month. This fest has been held regularly in Shimla since the 1960s. It features musical performances, some from famous singers, food and fashion. Plenty of local handicrafts are on sale too. There are sports tournaments with a variety of activities for both children as well as adults. Colourful flower shows are organized, which add fun and colour to the whole atmosphere thus making it even livelier.
When: First two weeks of June
How to get there: You can take a flight to New Delhi from Chennai and then take a taxi or bus to Shimla. You can take a train upto Kalka and then go to Shimla in a toy train, bus or taxi
Sao Joao Feast of St John the Baptist, Goa
At the beginning of the monsoon season the most popular Goanese festival, the fertility feast of Saint John the Baptist takes place. The celebration of San Joao in Bardez (North Goa) goes back nearly 150 years, when San Joao revelers from Chapora and Zhor villages of Anjuna, Badem in Assagao and Siolim would come up year after year in boats to the chapel of Sao Joao in Periera Vaddo, Siolim, to pay homage and take part in the traditional dali. On this day young men jump into overflowing wells to retrieve gifts thrown in by villagers. Interestingly, more often than not these gifts are bottles of local liquor known as feni. San Joao, like any other Goan feast has that captivating spirit of merriment, colour and tradition. People dressed in colourful outfits from several villages meet near a stream front in special boats and floats. The highlight of the day is the Sangodd, on which people parade singing Mandos and hymns. It is like a beautiful carnival in other parts of the world. It is celebrated with more fervour in North Goa than South Goa.
When: June 24, every year
How to get there: Regular flights and trains from Chennai to Goa
Lucknow Mango Festival and Farmer’s Market, UP
This one is a tribute to the king of fruits. The Lucknow Mango Festival was started in 2013 by Jyotsana Kaur Habibullah, who grows mangoes at her estate, Habibullah Estate Orchard in Lucknow with the aim of promoting the region’s mangoes, supporting small farmers and women in agriculture. Now it has become an annual affair and is a huge attraction for all those who love the delicious fruit from across the country. The finest mangoes are available for sampling and purchase direct from the farmers at the festival. There are also mango-based delicacies on offer, mango eating contests, and plenty of activities for kids. Food at the festival is cooked by locals in the village. Folk music and dance regale the audience, who love the idea of sitting under mango trees and listening to it.
When: Dates to be announced
How to get there: You can take a flight or train to Lucknow and head to the estate.
Ganga Dussera, Varanasi, UP
According to the Hindu calendar, Ganga Dussehra is celebrated (on tenth day of the month) on the day of the waxing moon in the month of Aani. It is celebrated to mark the time River Ganga descended on Earth. A large number of pilgrims congregate alongside the holy river, to bathe in it and worship it. But the most beautiful part of the festival is to witness the beautiful Ganga Aarti. While the aarti takes place everyday on the banks of the river, it is extra special to be a part of it during the Ganga Dussehra festival. Lamps are lit and circled around by the pandits (Hindu priests) in a clockwise manner, accompanied by changing or songs in praise of Mother Ganga. It is a sight which will fascinate even the most non-religious travellers. If you haven’t had the chance to visit Varanasi all this while, now probably is the time to plan a trip.
When: June 3, 2017
How to get there: There are plenty of flights and trains from Chennai to Varanasi