Escape the cold this winter and head to a spectacular Indian festival: The Rajasthani International Folk Festival in October and the Pushkar Camel & Cattle Fair in November
We all love India's exquisite forts and tiger-trodden forests, her twinkling royal palaces and tongue-tingling food… but to make your trip to India extra special, try and time your holiday to coincide with one of her many spectacular festivals.
With 42 ethnic minorities and a third of the population belonging to indigenous tribes, it is unsurprising that India has a lot of festivals. Some of the world’s most fascinating festivals take place here. On any given day, somewhere in India is guaranteed to be kicking up its heels to celebrate something or another!
Two of our favourite Indian festivals are taking place in Rajasthan in the next couple of months…
The Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) 26 - 30 October 2012
Set at Jodhpur's spectacular 17th-century Mehrangarh Fort, RIFF is a heady 5-day symphony of traditional Indian melody, Bollywood music, spinning dancers and chilled-out partying. Enjoyed by music lovers from around the world, this festival brings together more than 250 musicians and performing artists from across Rajasthan and the world to celebrate their musical heritage and create new sounds through innovative collaborations.
It is a vibrant but relaxed affair, where you can look forward to moon-lit music sessions in the Mehragarh Fort's gardens and courtyard with Jodhpur's blue-walled city as its backdrop. Ever heard of a dholak, morchang or a gungaroo? Here you can discover the spiritual sounds of exotic Indian musical instruments, sufi music, jazz performances and gypsy music and dance, as well as more modern music sets and all-night parties (Mick Jagger is a patron, after all!) Best of all, there are soothing early morning ragas to restore you after a late one. Once recovered, no trip to Jodhpur would be complete without a shopping trip to the myriad of local bazaars selling some of the best textiles in India.
The Pushkar Camel & Cattle Fair 20 - 28 November 2012
Once a year, up to 200,000 local Rajasthani villagers congregate in the swirling sands surrounding Pushkar to parade, trade and race up to 50,000 camels, horses and donkeys. The fair at Pushkar involves not only livestock trading - it is also a significant pilgrimage site and a fantastically festive and cultural event. Hindu devotees come here to take a dip in the holy waters of the sacred Pushkar Lake to wash away their sins. Festivities include folk music and traditional dancing in colourful regional costumes. As an observer this is a truly fascinating event and you can spend days wandering around soaking up the sights and smells, stocking up on saris, woodcraft and jewellery, and rubbing shoulders with tribal artisans.
It is a noisy, crowded and dusty affair thronging with life and atmosphere. There is something about a camel - particularly thousands of them in one spot - that is wonderfully humorous. They are famous for their rather stubborn, contentious nature and you feel and look rather silly riding one, which is always good for a giggle! Best of all, though, is the vibrancy of this age-old event and the coming together of so many thousands of rural villagers from far and wide to trade, sing, dance and be merry.
Please get in touch with our specialists for more details or to book your tailor-made festival tour of India: +44 (0)20 7289 6100 or email email@example.com