If you are looking for a truly cultural experience during your Indian travels then being part of an Indian festival is a must! Though the country is at the cusp of summer and monsoons, the lower Himalayas are tucked away in cooler temperature and more agreeable weather for some festivities. Here are some festivals and fairs to explore and weave your travel plans around:
Hemis Festival of Ladakh
Ladakh, one of the leading summer destinations of North India is popular with visitors, heading to locations such as Panging Tso, Nubra Valley, Leh, and Tso Moriri. Many travellers miss out on the colourful Hemis festival, but it is well worth the detour. The two day festival is held in the Hemis monastery, just outside Leh. Accessible and relatively unexplored by non-locals, this is a great addition to your stay in the region. Colourful masked dances, handicrafts and photo-opportunities to capture local lifestyle and people are abundant. A word of caution – arrive early to get good seats, as the area for the performances is very small.
Shimla Summer Festival
Beat the rain and the summer holiday rush to Shimla for the historic Summer Festival of the City. First started in the 1960s, the Shimla Summer Festival gives you an opportunity to enjoy musical performances, arts, food and fashion with the locals in this great location. It also falls on a very convenient route for those heading to the higher places of Himachal Pradesh.
Sindhu Darshan Festival
Another relatively unknown festival, the Sindhu Darshan Festival of Leh, is celebrated in the first week of June. The festival has a strong local appeal as the passes are not open until mid June. It is a great time for exclusive local interaction. The festival is a symbolic acknowledgement to the brave soldiers of the region, who have fought in the difficult terrains of Siachen and Kargil. It also includes a small prayer meeting for the River Indus which runs through the region.
Rath Yatra, Orissa
One of the most colourful festivals of Eastern India, the Rath Yatra, throws the town of Puri in frenzy. Celebrated in the third week of June, the festival sees the deities, Lord Jagannath with his siblings, brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, being transported outside the main Temple to their aunt’s temple, on the first day. Though the celebrations go on for a good ten days, the first day is really worth your while for some great photo opportunities.
This festival commemorates the symbolic union of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti with God. Urs is one of the largest Muslim festivals of India and invokes a large gathering from across the country. Sufi music in Qawalis, Mehfils and Fatihas is the most captivating part of the festival. If travelling to Rajasthan during this time, a visit to Ajmer is a must.
The ghats of Benares are always alive with action. Adding to the myriad colours of Benares, the Ganga Dusherra is celebrated in June. Millions visit the holy city to take a dip in the Ganga in hope to wash away their sins. So if you looking at a cathartic Indian experience, you know where to go!
If you would like to join in with one of these Indian festivals in June yourself contact our reservations team who will be happy to help you plan a trip.
Homestays offer the perfect opportunity to get a local insight into festivals and your host family will be happy to provide guidance on the best way to experience the celebrations. Check out our Indian homestay collection.
Many thanks to the photographers who share their images under the Creative Commons licence. All images link back to the original source.
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