If you thrive on adventure, pay attention! Ten adventure events and festivals in India that you must travel in this year.
Kila Raipur Rural Olympics
The Kila Raipur Rural Olympics is an annual 3-day sports bonanza that attracts millions of tourists every year. The main events include dog race, horse dance, camel race, tractor race, and a tug-of-war. The highlight of the Olympics is the bullock cart race, for which the stakes and rewards are the highest. There are some dare devil competitions like lifting bicycles with their teeth, pulling cars with teeth and riding a bicycle ringed with a burning tyre.
How to Reach: Kila Raipur is located 15 km from Ludhiana and is well connected by rail, road and air.
When: February 21 – 24, 2015
Where: Ambod Village, Gujarat
Located on the Gandhinagar-Mahudi Highway, Ambod will play host to the Sandstorm Festival in February. If you are an adventure enthusiast, you must visit the four-day Sandstorm Festival where you can try your hand at sports like hang-gliding, hot air ballooning and spectator sports. To add to that, there is a lot you can explore and do in and around Gandhinagar. The Indroda Nature Park, Akshardham Temple and Adalaj Stepwell are must-visits. Virendra Goyal a traveller from Shimla adds, “Gujarat being a developing state, Gandhinagar has been beautifully designed. You cannot miss the laser show at Akshardham Temple. Also, a visit to Gandhinagar is incomplete without buying khadi.”
How to Reach: Mridul Pareek from Ahmedabad says, “There is only one route that people choose to go to Gandhinagar from Ahmedabad. That’s the main highway. The road is really nice and a dream to ride on if you are a bike or car enthusiast. This 6-lane road is straight for 50-60 km with one-two turns and lush greenery on both sides.” Ambod is near Mahudi, 25 km from Gandhinagar.
India Surf Festival
When: February 6 – 18, 2015
Where: Ramchandi Beach, Odisha
There’s everything that you need to unwind – sunny beaches, yoga workshops and of course surfing competitions! And as night falls, you have some really cool bands and DJs lined up for entertainment. To add to it, folk dance performances Says traveler Asha, “Riding high on the waves is such a thrilling experience!”
How to Reach: Ramchandi Beach can be reached through State-operated buses that are available from Konark, Puri and Pipli. The nearest airport to reach the destination is Bhubaneswar. The airport is located at a distance of around 34 km from the beach. Travellers can also board trains to reach Ramchandi Beach that arrive at Puri Railway Station. This station is located at a distance of about 78 km from the destination.
Holla Mohalla – Sikh Olympics
When: March 7 – 9, 2015
Where: Rupnagar, Punjab
Holla Mohalla is celebrated over a period of three days. The festival starts with mock battles, which are followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singhs (members of the Sikh army that was founded by Guru Govind Singh) have kept the martial tradition alive and perform daring feats such as Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging, bareback horse riding and standing erect on two speeding horses, among others. Sikhs, especially the Nihangs, dressed in their traditional martial costumes, display their skills in archery, sword fencing, horse riding and shooting. Holla Mohalla has been recognised as a national festival by the Government of India and it is being celebrated in the state of Punjab since 1701. “It’s quite, serene and green. A beautiful place to visit if you are looking for some peace and quiet,” says traveler Gursimran Singh from Delhi. However, during the Holla Mohalla Festival, expect a lot of tourists and locals from nearby towns and cities to be there.
How to Reach: It’s just 75 km from Ludhiana. The nearest airport to the district headquarters is Chandigarh, which is connected with major cities like New Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur. Besides, the railway junction of Rupnagar is connected with all the major cities in northern India. There is an extensive network of bus services that connect the city from nearby places like Chandigarh and Ludhiana.
Champakulam Boat Race, Alleppey
When: July 1, 2015
Flowing through the village of Champakulam, 15 km near Alleppey, the Pamba River is one of the most important rivers in Kerala. It is here where the famous Champakulam Moolam Boat Race is held every year. Tourists and locals throng the village to watch the elaborately decorated ‘chundans’ or snake boats gliding down the waters at an incredible speed. Tourists are not expected to buy tickets but reach the venue early to secure a place on the riverbank. The snake boat race needs its participants to prepare well in advance and each one of them undergo rigorous training for several days before the race. Says HolidayIQ Traveller Bob from Bangalore, “Go fishing on a quickly assembled contraption. Opt for a slow boat ride down the lazy river or a houseboat if you want to spend the night in the middle of nowhere gazing into the blue-black sky looking for some far off constellation.” Adds HolidayIQ Traveller Priyanka Rajwar from Bangalore, “If you are going on a houseboat, you must know that food is provided by the houseboat staff. There’s a kitchen in every houseboat that serves tea, lunch, dinner, breakfast. Best is to go with the Kerala fish curry and do not miss tender coconut, and try toddy. You can also carry some movie CDs/DVDs as most of the houseboats have TV sets with DVD players.”
How to Reach: “We started our journey from Kochi at about 9.30 am. We boarded a bus and reached Alleppey by 11.30 am,” says traveler Nithin from Ooty. Champakulam is just 15 km from Alleppey. Alleppey is located at a distance of about 55 km from Kochi. However, the best way to reach Alleppey from Kochi is by car, a journey of about 2-3 hours. The places covered during the journey are – Aroor, Kuthiathode, Pattanakkad and Cherthala.
Nehru Boat Race
When: August 8, 2015
Snake boats gliding on the waters of the Punnamada Lake, fighting it out with each other to win the Nehru Trophy
Boat Race, is a sight to behold. Every boat has more than 100 rowers, who, with their well-coordinated movements, try and compete with others oarsmen. The race is complemented with the sound of drums played by local artists. Locally called Vallam Kali, the Nehru Trophy Boat Race started off as an impromptu race during Jawaharlal Nehru’s visit to Alleppey in 1952. He was welcomed and escorted by men rowing these snake boats, which turned into a race later on. The winner, an oarsman called Chundan, was awarded a trophy by Nehru and this tradition is continued till date. The trophy is a replica of a snake boat in silver and is placed on wooden tablet, which bears the signature of Jawaharlal Nehru and is inscribed with his words ‘To the winner of the boat-race, which is a unique feature of community life in Travancore-Cochin’. Tourists visiting Alleppey for the race are advised to reach the venue by 9:00 am.
When: September 13, 2015
The Ladakh Marathon is the World’s highest Marathon that will be held at 11,500 ft! The race begins and ends in Leh. The route runs through the outskirts of the Leh Valley and crosses the Indus River. Says HolidayIQ Traveller Ashish Oka, “The Indira Gandhi Shanti Stupa is an imposing structure and as you move out to Nimu, the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar is stunning. Just beyond, there is the Magnetic Hill, where a static vehicle gets pulled up a gradient and even planes avoid going over it. The monasteries of Spituk, Thiksey and Hemis are serene places and highway 1 alpha winds you to Kargil and beyond. The road to Chumatang on China border makes you feel as if you are close to heaven and the sight of millions of stars in a totally unpolluted environment tempts you to actually pluck a few from the sky. Do shop for apricots here – they are delicious! Handicrafts available here are tempting but expensive.”
How to Reach: Ladakh is about 1000 km from Delhi. It is well-connected to Delhi by road and air. However, the best way to reach Leh is by flight. There are plenty of air carriers that ply on this route. You can also opt to drive down to Leh from Manali via Srinagar.
Paragliding World Cup 2015
Where: Bir-Billing, Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is gearing up to host the 2015 Paragliding World Cup. It will be held from October 24 in Kangra where around 150 top-ranked pilots of the world will participate besides 500 free-flying pilots. HolidayIQ Traveller Sharad Gupta says, “You have Devi Nagarkot, Chamunda Devi, Maa Chintpurni, Naina Devi , Baijnath Mahadev. To add to it, Mc Leodganj and several Buddhist monasteries. Do try the Tibetan food that roadside eateries offer – especially the momos and thukpa.”
How to Reach: You can take a flight to Dharamshala and then catch a bus or taxi to reach Bir. It takes about 5 hours to reach Bir from Dharamshala by bus. Or, take a train from Delhi to Pathankot. From there, board a bus and you will reach Bir in 7-8 hours.
Pushkar Camel Fair
When: November 19 – 25, 2015
Where: Pushkar, Rajasthan
One of the largest and oldest cattle fairs in the world, the Pushkar Mela is held at Pushkar in Rajasthan. Tourists visiting Pushkar during this time can watch the colourful spectacle of traders buying and selling livestock while they enjoy a camel ride on the golden sand dunes of Pushkar. There are several interesting competitions featured at the festival such as bridal competitions and a face-off between locals for the longest moustache. “Pushkar does not have much to offer for sightseeing except the Brahma Temple, Rangji Temple, Nag Pahadi and the Pushkar Lake. But it has a lot to offer if you are a foodie! Do not miss the famous Malpua opposite Gau Ghat. The market has various products on offer, right from leather goods, mystical stones and incense to psychedelic paintings. Do buy authentic Gulkand made from rose fields around Pushkar. Relax for a whole day at roof-top restaurants while you view the mystical Pushkar Lake amidst the Aravalli Hills and enjoy the sunset at Sunset Cafe opposite the lake. Desert safari and camping is another activity, which can keep you busy.”
How to Reach: Puskhar is about 150 km from Jaipur. There is a six-lane expressway (Toll is around 90 rupees) after 35 km. But, beware. There aren’t many dhabas on the route and not many petrol pumps.
Article: Siddhartha Sarkar