When you have a list of colourful festivals, full of expressive faces and artistic moments to click, a camera is all that you’ll need. We’ve dug out 5 festivals from 4 Indian states with pretty dancers, fun looking camels, rarely seen sadhus and creative masterpieces and so much more to make sure that you and your camera have a picture perfect January!
Zoom in on the Maha Kumbh!
A Naga Sadhu, covered in ash sits proudly on an even prouder elephant. His long treads occasionally touch his feet and withdraw as though they’ve just been blessed. He is holding a fierce sword. But it doesn’t seem half as strong as the devotion in his eyes. And, though his body is naked, he doesn’t shiver, he sits still. To this, the bright saffron flags form a background for a second and then shy away from the wind.
This is the description of a photograph from a Kumbh Mela of yesteryear. For those who missed that one, luckily, after a gap of 12 years, the Maha Kumbh will take place this year. Being one of the oldest festivals in India, Maha Kumbh sees the biggest gathering of people in the entire world. Of course for a religious purpose. And thousands of people means millions of expressions to shoot! Just the reason why you and your camera should be there between January 27-February 25, 2013 at Allahabad (bathing dates, Kumbh goes on for days before and after these dates).
Yogis, sadhus and saints, even the rarely spotted ones from the Himalayan caves, can be seen here. The different Akharas or groups of Sadhus walk in an elaborate procession towards the bathing grounds. Some go on decked up elephants, few on chariots, a couple on fancy looking camels, and others simply choose to walk. What an illustrious gait! Holding up spears, tridents, swords and saffron flags, the camera lens will be more than tempted to capture them.
- Carry loads of woolens, the biting cold will need you to be well packed.
- Take along sports shoes. There’s loads of walking around to do.
- Minimum luggage is always the best way to go about things.
- Keep off from thick crowds. It’s easy to get lost there.
- Avoid taking along kids.
- Beware of touts.
- Book hotels asap.
Date: January 27-February 25, 2013*
Bikaner Camel festival – The Camels are Posing!
The two days when the ‘ship of desert’ is paid a tribute, Bikaner Camel Festival is when this kind creature who endures the scorching heat and the harsh chills of the desert without complaining is celebrated with much enthusiasm and vigour. Organised by the Department of Tourism, Rajasthan Government, the festival is a perfect event to witness Rajasthan in its full colourful glory. Moreover, with the largest NRCC (National Research Center on Camel) in India, Bikaner turns out to be the best place for this festival.
The celebration includes a myriad of events, competitions and functions including best decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel beauty pageant and the best camel hair cut.The festival also showcases folk performances by the local artistes.
The celebration is commenced by a parade of gorgeously bedecked camels against the backdrop of the red Junagarh Fort. This is followed by other festivities of immense vibrancy and vigour. The local dancers with their colourful swirling skirts (Ghoomar Dance), the lively fireworks and the crazy fire dancers turns the day into a carnival of delight. The Bikaner festival is open for all. So, basically you just have to show up at the venue to enjoy this colourful and lively festival of camels.
- Apart from carrying your camera, which is a must, don’t forget to take your favourite woolens because at night the desert turns chilly.
- On the contrary during the day your sunglasses comes in handy because it is extremely bright and sunny.
- It is advisable to stay in touch with the officials from the department of tourism rather than the local tour agents.
- Don’t worry about tickets because all you need to do is to arrive at the festival, to enjoy it.
Date and Timings: 26th and 27th of January, 2013* ( dawn till dusk).
Venue: The festival commences from the Junagarh Fort and advances towards the open sand-spreads of the Polo Ground in Bikaner.
Rann Utsav 2013 – Shoot the Colours on the White Canvas!
Organised by Gujarat Tourism, this month long carnival is one of the most awaited and popular festival in India. A myriad of events, cultural performances, exhibitions by local artisans bring out a plethora of varied hues in the white arid land of Kutch. One of the most aesthetic and ethereal places in the state with its diverse ethnicity hosts this wonderful celebration of art, music, dance and craft. On the full moon night in the month of December the carnival commences on the iridescent landscape of Kutch. This festival brimming with hospitality, vibrancy with sweet traditional flavours welcomes guests from the far end corners of the country and the world.
A photographers delight this festival takes place in various locales in and around Kutch amidst its natural grandeur. An array of folk music and dance performances are set in the shimmering moonlit landscapes providing the most enchanting experiences of all. A vibrant and colourful fair is held on the beach of Mandvi. The fervour and flamboyance is yet excelled by the cultural display in the grasslands of Banni.
There will be somewhere around 400 AC and Non AC tents for you to choose from. The tariff of which vary from INR 4000 to INR 12,000. So, what are you waiting for come forward to enjoy the celebration of life in the Kutch-Rann Mahotsav in Gujarat.
- Book your tents in well in advance, especially if you need the AC tents.
- Load your bags with woolens to keep off the cold.
- All the action happens at the night of the full moon. Don’t miss it.
- Carry enough cash and keep it safely. ATMs are rare.
- Travel light and leave enough space in your bags for the shopping.
Date and Timings: 15th December, 2012 to 31st January, 2013
Venue: Rann of Kutch
Spot and Click at Kochi – Muziris Biennale
Two people set out on a journey once. They set out to capture experiences. Through an unknown land they went. It looked a bit like Venice, a more contemporary version of it. The city was lined with structures – some were enormous and unique and others smaller yet queer. Each stirred the the curiosity of the onlooker. Then there were paintings and art performances and designs plucked straight from an artist’s creative mind. A city like a dream. Yet the two people in the journey can still be you and your camera!
“A globe made of copper wire that looked like a planet woven out of spaghetti”, mentioned an article in The Hindu. Garages, warehouses, traffic islands, private houses and even schools and parks have been converted into galleries for artists from all across the world in Kochi. The simple paintings of K.P. Reji that hold securely glimpses of history and Robert Montgomery’s 44 metre billboard poetry are only a few of the intriguing subjects you’ll find here. The two curators, Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu have literally transformed Fort Kochi into a humongous museum built solely on imagination and talent.
Pick between a bus and a boat to reach For Kochi. Hop onto a boat from Ernakulam Boat Jetty. It will cost you INR 2.50 per person. A bus ride, on the other hand will take 45 mins and cost INR 10. Tickets are easily available near Aspinwall House (about one and a half km from boat jetty). You can also get the tickets at the Durbar hall Art Gallery, Ernakulam.
- In case you are lost, feel free to ask the locals for help. They are very helpful.
- Pick between a bus and a boat. Autos usually overcharge.
- Be careful while crossing roads. The heavy traffic is mindboggling.
- While in Kochi, also try your hand at the fresh sea food.
Entry: INR 50 for adults, INR 10 for students
Date: December 12, 2012 to March 3, 2013
Venue: Kochi, Kerala
25th International Kite Festival, Ahmedabad – Action’s in Midair!
Come January and the skies of Gujarat are filled with colourful fluttering papers of happiness and delight. Commenced along side Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival celebrated of north India, the International Kite Festival is held every year in Gujarat and is a joyous and huge affair. During the Kite festival which is better known as Uttarayan the entire city turns into a battlefield of kite warriors or Patang Baaz coming from all walks of life. Organised by the Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL), this festival is one of the much eagerly awaited festivals of the state.
This year the festival is promised to be bigger and better than before, because unlike every year when its is celebrated at Sabarmati river front in Ahmedabad, in 2013 the celebrations will spread all across Gujarat including other major cities. Look forward to splurging on the food stalls serving delectable local favourites, the craft bazaars selling colourful items and of course the huge spectacular kites! As the morning turns into night without much to your realization, kite fighters send up bright white kites to be seen in the darkness. The skilled flyers prefer to send aloft their tukkals with strings of brightly lit lanterns in a long line leading back down to the rooftop of their houses.
According to the plans of the TCGL this year’s event will be held on the 1.5 kilometer stretch of Sabarmati riverfront between the Gandhi bridge to Nehru bridge. Around 150 kite enthusiasts from all across the globe has been invited to take part in this vibrant scene of Gujarat. Other than kite flying fun activities like light and sound show, workshops and training on kite making will be a major part of the event. Also, a separate pavilion to display the history and significance of kites to introduce people to the subject will be there.
There is no ritual of passes or tickets to be a part of the event. Just be there to have this heavenly experience. And your camera will be of great use there!
- La Bella in Old Ahmedabad is one of the best (of the very few) non veg joints in Ahmedabad.
- This festival sees loads of tourists, so book your hotels in advance.
- It’s also a dry state, alcohol consumption is prohibited.
- When in Ahmedabad, do try the Gujarati cuisine.
Date and Timing: 6th to 14th January 2013*Here’s a list of 5 festivals from 4 states , from early morning till late night.
Venue: Sabarmati River Front, Ashram Road, Ahmedabad, 380006, Gujarat, India
January 7, 2013 – Kite Flying for Foreign Kitist at Priyadarshini Park by Foreign Kite Flyers
January 8, 2013 – Kite Flying at Saputara and Modhra
January 9, 2013 – Kite Flying at Surat and Modhera
January 10, 2013 – The Indian Team and Foreign Team moves to Kutch, Somnath and Mandvi Beach
January 11, 2013 – Kite Flying at Dhordo, Mandvi Beach and Somnath Temple Beach
January 12, 2013 – All Kite flyers comes back to Ahmedabad by Road
January 13, 2013 – Inauguration of International Kite Festival in Ahmedabad, Sabarmati Riverfront with Night Flying
January 14, 2013 – City Heritage Tour for Foreign Kitist at Old Ahmedabad