The locals come out in throngs and crowd around terraces. Whizzing kites and their colorful tails from all around the world fly high up in the air! Children and adults alike are in stiff competition to see who outlasts them all! With a dip and a tug, one kite catches another in its death grip… Snap. If you see a kite fall don’t forget to yell, “Kai Poche!”
When UNESCO brands a cultural tradition as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, it usually makes you stop and look; the Baul will captivate you with their stirring renditions. The group brings meaning to secularism in a surprising combination of Vaishnava Hindus and Sufi Muslims singing compositions by Rabrindranath Tagore! This celebration of love through tunes that transcend religion, ring clear through the air in earthy tones – they’ll leave you stunned at the images they conjure up.
When you think ‘monk’, do you picture an unruffled individual whose sole aim is to contemplate the intricacies of the Universe? The lamas at Hemis conform to this ideal in principle, but every year on the day of Guru Rimpoche’s birthday, the mystical masks are taken out of storage, dusted off and adorned in a spellbinding spectacle of colours, larger than life puppets and an age-old story of good triumphing over evil.
The Change of Guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan takes place every Saturday in a great show of military tradition. The President’s Guard also joins in the regimen albeit on horseback. The powerful 30-minute performance of man and horse in regalia, set to the music of a military brass band will transport you to a time of Kings and Queens.
Royalty with all its perks has unique mannerisms that sets it apart from the everyday. The age of the Nawabs might be over on the streets of Lucknow, but they still live on behind closed doors. The innate etiquette, the art of speech and a cultured approach to life are very much the treasured inheritance of the few remaining families. High tea with a Nawab to learn their customs is as close as you will get to the forgotten traditions of eras past.
Powders in every hue imaginable adorn passers-by as the fun filled festival of Holi begins at Barsana. Unlike other celebrations of the same, this is a tribute to an episode from Lord Krishna’s childhood where he not only smeared colour on everyone’s face but was chased after by the gopis (cowherd-women) with sticks in hand! Seems like a scary prospect, doesn’t it? Trust us, it’s all on the up and up.
Shah Jahan’s love for Mumtaz is a timeless tale of epic proportions (as big as the Taj Mahal itself!). At Kalakriti, a cultural academy, the largest marble replica of the monument presents the backdrop for an engrossing play about the royal lovers. We’re sure you’ll feel that little pang of jealousy knowing that a love so deep could even exist, but also wonder at the fact that just 22 artisans put together the entire structure!
The oldest city in India, which looks twice as old in the words of Mark Twain, is in a constant state of prayer and exultation of good winning over evil. But on the full moon day that follows Diwali (or Deepavali) the celebrations are kicked up a notch. You will see every step in every Ghat adorned with earthen lamps, welcoming the Gods coming to take a dip in the Ganges. It is almost a sort of runway for the mythical, if you will!
On a normal day, you may find it hard to digest the sight of men in barely-there underwear rolling around in the sand, but at the Akharas in Varanasi this daily ritual is carried out with a dispassionate precision which will leave you spellbound. The rigorous training and strict regimen the wrestlers follow is reason enough for their popular wins, but more importantly, offer more than just a photo opp in return.
Exquisite sculptures and elaborate carvings adorning the famed Khajuraho Temples are brought to life in the flick of a wrist or tap of a foot. The annual Khajuraho Dance Festival invites veterans and esoteric performers from around the world, infusing vigour into the usually peaceful, nearby village. Through classical dance forms, the artists sweep you up in a whirlwind of emotions.
It’s easy to feel like you’ve missed a lot when touring India, but Footprint made this holiday seem wholesome! We loved everything from the hotels at Kolkata, Jaipur and Delhi, to the walking tour of Agra and the cooking classes you arranged for. Can’t wait to come back…
It was absolutely exciting to decipher the countryside of Amritsar and watch first hand, traditional activities of the locals. An absolutely immersive experience that only Footprint could put together.
Road tripping takes a lot out of you so it was a welcome change to have Footprint plan an extensive ride across the south of India to the North East. Have to say the caving experience in Cherrapunjee absolutely takes the cake!
We enjoy traveling at our own pace and tracing back Indian culture to its roots. We loved Footprint’s suggestion of Khajuraho and their execution of the holiday was amazing! Thank you.
Kudos to Footprint for incorporating all our interests into one holiday. And for finding Almond Villa, the best accommodation we’ve ever come across. Wished we could’ve stayed a while longer! Kashmir has changed for us, forever.
Planning a 40 day trip is no mean feat, but Footprint did an excellent job – ensuring I got to see everything I wanted and even throwing in some unexpected surprises. I was ecstatic at all the arrangements made especially because I was visiting Gujarat after such a long time. Hotels, drivers and guides were all excellent!