Explore India during Diwali 2017 with Kuoni
Diwali is an important festival in the Hindu calendar. Its also a great time to visit India, as all the towns and villages are lit up with festive decorations, sweets are handed out and there are tremendous firework displays. It takes place in October or November each year and this year, 2017, the main date of the festival is October 23rd.
The festival is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. According to the stories of the Hindu scriptures, it commemorates the return of Rama and his wife Sita after 14 years in the wilderness, which is where they were banished by Rama’s evil stepmother, in order to prevent him from becoming the rightful ruler.
Commonly referred to as the ‘festival of light’ the main feature of the festival is hundreds of lit diya lamps; lamps made from clay, which are floated down rivers and used to adorn walls and streets. It’s a wonderful time of year to visit Northern India and take in these elaborate illuminations, the plentiful firework displays and the heady atmosphere of this 5 day event.
Why take an escorted tour of India?
Without doubt, the best way to experience India during this special time is to take an escorted tour. This will give you the opportunity to travel around the events taking place in some of the country’s most prominent and decorated cities. You’ll have a personal tour manager, who will ensure you get to all your internal flights on time and reach your overnight accommodation safely, as well as take you on guided walks around a myriad of famous attractions.
The whole holiday will be a unique and memorable experience, that will give you access to all areas of India, without any of the hassle of organising your own exploration. Everything you need, including flights, hotels, food and entrance tickets to landmarks, prominent buildings and museums will be included as part of your all-inclusive package.
In addition to all of this, your Kuoni guide will lead you in some local experiences that will give you a real taste of living in India! Rather than experiencing Diwali with a tourists eye, you could find yourself celebrating with an Indian family, eating delicious homemade snacks and gaining a real insight into the culture of the country.
How is Diwali celebrated?
Towns and cities are decorated with lanterns and lamps. Huge firework displays are organised all over and special markets spring up, illuminated with hundreds of little lights. One of the best-loved sights of the Diwali festival is the holy river of the Ganges, lit up with floating candles.
Families will spend a long time giving their homes a thorough clean in the run up to Diwali in order to prepare for the arrival of the goddess Lakshimi. Puja, or prayers, are performed and new clothes are worn.
In some cities huge effigies of the demon Narakasura, who was defeated by Lord Krishna; a story connected to the festival, are burned as the sun comes up. A visit to the temples of India at this time should be on your agenda, along with trying some of the delicious foods that are lovingly baked for the festival.
The making of snacks to sustain everyone during Diwali is a social event, where everyone comes together to cook. Homemade mithai, which are a type of sweets and snacks are offered around the houses by well-wishers.
In addition to plentiful sweets, you should also try Galaka; a type of squash curry, Chivda, which is similar to Bombay Mix, Sheera; a dish made from semolina, raisins, nuts and saffron, as well as any number of tasty bites created from rice, chickpeas, spices and coconut.
Where can you expect to visit on your Diwali tour?
The Aspen Travel team work very closely with internationally-renowned escorted tour providers; Kuoni. Their tours of Northern India will take you on a whirlwind visit of major sites of interest, but allow you to spend enough time in each place to gain a real insight into the culture, history and geography of the area.
Diwali markets in Delhi
The capital of India; Delhi, is a much anticipated destination of many Indian tours. You’ll be taken to see the imperial architecture of the iconic India Gate, as well as the Red Fort. You’ll marvel at the contrast between new and old Delhi, as well as enjoy the street markets that become even more picturesque and lively during Diwali.
The Ganges in Varanasi
Varanasi is an eccentric city with a colourful character all of its own, located on the banks of the River Ganges. It’s where Buddha’s first sermon was delivered and is a significant place for Hindus too, as this is where the Hindu scriptures are kept.
The pious can be see entering the Ganges, via the ghats; stone steps, in order to cleanse themselves in the holy waters. The river will be lit up at night by the candles that float down it. Additionally, Varanasi residents are very keen on their Diwali fireworks and firecrackers. Expect plenty of colourful, noisy bursts of gunpowder delivered into the air.
The Taj Mahal in Agra
Agra houses one of India’s most popular attractions; a monument which is recognised all over the world. It is, of course, the Taj Mahal. This mausoleum with spectacular marble walls and a stunning lake is best viewed at sunrise for an added wow factor.
Search for the Bengal Tiger in Ranthambore
The Ranthambore National Park is a premiere safari spot in India. It’s one of the few places where the elusive Bengal Tiger can be seen (if you’re very lucky!). Enjoy a game drive, where a knowledgable guide will take you to safely view sloth bears, crocodiles, leopards, wild boars and different species of deer, all living their natural, unspoilt and native habitat.
The poets of Lucknow
Lucknow is important culturally because of the artistic legacy of its inhabitants. This is known as the city of poets, where poetry is thrown in the street, along with plenty of spit! You’ll certainly find some inspiring words here, along with some great food!
The Pink Palace of Jaipur
Commonly agreed to be one of the very best places to experience Diwali, Jaipur is home to the Amer Fort or Pink Palace. The markets are very competitive in their Diwali decorations, so expect some stunning light displays. One of the main streets in Jaipur is lit up so brightly during festive time that it’s often compared to Las Vegas, earning itself the nickname “The Strip”. The fact that gambling is popular here and casinos can be found dotted all over the cities have only served to further the Vegas connotations.
If you’d like to enjoy Diwali in the company of Indian families, eating delicious sweets while you watch the fireworks and enjoy the tastes, smells and sounds of this vibrant nation, please get in touch with the Aspen Travel team.
We offer a huge number of escorted tours to India, not just with Kuoni, but plenty of other well known travel brands. If you’d like to include Gujarat, Kerala or Mumbai as part of your tour, we’ll be able to find a package to suit you.
Our team are experienced and knowledgable about India. They will work hard to accommodate your travel preferences to ensure you get a holiday of a lifetime that exceeds your expectations. Please give us a call to find out more.