India – a world of vivid colour, drenched in culture, and deeply rich history – is a difficult country to define. Known to be extremely diverse, India is the second-most populous country in the world. A convergence of varying beliefs, Western influences, languages, modern economy, and timeless traditions make India one of the most stimulating and evocative countries to visit. Perhaps one of the most unique features of India is how often you can encounter these customs at any time of day, on any street, and in the midst of everyday life among the locals. It’s a lot to take in and you may experience some culture shock at first, but before long the country’s fascinating way of life and its distinctive personality will draw you in. Between the fabulously flavourful cuisine, the vibrant people, and captivating scenery, visiting India will be a memorable and life-changing endeavour.
The best time to visit India depends on what you want to see and where you want to go. For the Golden Triangle (Agra, Delhi and Jaipur), the best period is between October and mid-April, when temperatures are at their mildest and rainfall is at its lowest. And during this period, there are two cultural highlights in the Hindu calendar that you might want to time your visit with:
The Hindu ‘Festival of Lights’ is the international celebration of light over darkness and good over evil. Over five days, friends and families will get together for feasts, light their homes with earthen lamps (‘diyas’), swap presents, play games and watch local fireworks. It centres around the new moon (‘Amavasya’), which heralds New Year's Eve in the Hindu calendar. It’s believed the Goddess Lakshmi will visit each home and bless the inhabitants with wealth and happiness.
This joyful ‘Festival of Love’ is one of the most widely photographed celebrations in the world, with its colourful paint powder. It begins on the night of the full moon (‘Holika Dahan’) with the lighting of bonfires to celebrate, like Diwali, the triumph of good over evil. This is the time when people traditionally forget all resentments towards each other, celebrating by throwing pots of paint powder at each other. It is a festival of love and respect – an unforgettable event to take part in.
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