India’s diversity brings with it a plethora of cultures and traditions that are celebrated all year round. Festivals are the best opportunity to taste this diversity first-hand and learn about different cultures and their history. With the monsoon ending and autumn just around the corner, September brings in the most pleasant weather to wrap up this summer with a great trip. Explore these offbeat festivals in India that we have hand-picked for you and turn your trip into an adventure of a lifetime. From dancing to the tunes in the rustic towns of Chhattisgarh to cheering for a 13th century boat race in the backwaters of Kerala, we have the best recommendations for the festivals to attend this September.
1. Vallam Kalli in Kerala – The Festival of Snake Boats
Vallam Kali is a Snake Boat Race held in Kerala every year. What makes this one of the most unique festivals is that it’s a sport whose history dates back to the 13th-century legends of the place. This sport is a tradition that dates back to the 13th Century. The Aranmula Vallam Kali will be celebrated on 11 September 2022.
The boat race is more than a sport; it’s an art form. The mesmerising synchronization with which the rowers move spellbinds the audience. In addition, their cacophony of singing voices alleviates the atmosphere to a fascinating extent. These elements throughout the festival, show how this race is a pure art form of the land. It’s an ideal way to enjoy the beauty of Kerala in September amidst the Onam festivities. Allepey is the place to go to attend the Aranmula Vallam Kali. A scenic drive through the town is the perfect way to enjoy the place to the fullest.
How to reach –
To attend the Aranmula Boat Race, you can take a flight or train to the nearest airport or station and take a cab to cover the rest of the distance. Aranmula is 10 km away from the nearest railway station Chenagannur. However, the nearest airport is Trivandrum International Airport, some 117 km from Aranmula. Witness the splendour of the festival by booking a car rental with a local driver. Install the Savaari cab booking app for offers and discounts on outstation rentals.
2. Pang Lhabsol Festival in Gangtok – A Festival for the Mountain Gods
This historical festival is celebrated in Sikkim by the locals to pay homage to Mount Kanchenjunga. The festival will be held on September 10 this year. This is the ancient ritual of this land that exudes infectious energy among the people attending as well as performing it. The beautiful dances and performances enthral the audience and pull them into another dimension.
The highlight of the festival is the warrior dance called ‘Pang-Toed Chaam’. The lamas in ornate masks dance to the echoes of the drums and cymbals to invoke the protector of Mount Kanchenjunga. You’ll get the chance to try unique food with recipes passed down through generations of people from the valley. It’s a perfect way to spend your vacation, surrounded by history, nature and lip-smacking food.
How to Reach –
The nearest airport to Gangtok is Bagdogra, West Bengal, 125 km away. The nearest railway station is Siliguri which is 150 km away from Gangtok. However, tourists usually drive into the city from the nearest places like Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Siliguri etc. The festival takes place at Tsuklakhang Monastery. The monastery is located at the end of The Ridge. This is a 20-minute leisurely walk from the town centre. Alternatively, you can call a taxi to reach the monastery and explore the city.
3. Abhaneri Festival of Jaipur : The Step Well Festival
This festival of Jaipur will be celebrated in the last week of September. The epicentre of the festival is the Abhaneri step well, and the celebrations surround the monument beautifully. Women in bright ghagra cholis perform the Bhawai dance, and male dancers on dummy horses sing the heroic tales of the kings of Rajasthan. It’s a celebration of the rich heritage of the state and its history. There’s something for everyone here, from puppet shows to Raas Leela to art and crafts exhibitions.
The festival is a must-see for people interested in exploring India through its colourful shades. Rajasthan has always been famous for its quirky and colourful traditions and festivals that bring in people from around the world. The Abhaneri festival is one such event. It offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience of assimilating with the culture of the land you visit. Jaipur in itself is a city with immense historical importance, with the majestic Mehrangarh fort standing witness and proof to the wonderful history of the place. Plan your trip in advance and enjoy everything this wonderful city has to offer.
How to reach
The nearest airport is located in Jaipur itself and the nearest railway station is Bandikui which is 8 km from Abhaneri. The Abhaneri Step well is located 95 kilometres from the city of Jaipur. To travel using public transport, you must first go from Jaipur to Sikandra and from Sikandra to Abhaneri you may rent a jeep or cab, whichever is available.
4. Bastar’s Dussehra: The Longest Festival in the World
One of the country’s most colourful and vibrant festivals is Bastar’s Dussehra or the Jagdalpur Dussehra. It is also called the longest festival in the world with 75 days long celebrations. This festival native to Chattisgarh is believed to have begun in the 13th century. What’s so unique about this festival is the fact that unlike other Dussehra celebrations this does not celebrate the win of Ram. It honours the local deity Goddess Danteshwari Devi. People from all over Chattisgarh bring the idols and processions of their local deities. Infact, festival is mainly for these deities to go to the goddess and offer their respects.
People from numerous local tribes step out in their traditional garb and fill the streets with vigour and enthusiasm. People dance to the beat of the drums and celebrate joyously. The atmosphere is charged with the music by the local traditional musicians. At the heart of the festival is the chariot of the goddess that is beautifully decorated with ornaments and is pulled by more than 400 people at once. The festival is held at the Jagdalpur’s Danteshwari Temple. The festival ends grandly on the last day of Dussehra, with a farewell to all the local deities that attend the festival.
How to Reach
The Danteshwari Temple is about 80km away from Jagdalpur. The nearest airport is the Raipur Airport which is 300km away. Public as well as private buses and taxis ply from Jagdalpur to the temple frequently.
5. Ziro Festival in Arunachal Pradesh: The Music Festival in Nature’s Lap
This festival held in Arunachal Pradesh is the most offbeat destination this September. This outdoor music festival is one of its kind in India with its eco-friendly practices. The infrastructure is made almost entirely of bamboo and plastics are not used making it one of the very rare environment conscious music festivals. The attendees are encouraged to leave no waste in the valley where the festival takes place. This music festival is the most unique in India and is a must-see.
The Ziro valley is home to the Apatani tribe which is famous for its music and hospitality. However, Ziro valley is not just a treat for music lovers but also for every explorer. The picturesque mountains surrounding the valley, the gushing river and the warmth of the people all culminate into a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The valley comes under a protected area category and has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. So, pack your bags for a musical adventure surrounded by nature.
How to Reach
The nearest airport from Ziro is at Jorhat, Assam which is 98 kms away. The 2 railway stations nearest from Ziro are at Naharalagun (100 kms) and North Lakhimpur (117 kms). Alternatively, you can always take taxi from Itanagar and enjoy the gorgeous views the road trip offers.