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The deserted city of Hampi hosts an annual festival every November, which runs for three days. The festival, known as Vijaya Utsav, is a great cultural experience celebrating the reign of Vijayanagar when Hampi was the capital of his Empire.
A huge bang erupted a few streets away from where I was standing. I jumped in shock, and my instinct was to duck down close to the ground. Everyone around me was going about their business, with beaming smiles on their faces, their teeth glinting in the dark. My heart was thumping fast.
Picture this. You’re tired and the heat is beginning to prickle your skin, in the way you imagine a porcupine attack would feel. Your clothes are clinging to you and it’s been decided they’re your worst enemy right now. Feeling heavy like paperweights, your eyelids want to close. Your feet are burning from the steps you have made in the preceding hours. The surrounding sounds and colours of India become a blur, distorting reality like the view through shaped glass.
The brightest full moon of the year in Northern India can mean only one thing – it’s time for Jodhpur Riff. The Rajasthani Folk Festival features concerts and events around the majestic Mehrangarh Fort, and offers a great cultural experience. The not-for-profit project is led by Jaipur Virasat Foundation and Mehrangarh Museum Trust, in an occasion which celebrates and helps preserve Rajasthani traditions.
It’s dark and the city is sleeping. The air is cool compared to its smothering heat during the day. Dogs can be heard barking a few streets away, and footprints in the sand tell a story of the people who left them a few hours before.
When a strong and steady on-shore breeze blows in Goa during the month of November, the locals call it a turtle wind because such weather normally heralds the arrival of the rarest migrant visitors to the Konkan Coast: Olive Ridley marine turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea).
The Nehru Trophy Boat Race, the most colourful water sport in Kerala, is conducted at Punnamada Lake in Alleppey, just over an hour from Cochin, on the second Saturday of every August. This prestigious cultural event of Kerala attracts spectators from all over the world. The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is a festival for the people of Alleppey the main attraction of which is the sporting spirit among the participants.
The delicious set breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, jam, orange juice and strong sweet coffee, taken on the rooftop with magnificent views of the Annapurna range, was becoming a little too familiar. Our days had been spent cycling, strolling and rowing around or on Fewa Tal, the picture postcard perfect lake. We even had a ‘local’ restaurant where the waiters could second guess my order (a cold beer and veggie burger, incidentally). Pokhara, Nepal’s premier trekking hub, had been a fascinating and enjoyable companion for the past few days. However, it was time to move on.
Kerala’s colourful Onam harvest festival, held in August/September, is celebrated with particular gusto in Thrissur, in the centre of the state, where the highlight of the festivities is the fabulously weird Pulikali, or tiger dance. Up to one thousand participants descend on the town for the event, in which troupes of masked men, their bodies adorned with elaborate tiger patterns, strut, stalk and wiggle their away around the Round – a spectacle as eccentric as any in this part of the world where outlandish costumes are aspeciality.
We had just completed an early morning tour of the Cholan Brahadeeswarar Temple in Tanjore, southern India, when our local guide suddenly announced to Anne and myself "now we visit the school where you may be asked to take a class!"