As the heat of summer approaches, the number of events in India dwindles. However, there are a few festivals that will be a highlight of your trip. Here's the best of what's on in India in April (listed by date).
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Spring is when Kashmir is at its most picturesque, and is also the season for flowering tulips. This special time of year is beautifully captured by the Tulip Festival in Srinagar, home to Asia's largest tulip garden. As well as the arresting sight of more than a million blooms, the festival features daily cultural programs, Kashmiri folk songs, sale of local handicrafts, and traditional Kashmiri cuisine.
- When: First two weeks of April.
- Where: Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, Srinagar, Kashmir. It's located in the foothills of Zabarwan range, overlooking Dal Lake.
- Cost: Entry to the Tulip Garden is 50 rupees for adults and 20 rupees for children.
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The Aoling Festival of the Konyak Tribe
Once deadly headhunters, the fascinating Konyak tribe now lives peacefully, spending most of their time practicing agriculture, drinking local alcohol, smoking opium (and occasionally hunting). After having completed the sowing of seeds each year, the tribe celebrates their most important festival, the Aoling Festival, which marks the beginning of spring season and a new year. Holiday Scout is running a 12 night tour to the Aoling Festival, Mopin Festival, and Kaziranga National Park.
- When: April 1-6 each year.
- Where: Mon district of Nagaland in North East India.
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Sankat Mochan Music Festival
The first Sankat Mochan Music Festival was held in 1923, and since then it's attracted acclaimed classical musicians and dancers to perform from all over India. Recitals are held every evening in the temple courtyard and go on until dawn, as part of Hanuman Jayanti (birthday of Lord Hanuman) celebrations.
- When: April 4-9, 2018.
- Where: Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
- Varanasi Essential Travel Guide
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Mopin is the harvest festival of the hospitable Galo tribe, focused on the worship of goddess Mopin. It's celebrated to drive away evil spirits, and for acquiring prosperity and wealth. An indigenous folk dance called Popir, performed by young women, is a highlight of the festival. Traditional rice wine (apong), prepared by Galo women, is also served.
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- When: April 5-6, 2018. (To be confirmed).
- Where: East Siang and West Siang districts of Arunachal Pradesh. Festivities take place on a grand scale at Mopin Ground, Naharlagun, near capital city Itanagar.
- Tour: Aoling & Mopin Festival and Kaziranga Tour with Holiday Scout
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Baisakhi is a harvest festival, a Punjabi new year festival, and commemoration of the founding of the Khalsa (Sikh religion brotherhood) all rolled into one occasion. It's celebrated with a great deal of feasting, bhangra dancing, folk music, and fairs. Major celebrations are organized at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and it becomes carnival-like outside. There's also a street procession.
- When: April 14, 2018.
- Where: Throughout the state of Punjab, particularly in Amritsar.
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Bihu is the main festival of Assam, in north east India. This agricultural festival occurs three times a year but the biggest celebration, known as Bohag Bihu or Rongali Bihu, happens in April. It's celebrated for three days and marks the start of the new year there, as well as seeding time in spring. The first day is dedicated to the cows, which are vital to agriculture. The second day is spent visiting friends and relatives, along with plenty of singing and dancing. On the third day, deities are worshiped.
- When: April 14-16, 2018.
- Where: Assam.
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Padayani is a performing art form of southern Kerala, particularly central Travancore. It's connected with the festivals of certain temples, and is carried out by villagers accompanied by traditional music and drumming. The performers dress up in costumes consisting of huge masks. The main ones embody Bhairavi (Kali), Kalan (god of death), Yakshi (fairy) and Pakshi (bird).
- When: April 14-21, 2018.
- Where: Kadammanitta Devi Temple, Pathanamthitta district, Kerala.
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This festival sees an astonishing amount of turmeric being thrown all over the temple premises by energetic devotees, who also sing and dance. At noon, the idol of the temple god is taken out in procession to have a holy bath in the nearby river, which is the main highlight of the occasion. The festival takes place on Somvati Amavasya. This is a new moon day that falls on a Monday. It usually happens two or three times a year.
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- When: April 16, 2018.
- Where: Khandoba temple in Jejuri, about 1.5 hours southeast of Pune in Maharashtra. It's possible to visit it on a day trip from Mumbai if you hire a car. However, travel time one way will be about 4.5 hours (or more depending on the traffic). Hence, it may be more convenient to go there from Pune.
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The Chithirai Festival is one of the biggest celebrations in Madurai. It re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi (Lord Vishnu's sister). Legend has it that Lord Vishnu came to Madurai, mounted on a golden horse, to witness the wedding.
- When: April 18-May 3, 2018.
- Where: Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
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Uttarakhand Char Dham Yatra
After the snow clears at the foothills of the Himalayas, Hindu pilgrims begin to make their way to the four ancient temples known as the Char Dham. These temples mark the spiritual source of four holy rivers. It's considered to be very auspicious to visit them.
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The grandest of all Kerala temple festivals, the Thrissur Pooram features a procession of around 30 colorfully decorated elephants and ensemble of 250 musicians. Other attractions include drum concerts, ornamental parasol displays, and fireworks. The festival is a huge cultural event that runs through the night with exuberant celebrations. Special viewing areas are provided for foreigners at the festival.
- When: April 25, 2018.
- Where: Vadakkumnathan Temple, Thrissur, Kerala.
- Read More: 16 Top Attractions and Things to Do in Kerala
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Mount Abu Summer Festival
The Mount Abu Summer Festival kicks off with ballad singing, followed by regional folk dancing. The festival also offers sports such as boat racing on Nakki Lake, and a roller skating race. It concludes with a fireworks display. The highlight of the festival is the Sham-e-Qawwali musical show, which features some of the most renowned qawwals from various parts of India.
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- When: April 29-30, 2018.
- Where: Mt. Abu, Rajasthan.
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Buddha Jayanti, also known as Buddha Purnima, celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. It's the most sacred Buddhist festival. Activities include prayer meets, sermons and religious discourses, recitation of Buddhist scriptures, group meditation, processions, and worship of the statue of Buddha. Indian Railways runs a special Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist Tourist Train that visits all Buddhist pilgrimage places in India.