The monsoon fun continues in India in July and various colorful religious festivals take place all over the country. Here's the pick of events in July in India (listed by date for 2020).
The two-day Hemis Festival commemorates the birth of Guru Padmasambhava, who founded Tantric Buddhism in Tibet. The highlight is the masked dance, performed by the lamas, that illustrates good prevailing over evil. The performers wear elaborate and bizarre costumes and brightly painted masks. The music is characteristically punctuated with sounds of cymbals, drums, and unwieldy trumpets. It's an amazing spectacle.
- When: June 30-July 1, 2020.
- Where: Hemis Monastery, near Leh, Ladakh.
The exuberant 12-day Ratha Yatra festival sees Lord Jagannath (a reincarnation of lords Vishnu and Krishna), along with and his elder brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra, venture out of their abode in Puri's Jagannath Temple. The gods are transported on massive towering chariots. It's Odisha's most popular festival. Discover how the chariots are made. The process is fascinating.
- When: June 23-July 4, 2020.
- Where: Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha.
The famous Amarnath cave temple, one of the top caves in India, houses a Shiva lingam made out of ice. It's one of the toughest pilgrimages in India to visit it. Pilgrims must battle inclement weather, which makes the track slippery and dangerous, as well as very high altitude.
- When: June 28 to August 18, 2020. (To be confirmed).
- Where: On Mount Amarnath, about 140 kilometers (87 miles) from Srinagar in Kashmir. There are two routes to the shrine -- 16 kilometers (10 miles) from Baltal in Ganderbal and the traditional 45 kilometers (28 miles) Pahalgam track in Anantnag district, approximately three to four hours drive from Srinagar.
The 200+ year old Bonalu festival is a celebration of the Mother Goddess and Shakti (female energy). Rituals, dedicated to Goddess Mahakali, take place on Sundays during the Hindu month of Ashadha. Bonalu means feast in Telugu, and it signifies the offerings (rice cooked in milk and jaggery) presented to the goddess in return for fulfillment of vows. Women carry decorated clay pots on their heads to the temple. The festivities are first held at Mahakali Temple in Golconda Fort. The next main celebration is at Ujjaini Mahakali Temple in Secunderbad, with Rangam (predicting the future for the forthcoming year) and Ghatam (a procession of the goddess) the following day. The final (and biggest) event happens at Simhavahini Sri Mahakali Temple of Lal Darwza in the Old City of Hyderabad on the last Sunday. Rangam and Ghatam procession takes place the next day.
- When: June 28, July 5, July 12, and July 19. Bonalu at Ujjaini Mahakali Temple is July 12 and the Rangam is on July 13. Bonalu celebrations in the Old City are on July 19 and 20.
- Where: Secunderabad and Hyderabad, Telangana.
The most important festival of the Pnar tribe of Meghalaya, Behdienkhlam is celebrated after agricultural sowing is over. Khlam means plague and beh dien means to drive away with sticks. Hence, the festival is held to drive away and negative forces that may affect the crop. The festivities take place over three days, and culminate with procession of chariots and ceremonial tree trunks (khnongs) to a sacred pool full of water. Another highlight of the occasion is a football match between locals. The winner is believed to have a bumper harvest.
- When: July 3, 2020.
- Where: In and around Jowai, Jaintia hills, Meghalaya, Northeast India.
- Read More: 8 Must-See Places in Meghalaya for Nature Lovers.
The Champakulam Boat Race is the oldest snake boat race of Kerala. It's also the first boat race of the season. A stunning procession is enacted prior to the race taking place. It features exotic water floats, boats decorated with colorful parasols, and performing artists. Read more about snake boat races in Kerala.
- When: July 4, 2020.
- Where: Pampa River at Champakulam, not far from Alleppey in Kerala.
- Stay: 9 Best Alleppey Homestays on the Kerala Backwaters.
Dree is an agricultural festival of the Apatani tribe. It's celebrated by sacrificial offerings and prayers to the gods who protect the crops. Folk songs, traditional dances, and other cultural performances have also become a part of the modern-day festivities. There's even a "Mr Dree" contest, billed as the ultimate platform for men to show their strength, agility, stamina, and intelligence!
- When: July 4-7, annually.
- Where: Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India.
- Read More: Guide to Northeast India States and Places to Visit.
This full moon day is celebrated in remembrance of the ancient sage Vyasa, who wrote many important holy Hindu scriptures. However, the idea behind Guru Purnima extends further than that. It's also a day for giving thanks to anyone who's taught you spiritual lessons in life. Many people simply spend some time reviewing all the knowledge they've acquired in the last year, and the way it's helped transformed them. See these top spiritual destination in India.
- When: July 5, 2020.
- Where: All over India, particularly in spiritual centers such as Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh. One of the largest Guru Purnima festivals is held at Goverdhan, near Mathura.
It's mango season in India! Don't miss sampling the 500 varieties of mangoes on display at this popular, long-running annual three-day festival organized by Delhi Tourism to celebrate the much-loved "king of fruits" (it's into its 31st year this year). No, 500 is not a typo! Apparently, there really are so many different varieties to try and buy, along with various mango products such as jam. A mango eating competition also provides entertainment. Contestants will attempt to consume three kilograms of mangoes in three minutes.
- When: Early July. To be announced.
- Where: Dilli Haat in Janakpuri, Delhi. A free shuttle service is provided from Tilak Nagar Metro station to Dilli Haat.
Elephants are usually seen decorated and paraded around during temple festivals in Kerala. However, during this elephant feeding ritual, they remain unadorned. The elephants are taken inside the temple premises and given a delicious feast of sugarcane leaves, coconut, jaggery and other local produce by people who come to worship them. The ritual aims to please Lord Ganesh, for the removal of obstacles and fulfillment of wishes.
- When: July 17, 2020.
- Where: Njangattiri Bhagavathi temple, Pattambi, Palakkad district, Kerala.
This festival involves an astonishing amount of turmeric being thrown all over the temple premises by energetic devotees, who also sing and dance. At noon, the temple deity is taken out in procession and given a holy bath in the nearby river, which is the main highlight of the occasion. The festival happens on Somvati Amavasya. This is a new moon day that falls on a Monday. It usually occurs two or three times a year.
- When: July 20, 2020.
- Where: Khandoba temple in Jejuri, about an hour and a half 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 five hours. Hence, it's more convenient to go there from Pune.
The Teej festival is an important festival for women, and much anticipated monsoon festival in Rajasthan. It commemorates the reunion of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Women apply henna to their hands and feet, get dressed up, and parade around. Artists such as folk singers and dancers follow the procession. Caparisoned elephants, bullock carts, and chariots add to the spectacle.
Nag Panchami, the festival of snakes, isn't for the faint of heart! This unusual festival involves the worship of snakes to appease them and ward off evil. In some areas, live snakes are worshiped as representatives of god, while people worship snake idols in others.
- When: July 25, 2020.
- Where: Snake temples across India, particularly in and around Nagpur in Maharashtra. The festival is also enthusiastically celebrated in Battis Shirala village in Maharashtra.
The 17th edition of the Himalayan Odyssey will see motorcycle riders travel across some of the most challenging trails, on an epic journey through some of the highest mountain passes in India. More than 50 riders from all over the world are expected to participate, including about 20 female riders.
South India's only extreme adventure competition, the Malabar River Festival, is back for the eighth edition this year. Held by Kerala Tourism, it has been nominated as one of the five best whitewater kayak festivals in the world by Kayak Session Magazine in France. It brings together top whitewater athletes from around the world, with kayakers from more than 15 countries expected to participate in Extreme Race, Boater Cross and Giant Slalom categories.
- When: To be announced.
- Where: Iruvanjhipuzha and Chalipuzha rivers at Thusharagiri in Kozhikode district, Kerala.