Visiting India in July—regardless of what region—means you're in the thick of monsoon season. But if you don't mind braving the relentless downpours, July is a great time to visit India because travel is cheaper, the landscape is greener, and there are plenty of festivals happening around the country to keep you busy. From religious pilgrimages to elephant feeding rituals, you should have no problem finding some type of celebration to enhance your trip to India. Here's the best of what's on in July 2021 in India (listed by date).
The famous Amarnath cave temple, one of the top caves in India, houses a Shiva lingam made out of ice — an important piece of iconography in Hindu beliefs. It's one of the toughest pilgrimages in India to complete, as the five-day journey entails inclement weather, slippery paths, and very high altitudes. To embark on this treacherous pilgrimage, it's necessary to complete a health check and register online in advance.
- When: July 1 to August 21, 2021. To be confirmed.
- Where: The trek navigates 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 that's three to four hours from Srinagar by car.
The Dree Festival is an agricultural festival of the Apatani tribe in Northeast India. 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 program. 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 every year.
- Where: Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh, Northeast India.
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," along with various mango products such as mango jam. A mango eating competition also provides entertainment: Contestants attempt to consume 3 kilograms of mangoes in three minutes.
- When: July 9–10, 2021. To be confirmed.
- Where: Dilli Haat in Janakpuri, Delhi. A free shuttle service is provided from Tilak Nagar Metro station to Dilli Haat.
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 any negative forces that may affect the crop. The festivities take place over three days and culminate with a 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 11, 2021.
- Where: In and around Jowai, Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, in Northeast India.
Bonalu (Ashada Jatra Utsavalu)
The over 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 sugar—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 Secunderabad, 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: July 11-26, 2021.
- Where: Secunderabad and Hyderabad, Telangana, twin cities located in South India.
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 that are a spectacle in themselves. It's Odisha's most popular festival.
- When: July 12-23, 2021.
- Where: Jagannath Temple, in Puri, Odisha.
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 grounds and given a delicious feast of sugarcane leaves, coconut, jaggery, Ayurvedic medicines, 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. About 60 elephants from various parts of Kerala are present at the occasion.
- When: July 17, 2021.
- Where: Vadakkumnathan temple, Thrissur town, Kerala.
The Malayalam month of Karkkidakam is regarded as a month of Ayurvedic rejuvenation in Kerala, and it's extended to temple elephants as well. This elephant feeding ritual takes place at a temple in the central part of the state, north of Thrissur.
- When: July 23, 2021.
- Where: Njangattiri Bhagavathi temple, Pattambi, Palakkad district, Kerala.
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 transform them.
Royal Enfield Himalayan Odyssey
The Himalayan Odyssey sees 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.
Malabar River Festival
South India's only extreme adventure competition, the Malabar River Festival, has been drawing daring kayakers since 2013. 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: Kayakers navigate the Iruvanjhipuzha and Chalipuzha rivers at Thusharagiri in Kozhikode district, Kerala.