“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” Wise words, indeed. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to travel. As much as we’d love to be able to stuff a few clothes in a backpack and take off across the country in pursuit of sights rarely seen by others, our jobs and other responsibilities ensure that any travel is possible only with extensive planning. And now that winter has passed us by, we can begin preparing to bring in spring at some places across the country which specialise in doing just that. Make the most of the Indian springtime by travelling to some of these places, which will give you an experience to write home about.
Bring in Spring at the Valley of Flowers
This Indian national park, located in the state of Uttarakhand, is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. And, while it is an absolute pleasure to visit the whole year round, things get ethereal in March, with the arrival of spring when the entire valley springing to life. Rolling meadows with flowers of every hue stretch out as far as the eye can see even as you stroll through the clouds which brush the surface of this high-altitude World Heritage Site. The valley itself is a kind of safe space for several threatened species of plants, so if you’re lucky you might see a plant you’re unlikely to see anywhere else in the world.
Go Birdwatching at Nandhaur Wildlife Sanctuary
When it comes to wildlife and natural beauty, Uttarakhand wins hands down. Nandhaur, which won wildlife sanctuary status in 2012, is a favourite of birdwatchers and nature lovers alike for one weekend every March. With the arrival of spring comes the return of the myriad species of bird that call this park home and what a comeback it is! The Spring Bird Festival, held from March 3-5, includes children’s activities, film screenings, birdwatching tours and more. The hills here are truly alive with the sound of music.
Get Limber in Rishikesh
For one week in March, the otherwise serene town of Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is mobbed by bands of tourists – both from within the country and without – who all come together for the International Yoga Festival. This year, it has been scheduled for March 1-7, and the organisers expect visitors from all over the globe to line up for the 150-odd classes and sessions which are being held by an estimated 70 presenters from 20 different countries. Seems to us that a week-long trip to the mountains, to find some peace of mind, is exactly what we need before heading back to the cities and our jobs.
Experience the Carnival in Goa
Get to Goa in March, before the summer heat sets in, and surprise yourself and everyone else by not letting sand and surf be the main purpose for your visit. The arrival of spring in Goa is marked by the Hindu festival of Shigmo, or Shishirotsava, which is a grand five-day celebration of colours and the spring festival of the region. The festival begins once the harvest has been brought in and traditionally features folk dances, such as Ghode Modni and Fugdi, and enactments of mythological scenes. Prepare yourself for long processions of music, colour and fun.
Get Tulip Fever in Srinagar
Kashmir is rarely mentioned favourably in the media these days, but what might very well be India’s most beautiful state holds many secrets unknown to most of us. On the shores of the famous Dal Lake lies Asia’s largest tulip garden, the site of a massive tulip festival held annually in April when the beautiful flowers are in full bloom. Get your timing right since tulips remain in bloom for just over two weeks, covering the enormous garden in a tapestry of vibrant flowers which is sure to take your breath away. You even have the option of seeing the garden from another perspective as you take a shikara ride along Dal Lake, now that the river has thawed with the coming of spring.
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