BEST MONTHS: March
FESTIVALS: SRINAGAR TULIP FESTIVAL 1ST APRIL 2022 TO 20TH APRIL 2022
BAISHAKHI, PUNJAB THURSDAY 14 APRIL, 2022
BOHAG BIHU ASSAM THURSDAY, 14 APRIL – SATURDAY, 16 APRIL
The fairs and festivals that are celebrated with great enthusiasm and colour in the month of April. They offer you an opportunity to experience the glorious culture of India. Each festival is celebrated with equal fervour by different groups of people and communities. These fairs and festivals display the rich culture and ritual of the country through various festivities like Tulip Festival in Kashmir, Baisakhi in Punjab and Bohag Bihu in Assam. The scent of spring translates slowly into the heady mood of vacations when April knocks on Indian doors. The month is characterised by faint fluttering of summer heat, with a dry, happy air that comes with schools breaking for holidays and families ready to take off for vacations in search of cooler climes. In this month, most Himalayan and upper northern destinations, as well as the Northeast Indian destinations in the hills become coveted for their cooler weather.
Picturesque and enchanting, Srinagar is cradled high in the lofty green Himalayas and hailed all over the world for its incredible natural beauty. Surrounded by mountain peaks, lush green valleys, glistening lakes, temples and spectacular Mughal-era gardens, the city has inspired poets through centuries. The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, is situated in the heart of the Kashmir Valley with the Nagin and the Dal Lake adding to its beauty. Located at an altitude of 1,730 m, this ancient city is crisscrossed by chinar tree-lined roads and quaint wooden bridges; and is home to bustling bazaars, sufi shrines and forts. Add to this, the charms of flavourful Kashmiri cuisine and apples and walnuts from the lush orchards surrounding the city.
Designed and built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1910, The LaLiT Grand Palace stands witness to key events in India’s history and proudly continuous the royal legacy with élan. Encircled by the Himalayan ranges and overlooking picturesque Dal Lake, it operates 113 well-equipped palace guest rooms, including 10 cottages boasting of magnificent decor and over 4,000 square feet of banqueting space, conference facilities, and a shopping arcade.
Experience the grandeur and royalty of Maharaja Suite consists of 4 king beds featuring original Deodhar wood, exquisite artwork & warm sunlight radiating through sheer curtains, this suite displays regal splendour.
Located at the foothills of the Zabarwan mountain range, on the banks of the Dal Lake, Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden is a beautiful expanse of lush greenery. Spread over an area of 30 acre, it is the largest tulip garden in Asia, and is more commonly known as Siraj Bagh. Earlier called Model Floriculture Centre. More than 60 varieties of tulips numbering over a few lakh can be seen, along with many other species of daffodils, hyacinths and ranunculus.
One of the most magnificent and popular attractions in Srinagar is the Dal Lake. Nestled at the foothills of Mount Shridhara, the glistening waters of this lake are a sight to behold. Set against the cinematic backdrop of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges, the Dal Lake exudes a peaceful vibe and a romantic aura. It is dotted with elaborate houseboats that are decorated with intricate wood carvings, and colourful shikaras (narrow wooden boats that resemble the gondolas in Venice).
Located at an altitude of 2,740 m, Sonmarg is an ideal stopover for nature lovers who want to enjoy camping in a hill station. Known as the Meadow of Gold, Sonmarg is the gateway to Ladakh and is known for its verdant and picturesque valleys and snow-clad peaks. River Sindh winds its way through the valley and takes care of the flora of the region that include silver birch, fir, pine and alpine flowers. Visit Vishansar Lake, around a kilometre long, the lake freezes over in winter and is the source of River Nelum, which flows upward in the northern direction. Another attraction is River Nilagrad, around 6 km from Sonmarg. Many tourists arrive to take a dip in the river, which is red in colour and is said to have medicinal properties.
The incredible art of papier-mache in Kashmir was again brought in by the Persian artists to the region in the 15th century. These handicrafts are prepared with paper pulp which is moulded into different shapes and sizes. When solidified, they are coloured and richly decorated by the craftsmen. It is hard to believe that it is possible to transform wastepaper into artefacts so beautiful. The most interesting part is the that the colours used for 'Naqashi' or the designing on the papier mache products are organic or of vegetable-base. From decorative boxes to flower vases, you can lay your hands on the vast range of papier mache products while shopping at Srinagar.
Made from wool, Pashmina, silk, or a blend of these, Kashmiri shawls are sheer elegance and a must-buy item when shopping in Srinagar. The art of shawl making is more of a family affair, passed on from one generation to another. Both men and women in the family are involved in different roles. While the women are responsible for the embroidery and spinning of wool, the men work on the handlooms which are heavy to ply.
The artisans of Kashmir are known for their special talent of being capable of carving detailed patterns on walnut wood. One can also get furniture and home décor items of ordinary wood carving. Kashmir is one of those exceptional places where walnut is grown at an altitude of 5500-7500 feet above the sea level. Walnut wood has a great texture and can last for long periods. The craftsmen create a detailed design on the wood pieces to transform these into wooden bowls, trays, tables, chairs, and other items.
Rogan josh is an aromatic lamb curry that is believed to be of Persian origin, although today it is more closely associated with the Kashmir region of India. The stew is characterized by tender meat and a thick, fiery red sauce coming from deseeded Kashmiri chillies. Lamb pieces are typically stewed in a gravy made with browned onions, garlic, yogurt, ginger, and aromatic herbs and spices. The name of the dish is derived from two words: rogan, meaning clarified butter or oil, and josh, referring to passion or heat.
Yakhni pulao is a traditional rice-based dish with Persian origins, but over the years it's made its way from Moghul cuisine to India, where it's especially popular in regions such as Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh. The yakhni stock can be made with chicken or mutton. The list of ingredients for yakhni pulao is a long one it is a tasteful and fragrant dish.
A Kashmiri’s day wouldn’t be complete without a cup of piping hot nun Chai (Salty pink tea) and a crisp, freshly baked bread from the Kandur (the traditional baker). For all the breads, aroma, smell, appearance, colour, size, and overall texture are characteristics optimized by the kandurs over many years that they have spent mastering this art. The texture and quality of these breads are determined by the percentage of wheat protein, temperature, and type of flour present in the bread. There are 14 different varieties of breads you must try when in Kashmir.
Baisakhi is celebrated with great excitement in Amritsar, Major celebrations of Baisakhi are organized at Golden Temple. Amritsar the area surrounding the Golden Temple in Amritsar becomes carnival-like. For it was here at the Anandpur Sahib, the famous Golden Temple that the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh laid the foundation of Khalsa Panth on a Baisakhi Day in 1699. Sikhs from around the world strive to visit their revered shrine to participate in the grand Baisakhi celebrations organized here.
The hotel pays tribute to local arts and crafts while bringing forth a global perspective to its edifice and the experiences created within. Gastronomically speaking, Taj Swarna, Amritsar serves up a multitude of delicacies, flavours and aromas. From a sprawling all day multi-cuisine diner to a speciality Chinese restaurant and an exclusive bar that houses exotic spirits from across the globe, palate pleasure seekers are in for a sensorial symphony. All our eateries are conveniently located at the lobby level with a charming alfresco area adjoined.
Experience comfort, elegance and convenience in a well-appointed space with charming pool and lawn views and every conceivable amenity, as well as highly trained butlers at your beck and call. Guests in these rooms can avail of special benefits such as access to the Taj Club lounge, Complimentary Buffet Breakfast at Lounge or at Grand Trunk, one-way airport transfer, evening cocktail hours at the lounge 24-hour tea-coffee at Lounge and personalized Butler service.
Amritsar is world-famous for the beautiful and highly revered Golden Temple or Sri Harmandir Sahib, which is one of the most prominent spiritual sites in the country. The temple is a two-storeyed structure with its top half covered in almost 400 kg of pure gold leaf, which is what earned it its English moniker. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the leader of the Sikh empire, is believed to have initiated the construction in the 19th century. The rest of the temple complex is built in white marble, inlaid with precious and semi-precious colourful stones. To create motifs, the pietra dura technique has been used. The grand temple complex is awe-inspiring in its size.
The Dwarkadhish Temple, touted as one of the holiest temples in Mathura, is famous all over the country for its elaborate architecture and paintings. Built in 1814, the temple is relatively new but is highly revered. The temple is dedicated to Lord Dwarkadheesh, a form of Lord Krishna known as Dwarkanath, depicted in a black marble idol.
Closing of the flag ceremony at the Wagah Border near Pakistan. This was an incredible spectacle that I would advise all tourists heading to Amritsar to watch. It’s on the border of Pakistan which is around 40 kilometres away from Amritsar. Essentially, it’s a lowering of the flag ceremony where the army on both sides of the border meet in the middle and perform to the crowds. The army members will be spinning, kicking, and marching to the applause.
Amritsar offers a wide range of woolen articles of clothing like sweaters, shawls, and so forth. They are accessible in the local markets principally in Hall Bazaar, a known wholesale cloth market in Amritsar. The hand-woven carpets are likewise sold in huge quantities other than shawls, mufflers, and scarves.
Leather shoes with bright embroidery on them are called Punjabi Juttis. In Punjab, they are called Patiala Jutti or Kasuri Jutti. Kasur is a town in western Punjab. These handmade shoes are made of hard leather. First few days you have to wear them with cotton, or they hurt the skin. Probably these are the kind of shoes that gave us phrases like – Only the wearer knows where the shoe hurts.
Paranda is a bright tassel-like adornment that women wear at the end of their braids. I do not see it very much in use these days. It is one of those things from the past that is losing its relevance. Well, the good news is that you still find it in the bazaars of Patiala and Amritsar.
You will find this delicacy in any local street food stall as well as the premium five-star hotels of Amritsar city. Freshwater fish called singhara or sole is used to make this delicious spicy and fried fish dish. The fish is tender and succulent on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. A perfect snack for cold winter evenings, it is served with mint-and-coriander chutney. In colloquial language, the dish is known as Amritsari Machhi.
A host of spices and yoghurt are used to make this richly flavoured traditional mutton curry. The gosht is cooked for a long time to ensure the flavours are well infused into the meat. The word 'bhuna' in Asian cooking means cooking the curry until it is reduced and becomes thick. This way it gets more easily coated to the meat, which appears brown in colour. Served with jeera (cumin) rice, bhuna ghost makes a great option for lunch or dinner.
To warm up on wintry days, the womenfolk of Amritsar make a perfect mix of healthy and flavourful dishes. Sarson da saag is one such dish that is made using mustard leaves, along with spinach, green chillies, and spices. A generous dollop of butter adds richness to the dish that is best served with makke di roti (Indian bread made using corn flour).
Guwahati is the largest city of Assam, situated on the South bank of the Brahmaputra River. The region is synonymous with breath-taking scenic beauty, rarest flora and fauna, mighty waterways, and a land of fairs and festivals. Guwahati is a principal centre of socio-cultural, industrial, trade and commerce activities of the entire region. The city is the gateway to the enchanting Northeast India. The Light of the East, Pragjyotishpura, as it was known once upon a time, is said to have been a vast kingdom during the period of the Mahabharata. Today, the region is an incomparable destination for various adventure activities.
Vivanta Guwahati is an urban retreat designed for global business travellers, adventurers, and connoisseurs of the good life. Offering world-class comforts in an environment with a strong local character, 5-star hotel in Guwahati is uniquely positioned as a gateway to the Seven Sisters (the seven scintillating North East Indian states). Five acres of manicured gardens, betel nut groves and water bodies usher guests into a space awash with motifs that evoke the soul of Assam.
The most impressive guest residence in Guwahati, our Presidential Suite ushers guests into a private, privileged space that looks out at the city’s green hills and the hotel’s manicured gardens and pool. All 145 Sq. Mt. of the avant-garde décor channels an urbane vibe that blends organically with Assamese design elements, from the contemporary artwork on the pastel walls to Ahom motifs and Xingkhap patterns in scintillating jewel tones on the premium furnishings.
At Kamakhya, Mother Goddess Sati is worshipped in the 'Yoni' form inside the sanctum sanctorum that is a cave with rock stairs. The hill represents the body of God Shiva himself, and when Sati's genitalia fell here, it turned blue to become the Nilachal. Though no exact date is available to ascertain the time of establishment of the temple, archaeological evidence place it around the 8th century. The present temple was rebuilt in 1565 after it was destroyed and desecrated by a Muslim invader in the 16th century.
River Cruise: Enjoy a wonderful cruise on the river Brahmaputra that will surely give a experience of lifetime. Several private ferry services will take you on a short cruise around the Brahmaputra. Apart from scenic cruising, most of the cruises offer delicious food too.
Situated on the north bank of Brahmaputra just 35 km from Guwahati, Sualkuchi is a weaver’s village famous for its silk weaving. It was called the Manchester of the East by the British. The village was declared a Handloom Heritage Village. It may soon become a rural tourism centre under a UNDP project. The nearby Manas National Park (114 km) is a UNESCO World Heritage site and famed for its successful programme to breed the one-horned rhinos.
Assam produces one of the finest qualities of silk in India. There are three different types of silk available in the state such as Pat Silk, Eri Silk, and Muga Silk. Among these three silks, Muga silk is the most popular one used for making traditional attires such as Mekhela Chador, sarees, etc. Eri silk is used for making shawls and Pat silk is mainly used for making summer outfits.
Jaapi is a round-shaped hat, which is designed in the form of a funnel in the center. Jaapi is made of woven bamboo and palm leaf, which makes it look elegant. It also holds great importance in the Assamese culture, as the Phulam Gamucha described above. It is mostly used during Bihu dance performances, and as interior decoration, item to welcome the guests.
Metal crafts products of Assam are famous for their strength as well as beauty. These metal crafts are mainly used in the form of decorative items and also are used in religious ceremonies. These brass metal crafts are mainly known for their longevity. Assam is not just a land of tea grade but also a land of creative craftsmen, designers and, entrepreneurs.
Khaar is a non-vegetarian dish that comes on top. This meat delicacy is made from the main ingredient khaar on which it is named and has raw papaya, pulses, and taro. The preparation also involves filtering all the above through dried banana leaves for its distinct signature flavour. This curry delicacy is usually accompanied by rice and is often part of the lunch.
Fragrant with lemongrass and ginger, along with a hint of fish sauce, this Tibetan-influenced noodle soup is full of flavours that meld deliciously into something umami. A meal in itself, Thukpa, served either vegetarian or with shredded chicken, pork or prawns, garnished with spring onion and fresh herbs, the variety of textures and flavors feed the body and soul.
It is no wonder then that one of the most common desserts in Guwahati is also made with rice. Payash or Payas is a sticky rice pudding, sweetened with palm sugar, mildly flavored with cardamom and saffron and garnished with dry fruits and nuts. Eat this deceptively simple milk-based pudding hot or cold but be sure to try it.