We Have Your March Planned Out

Welcome spring by watching baby turtles in Velas and attending a yoga festival in Rishikesh.  
The sheer scale of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s iconic Russian ballet, is awe-inspiring. Photo by: Saeed Khan/Staff/AFP/Getty Images
The sheer scale of Swan Lake, Tchaikovsky’s iconic Russian ballet, is awe-inspiring. Photo by: Saeed Khan/Staff/AFP/Getty Images

Swan Lake, Multi-city Tour

Good ballet shows in India are rare to come by. And when what’s coming up is Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the time to reserve seats is now. The iconic Russian ballet will embark on a multi-city tour, kick-starting at Mumbai’s National Centre for Performing Arts on March 17. The ensemble will then travel to Delhi (March 30-April 1), Ahmedabad (April 6-April 8) and Kolkata (April 13-April 15). Choreographed by Vladimir Troschenko, ballet master of Ukraine’s Odessa State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, and directed by Anatoly Kazatsky, founder and artistic director of Royal Russian Ballet, the act will see Ukranian ballet dancer, Matsak Natalia, reprise her lead role as both black swan and white swan. Originating from Russian folklore, the story revolves around the principal character of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by the curse of an evil sorcerer.

(Book here for all four cities. Ticket prices: Mumbai (Rs2,400 onwards), Delhi (Rs1,100 onwards), Ahmedabad (Rs880 onwards) and Kolkata (Rs 1,100 onwards).)

 

Shigmotsav, Goa

With irresistible beatings of the drums, festive goers take to the streets of Goa during Shigmotsav. Photo by: ©Kelvin Webb / Alamy/Alamy Collection/India Pictures

Dhols and flutes are an integral part of Goa’s Shigmotsav festivities. Photo by: ©Kelvin Webb / Alamy/Alamy Collection/India Pictures

When it comes to hosting parades and carnivals, Goa’s fervour remains unmatched. This is evident as much during Shigmotsav as it is during the famed Goa Carnival. The coastal state’s biggest Hindu festival marks the onset of spring and, this year, Shigmotsav will kick-start on March 3 and continue till March 17. During these 15 days, all of rural Goa will turn into a one-of-its-kind spectacle. Streets will thrum with the beats of dhols and the melody of flutes. Men and women will play fugdi and artistes will break into Ghode Modni, a Goan folk dance where performers wear horse costumes. Floats, too, are an integral part of Shigmotsav parades, especially those depicting scenes from religious mythology and Dussehra.

(Free entry. Find out more here.)

 

Velas Turtle Festival, Maharashtra

Watch new-born turtles hatch from the eggs and take their first step towards the sea at the Velas Turtle Festival in Ratnagiri. Photo by: Brad Flickinger/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

To watch newborn turtles crawl past the Velas Beach into the sea is a truly mesmerising moment. Photo by: Brad Flickinger/Flickr/Creative Commons (http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa)

Have you ever seen a baby turtle claw its way out of an egg? If not, you might want to consider a trip to Velas. The coastal village in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri region, barely a six-hour drive from Mumbai, is where the ‘vulnerable species’ shows up every year to lay eggs. These eggs are then collected and incubated in a hatchery, built on the beach by the locals. The Velas gram panchayat, villagers’ committee, Regional Forest Officers (RFO) and Sahyadri Nisarga Mitra, a marine life-conservation NGO, have all joined forces to do this to protect the eggs. On a later date, these eggs are then brought to the beach in batches, and the sight of their hatching is what constitutes the Velas Turtle Festival. This year the festival starts on March 10 and will go on till mid-April. To witness the hatching, you need to be on the Velas Beach by 6 a.m. and then again just before the sun sets. These are the two slots when volunteers release baby turtles into the sea. Tip: While you are in Konkan, make the most of it. The Harihareshwar Temple, Bankot Fort and Kelshi beach are good places to start.

(Free entry. But for those who’d like to stay, packages start from Rs1,900 for 1N/2D, inclusive of meals, accommodation and turtle sightings. Book here.)

 

Navras, Rajasthan

Royston Abel's stunning Manganiyar Seduction, featuring over 40 musicians inside cubicles, inspired from Amsterdam's Red Light District and Hawa Mahal, kick-started Navras last year. This year's line-up is equally promising, if not more. Photo by C Brandon/ Contributor/ Redferns/ Getty Images.

Royston Abel’s stunning Manganiyar Seduction, featuring over 40 musicians inside cubicles, inspired from Amsterdam’s Red Light District and Hawa Mahal, kick-started the first edition of Navras. This year’s line-up is equally promising, if not more. Photo by C Brandon/ Contributor/ Redferns/ Getty Images.

That artistes such as Naseeruddin Shah and Manav Kaul are to take stage at this week-long cultural extravaganza is enough of a hook for patrons of performing arts. Jaipur’s Jawahar Kala Kendra, a multi-arts centre, is all set to host the third edition of Navras from March 17 to March 25. This year too, the line-up is strong and the performances promising. Sonam Kalra’s Partition: The Stories of Separation will be staged using digital art elements, as will most plays on the schedule. Another must-watch act is  Bharatanatyam exponent and Padma Shri awardee Malavika Sarukkai’s Thari-The Loom, a piece that traces the journey of the thread from the loom to textile. Rajasthan Roots, a fusion ensemble comprising Rajasthani folk musicians, will present more than 30 folk artistes in its routine. On the menu are also Ismat Aapa ke Naam and Elephant in the Room, plays that have regaled audiences across India for years.

(Check Jawahar Kala Kendra’s website for schedule and ticket prices.)

 

International Yoga Festival, Uttarakhand

At the annual International Yoga Festival, practice yoga by the Ganges in Rishikesh at Parmarth Niketan ashram. Photo courtesy: International Yoga Festival

It’s an other-worldly experience to practise yoga by the Ganga. Rishikesh’s 76-year-old Parmarth Niketan ashram enables just that. Photo courtesy: International Yoga Festival

If you are into yoga, there’s only one place you should be packing your bags for—Rishikesh’s Parmarth Niketan ashram. The 76-year-old ashram is all set to host the 30th edition of the International Yoga Festival between March 1 and March 7. Hugging the Himalayan foothills and embanking the Ganges, Rishikesh is often touted as the world’s ‘Yoga Capital’. The festival offerings, say past attendants, definitely live up to the claim. Sample this: Amongst the speakers, there’s the Dalai Lama, and some of the sessions will be conducted by Bhikkhu Sanghasena, Ladakh’s Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre’s founder, and yoga guru Swami Ramdev. Sessions will start as early as 4 a.m. and continue till 5 p.m. In between, there will be performances by singer Kailash Kher, percussionist Sivaman, and Tokyo-based musician and yogini Momoko Nagano. No trip to a city by the Ganga is complete without a Ganga Aarti. Neither will this one be, for evenings here are reserved for just that.

(Rs4,500 for a single-day pass, excluding accommodation. Register here.)

 

Treks Beyond Bengaluru, Karnataka

Trek along the beaches in Gokarna or scale the mountain of Tadiandamol in Coorg. Photo by: ©Daniela White Images/Moment/Getty Images

Kudle beach is amongst the clutch of beaches that are a part of a scenic 11-kilometre trek in Gokarna. Photo by: ©Daniela White Images/Moment/Getty Images

If trekking along the beaches of Gokarna or scaling Coorg’s highest peak excites you then it’s time to book a ticket to Bengaluru. Tadiandamol, the highest mountain in Coorg’s Madikeri taluka, stands at an altitude of 5,735 feet, and at its base is the 18th-century, two-storeyed tall Nalknad palace. The two-day trek affords breathtaking views of shola forests. The itinerary also includes a guided tour through a coffee plantation and a visit to the Dubare Elephant Camp. For beach lovers, there’s an 11-kilometre trek through Gokarna, a coastal town on Karnataka’s northern tip. Gokarna, Kudle, Paradise and Half Moon are some of the beaches you will be trekking past. Close to Half Moon, near a beach-facing natural rock formation called Rock of Peace, is also where you are likely to spot something rare and blissful—a pod of dolphins frolicking in the Arabian Sea.

(Trek to Tadiandamol (March 2 and March 30) is priced at Rs3,100. Book here. Gokarna Beach trek (March 2 and March 23) is priced at Rs3,150. Book here. )

 

Mewar Festival, Rajasthan

Thousands of women march along the streets of Udaipur carrying idols of Lord Shiva and Parvati on their head during the Mewar Festival. Photo by: Ellen Rooney/robertharding/robertharding collection/ Getty Images

Thousands of women march on Udaipur’s streets, carrying idols of Lord Shiva and Parvati on their heads, during the annual Mewar Festival. Photo by: Ellen Rooney/robertharding/robertharding collection/ Getty Images

Come spring and Rajasthan will dazzle. Spring, like eslewhere in India, is a much sought-after season here, and the Mewar festival (March 20 to March 22) is how locals celebrate it in classic Rajasthani style—folk performances, devotional songs and fireworks. But if there is one place where you must be during the Mewar Festival, it absolutely has to be Udaipur. The festival holds a special significance here because of the city’s historical noteworthiness of serving as a place of governance to Mewar rulers. Fairy lights frame shopfronts and colourful decorations are festooned around markets and chowks. Coinciding with the state’s Gangaur festival, Mewar Festival is also popular with the womenfolk of Rajasthan. Dressed in their finest, flaunting henna, the women gather to deck up the idols of Isar (Shiva) and Gangaur (Parvati), which they also meticulously craft. Carrying the idols on their heads, they then take to Udaipur’s streets for a ceremonial procession. Gangaur Ghat, the main ghat near Lake Pichola, provides the perfect backdrop for the festival’s finale. Hundreds of boats, each filled with idols, dot the lake as fireworks illuminate the sky.

(Free entry. Find out more here.)

  • Pooja Naik is Junior Writer at National Geographic Traveller India. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.

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