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5 Tribes of India with Fascinating Traditions

India is a colorful land with numerous mysteries hidden it its heart. These enigmas has always charmed people from all around. Foreigners visit India for its heritage, culture, festivities, traditions and food but if seen carefully, there no is particular Indian culture, as India is home to several traditions and cultures that co-exist here. This peaceful co-existence only beautifies and shows unity in diversity in India. 

All the 29 states and 7 Union territories have their own historical past, their rituals and their customs, varied from each other. After modernization and globalization, there have been changes in the lifestyle of several communities living in cities and towns but there still are groups of people who still holding onto their age-old ancient traditions, practices and customs. These people mainly are the tribes of India. Because of this, their heritage possessions becomes remarkable. The blog enlists 5 tribes of India with fascinating tribal traditions:

Chitrakars and Patuas: Tribals Who Make Songs and Paint on Fabrics

Painting on fabric or Patachitra, is known to be one of the most ancient indigenous art forms of Bengal. Chitrakars and Patuas are the tribes that are known to have a connection with this art form. The best feature of these people is that they are not only painters but they make beautiful songs too. The people can be described as travelling artists who carry their narrative scrolls around and narrate mythological takes with morals in the form of stories.

As they are singing, they unfold their scrolls as an illustration of their composition’s content that has been written as well as composed by their group members. It is believed that this tribal tradition in India finds its roots way back in the 13th century. Chitrakar and Patua are terms referring to Hindu and Islamic characters of the members of the tribe who stay together peacefully. They are known to be the masters of social change and entertainment by coupling-up paintings, singing and technique of storytelling. However, it is heart-wrenching they are losing their popularity and just a few people of this tribe live in Noya Village, West Bengal.

Cholanaikkan: A Primitive Tribe That Worships Ancient Spirits and Trees

The indigenous group living in south Indian state of Kerala, mainly in the Silent Valley National Park, the Cholanaikkans interact in old Dravidian dialect and just a handful of hunter-gatherer tribal members are remaining. This is an aboriginal tribe that is endangered, lives in makeshift huts and rock shelters in solitude. They were away from any kind of modernization, still following the stone-age lifestyle, until the 1960s when contact was made with them for the very first time.

They have made small modern adaptations like using household tools and wearing clothes, but they still enjoy seclusion and stay away from modern standard of life and technology. They continue their life sticking to the Mother Nature. These tribal people follow animism and worship ancient spirits, not believing in idol worship. The trees are their only devotional symbol that they worship them too.

Khasi Tribe: A Tribe that follows Matrilineal System and special Divorce Ritual

Khasi Tribe Celebrating annual dance festival in Shillong
Khasi Tribe celebrating annual dance festival in Shillong.
Living in the northeastern state of Meghalaya, the Khasi tribe gets its named from the language in which they interact. A major chunk of their population resides on Assam’s border areas. A Matrilineal System is followed by this ethnic tribe. Under this system, the woman is the head of the family, a girl child inherits the mother’s property and children get the surname of their mother. This is just one of the special features of this tribe. 

Another outstanding feature is having no strict rules against divorce. A marriage is terminated only after a strange method of divorce is completed. The traditional ritual in divorce process requires the husband handing over 5 paise to his wife after which the wife adds her own 5 paise to this and finally return the total. The 2 coins are given to an elderly member in the village. He tosses the coins, thus concluding the process of divorce.

Siddi: An African Tribe with only its Traditional musical possession

There are 20,000-55,000 Siddi tribal member sprinkled in Indian states like Gujarat, Hyderabad and Karnataka, and Karachi and Makran in Pakistan. Little is known about their origin but it is still known that they are the progenies of Bantu peoples of belonging to Southeast Africa. They were transported to India as slaves by the Portuguese and Arab merchants somewhere between the first half of 600 AD and the first half of 700 AD. As they have lived in India from centuries, they imbibed several Indian customs, thus, losing their original African cultural traits. Nevertheless, there is one thing that they have been able to hold onto, which is their traditional dance and music form. 

This tribe in Gujarat though has taken-up a lot from the region’s locals but they have conserved the Goma (also known as Dhamaal) dance and music form, that originated from Ngoma dance and drumming forms in Bantu East Africa. This is a spiritual music and dance form where it is believed that the performers become the vehicles for the spirits of their ancient saints.

Jarawa – The Tribe That Changes the names of their Pubescent Members

The native people of the Andaman Islands, the Jarawas, have not been unfriendly towards the modern civilization but they have held onto your original customs and traditions. Like other tribal traditions, there is no reason behind the customs that are followed by these people, the Jarawas have full trust in them. One such very exciting custom is that they rename their children, during an extravagant ceremony, when they attain puberty. 

As mark of their growing up, the boys and girls need to partake in different activities. While they boys are needed to kill a pig and offers to the village members, the girls are smeared in pig oil, gum and clay. After this, they get their new names. Apart from this, there are a number of other traditions of Jarawas, that can be termed as interesting. Although the tribe members are non-vegetarian but are careful of not eating the meat of deer even if it found in abundance in the region as they consider it sacred. They also follow natural methods of birth control.

It is no exaggeration when said that though these tribes are considered backward but there are probably a number of things that can be learned from them. The Gowda tribe of Goa is known to be practicing a number of rights to women, in matters of society, politics and economy. Their wives are allowed to inherit her deceased husband’s property. Living in a Utopian society, the Mru tribe of Jalpaiguri in West Bengal can teach an egalitarian lifestyle to people. They have just a few inherited positions, have equal rights for all the members of the tribes, even in troublesome conditions and there is no caste system here. 

The Kharia Tribe of eastern India is another such tribe holding onto its old rituals such as still practicing their primitive dance form where they dance and singh for each other, be it individually or in groups. Apart from this is The Bhotiyas of Northeast India who make use of marijuana as Bhang during religious purposes. Halakki tribe of Karnataka though is quickly vanishing tribe but they really value their music. The female members of the group are extremely vocal about all the phases of their lives through self-composed songs and poems.

Along with the above mentioned tribes, there are a number of other tribes in India, such as Baule, Mishing, Chechus, Kharias, and Sentinelese, who live in the private corners of the country, pretty away from any modernization. They still follow their ancient traditions wherein some are extremely interesting tribal traditions of India. One can easily get a sneak-peak into primitive style of living but can also learn the art of co-existing peacefully without belittling each other. The best to experience all this is by taking your backpack and visit the secret corners of the country where the tribals still conserve their traditions.

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15 unique ways in which Diwali is celebrated across India

Diwali, the Festival of Lights is celebrated grandly everywhere in India. The multi-cultural country has numerous legends associated with it. Every region of the country has unique ways to celebrate the festival. Find out 15 unique ways in which Diwali is celebrated across India:

Maharashtra worships the holy cow first

Maharashtra -  Worships the holy cow first

Given the status of holy to India’s most loved animal cow, the country looks for excuses to worship this milch animal and in some way or the other succeed in doing so. But who would have thought that the festival of lights, Deepavali too has some meaning for the animal. This happens in the Marathi dominated state of India, Maharashtra where the celebrations of Diwali start early; not with oil lamps or crackers, but with a ritual for the holy cow they call the Vasu-Baras.

Symbolizing the love of a mother towards her baby, a Hindu prayer (Aarti) is performed for the cow and her calf at every home of the state. On this day, people keep a special kind of fast in which they partake only a single meal for the day. The whole idea behind going different from the rest of India during Diwali is it is believed, largely by the Marathis that during the auspicious time of Diwali, the environment gets filled by a lot of spiritual energy, which further causes disturbance. In order to balance it up, this cow ritual have to be performed through which the energy of Lord Vishnu is channelized for the spiritual stability of the ambience.

Orissa- Poles of Bamboo to lighten the path to heaven

Orissa- Poles of Bamboo to lighten the path to heaven

Travel to Orissa during Diwali and you will find tall bamboos tied erected in front of the households. Each of these bamboos usually have an earthen pot tied to it which is further raised to a height by using a rope. On the inside of the pot is kept a lamp; thereby giving the whole structure a resemblance of a street lamp. The reason why they do it? Well, people of Orissa believe that by lightning the dark paths in this fashion will help the spirits of their dead ancestors find a way to the heaven. 

This tradition is in existence in the state since the very old times, even though the modernity illuminates the houses with multi-colored lights and bulbs.

Diwali starts with prayers to Goddess Kali in West Bengal

West Bengal - Diwali starts with prayers to Goddess Kali

Though the whole of India worships Goddess Lakshmi on Diwali, West Bengal residents, Bengalis worship Maa Kali. Diwali is a two day affair for people here. Laxmi Pooja celebrated in rest of the country has been earlier celebrated here. 5 days after the festival of Dusshera on a full moon day, the Goddess of Wealth has been already been worshipped. 

As Diwali is celebrated on the new moon day, Amavasya, the fierce Devi Kali is worshipped. In the same pandal where Goddess Durga was worshipped few days back, the stage is now the ‘Goddess of Destruction’ so that new beginnings can happen. The festivities are the same. Earthen lights, electrical lighting and firecrackers light up the skies. The devotees of Maa Kali fast the entire day. Some fast without water the entire day. The next day feast of delightful sweets and traditional food is available.

Goa burns demon effigies on Diwali

Diwali at baga beach in Goa
Diwali at baga beach,Goa
Amongst the various events and festivals that take place in Goa during the time of winters, Diwali is highly prominent. Goans have an altogether different theory from the main mythology that revolves around this festival. As per the legend, Lord Krishna killed a demon king, named Narkasur, on this very day by slaying his head with the Sudharshan Chakra. In honor of such an event, every year during the time of Diwali, people of Goa publically burn the effigies of the demon king Narkasur. Rest of the celebrations stay the same as in the rest of India; cleaning of the houses, decorations with traditional lamps, lights and fireworks.

Assam - Diwali Heralds New Wealth

Assam - Diwali Heralds New Wealth
Image Source: commons.wikimedia

Diwali in Assam is a grand festival. The state worships the Goddess of Wealth and prosperity. Prayers, diyas, aartis and Rangoli are the beautiful allures. Not only the homes are beautified to welcome the Goddess, every road every nook and corner is illuminated. Businesses worship the book of accounts in this day so that prosperity continues. New wealth is heralded in the auspicious festival. New things are brought. Old and broken things are dispatched from homes. Like the other regions of the country, firecrackers lighten up the skies. Mithai and warm greetings are exchanged.

A 'Choti' Diwali before the main day in Bihar

A 'Choti' Diwali before the main day in Bihar

People in Bihar follow the tradition of celebrating a smaller version of Diwali, just a day before the main festival. Known as Choti Diwali, celebrations of this day are marked by fewer lights and crackers are fired as compared to the main day. Devotees usually observe a day long fast, which gets over only after sunset. 21 diyas are lighted on choti Diwali. The day of Diwali starts with a holy snan in River Ganga. The evening starts with the worship of Goddess Lakshmi. Lights, Rangoli, sweets an firecrackers are the allures. The homes can be seen twinkling with millions of diyas and electronic lights in all shapes and clouds hung.

Jammu & Kashmir – Don’t Forget To Visit Dal Lake in Srinagar

Jammu & Kashmir – Don’t Forget To Visit Dal Lake in Srinagar

Jammu and Kashmir celebrates the Festival of Lights in their own charming way. The Kashmiri Pundits celebrate the festival grandly. The homes are lighted up. People have cleaned their homes. Thrown away the broken and unwanted things. Prayers have been offered to the Goddess of Wealth. Sweets, dry fruits and traditional delicacies are exchanged. Diwali is incomplete in the heavenly mountain state without a mention of Dal Lake. The beautiful Dal Lake in Srinagar is seen lighted up with millions of diyas floating on the waters. The glittering lights, the snowcapped mountains in the background and the peaceful ambiance are the perfect elements of a chersihed memory.

Double festivity at Golden temple in Amritsar (Diwali/Bandi Chhor Diwas)

Double festivity at Golden temple in Amritsar (Diwali/Bandi Chhor Diwas)

If you are looking for an enormous show of lights, head to Amritsar in the state of Punjab during Diwali. The city’s main attraction, the sacred and graceful Golden temple gets all covered in jubilant lights and traditional lamps, making the sight a perfect behold. Having said that, the Sikhs have another reasons for such a decoration of the sacred Gurudwara, other than Diwali. 

It’s the anniversary of the release of the 6th Sikh Guru, Guru Hargobind Ji along with 52 other prisoners (Hindu Rajput princes) from the Gwalior fort, which is known as ‘Bandi Chhor Diwas’.  Looking at the ample decorations by traditional lamps and lights during the occasion, some might fail to separate the two festivals. However, it is important to understand the significance of this festival as it overshadows the spirit of Diwali in some way at the Sikh dominated city of Amritsar. Put it anyway, glittering beautiful lights, firecrackers and feasts is the essence of both the festivals.   

Race for the title of the best decorated market in Rajasthan during Diwali

Race for the title of the best decorated market in Rajasthan during Diwali

Vibrancy of Rajasthan use to be at its prime during the time of festivals. One such occasion is the festival of lights; Diwali, which is celebrated in a unique fashion at this colorful state. The prime cities of Rajasthan like Jaipur and Jodhpur gets all dazzled up with colorful lights and decorations, Where ever one sets his sights on, a rumble between glittering artificial as well as traditional lights can be seen.

Not to forget the crackers which resonate the whole environment and symbolically banish the evil off the streets. The festive crescendo highlights a big shopping festival in the pink city. The festival invites many small and big markets of Jaipur in which they strive to be the best decorated one. Offering a plethora of items; traditional, decorative, household and apparels, these markets are set at different locations of the city like the Vaishali Nagar, Jayanti Bazaar, Chandpole Bazaar, Chaura Rasta and Raja Park. With so much festive exuberance, Diwali is surely a carnival festival in Rajasthan.

Himachal Pradesh - Where Tales of Ramayana Are Narrated & Performed

Himachal Pradesh - Where Tales of Ramayana Are Narrated & Performed

Hindu mythology explains the festival of Diwali as the occasion when Lord Rama along with his wife Sita and brother Laxman returned to his home land Ayodhya after completing a long term of exile. All this along with the complete story of Lord Rama and his fight with the demon king Ravana is mentioned in detail in Ramayana. Thus, getting themselves completely devoted towards the great Lord are the people of Himachal Pradesh, where tales from the Ramayana mythology are narrated and enacted in the form of a play. This resembles a lot to the celebrations of Dusshera; Ramlila, in North India. 

Oil bathing customs in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu celebrates Diwali a day earlier than the date available for the whole nation. This is because of the traditional Tamil calendar that links this festival with the month of Aipasi (thula). Well, the point here is not about the date, but the unique way in which Diwali is celebrated here.

Preparations start a day before, owing to which people clean their ovens.  A coating of lime is put on the ovens and then the containers are filled with water for the next day’s oil bathing ritual. On the festival day, families wake up very early to have an oil bath before the sunrise. The belief following this custom says that it is equivalent of having a bath in the holy Ganges. Elderlies apply Gingelly oil on the head of the younger members of the family, which then culminates into a full body oil bath. Some natives of the state also apply a medicinal ayurvedic paste, known as ‘Deepavali Lehiyam’ right after the oil bath. After the completion of this unique ritual, partake of a hearty breakfast of sweets and various other South Indian dishes takes place. Crackers and the other usual celebrations of Diwali follow later.

Delhi’s perfect festive moods!

Delhi’s perfect festive moods!

Delhi, the multi-cultural capital city of India celebrates numerous festivals of different religions and ethnicities in full enthusiasm and gaiety.  One prominent amongst them is the Hindu festival of Diwali. The capital does not wait for the festival date, rather the festivities of Diwali start three weeks before; right after the Dusshera festival. Right from that day, the capital sets a trend of shopping; discounted sales and promotional offers.

As the days of the festival are considered auspicious for buying new items; apparel, furniture, jewelry, all the popular shopping joints of the country get crowded with people. Besides, the evenings at some corners of the city are meant for staging the tales of Ramayana. The main day of the festival is meant for Laxmi Pujan, which people at their homes and offices perform with proper devotion. Unique thing about Diwali celebrations in Delhi is that it grips all the people irrespective of the difference in the caste, religion and community in one thread of festivity which in turn illuminates the whole city like a newlywed bride.  

Diwali gets a sacred touch at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Diwali gets a sacred touch at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh is one of the very few places in India that knows how to manage religion. In other words, the city is the core of Hindu religion in India. Owing to such significance of this place, it is not hard to guess the picture of the Diwali night here.

A true visual delight, Diwali celebrations at Varanasi are highlighted the best at the city’s sacred Ghats. Thousands of brightly lit earthen lamps mark the decorations of the river lines. Look them from a height and they resemble golden stars devoting their lights completely to the Ghats. Little away from the river line are the enactments of Ramayana, locally known as Ramlila goes on. Adhering to professional actors, these Ramlilas are certainly amongst the best in India. Such an infusion of religion, devotion and art, makes Diwali at Varanasi highly unique.

Gujarat - Celebrating New Beginnings with Family and Friends

Gujarat - Celebrating New Beginnings with Family and Friends

In Gujarat, Deepavali is the festival that brings together families, friends and religions. The festivities are five days long. Every home, from the hut of the poor to the mansion of the rich is lit with twinkling diyas. Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth and prosperity is welcomed. Floral decorations, fireworks and rangoli add grandeur to this festival. The five days of Deepavali are Dhan Terash, Kali Chaudasa, Diwali, Padva or Varshapratipada (starting of Vikram Samvat, New Year) and fifth day is Bhai Bij. Seventh day is the auspicious day for any good things to begin. Like the whole nation, Gujarat celebrates with New Year shopping spree, cleaning homes, preparing dishes, wearing new clothes, bursting crackers and exchanging greeting.

Madhya Pradesh

Diwali - one of the most important festivals celebrated in India

Madhya Pradesh like the whole of India has a multi-ethnic population. Lying in the heart of India, the state has a dominant population of tribals. The tribals celebrate Diwali in their own charming way. From their attires, huts, dance and songs, the festivities are a kaleidoscope of colors. The melodies of their songs are pleasing. The cleaning of homes, worshiping, and exchange of gifts are similar to other parts of India. The festivities in the tribes are carried out in their own manner. Some of the activities that people indulge in are cock fighting, drinking, carefree revelry, dancing and singing. The customs may differ but the feeling of peace, new beginning and unity are felt throughout the country.

[ Read more about Diwali Festivals in India ]

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Night Tourism Introduced in Jaipur by Rajasthan Tourism

Night Tourism in Jaipur

The idea of night tourism has been introduced in Jaipur by The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation (RTDC). The concept has been introduced for the first time in the state and Jaipur is the first city where it has been launched. This exclusive tour is going to include important tourist attractions such as Jal Mahal, Amar Jawan Jyoti, Birla Mandir. Vidhan Sabha Bhavan, Albert Hall, Amber (Amer) Fort, Hawa Mahal. The tour will come to an end with a special dinner at Durg Cafetaria at Nahargarh Fort.

[ Read more about Pink City Jaipur ]

Joint director, department of tourism, Government of Rajasthan, GS Gangwal, informed, “The night tourism concept was introduced during this summer. Due to the heat during the day tourists do not prefer to visit the attractions. This is when we came up with the concept of night tourism, where travelers can visit the major attractions in the evenings from 6 pm till 10 pm. This new tour concept is slowly becoming popular amongst travelers. Initially, we started this tour to Amber Fort, Albert Hall and the City Palace, and soon we will be adding more attractions.”

[ If Interested? check-out the list of 40 Jaipur Tour Packages ]

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12 Things We Bet You Dont Know : Secrets of Ladakh

Ladakh in the northern most stretch of India is a land of possibilities, nature’s extreme and religion. One thing that holds all these in one thread is the element of mystery. Over the past years, the mainstream world has significantly shown interest in this mystic land, but still have not been able to explore all of its faces. These enigmatic faces are usual to the locals (Ladakhis) and so are its secrets.

If you happen to travel to Ladakh anytime, try to hear out stories of all the below mentioned from a wise local. Well, these are some secrets of Ladakh which we, the mainstream world are completely unaware of:

1. Kung Fu Nuns of Ladakh

Kung Fu Nuns of ‪Ladakh‬ Dress up in Pyjamas and Yellow sashes..
Kung Fu Nuns of ‪Ladakh‬ Dress up in Pyjamas and Yellow sashes.
The clichéd Kung fu image of the Asians, which we happen to tag with every chap having mongoloid features is somewhat true for the Ladakhis too. Although Kung Fu is not a part of the mainstream Ladakhi (Tibetan) culture, echoes of hee-yaas can be sometime heard across the hills. That’s right, there is one self-empowered branch of feminist Buddhism in Ladakh, Drukpa Nunnery, the disciples of which are known to practice the ancient Kung Fu at the very early hours of the morning.

Surprising fact is, these disciples are no martial art aspirants, but Buddhist nuns. Watching the Buddhist nuns, who are usually known for their peace loving nature and relentless towards any sort of violence, getting involved in an act of physical combat is certainly a rare sight in Ladakh.

2. In 1971, The War with Pakistan was Paused to Celebrate Losar 

India-Pakistan 1971 war was paused to celebrate Losar Festival
India-Pakistan 1971 war was paused to celebrate Losar
Who says military men can be no better than war junkies? I do not know about the most advanced Seals or Marines, but the men in uniform of India and Pakistan certainly proved this theory wrong. And that too at such a time when they were at their most ugly form against each other. Very few from either side of the borders know that the historic war in which their country took part four decades before, was put on a halt for some time, so that the locals, who were in the middle of such crises, can carry on with some festival in peace.

It was the 1971 war between India and Pakistan. Gunfires, grenades, continuous bombardments from the tanks were dismantling the Turtok village (in possession of Indian army) in Ladakh. Then suddenly, the then Commanding officer of that post, Colonel Chewang Rinchen got a conscious call, felt sentimental, and paused the war for some time. Reason being, Losar festival celebrations were about to start. I wonder how the other side fell for it and also stood at peace. The Losar festival continued for some days and so the ceasefire. Later on, the Colonel was awarded the Mahavir Chakra for his noble act.

3. Magnetic Hills 

Magnetic Hill of Ladakh
Magnetic Hill of Ladakh
One of its kind in the world is the Magnetic Hill. True to its name, the hill is known to defy gravity by pulling the cars towards it, just like a magnet. The mysterious hill is located on the Leh-Kargil-Srinagar national highway, at a height of 11,000 feet.

Locals of Ladakh have a superficial explanation about the hill. They believe that there was once a pathway (the highway connecting to the hill), which used to lead straight to heaven. Those who deserve heavenly pleasures are pulled right away by the hill, whereas who does not deserve are not.

However, modern minds take it as a nature’s phenomenon and believe magnetism of earth is the root cause of this attraction. Leh resides at one of the highest altitudes on Earth and receive the maximum radiation of the sun. This causes the magnetic pull, and fluctuations in the presence and absence of sun are bound to happen. That’s why, at the day time the magnetism is more intense than the night time.

4. Shrine of OP Baba

Enterance Gate to Shrine of OP Baba
Enterance Gate to Shrine of OP Baba
Siachen is the highest and toughest battle field in the world. Since many decades, Indian army has made its presence to this inhospitable region, where mere survival itself becomes a challenge. Apart from the physical and mental agility, the thing that keeps them going is the unwavering faith towards a legendary soldier; the fellow soldiers prefer to consider him as their guardian deity. Legends has it that once a brave soldier named Om Prakash, single-handedly put a valiant fight against an enemy attack that took place at the Malaun post. In an attempt to safeguard the post, he laid down his life.

Today, soldiers posted there have a firm belief that the spirit of that martyr, commonly known as the ‘OP Baba’, protects the Siachen past against all odds, nature or enemy. Owing to this belief, they also made a sacred shrine of him, right at the basecamp of Siachen. 

5. The Myth of Tso Kar Lake

Mysterious Tso Kar Lake of Ladakh
Mysterious Tso Kar Lake of Ladakh
Ladakh surely has a mystic charm that shines out from every of its wonderful spots. One such spot is the Tso Kar Lake, which is one of the highest and the most beautiful high altitude lakes in India. The lake is crystal clear blue with patches of white (salt) on its shore. Such amalgamation of colors make it a popular tourist attraction. However, the lake hasn’t been like this in the past, as the locals talk about its story.

The myth goes like this, millions of years back, Tso Kar used to be gigantic. There was a devil, who started with the task of drinking the whole of the lake. After a point, when he got totally full and couldn’t hold any longer, he ended up spraying all of it on earth. Some amount of it spluttered towards Korzok, which formed Tso Moriri, while the rest of the water gave rise to Starspapukh and Regul Tso.

6. Rocks of Viagra

Rocks of Viagra in Ladakh
Rocks of Viagra
One of the most important ingredients of Viagra, ‘Shilajit’ has its best quality origins in the Himalayan hills of Ladakh. In the cities, this precious natural drug, known to improve sexual stamina and libido is sold at high prices, but in the barren lands of Ladakh, it is available for free.

Just like rubber, this antioxidant oozes out from the rocks and is found in great abundance. However, if you come across such rocks, don’t just start scraping it off from the rocks because it requires proper processing to get the desired drug. 

7. Indian Army Training People to Build Homestay

Being a border disputed region, Ladakh in the extreme north of India has military presence since many decades. Indian army not only protects the Ladakhi borders, but also safeguards the interests of the local population. As a noble attempt, Indian army has taken the charge of training the locals to build comfortable homes for them.

Environmental conditions at Ladakh are highly unpredictable and hostile. Thus, for the rural population to be independent, the men in uniform have started this endeavor. They also contribute in the local economy by supplying fruits and vegetable at the time of shortage.

8. Road Across Khardungla

World's Highest Motorable Road
Many of us, especially the bikers who take Ladakh as an ultimate sojourn for off-road biking trips, would have been lucky to travel or simply know the highest motorable road (18,380 feet) in the world, Khardungla. But, how many of them know about the bridge that takes you to the other side of the pass? Hardly few. Well, here is another one for the great Indian army.

It was around the year 1982, when troops of the army started with the construction of a bridge that would run over, what was a glaciated patch of hard frozen rice, right ahead the Khardungla pass. Known as the Baily Bridge, it is located between the Dras and the Suru River at Khardungla pass and is the highest bridge in the world.

It was built to facilitate travel to the other high altitudes of Ladakh, and today it still stands strong, bearing the load of hundreds of army trucks and tourist vehicles on its shoulders. Unfortunately, 18 men lost their lives in the construction of the bridge.   

9. The Tradition of The Order

The tradition of the order in Ladakh
The Tradition of Ladakh
Synonymous with Buddhist monasteries, Ladakh has monks in hundreds associated with these religious spots. These red clad peace loving monks are of every age. As per one compulsive tradition of Ladakh, the youngest child of a family would be bounded to join a monastery as per his sect and live life like a monk.

This practice was very much in common in the years of the past, but now it rarely happens. Although the region is not short of teens willing to voluntarily join the monasteries as per the order.  

10 Blow a Conch to Call 120 Lamas for Lunch

Blow a conch to call 120 lamas for lunch
Blow a conch to call for lunch
Monasteries located entirely on the edge of a cliff are some of the usual sights that you can have in Ladakh. One such structure is the Karsha Gompa which has a collection of 30 buildings built all on a vertical climb. All these buildings, whether the prayer halls, libraries or living quarters are places where 120 monks get their routine indulgences, and to call all of them for lunch and dinner can be quite a task, if you do not have an effective medium.

For that, the monastery makes use a conch shell. Every afternoon and evening, this conch shell is blown, and it resonates the whole of the monastery. The lamas or the Buddhist monks call it the call for food.    

11. Druk White Lotus School 

Druk White Lotus School
Druk White Lotus School
Located in the Shey region of Ladakh is a structure that can withstand the most hostile weather conditions and still stand unaffected. Known as the Druk White Lotus School, it was set up to instil rich cultural traditions in the students. Interesting fact about the property is that local building materials and techniques are used in the construction of it.

Considering various possibilities of extreme weather conditions that Ladakh faces, an environmental design has been chosen for the school. This sustainable design has also won the school an international reputation.

12. Where the Snake King Slept

One of the most significant and important monasteries in Ladakh, Likir is situated at a hilltop. Besides the religious significance, the monastery is popular for a different reason as well. Buddhists believe that the monastery was the place where the snake king Jokpo once slept. Infact, naming of the monastery itself signifies its association with the snake king. Likir is derived from the word Lukhgil, which means ‘coiled snake’. Monks believe that the sacred monastery is under the guard of the spirits of two legendary snakes-Nanda and Taksako.

[You may also check-out here the list of 28 Ladakh Tour Packages to explore the land of mystery ]

About the Author :Love to travel! But confused how to. Well, Ankit Kumar has answers to all of your queries. A travel writer by profession, Ankit offers all the necessary information on travel to your favorite holiday destination through his write-ups. So just read on!!.
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Fair & Festivals in India in September 2015

September brings India into a full swing. It is that time of the year, when the country celebrates some of its biggest festivals in a manner that reflects how deep it is rooted to its culture and traditions. Mentioned below are some of the popular festivals in India in September, the celebrations of which spread to its every corner.  

Krishna Janmashtami

Making Pyramid of Humans for breaking the Dahi Handi
Making Pyramid of Humans for breaking the Dahi Handi.  CR Shelare/Getty Images.
It is the birthday of the Hindu Lord, Krishna (the blue-skinned incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in the whole of India, but in different forms. When the northern part of India (especially Mathura and Vrindavan) wakes up before dawn, decorates their Vaishnava temples and events including Kirtan (devotional songs), drama, dance become the part of the celebrations which continue till midnight, It is the other half of India, which gets resonated with an epic show of devotion towards the Lord.

Coming on top of the cities with celebrations of these kinds is Mumbai. Its major highlight being the ‘Dahi Handi’, represents Lord Krishna’s love for curd and butter. An earthen pot containing curd, money and butter is tied up high and young ‘Govindas’ (as they like to call themselves) make human pyramids of themselves to reach the Handi. Well, this use to be the story of Mumbai, and several other parts of Maharashtra during the Krishna Janmashtmi.

Do enjoy specially made for the occasion, delicious peda and buttery lassi, if you happen to visit Mathura (Lord Krishna’s birth place) and Gokul at this time of the year in India.    

When: September 5-6, 2015
Places to be during this time: To witness the festivities of Krishna Janmashtmi in India, make a visit to Mathura. The birth place of Lord Krishna is known to celebrate this festival with elaborate rituals. Other than this, the city of Mumbai throws the best bet. The ‘Dahi handi’ ritual along with celebrations at the famous ISKCON temple complex in Mumbai brings a gala time.    

Ziro Festival of Music 

Ziro Festival of Music in the Ziro Valley of Arunachal Pradesh.
Artists performing at a rock music festival : Zero Fest
If you wish to experience what impact a music festival can leave to your mind, then you must head for the Ziro festival of music. Not as great as the Woodstock, but certainly this one is enough for your soul to fly like a free bird.

Some call it the wilderness effect, created by the magical landscapes and mystical mountains of the breathtaking North-east, while others believe it’s the fusion of artists (global and local) that defines the beauty of this festival. Whatever it is! The Ziro music festival is one fun trip that every music lover must cling on to.
The Ziro festival of Music goes on for 4 days and is a chance to live your hippie dream (staying in camps, merry making and the unescapable charm of music).  

When: September 24-27, 2015
Address: Ziro valley, Arunachal Pradesh

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi : Submergence of the idol of the Lord Ganesha
Submergence of the idol of the Lord Ganesha
Hindu’s most adorable Lord, Lord Ganesha, gets a special attention in the month of September. And it so happens in the city of Mumbai again. A birthday celebration that goes on for 11 days, Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most auspicious festivals in this part of India. Huge and elaborated clay statues of Lord Ganesha make their way to the residences and podiums of the city. This represents the homecoming of the lord and on the last and the final 11th day (Ananta Chaturdashi), the statue of the lord is submerged into the sea, with a belief that every of their worries and problems will also be carried away with him. Before the submergence of the idol of the divine, they are paraded on the streets with full processions that include a lot of singing (Ganpati Bappa Moriya) and dancing.

Festivities of this scale can also be seen in the other southern states of India (TamilNadu, Kerala, Goa and Karnataka) as well.

When: September 17-27, 2015
Places to be during this time: Ganesh Chaturthi is the favorite festival of the state of Maharashtra and especially Mumbai’s. You can also visit Goa, TamilNadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh to witness the festivities.

[ Read more about Ganesh Chaturthi Festival ]

Ladakh Festival

Cham Dance performance at Ladakh festival
Cham Dance performance at Ladakh festival
For all those who take Ladakh as a cold, rusty, barren land, where the vibrancy of mass human gatherings or civilization is highly remote, the Ladakh festival celebrated in the month of September is a mind changer. The Ladakh festival is an annual fiesta that let the locals cherish their deep-rooted culture and traditions, which are the same since time immemorial. It all starts with a procession of dancers, school children and sometimes local leaders.

This gets followed by yak, lion and mask dances. By this time, the festivities turn into a big time high; not to forget the contribution of the locally made barley beer, known as Chang. The festival also talks about sports in the form of archery contests and polo matches. Adventure sports, being one of the faces of Ladakh, become the same for this festival as well. During this time various adventure expeditions like white water rafting, trekking and motor-biking are organized.

In a nutshell, the Ladakh festival is one last reason for the region to ride in the wave of celebration and partying, because after that it’s nothing but a cold and dull spell of winters.

When: September 20-26, 2015
Places to be: Leh and its surrounding villages  

[ Read more about Ladakh Festival and plan your trip ]

Ramnagar Ramlila 

Sita Putting the jaymala around the neck of Rama
Sita Putting the jaymala around the neck of Rama
Ramlila is one of the best ways Hindus depict their epic Ramayana (the story of Lord Rama). And to enjoy the best of the numerous Ramlilas that are staged all across the Northern part of India, you need to schedule your plans to Ramnagar near Varanasi. Being dwelling in the mystic charm of Varanasi, it is quite obvious the connection it would be having with the prime religion of India, Hinduism.

The emulsification of Hinduism in one of the oldest habitats in the world, gave the people of Ramnagar a sense to reenact the story of Lord Vishnu’s incarnation, Lord Rama in the form of a play, some 200 years ago. This started the trend of Ramlila in India. Unlike the other small budgetary Ramlila’s in the country, this one has lavish sets and permanent structures that resemble a lot like those of the locations mentioned in the mythology. All this makes the whole city look like a giant set, where every soul is immersed completely in his respective role. When the other Ramlilas in India bail out after a period of 10 days, it continues for 31 days.

When: September 27-October 2015
Address: Ramnagar, on the banks of Ganges River, opposite Varanasi

Eid al-Adha, Bakrid

Also known as Id-ul-Zuha, it is one of the most auspicious festivals of the Muslim world and is celebrated all over the globe. Indians prefer to call it Bakr-id because of the tradition of sacrificing a goat (Bakri) being involved.

The sacrifice has an interesting story behind it. Muslims have a belief that Allah (God) ordered Ibrahim to put his son forward as a mark of sacrifice. While following the Lord’s commands, the son accidentally got replaced with a sheep at the very last moment.

As part of the celebrations, visits to mosques in new outfits become the order of the day. People offer special prayers and exchange gifts with their loved ones.

When: Every year, Eid-al-Adha falls in the last month of lunar Islamic calendar, Dhu-al-Hijjah. For the year 2015, it is going to be on 25 September 2015.

Vishwakarma Puja

TSR 1st battalion worshiping their Arms & Rifles
TSR 1st battalion worshiping their Arms & Rifles
Hindu religion address him as ‘Devashilpi’ or the ‘Architect of Gods’. He, Lord Vishwakarma, is the divine engineer and is worshipped mainly by the professionals. Hindus believe that Lord Vishwakarma fabricated the entire universe as per the wishes of Lord Brahma. Thus, as a mark of reverence to the lord, Vishwakarma Puja is carried on by artists, craftsman, weavers and Industrial houses. Idols of the Lord and his elephant are put on display at decorated Pandals. The occasion also attracts kite flyers. Owing to which, several multi-colored kites can be seen ruling the skies.

When: September 17, 2015
Where: Karnataka, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa and Tripura. 

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