August is the time when monsoon season is in full swing. Most of India is washed by the rains and everything seems refreshed. After months of agonizing heat and suffering, the monsoon showers give mother nature a new lease of life. The overcast skies above tell you that it may pitter patter anytime. Contrary to what most people think, the joy of monsoons is not limited to a cuppa and snacks, or even listening to the rhythmic sounds of rain hitting your roof. There are a lot of activities that you can see and do during this time. The arrival of this season coincides with several festivals and fairs. You can attend them and become a part of the festivities. You could also plan a trip to Kerala, whose beauty takes on a different meaning and is a must visit destination during this time. If you are an avid trekker, then monsoon trekking to Valley of Flowers in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand in Garhwal Himalayas is the surest way of getting your heart racing and blood flowing! So step out and enjoy all that this lovely month has to offer. Read this blog and find out the top things to do & see in August in India.
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Nag Panchami is a festival dedicated to snakes, and is observed in all the countries where Hindus enjoy a majority, including India and Nepal. One of the most exciting festivals to experience in August, it is celebrated on the fifth day of the bright half of the Hindu month Shravan. According to the Gregorian calendar, this falls in the month of July and August.
How is it celebrated?
On the day of the festival, snakes, particularly cobras, are worshipped with a variety of items including milk, sweets, flowers and other holy offerings. Images of various Naga deities crafted from stone, silver and wood are bathed in milk and water and worshipped to the accompaniment to certain mantras. An essential part of the festival is the observance of fasts where Brahmins are fed. It is believed that doing so protects you from snake bites in the future. It is also interesting to know that on this day, digging of the earth is forbidden as doing so may harm or kill the snakes.
Places across India where this festival is celebrated
Some of the places where Nag Panchami is celebrated with the utmost gusto and enthusiasm are Battis Shirala village in Maharashtra, Sri Adishesha Temple in Andhra Pradesh, Nagaraja Temple in Kerala, Nagathamman Temple in Chennai and Hardevja Temple in Jaipur. In Benares, on this occasion, akhadas (wrestling pits) are sprinkled with holy water, its walls painted with images of snakes and gurus (teachers) honoured in different ways. On the occasion of Nag Panchami, people worship a snake goddess called Manasa by planting a twig of the manasa plant (which symbolizes the goddess) into the ground.
Admit it! You have always wanted to visit Ladakh and go hiking in its rough yet lovely landscape. Trekking in Ladakh is best enjoyed in the month of August. There are several kinds of treks available, each of which shows you a different side of its beauty. That is also one of the reasons why it is a highly sought after tourist destination.
Why is trekking so famous in Ladakh?
A large part of it has to do with its landscape, which boasts diversity every few miles. The barren slopes of the mountains stretch themselves out comfortably. Somewhere, an azure lake beckons you with its stillness, while the clear blue skies above are dotted with clouds scattered like little bits of happiness. Some treks take you past sleepy villages, while others land you right in the midst of green pastures where wild flowers dance in glee. The opportunities for adventure presents itself here in many ways, be it crossing a river or climbing a peak. The views that you are greeted with along the way remain lodged in your memory for a long period of time. It is not just nature and spirituality though that makes Ladakh a famous trekking destination. You also get a chance to explore its culture and cuisine, both of which are deeply influenced by Tibet.
Which treks I can enjoy in August?
There are many treks which you can undertake in the month of August in Ladakh. Though they may differ in duration, time and difficulty level, all of them promise to quench your thirst for adventure. Here are the famous treks to enjoy in August in Ladakh:
The month of August also comes with lot of promises for the bird lover. This is the best time to plan a trip to Keoladeo Ghana National Park, also known as Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it is one of the few national parks which actually remains open for visitors during the monsoon season.
What’s so special about Keoladeo National Park?
Keoladeo National Park is home to more than 370 species of birds and animals including painted storks and pythons to nilgai and deer. Its diverse landscape is characterized by grasslands, swamps, woodlands and wetlands. Its history is as captivating as the flora and fauna of the national park itself. It served as a royal hunting lodge for the Maharajas during the 1850’s and was the game reserve for the Maharajas along with the British. It is believed that Lord Linlithgow, who served as the Viceroy of India from 1936 to 1943, shot over thousands of ducks in a single day during one of his duck hunting parties.
What kind of wildlife is present here?
The park is home to a wide variety of bird species, including the Siberian Crane, which is spotted very rarely. Its habitat boasts 366 bird species, 379 floral species, 50 species of fish, 13 species of snakes, 5 species of lizards, 7 amphibian and turtle species. With the arrival of winters, the park is visited by thousands of migratory waterfowl. There are several viewpoints within the park where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of the sanctuary. Happen to be a photographer? You will get plenty of opportunities to capture the prettiest sights around, from an Indian Peafowl perched on a branch to a pied kingfisher taking off gracefully. Some of the birds commonly spotted in the national park are crane, pelican, goose, duck and wagtails and pipits.
What makes Kerala one of the best places to visit during the month of August is the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. Audiences are captivated by the onlookers, the rowers and the thrill surrounding the race. The event is held on the second saturday of August every year and attracts people in large numbers. The boats themselves are almost 100 ft long, and compete against each other while traditional boat songs play in the background. The snake boat race starts from Punnamada Lake in Alleppey. This year, the race will be held on 10th August, 2019. Several villages participate in the competition, with each of them owning a boat almost 100-120 ft long. Locals call the boat Chundan Vallam. Each boat is rowed by about 100 rowers who row furiously to win the first position. It is hard to miss the excitement everywhere, with every spectator being a part of the competition mentally.
Interesting story behind the Nehru Trophy Boat Race
There is an interesting story behind the Nehru Trophy Boat Race. When Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru visited Kerala in 1952, he was intrigued by the appearance of the snake boats. Ignoring his security cover, he jumped in one of the boats. He also donated a silver trophy resembling a snake boat to the state. This was how the race came to be called the Nehru Trophy Boat Race.
Where can I watch these races?
There are various places in Kerala where you can enjoy these races. Some of these are mentioned below.
There are many things that make Kerala one of the top places to visit in South India, and one of those is its backwaters. An intricately connected network of lagoons and lakes, they have served various purposes throughout history, from fishing to agriculture. They are also significant from a tourist point of view. A houseboat ride in one of the backwaters is a memorable travel experience for any visitor. The houseboats are known as kettuvallam. Although you can enjoy a houseboat ride most of the months in a year, the best time to do so is August. During this time, the backwaters and the lush vegetation surrounding them look refreshed, since the monsoons are almost over. There is a freshness everywhere which rejuvenates your physical and mental being. Just rest and relax and watch the picturesque views passing you by. If you enjoy photography, you are in for a treat. Rows of coconut trees and dense vegetation in the distance, and in between, the solitude of the backwaters, this is what happiness looks like.
What is a houseboat?
Houseboats originally served the purpose of transporting tons of rice and spices from one region to the other. The word is a combination of two words, Kettu (which means dwelling structures) and Vallam (which means boat). The boat is built from planks of jackwood held together with coir. This coir is then coated with caustic black resin which is made by boiling cashew kernels. It is said that, if a houseboat is given proper care and maintenance, it can last for generations. Modern houseboats have undergone a substantial change, and are equipped with the same facilities and comfort as you would expect in a good hotel. There are furnished bedrooms, toilets, well equipped kitchen and a balcony.
Best places for enjoying a houseboat ride in Kerala
The best places for enjoying houseboat ride in Kerala are:
There are few festivals which draw as much emotion as Raksha Bandhan. The important place that it occupies in our culture and traditions has been elaborately explained in Hindu scriptures and well captured by Bollywood movies, literature etc. A simple thread tied by a sister on her brother’s wrist signifies the love between the two. While the sister wishes him long life, health and prosperity, the brother promises to protect her against all obstacles and difficulties in life. The festival is celebrated in the Hindu month of Shravan, with the dates varying every year. In 2019, Rakhi will be celebrated on 15th August.
How is Rakhi celebrated in different parts of India?
These are some of the ways Raksha Bandhan is celebrated across India.
Some interesting stories related to Raksha Bandhan
There are several stories related to Raksha Bandhan. Let us take a look at some of these:
Several festivals are held across India in the month of August, with a particularly thrilling one being Jhapan Mela. Held in West Bengal in the city of Bishnupur in Bankura district, it attracts people from all over the country. Snake charmers fascinate onlookers with a variety of tricks which are performed by a tribe called Jhampanias. This tribe worships Goddess Manasa (the daughter of Lord Shiva), who is worshipped for rain and fertility. Apart from King Cobra, there are other kinds of snakes on display here. In 2019, the festival will be held on 1st August, 2019.
Origins of Jhapa Mela
According to local traditions, it is believed that Jhapa Mela was first celebrated in the 17th century. The occasion was the triumphant return of King Bir Hambir Malla after the battle against the Afghans. The king is also credited with having built one of the largest cannons during his reign called Dal Madal, which meant, destruction of the enemy.
Janmashtami makes North India and West India one of the top places to visit in the month of August. It is celebrated across India to mark the birth of Lord Krishna. Just like Holi, it is celebrated in different ways across the country. Krishna occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of every Indian, and that emotion is clearly visible on this occasion. The celebrations reach their peak on the night of Janmashtami. Some of the places in North India where the festival is celebrated with enthusiasm are Vrindavan, Gokul, Mathura and Dwarka. In 2019, Janmashtami will be celebrated on 24th August.
How is Janmashtami celebrated?
Devotees dance, sing and perform aartis, along with other rituals. Dancing especially, occupies a special place, since Krishna himself is believed to have loved it. Festivities start before dawn and continue till late midnight. The idol of Lord Krishna, which depicts him as a child, is adorned with flowers and garlands, and then bathed with milk. He is then bedecked in colorful costumes and ornaments. Fasting is considered to be an essential part of the ritual.
How is Janmashtami celebrated in different parts of India?
Like many other festivals celebrated across India, the festival of Janmashtami is celebrated in different ways. Let’s take a look:
If you are planning a trip with your family and looking for a family friendly destination, then Rajasthan would be your best bet. If you visit it during the month of August however, you will be able to attend the Gogamedi Fair. A traditional handicraft and cattle fair, it displays the various cultural hues of the state, of which traditional dance and music is an integral part. The fair is held in honor of Gogaji, who is revered as the snake god in Rajasthan. The fair is held in memory of Gogaji Maharaj, a local deity belonging to the Chauhan Rajput clan from Dadrewa village in the district of Churu, Rajasthan.
How is the fair celebrated?
The Gogamedi Fair is celebrated from the ninth day of the dark half of Bhadra to the eleventh day of the dark half of the same month, which, in the Gregorian calendar, are the months between July-August. In 2019, this festival will be held on 25th August. Fun rides and cultural performances also delight both adults and children visiting the fair. The fair attracts devotees from all over the state. They are easily recognisable by their bright attire, which is always yellow. On this occasion, Goga Maharaj is honored with several delicacies and food items prepared from coconut, sugar and honey. The smell of pickles, snacks and chutneys linger in the air.
Significance of the Gogaji Temple
Goga ji Maharaj is held in the highest respect by devotees from Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. He is also worshipped as a warrior hero, snake god and saint in the states. Goga ji is believed to be the son of Jewar, a Chauhan Rajput ruler, and Bachal, his wife from the Tuar clan. Goga ji was born to Queen Bachal after being blessed by Guru Gorakhnath ji who also presented her with a “gugul”, or prasad. Since his birth was related to the fruit, “guggal”, he was known as Goga ji Maharaj. Another legend, and equally popular, states that he got his name after his love for cows. He is also known to have built seven huge cowsheds in his kingdom which housed over seven thousand cows.
Kerala is one of the best monsoon destinations in India, and for good reasons. After the rains, its landscape looks refreshed, ready to cast its magical spell on visitors. This is also the time when the Athachamayam Thrippunithura festival is organised. It marks the beginning of the ten day Onam festival in Kerala. It is one of the few occasions where you can watch the traditional folk art forms in the state. The festival is held every year on Antham star of the Malayalam month Chingam. The event is usually held at the historic town of Tripunithura in remembrance of the historic victory of the Kochi king.
Why is the festival celebrated?
The celebration of the festival has its roots in ancient royal practices. It is believed that the king used to travel with his entire entourage to the Tripunithura Fort. During these trips, his subjects would get a chance to greet the king and watch him up close. Although neither the king nor the kingdom remains today, this royal practice is still enacted annually.
How is the festival celebrated?
On the day of the festival, a ceremonial procession is organised, much to the delight of spectators. The procession is marked by elephants bedecked in colorful costumes, along with several varieties of folk art forms, floats and musical ensembles.
Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the most festivals of Maharashtra in West India. Held in the month of August, it is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the states of Tamil Nadu, Goa, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Visit Mumbai though, and you would think that the entire city had spilled onto the streets. This festival honors the elephant headed god, Lord Ganesha, the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. He is worshipped by billions of Hindus as he is believed to remove obstacles and bring prosperity. In fact, Ganesha occupies such a special position in Hinduism that he is prayed to before any other God. The festival takes places late August or early September, depending on the cycle of the moon. It falls on the fourth day of the new moon in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada. In 2019, Ganesh Chaturthi will be celebrated on 2nd September.
How is it celebrated?
An important part of the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations in Mumbai are the enormous idols. Enormous statues of Ganesha are placed inside homes and podiums, which are especially crafted for this purpose. A lot of time and effort is invested in creating these statues. It is believed that no one should look at the moon on the first night of the festival. According to mythological sources, the moon laughed at Lord Ganesha when he fell from his vehicle, the rat, and looking at the moon on this day is believed to be auspicious. On the last day of the festival, these enormous statues are taken out in a procession through the streets. Seated on a throne, the idol of Ganesha looks on with love and affection towards his devotees. Jai Ganesha! These floats are accompanied by thousands of people, all eager to be a part of the celebrations. Vigorous singing and dance performances are held, much to the delight of spectators. The processions ultimately cultimate in the immersing of statues. Thousands of statues are immersed, with 1,50,000 statues being immersed in Mumbai alone.
Specific rituals connected to Ganesh Chaturthi
Like all other festivals, there are specific rituals connected to Ganesh Chaturthi. The ceremony begins with the installation of Lord Ganesha’s statue, which is followed by a ceremony to invoke his holy presence. This is called Pranapratishhtha Puja, which is marked by the recitation of various mantras. After this, a special ceremony is performed and various items like rice, flowers, coconut, jaggery and coins is offered. Red chandan powder is also applied to the statue, along with special events and prayers.
Why are statues immersed in Hinduism?
Hindus worship idols because it is one of the ways of reaching God. It is a testament to the liberal values of Hinduism which provides space for both monotheism and polytheism. The immersion of idols stems from the belief that the universe is in a state of constant change. Form is temporary, but formlessness is eternal. Immersing the statues symbolises our own life cycle. We are born, die and are reborn. The body may dissolve and mix with the earth, but the soul keeps residing in one body or the other.
If you have ever visited or seen the Scottish Highlands in pictures, you will be reminded of them every time you visit Cherrapunji. But be ready when you visit it during August, as the wettest place on earth will be soaking wet everywhere. Once you reach this place, head for the waterfalls. Some of the famous waterfalls in Cherrapunji are Wakaba Falls, Dainthlen Falls and Mawsmai Falls. The most famous waterfall, however, is the Nohkalikai Waterfalls, which descends with a ferocity from an amazing height of 1115ft. From a distance, it looks like a white rope sparkling and dancing with unrestrained enthusiasm. Apart from waterfalls, there are caves to be explored. The most famous caves are Krem Mawmluh and Mawsmai Cave, the latter of which is 150m long and also forms the longest cave systems in India.
Mawlynnong Village in Meghalaya is the cleanest village in Asia
Cleanliness is a word tossed around lightly nowadays. Mawlynnong Village, located in the East Khasi hills district actually puts it to practice. The roads here are spick and span, and while exploring the village, you will not come across a trash or litter thrown about carelessly. You come across a bamboo dustbin at regular intervals, and are pleasantly delighted at the absence of plastic in everyday life. It is located about 90 km from Shillong and is home to the living root bridge- another unique attraction in itself. Although agriculture is the main occupation of the people, they also specialize in growing betel nut. In fact, it was declared as the cleanest village in Asia by Discover Magazine in 2003.
What is so special about the Umngot River in Dawki, Meghalaya?
There are rivers with clear waters, and then there is Umngot River in Dawki, Meghalaya. Located in the Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya, this river exists as a natural separation between the Khasi and Jaintia hills. People cross the river using a cable suspension bridge which connects India to Bangladesh and encourages trade between them. When viewed aerially, the hues of the lake vary from azure to emerald green. As you take a boat ride in it, the transparency for which the river is famous presents itself before you. The sunlight seeps its way through the waters, illuminating the small boulders and everything else that lies underneath.
The Valley of Flowers Trek, which is conducted in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, introduces you to the joys of monsoon trekking. The trekking route takes you to the Valley of Flowers, which is a treasure house of flora and fauna. The trek is immensely popular with trekkers because it offers adventure and sightseeing in a perfect package. This region, which is situated at an altitude of 14,400ft, is believed to have been first discovered by a British traveller Frank Smith in 1931. This exciting trek, which continues for a period of six days, begins from Govindghat via Joshimath and makes its way to the religious spot of Hemkund Sahib. The trek is popular both among amateurs and skilled trekkers because it does require a high level of expertise and its difficulty level ranges from easy to moderate. You arrive at the Valley of Flowers on the third day of the trek from Ghangaria. Upon arrival, you are greeted with a colorful landscape which is punctuated by meadows, lakes and streams dancing with delight. One moment, a cloud floats silent by, at the other, the murmur of the stream entices you to partake of its sweetness. The trek is best enjoyed during the month of August, when the flowers are in full bloom. Although the route from Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib is the highlight of the trek, that from Ghangria to Hemkund Sahib is also very exciting.
Something about the Valley of Flowers
The Valley of Flowers is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which was discovered by the eminent mountaineer, Frank S Smith in 1931. Located in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, it covers an area of 87 sq. km approx. and is located at the meeting point of three Himalayan ranges, Zanskar, Western and Eastern Himalayas. However, as its name suggests, this valley is famous for its unique habitat which houses a variety of wildflowers like geranium, saxifrages, lilies, pot marigold, petunia and daisies. If you plan a trip in the month of August, however, you get to see other kinds of flowers like snake foil, hooked stick seed, meadow geranium, river anemone and Himalayan rose. The colorful landscape is made more colorful by the presence of hundreds of dancing butterflies. Apart from flowers, the valley is also home to several endangered species of mammals like snow leopard, blue sheep, Asiatic black bear, brown bear and others.
Valley of Flowers is also mentioned in the Ramayana
The Valley of Flowers also finds a mention in the Hindu epic, Ramayana. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Hanuman, or Bajrang Bali, stopped and collected the Sanjeevani Buti (a plant found exclusively in India containing medicinal properties and known by its scientific name, selaginella bryopteris) to cure Laxman’s wounds. Another legend associated with this place states that it is home to accharis, or fairies, besides being home to certain magical flowers. Locals believe that fairies have inhabited the valley since a long time. The alpine flowers, too, are believed to possess medicinal properties. According to some people, the fragrance emitted by these flowers is strong enough to cause a person to faint.
Munnar is not just one of the best places to visit during the month of August but also one of the most exciting family destinations. Trekking, sightseeing and relaxing, this place offers it all. Famous for its tea plantations which graciously dress the mountain slopes, it boasts an infectious beauty. Seated at almost 1600m above sea level, it also exudes a romantic aura in good measure, thus making it a highly attractive destination for honeymooners. There are several attractions in this hill station. One of them is the Eravikulam National Park, which is great for trekking and most famous for its Nilgiri Tahr. The other famous tourist attraction is the Anamudi Peak, which greets the skies at a height of more than 2,700m. Tourists also love visiting Mattupetty. Situated at a height of 1700m, its prime attractions are the masonry dam and the lakes where tourists can enjoy a boat ride. An especially exciting experience awaits visitors at the Tea Museum. Here, visitors are introduced to the history of tea plantations in Munnar through machineries, artifacts and photographs.
So there you have it, the top things to do & see in August in India. The best part is, every part of India celebrates this month in one way or the other, so you are spoilt for choices.
Pick one or more events and places from this list to paint your August GREEN! Happy Rainy Season!
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