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AFP (From Outlook Traveller February Issue, 2013)
A ritual dance on Tsechu at Punakha Dzong, a temple fortress
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10 trips to contemplate. But be quick!

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  • While the best time to go rafting varies from region to region, the Alaknanda river is best run between November and March. Join this season’s last trip with Aquaterra Adventures (March 26–31; Rs 25,000, ex-Delhi;
  • Udaipur puts up quite a show for Holi (March 27). And in the City Palace blazes the most brilliant bonfire the day before the festival. But to really get into the spirit, join the faithful at Nathdwara’s Sreenathji temple (50km away) a full week ahead.
  • The weeklong revelry of Hola Mohalla—primarily a martial display bookended by religious singing and poetry by the Sikhs—next to the fort of Holgarh, northwest of Anandpur Sahib, begins on the first day of the Nanakshahi Calendar (March 28).
  • By end-March, the rhino- and bird-watching season in the plains of Assam—Kaziranga Tiger Reserve and Nameri National Park—begins to wind up. Plan a 5N/6D trip with your friends next month (Rs 30,000 per person, for a group of six;  
  • Days were, when adults were intimidated by (analog) cameras. But now children (10–16) armed with digicams can explore new photographic frontiers at Bandipur and Mudumalai (April 19–21; Rs 9,900;


Happy Days

No, you don’t need an excuse to go to Bhutan. But the medieval pageantry at the festivals of Dromchoe (February 15–19) and Tsechu (February 20–22) in the ancient capital of Punakha certainly make a compelling argument. Though similar in spirit, Dromchoe is marked by martial dance dramas celebrating the defeat of Tibetan invaders in the mid-seventeenth century and Tsechu is a ritual display of masked dances (  

Aerial Display

Birding at the country’s largest brackish lake can be rewarding through the winter months. But February, in particular, is a good time to train your binoculars on Chilika. As the winged visitors from remote corners of Central and Southeast Asia prepare to trace their way back home, chances are that migratory birds from elsewhere will also break journey here before the reverse migration begins. Even if the latter give it a miss, with almost nine lakh birds of 180 species spotted in Chilika this year, you’ll still have plenty to see (February 22–25; Rs 15,850; 022-22821811, 

Notable Exception

Few things can be as humbling as nature, music and historical monuments. The World Sufi Music Festival promises to marry the charms of all three at Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort (February 22–24) and the Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur (February 25–27). Joining the Sufi performers from Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey and Rajasthan this year are Kathak, Kalaripayattu and Theyyam artists (

Yours Faithfully

The Maha Kumbh in Allahabad has already eclipsed all other events this year. But if you’ve only just decided to make a trip, time your visit to coincide with Basant Panchami (February 15) or the last holy bathing date of Maghi Purnima (February 25); both likely to be spectacular in scale and religious fervour. Slum it out in a luxury tent—try Laxmi Kutir (from $440; or tents pitched by Leisure Hotels (Rs 10,999;  

Middle Country

The curtain call at the annual Khajuraho Dance Festival also marks the end of the region’s tourist season (February 20–26; So make a trip this month. Admire the temple town’s many marvels through the day and later, watch some of the country’s best performing artists under a starlit sky.

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