Durga Puja in Kolkata joins the list of India’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Kolkata’s Durga Puja has been officially recognised by UNESCO. The incredible cultural feast has made it to the UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. While it is a moment of pride for India, it is in fact a moment of pride for all of Asia. This is the first festival in Asia to achieve the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status.

Durga Puja is celebrated in Kolkata with great pomp and show when the city completely halts for five days. The festival sees beautiful ornamental pandals being made, wherein large idols of Goddess Durga and her children are placed for worship. A celebration of art, culture, and of great religious importance, the festival is truly unique.

Kolkata, the city of Joy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India and a gateway to eastern India. The former British capital of India is a colorful palette of art and architecture, museums, temples, football clubs, Coffee houses, lip-smacking street food along with plethora of cultural festivals. It is a place where you will be able to see a unique blend of old and modern culture. The city of joy Kolkata is known for its liveliness and rich culture and heritage. The city of Kolkata comes alive in the festival of Durga Puja.

Being the most prominent festival of Kolkata, Durga Puja is the soul and pride of West Bengal. Every year in Kolkata the festival of Durga Puja brings great enthusiasm, joyous moments and a chance to get together with families and friends in a way like never before.

Durga Puja UNESCO

Durga Puja is celebrated in the honor of Hindu goddess Durga. It is a festival of the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated because Goddess Durga defeated the demon named Mahishasura as he waged the war against gods. It is said that he got a boon that no man and any other creature on the planet cannot kill him but every boon has a loophole. As no man could kill him, all the gods assembled in the mountains where they combined all their energies in the form of weapons to Goddess Durga. As a result, she was able to defeat the evil demon Mahishasura. (As death would only be possible in the hands of a woman). Since then, to honor the power of Shakti, the festival of Durga Puja is celebrated all over India. The last day of the Puja is known as Vijaya Dashami. It is said that Lord Rama defeated the demon Ravana and since then Vijay Dashami is also celebrated as Dussehra.

Through every story we get a glimpse of the victory of good over evil. The Durga Puja Festival has been celebrated in Bengal since the 16th century. The zamindars of West Bengal used to celebrate Durga Puja and with time it became an emotion for the Bengali community.

Winter Festivals in India to Not Miss Out On


Winters in India are magical. It is the season of perfect weather; cool temperatures minus the humidity and heat. It has been traditional peak season for travellers and that has many reasons for it. Winter is the suitable time for sightseeing, host of festivals, heritage walks, food excursions, and many other enriching travel experiences.  

The onset of festivities at the world's most beloved cultural hotspot-India is one among the experiences to not miss out on. Once you make plans for India, choose any of the colourful fiestas at any of the charming cities of the country. Winter combined with festivities creates memories that will never fade away. That's why we bring to you the best winter festivals of India that you must miss out on.

Pushkar Fair (November)

Pushkar Fair

Kick-starting the winters in India, Pushkar Fair is a cattle fair in the holy town of Rajasthan’s Pushkar. The rustic charm of the desert along with the colourful traditions, vibrantly dressed people and cattle, especially camels make it a fascinating experience. The best part about the festival is stay in luxury desert camps along with mouth-watering Rajasthani food and culture.

Christmas (December)

Christmas in Goa

Christmas is a festival worldwide and in India it is a delightful experience. Goa offers a traditional festivity with prayers, masses and carols at the ancient churches. Many of the hill stations in India, like Shimla, have churches dating back to the days of the British Raj celebrating traditional Christmas. Be it a white Christmas or a traditional one, this festival is a worth your time.

Sunburn Goa (December)

Sunburn in Goa

A highlight of winters in India, the biggest and most vibrant celebration of electronic dance music (EDM) in Goa, the bustling party capital of the country. A three-day affair, Sunburn Goa is a musical gathering bringing party lovers from all over the world. Goa's picturesque beauty and its pleasant weather further compliments the fiesta.

Rann Mahotsav (December to March)

Rann Utsav

A unique celebration, the Rann Mahotsav is celebrated on a salt desert, Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. A three-month long fair, it is an event of cultural extravaganza along with stay in one of the largest tent cities in the world. The carnival is host to delicious local cuisine, charming handicraft items, vibrant cultural performances, exciting adventure sports, and much more. The pleasant weather of winter is the only time to visit the pictorial land and the best time would be the full moon nights when the landscape looks ethereal.

Mount Abu Winter Festival (December)

Rajasthan's only hill station; Mount Abu, hosts a famous winter festival. The three day carnival encompasses India's cultural diversity with traditional dances, folk music, concerts, fireworks display, fairs and much more from different states of India. The weather during this period adds to the fun. What more is that, Udaipur is a few hours’ drive away. The beautiful city of Rajasthan is one of the most romantic places in India and the ideal holiday getaway in India.

Jaipur Literature Festival (January)

Kick-starting the New Year, the Jaipur Literature Festival is a literary event with cultural extravaganza. Jaipur’s royal location, magnificent palaces and colourful culture, especially food and shopping.

Kite Festival - Makar Sankranti (January)

Kite Festival

Celebrating Indian culture, Makar Sakrnati is a festival that is celebrated in all parts of the country. Besides, tradition and delightful food, it is known as the Kite Festival. Bright kites are seen dotting the sky with many competing to be the best ones.

Camel Festival (January)

Camel Festival

The Camel Festival of Bikaner is a two day event dedicated to camels, the pride of deserts. The festival hosts some exhilarating camel performances like camel races, camel rides, and the exclusive camel dances. The popular competitions are like the best decorated camel, camel with the best fur, and best camel haircut. The pleasant weather in the desert makes it an event to not miss out on. As does the camel milk preparations of tea and sweets.

Desert Festival (February)

Desert Festival

Bringing life to the barren desert, the Desert Festival in Rajasthan is one of the vibrant festivals in India. Held over a period of three days in the Sam sand dunes, the festival brings together Rajasthan's cultural wealth. Camel parades, polo matches, races, folk concerts, an Air Force show, and the exclusive turban tying & moustache show-off competitions, all combine to offer memories to last lifelong. Stay in the desert luxury camps are an added bonus.

Khajuraho Dance Festival (February)

Khajuraho Dance Festival

Held at the backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Khajuraho Group pf Monuments, the classical dance festival is a treat. Folk music, dances and performances of Indian culture make this a memorable event.

Similar to the Khajuraho Dance Festival, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram and Konark Sun Temple too organizes classical dance festivals.

Goa Carnival (February-March)

Goa Carnival

Complete with zest and fun along with culture and tradition, Goa Carnival is an event to miss out on. The four day festive marathon runs all across Goa with floats and troupes of colorful participants pouring in from all sides. The weather is moderately cold with signs of mild humidity. The spirit of the carnival instills a sense of euphoria that lasts for a long time.

Winters in India promise a lot of fun and enthusiasm. All these festivals have their own USP and the climate during winters allows you to embrace the vast and wondrous cultural diversity of India.

Delhi's Finest Restaurants


New Delhi is fast turning into a gourmet travelers paradise, with excellent restaurants and eateries. Of course Delhi is home to well known Indian Restaurants like the Bukhara and the Warq, but, in addition, Delhi offers a multitude of fine dining and casual restaurants with other global cuisines as well. For special occasions, there is the Orient Express fine dining French Restaurant, and for casual Bistro style Italian cuisine, there is the Diva Café. The list below has our selection of the Best Dining experiences that the city has to offer.

Indian Cuisine

Bukhara, Delhi

1. Bukhara: Located at the ITC Maurya Hotel, is perhaps Delhi's (or rather India's) best known Indian restaurant. World-famous for its North-West Frontier cuisine, Bukhara brings alive the rustic flavours of North-West Frontier cuisine traditionally prepared in a clay oven (tandoor). The ambiance is decidedly rugged and you can even watch your meal being prepared through the open display kitchen, visual treat not to be missed. Rated amongst the top 50 restaurants in the world and the finest restaurant in Asia by "Restaurants" magazine. Expensive, but not to be missed.

Masala Art

2. Masala Art: Located at the Taj Palace Hotel, is a modern, contemporary Indian restaurant. For all those who think that light, healthy Indian food is an oxymoron, Masala Art is the answer. A show kitchen, contemporary décor, and a superb menu is the recipe that makes Masala Art a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

North India Restaurant

Punjabi by Nature, Delhi

3. Punjabi by Nature: Located in the Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj, this is an excellent choice for authentic North Indian cuisine. Good value for money.

Veda, Delhi

4. Veda: Located in Connaught Place, right in the heart of town, is a recent addition to Delhi's list of fine dining Indian restaurants. Designed by the famous fashion designer, Rohit Bal, this stylish bar and restaurant, serves excellent north Indian food, and has interesting tasting menu options.

Varq, Delhi

5. Varq: Located at the Taj Mahal Hotel, Varq is the capital’s newest restaurant offering a modern Indian gourmet dining experience with the authenticity of taste and artistic presentation created by celebrity Chef Hemant Oberoi. Varq retains the Indian traditional way of cooking while using exotic ingredients like sea bass, diver’s scallops, goose liver, halibut, sand crab and Karachi prawns.

The Great Kabab Factory

6. The Great Kabab Factory: With 2 convenient locations, one of which is at the Radisson Marina hotel in Connaught Circus, and the second at the DLF Mall, Saket, the Great Kabab Factory offers a unique and fun-filled dining experience. They have a fixed menu dinner, comprising of over half a dozen kebabs, followed by Biryani's, lentils, etc, culminating with at least four different Indian desserts, all served to you at your table.

Swagat, Delhi

7. Swagat: Located in the Defence Colony Market in South Delhi, Swagat is an informal family dining Restaurant. Swagat serves authentic Mangalorean seafood specialties and Chettinad cuisine, both cuisine styles from Southern India, known for their rather spicy dishes. Good value for money.


8. Dhaba: Located at the Claridges hotel in New Delhi, the name Dhaba stands for a roadside eatery popular amongst truckers travelling on highway routes. The restaurant has an authentic Indian Dhaba design and good Indian food.

Other cuisines

Diva, Delhi

1. Diva (Italian): Located in the M Block, Greater Kailash (II) market in South Delhi, Diva is a fine dining Italian restaurant managed lovingly by owner cum chef Ritu Dalmia. Diva boasts of authentic Italian food and has a great wine list as well.

Orient Express

2. Orient Express (French): Located at the Taj Palace Hotel, the Orient Express is a posh replica of a Pullman Orient Express train carriage, and is regarded as the city's most stylish and expensive European restaurant, and has won the best European restaurant award for five years in succession. The four-course journey is inspired by the countries through which the Orient Express passes on its Paris-to-Istanbul run, and is likely to include items such as Camembert soufflé with paprika sauce, pan-seared reef cod with raw papaya salad, and the extremely popular oven-roasted New Zealand rack of lamb, encrusted with herbs and almonds and served with lamb jus. Well worth a visit.

Spice Route, Delhi

3. Spice Route (Pan Asian): Located at the stylish Imperial Hotel in New Delhi, the Spice Route was voted one of the top 10 restaurants in the world by Condé Nast Traveler, and it certainly lives up to its promise with a vast menu that makes the mouth water at the variety of flavors and ingredients. The decor alone is worth a visit -- every nook and cranny is hand-painted by temple artists flown in from Kerala, and antique beams, pillars, and ceilings are all imbued with meaning. As indicated by the name, the menu takes you on a complex culinary journey, from the Malabar Coast to Sri Lanka, Malaysia to Indonesia, Thailand to Vietnam. Service is superb -- smart, discreet, and helpful.

House of Ming, Delhi

4. House of Ming (Chinese): Located at the Taj Mahal hotel, is arguably the premier Chinese restaurant in Delhi. The House of Ming serves both, Schezuan and Cantonese style Chinese cuisine and enjoys the patronage of the hauté and happening in the city.

Flavours, Delhi

5. Flavours (Italian): Located in Defence Colony, just off the Ring Road in South Delhi, known for its genuine home-style Italian cooking. Very good value for money.

Setz, Delhi

6. Setz: The latest addition to Delhi's list of chic, modern eateries, Setz is located in the DLF Emporio designer mall in Vasant Kunj, South Delhi. A huge restaurant with no less than 320 covers and seven different kitchens, Zest offers Indian, Arab, Italian, Thai, Chinese and Japanese cuisine.

Lodi- Garden Restaurant

7. Lodi-The Garden Restaurant: Set in the beautiful Lodhi Gardens in Central Delhi, the Lodi Restaurant, offers Mediterranean and European cuisine. A great place for alfresco dining,  both for Lunch or Dinner.

Olive at the Qutab

8. Olive at the Qutab (Italian): A fine dining Italian restaurant, very close to the Qutab Minar in South Delhi, Olive offers excellent Italian food in an Alfresco setting.

The author, Kapil Goswamy is the CEO of Trans India Holidays, New Delhi.

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