The Desert Comes to Life with Jaisalmer Desert Festival


Rajasthan captures the very essence of India teeming with history, heritage, culture and grandeur. The Thar Desert adds to the charisma. The Jaisalmer Desert Festival is a celebration of the desert. The annual event is a showcase of the colourful cultural heritage that has passed on through the generations of this state. The folk music, dance, attire, traditions, festivities and everything else are something to be cherished for a lifetime. Adding glamour to the Rajasthan tour packages, the festival is one of the best reasons to explore the desert in winters.

The Desert Festival is held amidst the beautiful dunes of the Thar Desert in the Sam Sand Dunes, 42 kilometers from Jaisalmer. The 3-day celebrations happen in Hindu month of Magh three days prior to the full moon. In 2020, the dates are from the 7th to 9th February. Romantic, remote and unspoiled, the desert comes to life with the Jaisalmer Desert Festival.

The roots of the festival are mostly unknown. The Tourism Department organizes the vibrant festival as an international event to lure visitors to the Desert City. The celebrations of this festival make the desert come alive with colors and excitements.

The Jaisalmer Desert Festival commences with a procession from the Jaisalmer Fort to the Shahid Poonam Singh Stadium on the first day in the morning of the festival. The grand parade displays Rajasthani arts, folk dance and music by local performers many of which are local tribes dressed in traditional and bright costumes. The parade has an amazing display of jugglery performances along with the famous dance forms like Gair and the folk fire dances. The star performers are the Kalabaz or the Nat’s, nomadic community, natives to Jaisalmer known for their gymnastic acts. Poignant folk music and recitals are the creations of Bhopa’s Langhas and Manganiars.

Other exciting activities include camel races, unique contests like the Turban tying contest, the longest moustache contest, Mr Desert pageant, etc. For those seeking for adventure, there are options of camel rides, polo matches, and desert safari ride on camel or jeep over the sand dunes. As the festival commences on the full moon night the folk music and dance performances celebrating the desert under the ethereal sky and the golden dunes is a memory to cherish.

Stay near the sand dunes in luxury camps on the desert equipped with all modern amenities enjoying the festivities closely. The desert festival is a hub for foodies as well as a shopper’s paradise. The delicious Rajasthani fare is a must try. Bargain for intricate handicrafts, handloom artifacts and exquisite pieces of attires and other creations of local craftsmen.

Jaislamer Desert Festival is one of the best times to explore the Thar Desert. Along with the Golden City, explore other cities of Rajasthan or combine the visit with a Golden Triangle Tour for the best memories.

Where to go in India in 2020


2020 has arrived, and with a whole new year- this year an amazing 366 days of thrilling travel experiences. India is incomparable, it is unique, diverse, colorful and addictive. From the snow-laden peaks of the Himalayas to the turquoise beaches, charming backwaters to deserts, lush jungles to bustling cities, incredible architecture to lavish hospitality, there is so much to explore. With a calendar full of festivals, events, and happenings, there is always a reason to plan India tours.

Here’s a list of the possible places to go for India tours in 2020

Where to go in India in January

January in India is blessed with pleasant winters and many excitements. The Pink City of Jaipur glows with a warm glow, luring for a visit. The walled city of Jaipur is one of the listed UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. The historic town also hosts the Jaipur Literature Festival (23-27th January 2020) which is a major draw to pay a visit. Visit the hill fort of Amer, heritage tours, culinary taste, cooking classes, shopping, and stay at heritage hotels are the highlights of Jaipur tours.

Goa offers a happening vacation to begin the year as does the Rann of Kutch. The Bikaner Camel Festival in Rajasthan also gives a reason to go visiting. The Golden Triangle Tour is a comprehensive introduction to the vast and diverse heritage of the country. Ranthambore, Varanasi, Jaisalmer, Bandhavgarh, Shimla, etc. are also popular options.

Where to go in India in February

February is the month of love and to honor the month we have something amazing in-store. Khajuraho worships erotic love and the temples, which are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites are a testimony of it. The carved-artistry of the outer façade of temples is truly outstanding. The Khajuraho Dance Festival to be hosted from 20th to 26th February is a spellbinding event celebrating India’s classical dance at the beautiful historic background. Goa is the perfect setting for a romantic getaway as is Royal Rajasthan with Udaipur.

Golden Triangle tours are an absolute favorite along with Ranthambore, Varanasi, Rajasthan, South India and many more.

Where to go in India in March

March is the onset of spring in India and with it the colorful festival of Holi. The festive occasion of Holi finds roots in Indian Mythology but has evolved into a fun event. Held on the 10th March 2020 this occasion presents India in a way like never seen before. The charming temple town of Mathura-Vridanavan celebrations is the most interesting while Jaipur, Delhi, and Mumbai too have their ways to celebrate the festival.

If your interest lies in Yoga, then the International Yoga Festival in Rishikesh is a must-try.

Where to go in India in April

With April, summer is right around the corner but that does not mean a stop to explore India. Explore the jungle havens of Corbett, Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore National Parks, etc. as the chances of spotting the Tiger is unbelievable. There are options of jeep safaris, elephant rides, boat safaris, stay at wildlife resorts and more.

The ever-popular tourist attractions of Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, etc. also fit the bill for your holidays. There is also Shimla, Kashmir, and the many scenic hill stations to make for some amazing memories.

Where to go in India in May

May is the official season of summer in India. The high temperatures of the plains are best avoided and for it, there are many pictorial getaways. Darjeeling & Munnar, the land of tea gardens are absolute favourites as is the colonial town of Shimla.

Darjeeling is a tad more enjoyable as there is the exciting Toy Train Ride on the Darjeeling Mountain Railway, a listed UNESCO World Heritage as is the Kalka-Shimla Toy trains. The scenic setting, serene sightseeing along with a pinch of excitements lure you to the Himalayans and its charming towns.

Where to go in India in June

June in India is marked with high temperatures and for an India tour this month there is a haven untouched by it all- Ladakh. Known as the ‘rooftop of the world’ this region of India is uniquely blessed. Barren mountains are home to ancient monasteries, scenic secrets, thrilling adventures, colorful culture, a one of kind cold desert with dunes and the very special Bactrian camels. Luxury glamping in Ladakh makes this vacation one not to miss.

Where to go in India in July

July brings in the monsoon to India. Rains amplify the beauty of the country. North-East India, especially the ‘Abode of Clouds’ Meghalaya appears heavenly. Goa is also sought after as after the rains, the coastal beauty is truly outstanding. Kerala too shines as does the rest of South India blessed with scenic delights. Udaipur calls with its charming bliss. The royal city has a magnificent palace’ The Monsoon Palace’ dedicated to enjoying the season.

Kerala in August

August is the official monsoon season of India. With showers of rains, almost every region has been rejuvenated but our recommendation is a thrilling time with Kerala tours. Titled as God’s Own Country, the South Indian state is blessed with backwaters, Ayurveda Massages, houseboat rides & so much more.

The rainy season is believed to be the best time to visit as the weather conditions are perfect to indulge in Ayurveda treatments. Also, the thrill of exploring the backwaters on a houseboat is simply incomparable. Stay at the luxury ayurveda resorts, explore the culture, try the delicious cuisine, and have a good time. There are also the amazing opportunities of wildlife safari at Periyar, walk through tea gardens & spice plantations, go on heritage walks in the multi-ethnic Kochi and so much more.

Where to go in India in September

The rains have bid adieu to most of India with some showers here and there. Sparkling in the refreshed glory the recommend India tour to undertake is to the beautiful city of Udaipur. The backdrop of the Aravalli Hills along with aplenty scenic lakes makes the royal Rajasthan town an idyllic getaway. With so many luxury hotels, especially the palace hotels every moment spent here is a cherished memory.

Where to go in India in October

October marks the calendar with many festivals. India is celebrating and some of the grandest celebrations are in Kolkata ‘The City of Joy’. Varanasi also shines in its infinite wisdom. The ethereal Ganga Aarti, boat ride at sunset, visit the ancient temples, heritage walks, food trail, shopping and so much more.

Touring the Golden Triangle, visit the other UNESCO listed heritage sites, holy temple towns or any of the tourist attractions can also be added to the list of places to visit in October.

Where to go in India in November

November is the official winter season in India. Winters have been traditionally the popular tourist season in the country. With every part in India enjoying favorable weather conditions, festivities and other amazements, there are lots to choose from while planning tours in India.

Our recommendation is Jaisalmer and Pushkar for the exciting chance of camel safari amid the desert dunes. The Golden Triangle Tour is a perfect holiday awaiting as is South India Tours, especially Kerala, Mahabalipuram, Pondicherry, etc. Madhya Pradesh bedazzles with its wilderness, heritage sites, and cultural tours. Think of a wonderful vacation and you have a plethora of options.

Where to go in India in December

End of the year, December deserves a truly amazing vacation. There is Goa with its sun, sand, sea and other thrills. From the heritage of old churches & forts, cultural tours, festivities, nightlife and more, there is plenty to experience.

The pleasant weather conditions are such that you simply need to state your interests and there is always something exciting on offer. Think of history, heritage and culture, there is the popular Golden Triangle, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and more. For the adventure pursuits there is the mountain, sea, desert, jungles and so much more. Wildlife tours in India allow tiger safaris, bird-watching, spotting rhinos, and many other species of the animal kingdom. Luxury trains in India are also a sought delight to experience India like true royalty. There is also stay at heritage hotels, beach resorts, houseboats, etc. that make India tour truly worthwhile!

The Top Experiences to Try in India


India is matchless and over and over it is proven so. The country is a mix of memories of a lifetime. From interesting history, heritage, culture, traditions, wildlife, food, shopping and everything you ask for, India tours are experiences that are life-changing.

Not just the Taj Mahal or the land of Yoga, India isn’t what you see on postcards. It is more about living the culture, walk through history, spotting wildlife, hanging with nomads in Jaisalmer, meeting the holy men of Varanasi, camping under the stars in the desert, enjoy hospitality at homestays, heritage hotels & other unique accommodations, taste the flavoursome food, go shopping, and much more.

India tour package are not completed unless you have crossed out these points on the checklist of the top experiences in India

Heritage Tours

India has a vast and colourful history, culture and heritage. Reliving the days of the glory is very much possible even to this day. There are cities, monuments and even ruins that keep intact the heritage since the centuries since the very start of civilization. The forts, palaces, heritage mansions resonate with tales of the yesteryears. For a memorable your holiday package in India it is absolute a must to not just go on sightseeing but embark on heritage walks that unravel the treasures of the land.

The ultimate tour includes the Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, the most popular Golden Triangle Tour Circuit in India. The trio cities are the historic, full to the brim with ancient sites, some of which are mentioned on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Come across the ‘wonder of the world’ Taj Mahal, mighty red-sandstone fortress of Mughals both in Delhi and Agra, Rajput architecture in the hill fortress of Amer, the royal city palace, ancient scientific instrument, garden mausoleums, step-wells and other fascinating structures.

Jaipur & Ahmedabad are cities with the status of UNESCO World heritage sites. Varanasi is the oldest city of India which makes for an interesting tour. The ruined city of Hampi, the fast-paced Mumbai, the French-colon Pondicherry, the thriving Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, cities of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and more are popular for heritage tours.

Stay Home, especially the royal homes.

Making you feel at home is one of the principal traditions of Indian culture. The hospitality is so welcoming that you will never feel out of place but right at home. An interesting way to experience India is stay at homestays or even better the home of the former royalty. India abounds in many heritage hotels that once belonged to the royal families & prominent personalities. These homes have been lovingly transformed for guests to experience the bygone era, the culture and heritage.

Food tour

Indian food can only be described as food for the soul. Each region, each state and every community has its own distinct flavours, dishes, style of cooking and ingredients. Make sure you try a local Indian Thali whichever part of the country you explore. A Thali is a full platter that comes with many dishes, sometimes as many as 30+. There are special feast thalis such as the Sadya. There are aplenty options of luxury restaurants, eateries and food trails that specialize in Indian dishes & flavors.

Street food in India deserve the courtesy of food tours. Old Delhi’s Parathewali gali has a reputation as does Mumbai street delights, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kerala, and many other cities.

And, why stop at eating. Get cooking lessons from experts. Wherever you travel besides gorging on the delicacies take lessons to recreate the dishes on your return. 

Ayurveda Massage

The greatest experience of a holiday in India is the tryst with the ancient science of health & wellness- Ayurveda. Based on fundamental principles of nature, the science helps with cleansing and rejuvenation of the body, mind and soul. Customized therapies, massages and treatments pamper the senses.

The soothing, nurturing and therapeutic Ayurveda massages can be availed at the leading holiday destinations of the country. There can be great options of spa services at your hotel. Furthermore, there are many choices of the wellness getaways at the leading Ayurveda resorts in India, especially in Kerala, the foothills of Himalayas and the beachside locations.


Shopping is an experience that certainly adds to the bliss of exploring India. Markets comprise of the culture, clothes, jewellery, handicrafts, food and so much more. To experience the real heart of the country, try out the old-style markets. Vendors display their skilled handicrafts and more, while you can try your hand at the skills of negotiation.

The favorite shopping hangouts across the country are: Delhi – Bazaars of Old Delhi or Chandni Chowk, Goa – Anjuna Flea Market, Jaipur – Bapu Bazaar & Varanasi – Thatheri Gali.

Houseboat stay

Stay on the floating houseboats of Kerala is a unique delight, one must experience India. The serenity and the-out-of-the-world beauty certainly makes for cherished memories. Experience the bliss of the backwaters while you cruise aboard a lavishly-furnished houseboat.

What makes a stay on the houseboat special is that they take away from the world into a unique ecosphere of vast blue skies,

Wildlife Safari

Wildlife tour in India is certainly one of the greatest charms India has to boast of. Come across Tigers, Lions, Single Horned Rhinos, Elephants, colourful birds, reptiles and more of the animal kingdom in the wild. Indian forests and jungles are accessible through guided safaris, where a forest jeep and a forest guide will take you around and show you flora and fauna of the forest. To explore the wild there are elephant safaris, walking safaris and boat safaris too. Bird watching is an added delight to spot colourful birds and even migratory species that fly from far ends of the globe.

While Ranthambore and Bandhavgarh National Parks offer the thrill of exploring ancient forts, Pench and Periyar National Parks offer the excitement of stay in treehouses.

Beyond the Forts, Palaces and Legends of Rajasthan - The Best Experiences!


Rajasthan is India’s quintessential chapter of history, architecture and culture. Home to beautiful architecture shaped in the royal places & majestic forts, vibrant culture, the Thar Desert and more, Rajasthan has been favoured by travellers in India. The “Land of Rajputana” as it was home to warrior clans of Rajputs was the first state to fully embrace tourism in India. This is reflected in the sophistication of the state’s infra-structure for tourists. Rajasthan tour packages have a way to keep you hooked, but beyond the forts, palaces and legends lie the real heart of Rajputana.

Take a look at checklist of the pleasures of Rajasthan to explore.

Stay in Heritage Hotels

Experience first-hand Rajasthan's rich history, architecture and hospitality with stay at the heritage hotels.  With careful addition of modern amenities and signature experiences, the heritage properties certainly make some of the fondest memories. From Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, to other offbeat locales there are aplenty options.

Attention to detail, personalized services, speciality dishes, spa services, sightseeing excursions and more make your stay unforgettable.

Wildlife safari in Ranthambore

Ranthambore National Park formerly was the hunting grounds of the royal family of Jaipur and now is among the best national parks in India. Home to Royal Bengal Tigers and many other species of the animal kingdom, the town introduces to thrilling wildlife tour in India.

Well-known for the resident Royal Bengal Tigers, the national park is also home to incredible bio-diversity including crocodiles, migratory birds and more. Jeep safaris acquaint with the wild animals, while wildlife resorts reminisce the days when Ranthambore served as hunting grounds of the royal family of Jaipur. The majestic Ranthambore Fort is also a major crowd puller besides the wildlife.

Cooking lessons

A journey to India can never be complete without a culinary experience. This is an opportunity to learn about the secret recipes and the culture of Rajasthan. Attend cooking sessions, where you learn about spices and participate in the preparation of the meal and then sit down to lunch or dinner with your hosts, learning about Indian lifestyle, as well as cuisines.

Bird watching in Bharatpur

Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary also known by the name Keoladeo Ghana National Park is a bird watchers haven. Spread over an area of 29 sq. km., it is home to over 366 species of birds including migratory species, 379 species of plants, and around 30 mammals. The marshes and pools are home to the Sarus Cranes in winter and innumerable other birds. The best thing about experiencing the bliss of the wilderness of Bharatpur is with cycle rickshaw rides accompanied by guides that acquaint visitors with the avians at close quarters.

Horse riding

There is something magical about exploring countryside on horseback. Horse riding in Rajasthan is a thrilling activity as not you can explore the scenic rugged landscape but also feel aristocratic as these Marwari horses were specially trained for warfare.

On your horse ride, cross some farmlands, small villages, dried up riverbeds, hills and valleys of the Aravallis. Soak in the natural beauty, spot countless birds and enjoy the peaceful and quite surroundings. There are many interesting trails in Rajasthan, Jodhpur has some of the most amazing ones.

Spot Leopards

Leopards are rare elusive creatures. These fast cats are a marvellous breed. The thrill of sighting the leopards in their natural habitats is proving a conservation and tourism success in Rajasthan. The stretch of the Aravalli range is home to large numbers of the cats, ideally suited to the rocky landscapes. Specialist safaris are now available, especially in the Jawai Bandh area and Narlai.

Romantic boat rides

Rajasthan is romantic and especially while enjoying a boat ride in Udaipur’s many scenic lakes. Opt for a boat ride at sunset and feel yourself in love. The beauty of the lakes is matchless. The backdrop of the lush Aravali hills lend to the inherent charm of the city of lakes. Cerulean blue as far as you can see, the changing colours of the sky reflecting in the water and the serenity of the setting counts for some of the most cherished experiences.

Camp in the desert dunes

When you are at the desert state, it is completely unacceptable to not visit. The Desert dunes of the Thar are a prized highlight of Rajasthan. Indulge in moments of romanticism in the golden landscape. For the quintessential desert experience head to Jaisalmer. Camel safari, dune bashing and camping amid the dunes is truly amazing. Go try the gypsy life. Camels “the ship of the desert” are sure-footed taking you on a ride through the timeless desert at sunset. Back in the campsite, traditional folk performances mesmerize with melodies and beats of dance.

Camel-lovers can also visit the famous Pushkar Camel Fair which is touristy fun. Osian Sand Dunes and Manvar near Jodhpur too offer a charming desert experience as does Bikaner which hosts its very own Camel Festival celebrating the desert.

Heritage walks

Jaipur, the capital city of Rajasthan is the prime example of the glory of the days of Rajputana. Jaipur Walled City is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. A heritage walk is more than sightseeing, it is an authentic experience of the culture of the city. Cover famous photographed landmarks as you walk through the town, mingle with the locals whilst sampling some of the region's culinary delights. The heritage walk also includes the skills and work of local artisans in their workshops, Jewellers and Silversmiths, Gold painters and Bangle making experts.

Similar to Jaipur, heritage walks in Udaipur, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer introduce the city in a more personal way.

Awe at Puppetry & Folk performances

Puppetry is an ancient art form in Rajasthan. Known as Kathputli Dance, the puppet shows narrate the local tales. Rajasthani culture is a treasure of age-old traditions, attractive dance forms, and soul-soothing folk music. The music is melodious and peppy. Ghoomar and Kalbeliya are two popular folk dances that trace its origin here.

Discover the Painted havelis of Shekhawati

The Shekhawati region of Rajasthan is known for the splendid examples of its haveli architecture, historic traditional homes with large interior courtyards and decorative frescoes. Although many other towns and cities have Havelis, Shekhawati, and Mandawa in particular, have the greatest proportion of these buildings in the best condition. Murals depict local life and show the historic wealth of the region and there are also a number of grand temples and monumental step wells to visit too.

Explore Rajasthan aboard a luxury train

Luxury trains in India were first introduced in Rajasthan. These lavish rides make the experience of royal Rajasthan simply out of the world. The best known of Rajasthan’s luxury trains are the Palace on Wheels and the Maharajas Express. Both trains offer week-long journeys from Delhi covering Agra and further the royal cities, wildlife reserves and religious sites including Jaipur, Ranthambore National Park, Udaipur, Jodhpur, etc.

A Cycling Tour Of Old Delhi


Last Sunday, instead of lazing at home and catching up on my sleep, I decided to do something a bit more adventurous—a Bicycle tour of Old Delhi. I had read about "Delhi by Cycle" on the internet, and their concept of exploring the narrow lanes of Old Delhi and its sights on bicycle got me interested. Booking the tour was really easy and I choose their trip called the "Shahjahan Tour".

Cycle tour in Delhi

Reached the tour starting point (Opposite Delite Cinema in Old Delhi) at 6.30am and found these bright orange bicycles and our tour guides in orange tee-shirts waiting. There were 4 other people on my tour and two guides. After a small briefing, we started the cycle tour. It took me a while to get used to riding the bicycle (I hadn’t ridden one in years), but got in the rhythm soon—fortunately, cycling is one of the skills, which if you have learned once, you never forget. We cycled in single file, with one of our guides in the front, leading us through the narrow lanes and another one, in the end, to make sure no one was left behind. It wasn’t really my first time in Old Delhi, but Old Delhi at this time of the day felt like a new experience with its sights, smells, and sounds. It was a very different perspective to the city where I have actually lived for almost 15 years. Though it being Sunday morning, most shops, etc. were closed, but the lanes were still full of a lot of activity. We stopped briefly at Fatehpuri Mosque, a storehouse in the Spice market, a South Indian Temple in the old city area, before heading onto the Civil lines. Had quick stops at the famous Maiden’s hotel and Lt Governors House, before breaking for a cup of piping hot tea and biscuits at a roadside tea stall.

Cycle tour in Old Delhi

Post the tea break we headed back towards the Old Delhi area. Once again cycling through the narrow lanes, but now it was getting busier and we were getting tired. Passed through the Chandini Chowk market, stopped at the Red Fort and Jama Masjid. By this time we had spent about 2½ hours riding and covered about 12 kms. Feeling exhausted and hungry, our small group headed towards the last highlight of the tour, which was the breakfast stop at a restaurant behind Jama Masjid (it was meant to be the famous Karim’s, but it being the month of Ramadan, Karim’s was closed). Had a hearty breakfast of fresh bread and daal (others had Nahari meat curry instead). Post breakfast a short ride back to our starting point, for goodbyes to our guides, who were really nice guys, and other group members.

I’m really glad I took the tour, it rekindled my love for cycling and I promised myself to buy a cycle and start cycling at least on the weekends and very importantly, allowed me to look at Delhi differently too. I would recommend the tour to anyone who is reasonably fit, who enjoys cycling and wants to discover the sights, sounds and smells of Old Delhi.

The writer, Rajesh Kaushik is the General Manager of Trans India Holidays in New Delhi, India.