18 ideas for your Diwali vacation

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One of the most prominent festivals in Hindu culture – Diwali is celebrated with much fanfare throughout various communities in the Indian diaspora. Colloquially known as the “festival of lights”, it is generally a five-day celebration wherein families get together, friends indulge in merry-making, light lamps and diyas as well as gorge on sweet delicacies.  This festival is celebrated on Amavasya or ‘no moon’ day and heralds the dawn of a New Year according to the Hindu calendar. It also foretells of fresh beginnings as we open new checkbooks and diaries as well as clean our homes. Whoever said that after every dark night, comes a new dawn was surely right on the money! Read More.

ARUNACHAL PRADESH

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
October—April is the best season for sports lovers to visit this beautiful state. You can trek around Tawang Chu, kayak or raft along the Subansiri River amid Grade IV-plus rapids, or fish for golden mahseer in the upper Brahmaputra and Siang. RiverIndia offers these experiences for small groups.

BALI

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
Skip lazing on the beach and add action to your holiday this Diwali. Go paragliding off the southern coast of the Bukit Peninsula. The bird’s-eye views of craggy cliffs, pristine blue-green seas and powder-like beaches will make your heart race, as you soar above them. Book your paragliding experience through Fly Bali or Temple Pilots.

THAILAND

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
If you’re looking for adventure that’s closer home, there’s a range of river-rafting festivals to choose from here during Diwali. Both, the Kaeng Hin Phoeng Whitewater Rafting Festival and the Kek River Rafting Festival are on until 31 October.

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Best for: Adrenaline junkies
Take a break from the regular and go camping this Diwali. Pitch a tent and fall asleep trying to identify constellations under the open skies. The days can be reserved for more adventurous activities—rock climbing, rappelling, river rafting and trekking—in places such as Manali, Shoja, Beas Kund or Solang Valley. Another great destination is Mashobra, where you can sign up for camping holidays, organised by Great Escape Routes.

LONDON

Best for: Kids
Apart from the perennially fun London Eye, the city offers a riot of attractions for children. First, there’s Horrible Histories: Spies, which brings to life the secret world of World War II spies. Kids can even set out on their own spy mission. This exhibition is on till 4 January 2015 at the Imperial War Museum. You could also take your young ones to the Sherlock Holmes exhibition, which starts on 17 October at the Museum of London. If your kids prefer fast cars to solving mysteries, there’s the Bond in Motion exhibition at the London Film Museum. And Harry Potter fans should not miss the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, which takes you through displays of the sets, props and costumes used in the popular movie series.

HONG KONG

Best for: Kids
Combine Diwali with Halloween for a mega-festival at Hong Kong Disneyland. At Disney’s Haunted Halloween event (from early October until All Hallows’ Eve on 31 October), gorge on a Halloween-themed menu and get photographed with Disney’s most loved characters.

SINGAPORE

Best for: Kids
Enter the world of your favourite films at Ride The Movies at Universal Studios, where rides are themed on films such as ShrekThe Mummy and Jurassic Park. Afterwards, plunge into a 3D battle at TRANSFORMERS: The Ride, based on the mega-hit movie franchise. Should your kids tire of the action, there’s a calmer Sesame Street ride, too. Do check the height requirements for the rides.

ODISHA

Best for: Kids
October marks the arrival of hundreds of migratory bird species to the state, some of them from as far as Siberia and Iraq. Chilika Lake and Bhitarkanika National Park are particularly good birding spots and kids will love watching the spectacular flying formations of flamingos, herons, egrets, spoonbills and storks. Another great option is checking out sand sculptures created by local artists on Puri Beach. You can also take your children out on a day trip to the village of Raghurajpur, a 15-minute drive from Puri, to admire traditional mural art and Pattachitra paintings.

AMRITSAR

Best for: Diwali lovers
The foundation stone of the Golden Temple was laid in 1577 during Diwali, and in 1619, the sixth Sikh guru, Hargobind Sahib, also arrived in Amritsar on Diwali, making the connection between the town and the festival of lights stronger. Head to the Golden Temple to watch fireworks illuminate the night sky and try Diwali treats at local eateries.

JOHANNESBURG

Best for: Diwali lovers
During Diwali, the suburb of Newtown doubles as the venue for the Joburgers’ own take on the festival. The Newtown Diwali Festival is an annual event that serves as a stage for performances by community groups, fusion bands and dance troupes. Also be on the lookout for Bollywood-themed street parties, fairs, dance workshops, fashion shows, fireworks displays, a mini market, children’s art workshops and a retail-therapy area.

VARANASI

Best for: Diwali lovers
Diwali is a time to go back to one’s roots and rediscover traditions, and Varanasi is one place that allows you to do just that. You can enjoy Dhrupad and thumri recitals, kathak performances and some lovely renditions of the Ram Leela and Krishna Leela at various venues across town. Areas such as the Assi and Tulsi ghats also host a range of cultural events.

GUJARAT

Best for: Diwali lovers
The state is famous for its temple tours, and Diwali is the perfect time to go on one. Make Rajkot your base and drive to Junagadh to visit Girnar’s temples. You could also drive to Dwarka—one of Hinduism’s important pilgrimage centres—to the Dwarkadhish Temple, dedicated to Krishna. Rajkot is also a three-hour drive from the historic shoreside Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, a shrine to Shiva with wonderful sandstone architecture. Don’t miss the temple’s sound-and-light show, which takes place daily from 8—9pm. If you have the time, you can also visit the Akshardham Temple in Gandhinagar. Visit Gujarat Tourism for itineraries.

TAIWAN

Best for: Foodies
With autumn setting in, October is the perfect time to do justice to the country’s rich food scene—think restaurants devoted exclusively to dumplings or seafood, and magical night markets. Sample Taiwanese meatballs (rice or tapioca dough stuffed with pork, bamboo shoot or shiitake mushrooms), tofu with cellophane noodles, and iron eggs (eggs stewed in soy sauce with their shells on). To get a taste of coastal cuisine, hit the stalls at Kungshen Wangye’s Salt for Peace Festival in the Yunlin-Chiayi-Tainan City region on 25 and 26 October.

ITALY

Best for: Foodies
Spend Diwali at the International White Truffle Fair in Alba, Piemonte, held every weekend from 11 October—16 November. You can enjoy a number of food stalls and concerts. Another must-do is the Eurochocolate festival in Perugia, Umbria (17—26 October), which showcases a range of fine chocolate, including local varieties.

MALAYSIA

Best for: Foodies
From 1 October—31 December, Malaysia will beckon gourmands from all over the globe with Fabulous Food 1Malaysia, a festival that celebrates the best of Malaysian and world cuisine.

KERALA

Best for: Foodies
If you’re looking for food with a view, start with ‘God’s own country’. Set out on a food tour or spice trail that covers Kerala’s culinary pockets, including Kochi, Munnar, Thekkady and Alleppey. If the sights and smells of the tea and spice plantations aren’t enough, Malayali classics such as Kuttanadan chicken curry, meen mulakittathu (fish curry), appams and avial (a mix of vegetables and coconut, seasoned with curry leaves), along with locally grown rice, should do the trick. For vegetarians, there’s sadya, a meal beautifully plated on a jumbo banana leaf. Kerala Food Tour offers packages tailored to different budgets.

FRANKFURT

Best for: Culture vultures
The German Jazzfestival Frankfurt 2014 (23—25 October) is a must for music aficionados; catch jazz legends and rising musicians at the Hessian Broadcasting Company’s music hall. And a bonus: on the last Saturday of every month, you get free entry to most city museums.

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