November is a great month to travel in India, in the west and centre of the country the rains have gone and the weather starts becoming pleasant. It is also peak festival season in India, so there is no shortage of things to see in Incredible India. Here are some suggestions from IMers of places to visit in India in November 2017:

1. Rajasthan

 Pushkar camel fair By camelgirl
One of the most popular destinations in India, Rajasthan is always a great place to visit. This November there are a few different fairs that make it well worth a special visit. 

  • Pushkar Fair will be held from 9th to 17th November 2017 (according to the Hindu Calendar it commences on Ashtmi, the 8th day of the Lunar calendar, and ends on Purnima or Full Moon in the month of Kartika), A favorite of IMers it is a carnival of everything camel, from camel herders to camel races, Pushkar Fair must be seen to be believed. You can find some great information about Pushkar Fair, including tips on where to stay on the IM forums.
  • At the same time as Pushkar Fair is the Kolayat Fair (also known as Kapil Muni Fair) in the district of Bikaner.  There is a cattle fair where you can watch buffaloes, horses and of course cattle being sold, and prizes awarded to the best breeders. The town of Kolayat also has a spiritual lake with 52 ghats where you can take a holy dip. 
  • The small town of Bundi hosts Bundi Utsav from 20th to 21st November, or in the month of Kartika according to the Hindu Calendar. It is a fun fair with turban tying competitions, kite flying and a street procession, all adding to the festivities. The town itself is beautiful and well worth passing through, just see FNQ Jen’s account of her visit to Bundi Utsav.

2. Odisha (or Orissa) 

 Odisha beaches By Mistral
Located on the east coast of India, Odisha is on the tourist trail primarily due to the magnificent Konark Temple, but there is more to see in this gorgeous state. During November there are a couple of festivals that are well worth heading east to Odisha for. Just bear in mind that the region is impacted by the north-east monsoon at this time and Cyclone Phailin has just passed through the region as well, so it is worthwhile checking weather reports before heading to Odisha. If it is fine to go, then do check out these great festivals:

  • Puri Beach Festival will be held from 23rd to 27th November this year. It is a celebration of the culture, art, craft, sport and cuisine of Odisha, where you can see classical folk dances, sample local gourmet treats and even participate in creating sand sculptures on the beach. Of course, no beach festival is complete without a bit of beach volleyball either, or perhaps try your hand at Malkhamb (pole gymnastics).
  • The Hindu festival of Kartik Purnima is held across India on November 17 (the 15th day of the full moon in the month of Karitka), but the best place to see it is the seaside town of Cuttack in Odisha. Here they celebrate the town's maritime history by floating hundreds of tiny brightly colored boats on the water, that have been created out of a wide range of materials from cork to lace. At the same time is the lively fair of Bali Yatra where people get together and celebrate.

3. Bihar 

Home to Buddha’s famous Bodhi Tree, Bihar is also known for holding one of the largest cattle fairs in Asia. Sonepur Mela will be held for a fortnight after the full moon in the month of Kartika, this year it will start from 18th November in the northern town of Sonepur. The market will come alive with cattle, elephants and almost anything else you can imagine for sale, it is great fun.  

If you happen to be in Bihar a bit earlier, also don’t miss seeing Chhath Puja in Patna which will be held on November 8th. Chhath Puja is traditonally held on the 6th day after Diwali in the month of Kartika.

4. Kolkata, West Bengal

Diwali is the largest festival in India, and one of the best places to experience it is Kolkata. Diwali falls 20 days after Dussehra and is on the dark moon or no moon day (called Amavasya) in the month of Kartika.

In West Bengal they see in this Indian holiday at midnight by performing the Kali Puja, which will be held on 3rd November in 2017. You can find out more about Kali Puja in our guide to Diwali

5. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

Varanasi is a beautiful city to visit at any time of the year, but during November it is lit up for Diwali (held on 3rd November 2017) and then again for Ganga Mahotsav, when thousands of clay lamps are lit and floated down the river. It is a sight not to be missed! Ganga Mahotsav is a festival held on the holy Ganges River from Prabodhani Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima (or full moon) which will be the 14th to 17th November in 2017. As part of the festival there are also different cultural programs including classical music, dance and Vedic hymns. 

6. Amritsar, Punjab 

The festival of Bandi (or BandiShor Divas) celebrates the release of Guru Hargobind from prison, and signifies liberation for the Sikh community. It is a great time to visit the Golden Temple, which will be glowing with hundreds of lights and fireworks. This year Bandi, which is traditionally held on new moon day in the month of Ashvin, actually coincides with Diwali on 3rd November due to the positioning of the moon. 

Another major Sikh celebration, Guru Nanak Jayanti will be held on 17th November, 2017 as that is the day of the full moon in the month of Kartika. This celebrates the birth of the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Gurpurab and is one of the most important Sikh festivals. Fiski describes it as an ostentatious celebration, where the Golden Temple is lit up and joyous festivities take over Amritsar. You can read about their  memories of Guru Nanak Jayanti on the IM forums.

7. Hampi, Karnataka

The stunning town of Hampi is a favorite of many IMers, and for good reason. Once the capital of Vijayanagara Empire, some of the ruins that are scattered across this town date back to the first century.  There is something for everyone here, marvel at the ancient temples, climb to the top of Anjaneya Hill where Hanuman is believed to have been born or just sit riverside and enjoy the peace and tranquility. November is a great time to visit Hampi, as the weather starts to cool down and the holiday crowds haven’t yet arrived. There was a festival that was held in Hampi from 3rd to 5th November, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred for the past few years, with the main Hampi Utsav now held in January.

If you are visiting, check out our Hampi guide which has everything you need to know about this fascinating town.

8. Darjeeling, Sikkim

With a name synonymous with tea, it is no surprise that Darjeeling hosts a festival in honor of this aromatic leaf. The Teesta Tea and Tourism Festival will be held this year from 23rd November to 3rd December in the town of Teesta. You can try a wide range of brews that are grown locally, and even do some tea-plucking of your own.  There are also a range of other organised activities that you can do whilst you are there, including nature walks and wildlife safaris. 

9. Shillong, Meghalaya

 Shillong By Karmain_19a
One of the most beautiful parts of India, Shillong is located in the North Eastern state of Meghalaya. In November it comes alive with several different festivals. 

  • The Autumn Festival will be held from 1st to 3rd November 2017 and showcases many cultural facets of the region. From exhibitions of indigenous fabrics to local music, this festival celebrates both the turn of the seasons and the many tribes of Meghalaya. 
  • A couple of weeks later Shillong hosts the Nongkrem Dance Festival, also known as Ka Pomblang Nongkrem.  This is one of the most famous festivals in Meghalaya and commemorates the harvest season, so it is traditionally held once the sowing season has finished. People give thanks for a bountiful harvest and there are prayers, animal sacrifice and of course dance. There are some accounts that indicate the religious festivities go on for five days, but according to the official Meghalaya Tourism site the dance festival goes for just two days. 

10. Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

Whilst November isn’t the normal tourist season to visit Ladakh, it is still quite possible to go to this region during the winter. Just heed some good advice from fellow IMers about visiting Ladakh in November and you are on your way. 

The monastic Chemrey Angchok Festival is traditionally held on the 28th and 29th day of the 9th month of the Tibetan Calendar, which this year is the 30th November to 1st December. It is celebrated in the valley of Changla, about 45 kms from Leh. With Buddhist and Tibetan parades, dance performances and folk artists, the festival acts out Tibetan and Buddhist lore, celebrating the victory of good over evil. 

Other Festivals

There are many other festivals held across India during the month of November, so drop a note on the IM Forums if you are searching for something nearby. If you are in Gujarat drop into the Shamlaji or Vautha Fairs, or in God’s Own Country of Kerala there are numerous regional festivals, you can find a schedule of them on the Kerala Tourism website.

Other Things to See and Do in India in November

November sees the beginning of the main wildlife season in India with many of the bird sanctuaries and wildlife parks opening again after the monsoon shutdown. It is a great time to get out in the great outdoors or start planning your next wildlife adventure.