Christmas is clearly not the most important or the most widely celebrated festival in India. That achievement goes probably to the Diwali, followed perhaps by Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Navaratri, Onam, Janmashtami, and a few others. However having said this, Christmas in India is quite a grand affair. There are still some pockets in the country where Christmas is big, like Goa for instance, the north-east, and some parts of Kerala. But even then, you’ll find Christmas celebrations almost throughout urban India at least. Streets and homes are decorated with lights. Frankly, this is partly to celebrate Christmas, and partly to welcome the New Year that is conveniently just round the corner.
Why Christmas in India Is Usually a Short Vacation
Many schools and some colleges too, go on a break for a few days during Christmas. So that’s a nice opportunity of taking the last vacation of the year. But wait. There are other reasons too. In many workplaces, for instance, the official year is still between January and December. So those who haven’t yet taken their earned leaves want to make use of this opportunity. It’s a waste to let them go.
Most people can afford just a few days of vacation during Christmas, unless of course you have plenty of accumulated earned leaves that you can use. The schools too are off for a short time, unlike the summer or the puja breaks that lasts for about a month in most regions in India. That’s another reason why most people take short Christmas vacations.
So where can you go this Christmas? Let’s find out.
Where to go for Christmas Vacation in India
Christmas Vacation – A Lot to Choose From
Luckily there are plenty of opportunities within the country. There’s Goa always, which is everybody’s favorite. Then there is Rajasthan, which is simply too hot at other times of the year. Almost all beaches are good too in December. And don’t ignore the reserve forests and the tiger sanctuaries as well. Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Ranthambhore, Sundarban and the others could be fantastic destinations.
But even the hill stations could be lovely destinations in December, particularly for those who love all that snow and chill in the air. You can head to Gulmarg, Auli, Yumthang, Binsar, Manali, Munnar, Dalhousie, or any of those small hamlets across Himachal, Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, and elsewhere. There’s hardly anything that comes close to freezing night-time temperature, as you get cozy with your partner under the blanket, or seek some much-needed warmth sitting in front of a roaring fire, with the brilliant display of stars and planets high above.
Let’s now look at some places you could visit this Christmas, in India of course.
The 7 Most Popular Christmas Getaways for a Few Days
1. Goa- Best Christmas Holiday Spot in India!
The sun, sand and the sea come together to make Goa what it is. But Goa is much more than just that. There are plenty of wonderful churches, old colonial buildings from the Portuguese times, great food and drinks, and of course the Carnival that is celebrated over three days and nights in December. There are huge colorful parades with floats, bands, and dances. The evenings are for serious partying. It ends with the famous red-and-black dance at Clube Nacional in Panjim.
There are other reasons for visiting Goa festival too. For instance, there is the Sunburn Festival, which incidentally is the largest electronic music festival in Asia. It is held just after Christmas. Plus, there’s the Supersonic Festival that was started by Nikhil Chinapa, the popular VJ. You can see some serious local and international talents too at the Supersonic at Candolim.
In between these two festivals, do make it a point to visit the Saturday Night Market in Arpora. This market is open only between November and April. It’s like no other in India. Open throughout the night, you’ll find all kinds of accessories, clothes and vintage stuff here. Do try the food and live concerts here. It’s like a global village during Christmas, with as many foreigners as Indians.
Want to know more about Christmas celebration in Goa and things to do there during Christmas vacation? Read Christmas in Goa!
2. Kerala- Scenic Holiday Spot for Christmas in India
Kerala, “God’s Own Country”, is magical during the winter. It’s a lush unspoiled tropical beauty. The monsoon has departed and there’s greenery everywhere, something the state is famous for. The streams and waterfalls are full. You’ll love it no matter where you go in the state. There are some really scenic tea plantations in Munnar, the palm fringed backwaters of Alapuzza, stunning beaches of Varkala and Kovalam, the beautiful Periyar National Park in Thekkady, and even the hill stations of Agasthyakoodam, Chembra, Devikulam, Ilaveezhapoonchira, Kundala, and others.
There’s much to do of course. Relax on your boat as you see village life and those swimming ducks as you cruise through the backwaters. Experience the misty hills and forests in Munnar. Or kill that stress as you chill out at Varkala or Kovalam. Of course you can go wildlife hunting too, with your camera of course, at Periyar.
You have got to spend at least a week in Kerala. Most people visit Munnar, Thekkady, Kovalam and do the backwater cruise on their Kerala trip. The Christmas break is good for all of them. But remember to make your bookings well in advance because there’s always a mad rush for Kerala this time of the year.
If you think how can Christmas be celebrated in Kerala, just know the historic linkage of Christianity with Kerala and how Christmas is a grand affair in this South Indian state. Read Christmas in Kerala to know all this!
3. Rajasthan- Royal Holiday Destination for Christmas in India
Is Rajasthan the “desert state”, or is the state of forts? It’s a bit of both actually. And it’s hot throughout the year except the winter, because of the desert and the arid conditions. So if you want to visit the state comfortably, then you’ve got to pick the Christmas time. But mind it, it can really be cold then, particularly after sun down. However you can manage it surely. So bring out those pullovers, jackets, mufflers, sweaters, and whatever else you’ve got, and head to Rajasthan.
But even before you go, it’s good to realize that it’s almost impossible to do the entire state in one trip, unless of course you’re prepared to spend 15 long days here.
There’s much to see. First, there is Jaipur and its forts – Amer, Jaigarh, Nahargarh, and even the Moti Dungri. There is also the Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, and the City Palace. Head out of the city and visit Ajmer and Pushkar on way to the blue city of Jodhpur. Spend a day here visiting the Mehrangarh Fort and the old city markets, and finally you are ready for the desert – Jaisalmer, which some say is the main attraction of Rajasthan, because you won’t find such a desert anywhere else in the country. Christmas in Jaisalmer can truly be a memorable experience despite the fact that this is not at all the festival of Jaisalmer or even Rajasthan. But thanks to the many tourists from world over who make Christmas in this desert a festival not to be forgotten easily. Read Christmas in Jaisalmer to know for yourself.
Having toured these places, you have hardly seen the state yet. You are still to see the world’s largest fort at Chittorgarh, the lake and its palace at Udaipur, Mount Abu, Ranthambhore, and so much more. Like I said, you can’t see Rajasthan in one trip.
4. Andaman- Adventure Destination for Christmas Holiday in India
Say yes to the call of the blue, hop on to your flight, and a few hours later you can be at Port Blair. It’s just right for a week. And it’s perfect for the Christmas break. What you’ll get is a taste of India’s freedom movement, turquoise blue waters everywhere with islands standing like jewels, some of the finest beaches not just in the country but the world, forests that have remained virtually untouched for possibly thousands of years and more.
And if you are in the mood for some adventure, then there are incredible wonders just below the watery blue. Go snorkeling or scuba to witness the amazing wonder of corals. Swim with sharks, manta rays, snipers, tuna, and a sea-full of fish in all possible color combinations. Take a course from a PADI trained diver before you take that dip. There is also the option of trying day or night fishing in Andaman.
Yes, there is a lot to see and do in the Andaman. There are quite a few beaches, the saw mill and the Cellular Jail in Port Blair. But the main attractions are a bit further away. You can pick from Baratang Island, Neil Island, Cinque Island, Chidiyatapu, Havelock Island, Jolly Buoy Island, Redskin Island, and many others. They are all fantastic. Many of them are quite unique. And we are not even talking about the Nicobar yet. That’s another story.
Also read: Christmas in Pondicherry
5. Kashmir- Heavenly Christmas Holidays for You in India
Kashmir during the winter! Why not? The valley is actually receiving increasingly more tourists every year during the Christmas now. In fact, there are some who actually prefer the winter as there are far fewer tourists then. With all the schools closed, there’s almost a mad rush to visit the valley now that it’s much more peaceful. Plus, there are those hoards of skiers who are headed to the slopes of Gulmarg, which by the way are considered among the best in the world.
All the usual attractions – Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgaum are at their snowy best. Sure enough, Ladakh won’t be open in December, not the Nubra Valley, and the lakes that is, but you can leave it for another time of the year. What you’ll get just in the valley should be enough for now.
In December, in Kashmir, there should be snow everywhere. The peaks are all white. And not just the peaks, there’s snow even on the streets. So walk carefully. You might even have to wear those snow boots. You can try ice skating as well if the Dal Lake freezes, which happens quite often. But it’s wonderful even if the lake hasn’t quite frozen yet. Just ride a shikara and chase all those bits of ice on the water. It’s fun.
Most hotels and house boats that are open during the winter are centrally heated. So you’ll stay comfortable during the winter. Kashmir during Christmas is going to stay etched in your memory forever. And not only for its beauty! There is this link of Jesus with Kashmir too! Yes it’s true. Jesus is said to have been there in Kashmir! How Jesus is linked with Kashmir can be known by reading Christmas in Kashmir.
6. North East India- Unique Beauty Calls you On Christmas
Like it or not, the North East has remained largely neglected even after so many years. You can make a difference though. Visit the North East this Christmas. Go somewhere most people haven’t. There are plenty of options here as well. In Assam for instance, you could go to the Kaziranga or the Manas reserve. Both are fantastic if you want to see the tiger, rhino or elephants. You can spend a day or two at Majuli on Brahmaputra, the world’s biggest riverine island.
Or you might want to try Meghalaya. There is Shillong and Cherapunji, the place of rains, though it won’t rain so much in December. But if you want something really exotic, then you can explore a cave at Tura in western Meghalaya. You’ll know how fantastic Kohima in Nagaland is once you have been here. Plus, there are all those amazing hills and lakes of Arunachal.
And finally, there is Sikkim. There’s a certain zing in the air in Gangtok during Christmas. But you’ll have to head out to see the real beauty of this small Himalayan state. Head north for the snows of Yumthang Valley and Gurudongmar Lake if you can make it there. Or head west to Pelling and Varsey to catch a closer look of the mighty Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world. But that’s not all! There are many more stunning sites to visit and things to do in Gangtok. If you really want to have an unparalleled experience of nature and its beauty, you must make Gangtok your Christmas holiday destination in India. Here is how Christmas in Gangtok celebrated and what all to see and do in Gangtok during your Christmas vacation in India!
You are sure to raise a few eyebrows when you tell them that you’ll be going to the North East this Christmas. But what the heck! Share your pictures on social media, and you’ll likely get Likes after Likes after Likes. Just tell them to go visit themselves. Make the North East your own little secret.
7. Plan a Wildlife Safari in India This Christmas
Make no mistake about it – Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Pench, Corbett, and Ranthambore, are no less attractive than Mesai Mara, Serengeti, Manyara, Amboseli or Kruger. Yes, there’s no “big five” in India. But we have a lot they don’t have in Africa. So why not try a wildlife safari this winter. There are more than 100 national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tiger reserves to choose from.
Take for instance the Sundarban. It’s an experience seeing the Bengal Tiger here, perhaps the most intelligent of the wild cats. Did you know that it’s the only animal species that cannot be tracked by smell, even by the most experienced tracker? Apparently, the Bengal Tiger is so intelligent that it can detect the direction of the wind and come for you from the opposite side.
If you want to see a bird in the bush, or the water, for that matter, then this is the best time of the year for you. Go to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park at Bharatpur. There are some other places too that are flocked by birds from Siberia and elsewhere in the winter. Winter is also the best time to visit the Bhitarkanika National Park in Orissa. You’ll find thousands of Olive Ridley Turtles nesting at the Gahirmatha Beach. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see this spectacle. It’s a sight you’ll remember.
So go ahead. Start planning your Christmas vacation now. And do remember to tell us where you visited.