Posted 14 December 2022

Top Indian cities to visit during Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti is celebrated in January every year to mark the termination of the winter season and the beginning of a new harvest season. It is dedicated to the Hindu deity Surya or the Sun God Dharma. It also refers to a specific solar day in the Hindu calendar. On this auspicious day, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Capricorn, or Makar, which marks the end of winter months, and the beginning of longer days. This also marks the beginning of the month of Magh. It is celebrated to welcome the beginnings of a new harvest season. It is regarded as important for spiritual practices, and accordingly, people take a holy dip in rivers, especially Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Krishna, and Kaveri. Bathing is believed to result in the merit or absolution of past sins. Though extremely popular as Makar Sankranti, the festival is predominantly a harvest festival, and is celebrated throughout India, from north to south and east to west.

With the weather just about the right amount of chilly in January, Makar Sankranti makes for a colourful, yet spiritual ride around India. So, if you are in the mood to travel around India during this time of the year, then wait no more!

We have created for you, a special list of the top Indian cities that bring out the best of this festival and makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

1. Haridwar, Uttarakhand

Haridwar is one of the most spiritual Hindu pilgrimage sites in India. The famous Har Ki Pauri Ghat and Ganga Aarti, that is held every night by the ghats of the river Ganges, besides other wonders present there.

Haridwar holds a massive Makar Sankranti or Uttarayani (as it is commonly known there) celebration. Hence, to enjoy it to the fullest, don't forget to:

  • Attend the Ganga aarti, which is held at the Ganga Ghat nightly, and is notto be missed on the day of Makar Sankranti.
  • Take a blessed dip in the holy water of the river Ganges, which frees one from all sins and yields great merits.

Travel tips

  • Travelling to crowded places during the presence of the novel Coronavirus outbreak has its own risks. We recommend that you bring your own safety kit, along with you, that includes some extra masks, sanitisers, and surface disinfectants.
  • Keep your face covered with an N95 mask while in crowded areas

How to reach?

  • By road: Haridwar is connected to Chandigarh (205 km), Delhi (210 km), Dehradun (59 km), and Nainital (223 km) through a good network of roads. It is well-connected by roads to all major cities and towns, so people, as per their choice and comfort, can take the bus to reach Haridwar smoothly.
  • By rail: You can easily book your seat in any class of the train, as per your preferences and budget, to reach Haridwar safely and comfortably. Haridwar Railway Station is well-connected to all major cities and towns of India and there are a good number of regular trains available as well.
  • By air: Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun serves as the nearest airport to Haridwar. Visitors can take direct IndiGo flights to Dehradun.

Weather conditions

Expect the temperature to be in the range of 10°C to 30°C during Makar Sankranti. The winters are very cold in Haridwar. So, definitely pack a good amount of woollen clothes.

Read more about - Everything you can do on a short getaway to Dehradun

2. Amritsar, Punjab

Amritsar serves as the home to the gilded Golden Temple, considered the most sacred Gurudwara by the Sikhs, alongside being an important pilgrimage site as well. Celebrating Makar Sankranti in Amritsar is all about wearing traditional attires, taking a holy dip in the Golden Temple, beating the dhol, and of course doing the Bhangra dance.

Amazing food delicacies that are specially made during Lohri and Makar Sankranti in Amritsar are:

  • Gur rewri
  • Peanuts
  • Popcorn

Besides these, in Punjab villages, it is a tradition to eat gajak, and sarson da saag and makki di roti on the day of Lohri. It is also traditional to eat 'til rice' - sweet rice made with jaggery (gur) and sesame seeds.

Travel tips

  • With a lot of destinations to visit, we recommend you plan at least three full days in Amritsar.
  • While at the Golden Temple, remember to cover your head with a handkerchief or scarf, avoid wearing anything above your knee, and remember to take off your shoes at the entrance of the temple.

How to reach? 

  • By road: Being located on the National Highway 1, Amritsar is well-connected by road. Daily bus services, including both government and private, run to and from Ambala, Patiala, Delhi, Chandigarh, and Jammu. For transportation within the city, you can take rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, taxis, or buses.
  • By rail: Amritsar Railway Station connects the city to almost all major Indian cities Delhi
  • By air: The nearest airport that connects Amritsar is Sri Guru Ram Dass Jee International Airport (Code: ATQ), located about 11 km away from the city centre. Travellers can easily avail direct non-stop IndiGo flights to Amritsar from major cities of the country.

Read more about - Five reasons to Plan your next trip to Amritsar

3. Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh

The famous site for the Makar Sankranti festival celebration is Allahabad, also known as Prayagraj officially. The Ganges is the holy river flowing through the heart of Prayagraj, and people take dips on this auspicious day. Besides this, kite flying is a major part of the celebration of the Makar Sankranti here. So much so that there are numerous kite flying competitions that you can take part in if you fancy competitive kite flying in the gullies of the Indian city of Prayagraj. Apart from that, you can also attend the famous Magh Mela that brings together lakhs of devotees.

Travel tips

Since a lot of people come to visit Prayagraj during the festival of Makar Sankranti, it is better to book your transport in advance and cross-check all bookings once before the week of travel.

How to reach?

  • By road: Buses operated by Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) connect Prayagraj to all the major north Indian cities, including Delhi, Lucknow, Varanasi, Meerut, and Jhansi.
  • By rail: Prayagraj has four major railway stations viz. Allahabad Junction, Prayag Station, City Station at Rambagh, and Daraganj Station. By rail, the city is connected to all major Indian cities.
  • By air: Prayagraj has its own airport. It is only 12 km away from the main city.Direct IndiGo flights can be availed from major cities of the country

Best time to visit

During January, when you visit Prayagraj, you can expect temperatures between 10°C and 23°C, which makes for an enjoyable time for tourism.

Read more about - Discover seven reasons why one should travel to Prayagraj

4. Bengaluru, Karnataka

The festival is celebrated as Ellu Bella in the state of Karnataka. People here believe in worshipping cows and bulls on the eve. Ellu Bella requires the involvement of women of marriageable age or married women. These women visit their relatives and distribute fruits, flowers, bangles, etc. Also, there is a tradition to distribute goods made up of sesame seeds and jaggery to neighbours. The significance of this exchange is that “sweetness should prevail in all the dealings”.

Travel tips

  • The public transport system is the best way to travel in Bengaluru; however, cab facilities are also available at any time of the day so you can avail them at your convenience and whenever required.
  • Free Wi-Fi is available at most cafes and hotels, even offices. However, we recommend you to avoid using public Wi-Fi as much as possible unless absolutely necessary to avoid cyber problems.
  • We would recommend you to pack light because Bengaluru gets busy during the day as well as at night. Travelling with a smaller bag is more efficient in such cases.

How to reach?

  • By road: Bengaluru city is connected via major national highways which connect various other cities to it. Buses from neighbouring states run on a regular basis to Bengaluru, and the city’s bus stand also runs various buses to major cities of South India.
  • By rail: Bangalore Railway Station is located in the heart of the city. Various trains from all over India come to Bengaluru which includes Mysore Express from Chennai, Karnataka Express from Delhi, and Udyan Express from Mumbai, which cover many major cities in between.
  • By air: Non-stop IndiGo flights can be availed to and from major cities from Bangalore Airport (BLR) located at a distance of 40 km from the city.

Best time to visit

Plan your trip in a way that you can reach a couple of days before Makar Sankranti (in January). With a range of temperature between 16°C and 28°C, you are sure to be able to tour in comfort.

5. Kolkata, West Bengal

Kolkata is the city of joy, the soulful embodiment of culture, love, mystery, respect, enthusiasm, and definitely some amazing sweet delicacies. Makar Sankranti, here, is vastly celebrated as Poush Mela with a sky decked with colourful high flying kites and the delicious aroma of “pithes” being made in every household across the state.

At this time of the year, Kolkata and its neighbouring regions get to experience the fruition of a lot of fairs that locals call “mela”. One such mela is the Gangasagar Mela. Tucked away in the deltaic region of West Bengal, not far from the Sundarbans forest, the island of Gangasagar is known for its temple dedicated to an ancient Indian ascetic (popularly known as Kapil Muni), and the annual fair held in the middle of January. It is also the place closest to the confluence, where the Ganges joins the Bay of Bengal.

The second mela would be, Joydev Kenduli Mela. Allow yourself to be immersed in the soulful renditions of the ‘baul’ singers, their philosophy and belief in the power of one God, the supreme power. Every year, these itinerant singers from West Bengal and Tripura in India, and various parts of Bangladesh arrive for an annual meet at Joydev Kenduli, not far from Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan. The three-day meet, held on the banks of the Ajoy River, is open to visitors.

Tusu Parab: Tusu is a unique festival that culminates on the day of Makar Sankranti. In West Bengal, the villages near Purulia town offer a pleasant look into this festival. From Purulia town, Deulghata is about 30 km and Murguma Dam is about 65 km away by road. Purulia can be reached by road and rail from Kolkata. There are various interpretations of this annual event, the most common being it is the culmination of a month-long harvest festival. On the last day, people pray to a divine entity called Tusu who is seen both as a goddess and a friend. Prior to Makar Sankranti, young girls make an elongated square structure that symbolises Tusu (now also available in the markets).

The structure, known as ‘choudol’, is made of jute sticks or bamboo and is very lightweight. It is decorated with flowers, bits of coloured paper, dolls and other bric-a-brac. On the day of Makar Sankranti, the women carry the choudol to any nearby waterbody, singing songs dedicated to Tusu, all the way. After a ritual bath, they go around in circles holding the choudol and finally float it in the water.

Travel tips

  • Kolkata offers you a variety of public transport. From the signature yellow taxis to human rickshaws, you can choose which mode of transport you are most comfortable with.
  • Along with the festivities, there are a lot of famous markets to shop from, like New Market, Gariahat Market and College Street. The prices in these markets are inexpensive.

How to reach?

  • By road: The West Bengal state buses let the travellers come to this city without any difficulty. There are various private buses as well that you can get from here to reach different parts of the country at a reasonable cost. Some places near Kolkata are Sunderbans (112 km), Puri (495 km), Konark (571 km) and Darjeeling (624 km).
  • By rail: Howrah and Sealdah railway stations are the two major railheads situated in the city. Both of these railway stations are well-connected to all the important cities of the country and solve the issue of how to reach Kolkata by rail.
  • By air: Kolkata International Airport, also known as Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport located at Dumdum, connects the city with all the major cities of the country as well as the world. IndiGo operates over 100 daily non-stop flights between Kolkata and other key locations in India and abroad.

Best time to visit

With an expected temperature of about 19°C, it's not too chilly for good celebrations.

Read more about - These seven reasons are enough to entice you to a Kolkata trip

Conclusion

cNow that we have covered the top Indian cities to visit during Makar Sankranti, it is now time for you to plan your trip accordingly. We assure you that you will enjoy the time spent in any of these places during this colourful winter festival.

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