11 Festivals Worth Visiting Central India For

An artist performing at Malwa Utsav
An artist performing at Malwa Utsav | © sheetal saini/Flickr
Richa Jain

Central India is widely known for its rich culture and heritage. Consisting of a wide variety of art and architecture, this colorful region of the country observes a number of fairs and festivals throughout the year. Though most of the festivals celebrated are much the same like those celebrated in the rest of India, there are a few special occasions observed only in this part of the country.

Malwa Utsav

The biggest and most amazing event of central India is the Malwa Utsav, observed in the cities of Indore and Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh. This is a spectacular five-day festival wherein different art forms, dances, music, drama, culture, and traditions are celebrated. Artists, entertainers and performers from all across the country participate in this festival and showcase their regional art forms.

Various art exhibitions and craft workshops are a part of Malwa Utsav too. Also, if you wish to experience delectable cuisines from different regions, then do visit this festival.

Group dance performance at Malwa Utsav

The Khajuraho Dance Festival is said to be the most popular cultural event of India. This is a week-long event held between February and March, where varied Indian classical dances are showcased by some of the leading performers of the country. The dance festival is held in front of the two temples of the Western Group of Khajuraho – Chitragupta Temple and Vishwanatha Temple – where dancers perform various dance forms as an offering to the gods of the temples.

To promote the traditional Indian dances and the cultural heritage of the country, the Kala Parishad (Cultural Department) of Madhya Pradesh Tourism organizes this festival every year. Those who wish to see the colorful Indian dances, Khajuraho Dance Festival is a must-visit.

Kuchipudi dancer Arunima Kumar performing at Khajuraho Dance Festival

Tansen Music Festival

Every year in December, Gwalior hosts the Tansen Sangeet Samaroh (Tansen Music Festival) to commemorate the legendary singer Tansen. If you wish to be intrigued by amazing sounds and singing styles of Indian classical music, then you must attend this enthralling music festival. The best vocalists and musicians of India perform at the Tansen Music Festival and showcase different classical, fusion and folk genres.

This unique four-day long festival is organized by Madhya Pradesh Tourism, and the event attracts music lovers from all over the country to Gwalior. If you plan to drop by in the historic city of Gwalior during December, then make sure you attend the Tansen Music Festival too.

Indian classical singer Sanhita Nandi performing at Tansen Sangeet Samaroh

Chethiyagiri Vihara Festival

The Chethiyagiri Vihara Festival is a Buddhist celebration held in the ancient city of Sanchi. Every November, thousands of pilgrims and Buddhist monks flock to this historic city to attend the festival. On this occasion, the relics of two initial followers of Buddha – Maha Mogagallana and Sai Puttha – are viewed and revered. This is a one of its kind festival that should be on your list when you visit the state.

Sanchi Stupa No. 3

Nimar Utsav

Held on the eve of Kartik Purnima, Nimar Utsav is an annual event celebrated on the banks of the holy river Narmada in the city of Maheshwar. This is a three-day long festival in which a large feast is organized for the people. Local dance, music, drama and other cultural functions are also part of the festival. Boating and canoeing races are a major attraction too.

Maheshwar Fort along the banks of river Narmada

Pachmarhi Utsav

Pachmarhi is a beautiful hill station in Madhya Pradesh that is blessed with natural flora in abundance. Much like the city, the Pachmarhi Utsav is also a center of attraction here. This is an annual festival which begins on December 25 and continues for six days till the beginning of new year.

Here you get to see fascinating folk art performances by various artists from the city and outside. An art and craft exhibition is also held to showcase the craftsmanship of the city. For visitors, a great number of food stalls are set up to enjoy an assortment of dishes.

Lokrang Samaroh

Lokrang Samaroh is held in Bhopal during the Republic Day celebration. But unlike the Republic Day, this festival continues for five days in commemoration of Indian culture. Sometimes the culture and traditions of South India are celebrated, while other times heritage of Himachal and Jammu Kashmir is revered. Other than this, tribal folk dances and art exhibitions are also displayed in this festival.

The main aim of Lokrang Samaroh is to bring together the people of India as a unified whole in celebrating the rich culture and traditions. If you’re in India around January 26, then after witnessing the Republic Day in Delhi, you can head to Bhopal for Lokrang Samroh.

Folk dance of Madhya Pradesh at Lokrang Samaroh, Bhopal

Ujjain Kumbh Mela

Kumbh Mela has been organized in India for many years now and is considered to be an ancient Hindu festival. It is known to bring together people of different mindsets, castes and religions. Four fairs are organized across India in four cities – Haridwar, Allahabad, Nashik and Ujjain. While you’re in Madhya Pradesh, you must pay a visit to the Ujjain Kumbh Mela at least once.

The fair involves a great deal of rituals, and the most important one is the holy dip. Hindus believe that if you take a dip in the holy river waters, then all your sins will come to an end. Also, if you wish to see the ancient traditions of Ujjain, the Kumbh Mela is where you need to be.

Ujjain’s Kumbh Mela

Kalidas Samaroh

The Akhil Bhartiya Kalidas Samaroh is held every year in the city of Ujjain, known to be the cultural and poetic capital of India. Ujjain has given birth to a number of Hindi scholars like Pandit Surya Narayan and Shivmangal Singh Suman, and is also linked to Sanskrit literati such as Vatsayana, Kalidas and Bhartrihari.

The Kalidas Samaroh thus presents literary plays and other classical dramas and programs. The dramas are staged by theater artists from the city and outside. If you wish to closely study Indian literature, then Kalidas Samaroh can surely be an insightful event.

Narmada Jayanti

This is a festival celebrated with great fervor in the city of Jabalpur as river Narmada’s birthday. Narmada is one of the seven holy rivers of India and is worshipped on this occasion by a great number of pilgrims. This festival is celebrated mainly during the months of January and February where pilgrims float oil lamps into the river and pay their homage.

Marble rocks along the Narmada river in Jabalpur

Dhrupad Samaroh

Dhrupad is a famous Indian classical music form and has a spiritual tinge to it. If you wish to witness some of the big names of the Indian music fraternity, then a visit to Bhopal during the Dhrupad Samaroh is a must. This music festival is aimed at bringing the feeling of peace to the listeners. This can be a great way of getting acquainted with the ancient devotional music of India.

Indian classical music performance
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