Christmas Getaways
Planning to spend this Christmas away from home? Have no worries! India offers you thrilling destinations for the festival. From sun-kissed beaches to snow-clad hills, here are ten getaways for Christmas in India.

Goa

Located on the western side of the Indian coastal line, Goa is a favorite holiday destination at any time of the year, and certainly one of the top ones during Christmas. The former Portuguese colony is teeming with spectacular old Roman Catholic churches where midnight masses are held on Christmas Eve every year. Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Church of St. Ana, built in the 16th and 17th century respectively, are perhaps the most well-known of these churches. The Goans decorate their homes with lights and poinsettia flowers. Revelries last throughout the night and parties are organized at the beaches. The famous Sunburn festival is also usually held at Candolim Beach a day or two after Christmas – the fun is thus guaranteed to continue!

Kerala

In God’s Own Country, Christmas is a majestic event that adds to the elegance of the state. Known for its lovely backwaters and picturesque boathouses, Kerala is one of the most ideal places to spend Christmas in. The churches –famous examples of which are Mar Thoma Church and Jacobite Syrian Christian Church – homes and streets, decorated beautifully, make for a beautiful and glorious sight, while the culinary experience is sure to be one you’ll remember with fondness and relish.

Daman and Diu

Daman and Diu are two twin islands that lie off the coast of Gujarat in the Arabian Sea. This union territory used to be occupied by the Portuguese before it merged with India. Like Goa, it has its share of Roman Catholic Churches that are not only charming, but historically important too. St. Paul’s Church, the 17thcentury old Se Cathedral, and Church of Our Lady of the Rosary are just a few of the many examples. The golden beaches and scenic palm groves are a feast for the eye, while the Christmas celebrations will definitely touch your heart with its gaiety and jubilance.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

Third in the group of Christmas destinations stamped with Portuguese influence, Dadra and Nagar Haveli gives an adventurous twist to the festival of Christmas with its trekking opportunities. There are many waterfalls, pristine green pastures, lush hills and forests in this union territory situated on the western coast. It also has grand churches like the Church of Our Lady of Piety where midnight masses are held. The Tribal Museum, with its collection of rare artifacts, is a must see.

Pondicherry

Pondicherry, also known as India’s Little France and Puducherry, is the answer of the eastern coast to the Portuguese-influenced islands. Breathtaking at any season, the magnificence of this city’s French architecture, and excellent beaches and churches are increased during Christmas. Complementing the visual feast is the exciting French cuisine that can be sampled in many of the restaurants. The tourist need not fear for lack of sites to see, for Pondicherry has acclaimed landmarks such as the Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, and statues of Joan of Arc and Dupleix.

Shillong

In the north eastern hills of India, Shillong is the place to be on Christmas. Its Christmas celebration is vibrant and heart warming, with the entire city scintillating, Santa Clauses distributing gifts, midnight vigils being held and cultural and traditional garbs and music adding a touch of unique beauty to the atmosphere. The century-old fir tree at All Saints Cathedral Hall premises, planted by the British, standing tall at 150 ft and fitted with light, is a sight that should not be missed. Shillong’s local bands also provide great music in the evenings at bars and the city also offers its visitors a range of gastronomic delights.

Mumbai

One of India’s most famous cities, Mumbai brings all the right noise and colors on Christmas. The festival is visible throughout the city, but its presence is most imposing at Bandra, a suburb in the western part of the city, where the population is mostly Catholic. The streets and houses are adorned with lights and decorations that brighten up the evening, and Christmas trees can be found on the sidewalks. There are shopping and site-seeing opportunities for the tourist, and on 31st December, you can give a brilliant welcome to the New Year at Marine Lines, where the annual fireworks display occurs.

Bengaluru

If the financial capital of India does its best to give you a memorable Christmas, can Silicon City be far behind? Bengaluru, renowned IT hub, knows how to lighten up for the festival season. Malls, streets and houses are all done up with fabulous decoration, and restaurants offer special menus, discounts and parties. The churches in the city (which number close to forty) hold midnight masses and candle light vigils, which anyone can attend. Many cultural and musical events are also organized at various parts of Bengaluru in this festive season, and its gardens, national parks, and historical monuments are the staple tourist attractions.

Manali

Nestled in the Himalayas, Manali is a wonderful holiday destination. During Christmas, it’s a great choice for those who want to experience the festival with the delights of snow. Apart from offering the perfect picture of a winter Christmas, Manali is also favored for its other tourist spots, such as the Rohtang Pass, Solang Valley, Fun Park, Beas Kund, and many temples.

Shimla

Another well-loved option for a white Christmas is Shimla, where you can not only enjoy snowball fights, but go ice-skating as well. Here, you’ll also get acquainted with the distinctive tradition of decorating mango and banana tree instead of the traditional pine and fir! For other visual treats, the Christ Church of Ridge road is the place to be with its matchless decoration and the historic 111 year old pipe organ. Shimla also hosts DJ parties and organizes games and shows at many of the hotels and clubs – there is something for everybody in this tiny hill-station.

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