For me, Christmas has always been synonymous with home. The excitement for Santa’s present and the unlimited gormandizing on plum cake defined Christmas in the initial years of childhood. The ‘gormandizing on the plum cake’ element remaining intact, waking up to the heavenly aroma of baking cakes and Gajrela on the freezing 25th morning, a lazy day spent with the family, lighting up the Christmas tree in the evening followed by the much awaited gift-unwrapping session. Christmas in the truest sense has always been the perfect festival to end the year. Undoubtedly then, ‘Home sweet home’ would definitely top my list of the five best places to celebrate Christmas on the entire planet.
That established, with the year nearing its end, a pile of casual leaves waiting to be cashed on, winter break in schools and colleges, 25th December being a holiday in India, just a few days adjusted here and there and the last vacation of the year is up on the platter. No wonder, the months of December and January are categorized under the ‘peak season’ of the hotel calendars. Not to forget, peak season naturally equates to escalated hotel tariffs! But it is during this peak season that any tourist spot comes alive, brimming with liveliness and energy, infusing the festive mood in one and all.
It’s obvious that every place has its own unique way of celebrating Christmas. As per me, five destinations in India which have left a lasting impression on my mind during Christmas are Kovalam, Kerela; Nainital; Port Blair; Ooty and Home Sweet Home.
Christmas and winters go hand in hand but at Kovalam, the last thing you would discover is snow. Kovalam is one of the most beautiful places to enjoy Christmas in a pleasant weather. Located at a distance of 13 kilometers from the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram, Kovalam has three beaches namely Lighthouse, Hawah and Samudra, separated by rocky outcroppings in its 17 kilometers coastline, which together form the famous crescent of the Kovalam beach. The Lighthouse beach is the one thronged by tourists and you can see Christmas in the air with the restaurants lining the beach decorated with Christmas paraphernalia. You can watch the sunset at Lighthouse beach and enjoy the Christmas eve with a mug of chilled beer and a wide variety of seafood handpicked and cooked in front of you.
Nainital, definitely is amongst one of the hill stations where you can expect to find yourself playing with the cottony snow on Christmas. Mall Road is the hub of all activities in Nainital. So, get out of the blanket, wrap yourself in the warmest of woolens and take a stroll on it in the evening to enjoy the beauty of the Naini Lake, which looks captivating once the lights are on. Mall Road is also loaded with eateries with a variety of food from fried wantons to our very own Alu Tikki on the offering. Gormandize all you foodies, it is feast time after all!
Port Blair is not a place for the club hoppers. The ones seeking a quiet Christmas, this is your destination. Be it a quiet 2 hour flight from Calcutta or a wild cruise from Chennai, you wouldn’t want to miss out on these islands. Once out of the Vir Savarkar airport, you can easily loiter around Port Blair. A mix bag of people and the calm of that place would leave your soul stirred. Pamper yourself with mango juice at the Majestic, a small juice shack which enjoys cult status, just like its name. A walk down the Harbour Lane is likely to divert your attention from the sea to some fancy named restaurants, but the seafood served is of excellent quality.
Ooty, short form for Ootacamund, is one of the quietest hill stations in the country. Preferably, take a flight to Mangalore and then make the 500 kilometers road trip. The deep black roads veiled by the pseudo red deserts would leave your eyes rolling like a poker machine. A 6-hour journey (approximately 300 kilometer from Mangalore) would have you at Mysore where one can make a brief halt to enjoy the grand palaces around. Another 3-hour drive from Mysore via the Mudumalai National Park is a perfect getaway for a quiet Christmas.
Contributed by – Rini Sinha