No where does a festival quite like India, and Christmas is no exception. Almost as quickly as the Diwali lights are packed away, they resurface to brighten the streets with the Yuletide spirit. But there are some places that really come to life during the festive season. Here’s our pick of where to spend Christmas in India.
The city of churches, Puducherry, or Pondicherry as its known, celebrates the season in true French style, with a dash of Tamil thrown in. There are several churches to choose when deciding where to attend Midnight Mass. For the finest stain glass windows and neo-gothic architecture, visit the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, that was established by French missionaries in the 18th century. One of the grandest churches is The Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception which is a popular choice, but for mass in French it has to be The Church of Our Lady of Angels.
Even if you’re not able to stay up for midnight mass, the streets of this seaside town come alive with all the trimmings you would expect in a French village. The blend of cultures makes Puducherry a fascinating place to experience Christmas.
Once a Portuguese colony, it’s no surprise that the beachside state of Goa has a long Christian history. The laid-back atmosphere and perfect weather also make it a great place to combine relaxation with celebration. Throughout much of the state you’ll find streets coloured with decorations and markets, and every region in Goa will have at least one place to congregate for mass. Known as a party state, don’t be surprised to hear carollers filling the sky with song long after you’ve called it a night.
The maximum city, Mumbai has some Christian pockets that come alive at this time of year. Hill Road in the northern suburb of Bandra is a popular place to shop for Christmas decorations and pick up that last minute gift. While there are several churches in the area, you can’t miss climbing to the top of Mt Mary, lighting a candle and singing along with the carol singers; it’s a magical place during the silly season. If you’re looking for a Christmas feast most of the 5 star hotels host banquets on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or try the fining dining restaurant Indigo for the best turkey dinner in town.
The Northeast was a well-trodden path for missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries, blessing the region with some beautiful churches and a large Christian population. The city of Shillong has one of the oldest churches, and the Cathedral Church is a beautiful place to have Midnight Mass. The area is decorated with huge fir Christmas tree and bells chime through the scenic hillside town. Be sure to rug up as there’ll be a chill in the air as the gospel singers warm up the crowds in the streets with carols.