Nightlife in India
If you are visiting India, you cannot associate the South Asian country with partying. However, India is one of the most populous countries in the world and offers a diverse and growing number of nightlife options. Moving away, you'll find everything from intimate bars and pubs to multi-level nightclubs. Those interested in something more traditional will also find no shortage of cultural performances.
When you travel to India, it's helpful to know where to look for nightly entertainment and to familiarize yourself with the legal drinking age, which is much older than in many other countries.
Legal Drinking Age
The legal consumption age of alcohol in India varies by state – and sometimes depending on the type of alcohol – which can be confusing for visitors.
Your age should be 25 years in Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab. In Maharashtra, the age is 21 for beer and 25 for other sorts of spirits. The legal age in Kerala is 23 years.
Goa, the party-state of India, along with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Puducherry, Rajasthan, and Sikkim, has the lowest drinking age of 18 years.
Elsewhere in India, this is typically 21 years old, although venues are generally not strict about enforcing these limits.
Prohibition and Dry Days
In India, drinking or buying alcohol is prohibited in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland, and the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Alcohol is illegal in Gujarat, however, foreigners can apply for a limited permit and they need to pass an examination by a designated Area Medical Board.
There are specific "dry days" when state governments prohibit the sale of alcohol, which often takes tourists by surprise. Usually, 5-star hotels have looser rules and do not have to follow dry days like smaller bars and liquor stores. Dry days in India usually include national holidays such as Republic Day (26 January), Independence Day (15 August), and Gandhi Jayanti which is the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2).
Nightlife generally begins and ends early in India thanks to curfews, although visitors can search for daytime gatherings or nightclubs in luxury hotels, which can close later. While Mumbai could even be the country's biggest place to party - and restaurants and malls are allowed to be open 24 hours every day - most pubs and restaurants can only serve alcohol until 1:30 a.m., you'll find the same in Delhi. The scene will be found, where there is a curfew of 1 am in the city bar. There is no curfew in Kolkata, but most places are closed till midnight, especially during the week. Most of the bars are closed till midnight in Chennai and at 1 pm in Hyderabad and Bangalore. Many places in Goa are forced to shut down till 10 or 11 pm. Due to noise restrictions, however, travelers can discover underground psychedelic trance parties.
Goa, known as a hedonistic, hippie state, has a reputation for outlandish psychedelic trance parties despite strict rules. The presence of the police is a constant threat, and if the necessary bribe money is not properly paid, the incidents are often called off.
The main party season in Goa runs from mid-December to the end of February, although there are some variations such as in Manali, where the bash usually runs between April and August.
It has become a very underground and sudden scene, with gatherings in remote locations around Anjuna, Vagator, Arambol, Morjim, and Palolem. Hill Top in Vagator is famous for throwing iconic psychedelic-trance parties, especially on Sunday evenings.
Other famous places for outdoor psi-trance festivals are Manali and Kasol in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern India.
India has some of the most prestigious annual outdoor music festivals, as well as an electronic concert in December at Sunburn, Goa's Candolim Beach; Sulafest, a February wine and music festival at Sula Vineyards in Maharashtra; VH1 Supersonic for live music and art in February at Mahalaxmi Lawns, Pune; Bacardi NH7 Weekender featuring a spread of music in both Meghalaya and Pune in November; Alsisal's Boutique Magnetic Field Festival in December, and the September outdoor Ziro Festival of Music in Ziro Valley.
Kolkata has become one of the cultural capitals of India to supply those curious about live dance, drama, and music. Night shows are organized at Rabindra Sadan Cultural Center and Theater located near Lalit Kala Akademi.
In Mumbai, those curious about artistic events should visit the National Center for the humanistic discipline at Nariman Point or the restored Royal opera, the sole remaining opera in India.
Delhi's India Habitat Center and India International Center often offer serious music and dance concerts. Kamani Auditorium hosts national and global music, dance, and theater performances. Nearby, the Shri Ram Center for Performing Arts houses many plays including Hindi theater and other cultural arts from around the world.
Interesting cultural events take place in the cities of Jaipur and Udaipur, and Jodhpur, also in Rajasthan, hosts several world music festivals. See the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (Jodhpur RIFF) – a non-profit original music festival – in late October and early November, and February's World Holy Spirit Festival that showcases the spiritual meaning of music.