Lately, India has been kind to music fans. From Goa to the valleys of Arunachal Pradesh, the musical festival scene has been reverberating with beats that have made all music buffs sit up and take notice – and rejoice. No music fest, though, has approached the kind of character and mystique that Ragasthan has.
Ragasthan translates to “a place of melodies”. But melodies are not all you will find if you venture out into the desert to try to capture the soul of this one-of-a-kind festival. Art, cinema, creativity, adventure sports, food, shopping, excitement, camping, community, freedom, nature and of course, music – Ragasthan stands for all this, and yet so much more.
Heart Of It
Ragasthan is Asia’s first desert camping music festival and is often compared to the Burning Man festival in the US. And just like the Burning Man, it’s a little bit crazy and a whole lot magical. Picture three scorching days of sliding on soft dunes, taking hot air balloon rides, watching live music acts, looking at a wildly varied art installations, spontaneous music jams and spending time with a like-minded community. Picture three freezing nights of open-air movie screenings, stargazing, dancing to the best of electronic music, watching performances like flame juggling and bonding with people from all walks of life. As the organizers put it, at Ragasthan, you leave it all behind; you ‘unbelong’.
Around mid-February, a cavalcade of trucks, bikes and buses will head towards the Lakhmana Dunes in the Thar Desert, close to the mystical city of Jaisalmer. The terrain is inhospitable, but local labour and the concentrated efforts of the organizers will transform it into a little oasis of culture.
Luxury Swiss tents will be set up alongside the humbler camping tents. Three stages – each featuring a different line-up of musicians and a unique experience – will be built to host one of the most magical festivals in the country. The Morio stage will host pop, rock, world and folk musicians. Ammara will focus solely on electronic music; and the more intimate stage, Birakha, will feature indie, acoustic and unplugged acts. The line-up of artists includes Dhruv Visvanath, Ensemble Quentique from the Netherlands, Bemet from Israel, Tetseo sisters, Saby and many, many more. The artists range from the well known to the unheard, and they all share one trait: they’re exceptional. The result is a musical vibe that will haunt you once you’re back in the city.
Ragasthan promises to deliver a unique experience, but with responsibility and respect for both creation and nature. Everyone at the festival is given a thermos and there is free tea and water for everyone. Visitors are expected to follow the no-plastic policy;the organizers plan to use minimal electricity and cut down on water wastage. After the adventure is over, the clean upwill leave the desert as it was – stark, undisturbed and silent.
What sets Ragasthan apart from the myriad other desert music festivals in the country? It’s the vibe. With not a single village in sight for miles, Ragasthan springs up like an oasis of joy in the middle of the desert. Got three days, it becomes a community. It’s a celebration of culture and a homage to life. Whether you’re taking a hot air balloon ride or just lying back on a dune, beer in hand, watching jamming musicians do their thing, you’re with a tribe you’ll never forget. Ragasthan is the type of unmatched experience that punctuates the humof life. You won’t be the same person when you return. We promise.
This is the third edition of the festival. The festival debuted in 2012 and the second edition was in 2014. The organizers are a bunch of friends who bring it all together whenever their lives allow it. So there’s no saying when the next Ragasthan extravaganza will take place. We suggest that you catch the magic before it’s gone.
Where: Lakhmana Dunes, Thar Desert, Jaisalmer
When: February 23-25, 2018
Contact: Keith Menon +91-9867410457 & Supriya +91-9619071456