‘Even if you just came here and sat down for four days, and did nothing, you would go back a better person.’ – Ziro Festival attendee, 2014.
Somewhere, far far away, up in the clouds- a good 9 hour train journey from Guwahati to Naharlagun and then a four hour drive after that, lies Ziro, a grassland valley surrounded by pine clad indigo mountains topped with white hazy icing and a breeze that flits over rolling paddy fields. It’s like something out of a My Little Pony cartoon. It lies dormant for the year and comes alive for four days in September attracting bands from all over India and visitors from all over the world. Unlike most festivals where locals abandon ship like rats, the Ziro Festival of Music is a collaboration between the local Apatani tribe and the organizers and they look as forward to it as the attendees. The numbers are small, 3,000 attendees last year, and you’ll probably feel like you hanging out at The Hive in Mumbai only without the hipsters and their constant clicking. Forget selfies, you’re going to find it hard to charge your phone let alone choose your filter and upload it to Instagram.
The lineup is an eclectic mix of rock, fusion, folk, with a little bit of singer songwriter thrown in. Think of it as a musical journey and leave the Michael Kors bag and the Belvedere behind because this is not where you come to be see or be seen; leave that to NH7 and the accompanying saturated urban scene. This is just bliss. In the past the line has included singer-songwriters such Taba Chake and folk artists including Manipur’s Guru Rewben Mashangva and Kharbi singer Warklung. Madboy Mink has lit up the stage with their undeniable energy. This years line up includes the very Muse-y The F16’s from Chennai and singer songwriters Prateek Kuhad and the wonderfully talented Gowri Jayakumar whose picking is sublime. You have the trio of sisters, Tetseo Sisters from Nagaland and the well-known indie band, Thermal & a Quarter. The entire lineup can be found on the Ziro website.
It’s not easy getting there but then I think that is the point of it all. The journey can take you anywhere between 15 to 20 hours and you might find yourself in a van with man and few chickens at some point, all the better for the stories you’re going to tell. Tents are available on hire and your stay will be at one of two campsites a small walk away from the festival grounds. (Details are available on the festival website). A four-day ticket costs around Rs 4,000. Food and drink are local and you’ll find yourself chugging rice beer through the day and eating the fare made by locals who are extremely hospitable. The purity and simplicity of it all lends itself well to being a perfect romantic getaway or a pit stop on your tour of Arunachal Pradesh. For more details on visiting the Ziro Festival of Music check out Eventraveler’s page for the event.
If you do happen to take a walk through the clouds, please write in to us and tell us all about it.