Everything You Want To Know About The First Ranthambore Festival

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With thrilling jungle roads, impossibly starry night skies, surrounded by a ring of lush green forests, Ranthambore has snowballed from being a small town of Rajasthan to becoming a paragon of wildlife and adventure all over the world. Ranthambore is not only a place but a name that has become synonymous to wildlife especially tigers through all these years of evolution, passion and most importantly, conservation. Boasting of the largest wildlife park in India, Ranthambore could have rested on its past laurels, but in the middle of all this, it gave us something that marked the beginning of a new era of music, dance, culture & wildlife of India – the Ranthambore Festival.

Where was the Ranthambore Festival organised?

Just a few kilometres away from Ranthambore National Park, stands the towering Nahargarh by Alsisar Hotels.  Nahargarh is built like a traditional Rajput hunting palace. The three day Ranthambore festival (27th – 29th January 2017) was organised for the first time with conceptualization by NGO Pukar Foundation at Nahargarh Palace (Alsisar Nahargarh), Ranthambore. Nahargarh, in all its glory was literally glowing like a galaxy of stars on the chilly night before the festival was scheduled to commence. The magnificent hotel with beautiful arches and chhatries, halls, courtyards, avenues, and terraces chose six of its areas to play host to the potpourri of events at the festival.

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The areas viz. Annexe Lawns, Bookasmile Hathikund Main Stage, First Stone Amphitheater, Pool Side, The Den and The East Terrace were set up to welcome people who came to this festival from all parts of country in the bitterly cold weather.

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How did it kick start?

To add to the visitors’ delight, organizers had laid on a great appetizer menu of wildlife and music to mark the opening of the festival. With wildlife film screening featured on giant screen in the open Annexe lawns, each attendee knew that they were in the land which was not just an abode of animals, but a dynasty of tigers. The screenings were accompanied by an enthralling selection of indigenous and international musical performances in the amphitheater under the brilliant blue skies and a radiant sun to warm up the afternoons.

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What is the festival all about?

The festival, indisputably, was an earnest endeavor to offer a platform to the local musicians, dancers, folk artists and revive the dying art of classical music. For the ones who don’t find guitar, EDM, Bollywood and Rock music whetting their festival appetite, were seen swarming to this vibrant festival, some to find solace and some to celebrate the folk culture. Whilst there were bands from all across India, there was an emphasis on artists from the state of Rajasthan. Even those who were not local music fans were found humming and tapping their feet to the tunes over the three-day festival.

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What was in it apart from the cultural events?

The amazing musical performances wouldn’t have been so relished if they were not punctuated by tons of yummy food and the lovely Souk i.e. crafts bazaars. All sorts of foods viz. burgers, French Fries, street food, milkshakes, fresh juices were being rejoiced and craft stalls of Rajasthan like Dastkar, Dhonk, Tokree displayed eccentric items like quilted jackets, printed scarves, long skirts, printed coasters and the like. Also, the festival did not confine its guests to the hotel and included Heritage Walks in its well planned itinerary. As Ranthambore was playing host to this festival, the topic of conservation could not have been unspoken of. Several panel discussions by prominent wildlife conservationists were held and enlightened the audience.

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Does music really heal ?

For the ones who came all the way to revive their mind, soul and connect with nature & themselves, there were melodious and awfully miraculous healing sounds workshops by the world renowned artist Tritha Sinha at the Poolside where people were seen taking off their shoes, feeling the soft grass and transporting to another world. The interactive drum circle & Mongolian throat singing workshop by Martin Dubois were among a few events that rejuvenated the spirits and opened the minds, hearts and even voices for that matter.

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Is the festival equally alive in the nights?

The real magic of the festival was seen and felt during the nights. Thousands of twinkling stars in the clear moonlit sky enveloped the mellow vibes at Hathikund Main Stage that was built around a small beautiful pond. As soon as the sun set, the shimmering pond reflected a kaleidoscope of the divine backdrop and blessed was the aura that was aroused by the sweet aroma of dew drops fused with the Sufi charm of Maati Baani & Ustad Maa Zila Khan. The night effect was also witnessed at the amphitheater with a bar and barbecue adding the much needed dash of spice to this exotic musical vacation. The Souk aka craft bazaar oozed a festive feel when the trees were festooned with creamish white fairy lights and denizens were seen swaying along the markets.

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The Den only came to life at night when the music lovers broke into a party mood, they drank, talked, laughed and danced till they dropped even though the festive fever continued till dusk bade goodbye till next year.

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