Travellers from around the world throng to Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort, for its sandstone walls, stained-glass panels, and sweeping views of the Blue City. The handsome bastion is a sight to behold but to really feel the fort stir to life, attend a music festival here. The fort hosts two: the Rajasthan International Folk Festival (popularly called RIFF) and the World Sacred Spirit Festival, which takes place from Fri February 17 to Sun February 19, 2017.
Concerts are held at various venues in and around the fort. Start the mornings at Jaswant Thada, an elegant marble cenotaph with tiered gardens next to the fort. Beside its serene lake, listen to Persian poetry performed to classical Iranian music, or melodies plucked on a Chinese lute. At the 200-year-old Chokelao Bagh garden, drink in the fragrance of frangipani as the children of the nomadic Langa and Manganiyar communities belt out rousing folk songs. Wind down evenings at the courtyard of Mehrangarh Fort, where you can contemplate starry skies over the passionate songs of Parvathy Baul, and shamanic throat singing by Mong0lia’s Epi.
The World Sacred Spirit Festival actually began in another fort: Ahhichatragarh in the Rajasthani city of Nagaur, a four-hour drive away. It was created to celebrate the fort’s Unesco World Heritage award and “aims at the conservation and continuation of Sufi/sacred traditions of India and the world,” said Gaj Singh II, the former Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur. The Nagaur edition continues (from Mon February 13-Wed February 15) but passes are only available as a package deal that includes stay at the plush fort hotel.
The more popular Mehrangarh edition, can be attended with day passes. The festival schedule is packed so make sure you set aside time to explore Jodhpur’s bazaars and sample the city’s famous pyaaz kachori at Jodhpur Sweets. If you’re considering extending the trip by a few days, our list of Rajasthan getaways might come in handy.
What: World Sacred Spirit Festival
Where: Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur; Ahhichatragarh Fort, Nagaur.
When: Mon February 13-Wed February 15, 2017 at Nagaur’s Ahhichatragarh Fort;
Fri February 17-Sun February 19, 2017 at Jodhpur’s Mehrangarh Fort.
Entry: Book tickets to Mehrangarh Fort’s concerts here; ₹4,500 for a day pass, ₹8,000 for a three-day season pass. Ahhichatragarh Fort is open only to resident guests; to book contact Jayant Kalla at 0291-2572321-7 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.