There is something to be said about losing yourself in drizzling rain and sloping hills amidst a multitude of rhythm and tranquility. That is when the music hits you.
Heavenly music, a great venue and a super crowd is what makes Ziro Festival of Music. Getting there is something that will probably define your life a bit, but every bit will be worth it.
Located in one of the most picturesque locations in the world, it brings together some really cool musicians and a bunch of music lovers who brave arduous roads to finally get to a place truly blessed by the Gods.
Getting There – The Hard Part
No denying it. It is a bad road and if you are unlucky, the festival seems a long way ahead! Anxiety and anticipation are tangled together in ways that make your heart skip a beat. There were three landslides in front of us in Kimim and one behind us. Good times (if you are into that sort of thing, otherwise it’s a nightmare). Then an entire hill was swept away in the rains and we had no choice but to go back and take the Naharlagun road, which is a little better in my opinion. Everyone told us to take the Kimim road but the Naharlagun one is busier and they were building it last year. So that would be the safest option. The Kimim road had some beautiful surroundings though. So yeah, just don’t get too high because the roads are really bad in between. On the plus side, you do get to drive through a small waterfall, and, if like us you meet some locals, you even get to cross a small stream by car in Doimukh. Yay!
It had rained the entire day but as if by providence, once we reached Ziro the rains started to subside. The beautiful valley opened up beneath us and we knew we were due for something special. Ziro is one of the oldest towns in Arunachal Pradesh. At a height of over 5500 feet above sea level, the town borders the festival location.
The festival venue lies in a valley and is surrounded by paddy fields that colour the landscape yellow. It is a big open space with two stages, the Day Stage and the Night Stage. Day stage performances start from 1 pm till dusk. Night stage starts from 5 to 10.
The day stage is beautiful. Sloping meadows where you can lie down and feel the wind in your face as a breathless array of soul stirring music fills up your senses in ways you never think possible. Of course, when bands like the Barmer Boys (who I thought were the best performers last year) get the crowd on their feet, the party swings into a different vibe altogether.
The night stage is where the music really gets to you. As you sit there happily drinking Apong (Locally brewed rice beer), everything in life seems to make sense. The music is a mix of Indie, Rock and cross cultural artists like the Omak Kumut Collective and fast rising rapper Borkung Hrangkhwal. BK was especially high energy, coming on as the last artist on the 3rd day, he literally set the stage on fire with some high intensity rap. Also, his talk about his roots and how he hoped music would change the way the world around him resonated deeply with a fiercely vibrant crowd.
Waking up in the tent at 5 am and seeing some blissfully blue skies is one of the highlights of ZFM. You wake up, and surprise, no hangover. More Apong please! You have the entire mornings to yourself. You can drink Apong, smoke stuff, go on heritage walks to see the soon-to-be lost world of the Apatani Tribal women, explore the town or just sleep the entire freaking day! We spent day 2 searching for a friend who slept in a car. Yeah, that happened!
One of the best part about being in Ziro are the people around you. 4 days in a festival and you seem to have a whole set of new friends. Hell, I met a lot of people in that festival. We regularly keep in touch. We even have a Ziro Watsapp group! Before even reaching Ziro, we had this group which grew to around 60 people. Information, general ideas, tents, hotels, carpools. Everyone had an idea. Everyone had a song. That group is still alive. Most of us will be going back to Ziro this year.
Day 1 was okay. DayGloCrazie and Omak Komur Collective did their thing. Yesterdrive gave us a taste of good things to come.
On day 2, Watching Nush Lewis sound check with the harp was freaking amazing. The lovely Tetseo sisters were there with their cultural vibe. Evening sets in and we can hear “Run! It’s the KID” tuning up the stage. Shantanu Pandit and his moody waltz style immediately sets the tone. We are in for a great night.
Then come NORTH and kick it up a notch. Everyone is in love with Zoe Ray and Jordan.
The day stage on day 3 belonged to the Barmer Boys. They got the people on their feet and how!
Prateek Kuhad became one of my favourite artists that night. Neel and the Lightbulbs were a nice surprise.
BK totally rocked day 3. Day 4 belonged to Nicholson. That voice! The F16s are always good. Dualist Inquiry got injured and couldn’t make it. No complains. The music was top-notch for most of the festival.
Camps and bonfires. Enough said 🙂
But if you need clean washrooms and to charge phones, there are a few hotels and homestays in the surrounding areas.
Tickets are out for this year. Prices increase after the early bird sales expire. Get your tickets soon. The list of artists should be out soon.
ZFM is pure bliss in the hills. Meet interesting people, get immersed in culture, discover new music and swing to a unforgettable vibe. Amazing things happen when people join together for Travel and Music.
Ziro Music Festival, truly, is the journey of your life.