Lose yourself in the
strains of folk music and wildlife at the Ranthambore Festival starting January
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With Delhi gripped by an unbearable cold wave, the weekend starting from January 27th may be a good time to check into Nahargarh Palace in Rajasthan for a few days filled with the strains of folk music, moonlit performances by music and dance luminaries, an open-air wildlife film festival on a giant screen, tiger safaris, photography and music workshops, wellness camps and pop-up souk and more, set against the backdrop of the breathtaking Ranthambore National Park.

The Ranthambore Festival, a non-profit initiative of Puqaar Foundation is a festival of preservation and awareness. It seeks to provide a platform to artists, conservationists, writers and thinkers to initiate a discourse on India's musical and environmental past, present and future. It is the first of its kind in India and the best thing about it? The festival is free to attend!

Amidst the myriads of performances lined up for the weekend one of the highlights of the festival will be a performance by 35 handpicked Rajasthani folk musicians who were discovered after travelling to all corners of the state.

The music programming has been curated by sufi singer Ustad Ma Zila Khan who will be performing alongside dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai, world music and folk act Maati Baani and classical pianist Karl Lutchmayer.

In addition, the festival includes names like Ustaad Hakim Khan, who at 71 is one of the last kamaicha players in the world – not to mention, among the most prolific. His 400-year-old instrument is fashioned simply, from mango tree wood and goat leather, yet capable of a rich and complex depth of sound, delivering six stunning raags: suhav, sorat, sarang, maru, dhani and gund malhar. While the maestro lives a humble life in Hadwa today, he once resided in Paris and travelled the globe.

There's Nagga Khan, a Mirasi singer, who at 77 years, has been to 40 different countries, worked with luminaries like Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and played at prestigious schools like the Brooklyn Academy of Music. For two years, he even taught and played in Paris but now lives a quiet existence in Barmer.

Also, there is Kailash Dan, a Dingal poet who lives in Jhafli Kala, and is one of the few remaining people to speak the dialect. One of the desert’s many indigenous languages, Dingal poetry was originally used to increase the morale of Rajput armies by paying homage to great battles and war heroes of yesteryear.

But if folk and classical music doesn't really open the floodgates of your emotions, there will be wildlife film screenings curated by India's leading environmental and wildlife forum, CMS Vatavaran on a giant screen set against the backdrop of the forest along with a chance to interact with filmmakers and conservationists like Saravana Kumar, Kartick Satyanarayan, Dharmendra Khandal, Shekar Dattari and more. Some of the country's most respected and active conservationists come together January 27-29 to talk about issues that affect wildlife and how wildlife conservation can be made more inclusive and fun.

There will be plenty more in store to keep you busy - a food festival, guided drum circles, hot air balloon rides, heritage walks, sound and music workshops, yoga and meditation workshops and a pop-up souk that will showcase a host of eclectic, homegrown lifestyle brands.

The festival is also the first time BookASmile, ticketing upstart BookMyShow’s charity initiative will be extending its support to a music festival. Farzana Cama Balpande, head of BookASmile says, “Ranthambore Festival is a unique platform bringing together a community of enthusiasts who believe that art, music, culture, wildlife and heritage are of critical importance. This is where BookASmile identified with them and is delighted to extend its support to this initiative. We believe that this festival has the ability to initiate and drive relevant as well as interesting conversations that will positively impact our future.”

While the festival is free for all to attend, for a more immersive experience the residential all-access pass is up for grabs for Rs 12,000 which includes stay for three days, reserved seating, exclusive access to the inner palace, exclusive concerts, drum circles and heritage walks. However, there are a variety of other accommodation options available that meet all budget requirements. Get your tickets booked from BookMyShow here .