By Natascha Shah
One of the headliners last year, Bint El funk from Israel
Picture yourself enjoying rice beer in a bamboo cup, swaying to happy melodies being played on a stage set atop a hill. A hill that overlooks undulating rice fields, with the blue sky above you and the breeze gently stroking your faceâ€¦this isn't a dream, it is what the afternoon stage at Ziro feels like. The four-day Ziro festival of Music takes place in Arunachal Pradesh, in the middle of the picturesque valley of Ziro, surrounded by the eastern Himalayan range
An unmatched experience
1. MUSIC: First of all, it offers a great blend of international and local talent. There will be local bands and musicians from North East India, folk artists from other parts of India along with international bands playing a mix of indie, alternative, folk, funk and fusion and sometimes electronic-across the two stages. The afternoon stage is more scenic and laid back, with softer melodies. Most of the headliners take the stage at night.
Atingkok from Imphal, Manipur
An Apatani woman
2. CULTURE: The first day of the festival sees cultural dance performances from some of the local tribes. As the performances begin only in the afternoon one can go fishing, cycling, hiking or simply walk to the near by Apatani villages. It is exciting to take a peak into the way of life of the tribal communities and the locals.
3. FOOD and DRINKS: There are food stalls selling local delicacies as well as fast food, which mostly is pork, chicken, rice, sausages, local burgers. Do try the drinks, that is the homemade fresh fruit wines and rice beer. You will find a well stocked bar inside and are not allowed to carry your drinks from outside.
4. LOCATION: The most stunning part- the picturesque surroundings, which makes this festival unique. Even if you aren't attending all the performances, you can find yourself a spot in the sun and soak in the views or read a book!
Working on the rice fields
Ziro needs a lot of advance planning when it comes to travelling, here is a guide:
Travelling to Ziro
The closest airports are Likabali and Tezpur however connectivity is erratic. It's best to fly to Guwahati (450 kms from Ziro) and proceed from there.
The closest railhead is Naharlagun (about 3 hours away from Ziro). There are overnight trains to Naharlagun from Guwahati.
Ziro is 450 kms from Guwahati (Assam), about 12 hours by road depending on the weather. There are two main entry points to Arunachal Pradesh - Bandardewa Gate and Kimin Gate. (Note: All non-residents need an Inner Line Permit to enter Arunachal Pradesh. Foreigners need a Protect Area Permit)
Inner line permit
All visitors to Arunachal Pradesh need a permit to enter the state. Indians need to get an Inner Line Permit (ILP) and foreigners need a Protected Area Permit (PAP). The ILP and PAP can be obtained at the Arunachal Pradhesh Tourism Offices in all major cities. The ILP can also be obtained online through www.arunachalilp.com or at the Arunachal Pradesh Tourism office in Guwahati Airport as well as Naharlagun Railway Station. For the ILP, you need a passport photo and ID (original and copies).
The weather is just about perfect with pleasant afternoons and cool nights. Pack a sweatshirt and an umbrella or rain jacket because traditionally it has always rained during the festival even if in short spurts. Gumboots definitely help.
1. Carry cash: The closest ATM is about half hour away from the festival.
2. Carry your raincoat and gumboots.
3. Carry torches and mosquito repellents
4. Carry all important medicines as it might be difficult to find a pharmacy at a walking distance of the Festival venue
5. Book the accommodation at least a month or more in advance, as it gets really difficult to find something at the last moment
If you are looking for a luxury stay then you wonâ€™t find it here. There are some great home stays and guesthouses in Hapoli. However we recommend camping, it adds to the whole experience! There are some good camping sites and travel companies available online, our pick is ChaloHoppo (http://www.chalohoppo.com).
For more information visit: zirofestival.com
This year the festival is taking place from 27th to 30th September and is being headlined by one of Japanâ€™s greatest rock acts - MONO - making their debut in India.
To attend the festival this year send in your queries at firstname.lastname@example.org