Nothing like Taalbelia exists in the current crop of music festivals- Siddhartha Chaturvedi, Event Crafter
Mandawa came alive in january this year as destination music festival Taalbelia pitched camp at the small Shekhavati town to mark its debut. Set in the backdrop of the royal castle, Taalbelia feautured three stages and more than thirty acts across four days at two breathtaking venues. Add some good food to the mix, few kid-friendly workshops and exciting excursions and we have the makings of a promising future. Siddhartha Chaturvedi, Director of Rajasthan's leading experiential agency Event Crafter, and the organizer of Taalbelia, gets candid about his brainchild.
1. How did you conceive the idea of Taalbelia? What elements of the festival differentiate it from the rest of the crop?
Taalbelia had been running in my mind since a very long time. It's a dream I've lived through my life as a music lover seeking distinct and unique musical experiences beyond boundaries of genres. The idea was to create a space that becomes a melting pot for good music, good food and love of music. Where no one judges you by your age, colour or background. A place where generation next can evolve their appetite for diverse musical experiences. Where you can go with your family and friends away to temporarily disconnect from the world and be in this fantasy land where only music and happiness rules. A place where you get the right healing which quality music provides. Where you can let yourself loose without being conscious of anything and anyone around. A place where you meet and experience the real funk and colors of Rajasthan. All this combined together, is the essence of this unique experience called 'Taalbelia'
There is nothing like Taalbelia which exists in the current crop of festivals. It is very different, diverse and intimate. There are no distances between the stages and people, you see musicians interacting with their audience on and off the stage. From Meera Bhajans in the morning to funky Rajasthani folk to easy acoustic melodies to indie jazz to blues, hip-hop to easy electronica to fusion rock to Indian classical, Sufi gospel to pop to techno, drum&bass to some heavy underground; there are no walls of divide at Taalbelia. People participate in some amazing earthy and pro-life workshops, experience horse riding and shooting, go to a breathtaking fresco trail through these amazing old Havelis telling you tales of those times of 17th century, when this small town was brimming with opulence and affluence. Taalbelia also boasts of being an eco-friendly festival where a great use of recyclable and reusable materials/props was made with a minimum usage of flex or plastic.
2. What did an average day at Taalbelia look like during the 4-days?
Day at Taalbelia used to begin at 9am with Meera Chowk coming alive with some amazing bhajans and classical recitals by some phenomenal talents like Sumitra, Sunita Amin and Sukriti Sen's velvet voice to spiritually brighten the day at the majestic 17th century Castle Mandawa. After this divine experience, post breakfast, Raisala, another stage at the central courtyard of the Castle is where the activities would buzz through the afternoon. Raisala would begin at 11 till 3pm hosting some incredible musical talents every hour. With it was 'Katla' , the curated shopping experience with a fantastic spread of lunch highlighting some amazing Shekhawati delicacies. Just adjacent to Raisala is another beautiful venue where all workshops would be conducted. There were workshops for all age groups and specially kids had a lot of fun around this area and they learned few things like trying their hands on 'morchang', 'Khartal', and 'Nagada'. Their was a famous Shekhawati miniature painting workshop everyday and also the age old art of making lac bangles which is very popular in this region. All these workshops helped everyone to connect so well with the roots of Mandawa, its culture and people.
The action used to move to the splendid venue of Desert Resort Mandawa post 4pm, which is just a km away, people walked by the lanes, drove bicycles, went on camel carts and used our shuttles to commute between the two venues. Desert Resort was where the magic used to scale up at one of the most chilled out stage named 'Dhobhi Ghat'. It was a stage to some great talent like Sid Vashi, Ankur and the Chalet Family, Reggae Rajhas, When Chai met toast etc. made people groove and dance all along. Post 7pm everyone would move to our last stage 'Big Ibhah' which was the main stage featuring some mind blowing performances and collaborations. the same stage used to get converted into a late night club post 11pm where every night Djs like Grain, Soundavtar, Dualist Inquiry, Arjun Vagale etc. would make sure people were dancing all night long.
3. How did Mandawa lend itself to the entire experience?
It was as if Mandawa was waiting for years, for Taalbelia to happen.The royal family opened their gates and hearts for the festival and so did the people of Mandawa. Every hotel room of the town was sold out due to the festival and was nice to see how locals were so happy to host everyone.
4. What part of the festival was most well received by the attendees?
By now you must have realised you cannot just pick a single thing, the entire experience from one morning to another was simply magical at Taalbelia
5. Any learnings from this time around that you wish to incorporate in the next edition?
We clearly see the huge potential of this festival becoming big. We will invest big in making a larger camping site to host more people.
6. The price point of Taalbelia is relatively on the steeper side. Did you see that as a deterrent or a strength?
Considering everything that it had to offer, not a single guest complained about the pricing of the festival. We will be looking at lower pricing next year on our camping options to involve youth in a bigger way for sure.
7. Destination weddings have always been popular, do you think destination festivals is the next big trend?
It makes so much more sense to club your travel and make it an experience you always wanted to be a part of. Destination festivals should only increase! :-)
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