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Festival of the Month: Rajasthan International Folk Festival

Musicians at Mehrangarh Fort
Image courtesy: Kavi Bhansali/Jodhpur RIFF

Dates: 8–12 October

For many travellers, Rajasthan best sums up the Indian travelscape – colours, warm hospitality, food that teases the palate, and larger-than-life forts and palaces that transport you to another world. When this set-up becomes the backdrop of one of the most intriguing festivals of the state, Rajasthan International Folk Festival, you know it’s an event that cannot be missed. If Sir Mick Jagger can make it, so can you. In case you didn’t know, the lead singer of the rock group Rolling Stones is a patron of the festival and so is Maharaja Gaj Singh of Marwar.

International artists come together with Rajasthani musicians
Image courtesy: Kavi Bhansali/Jodhpur RIFF

This is India’s leading folk music festival where international artists come together with Rajasthani coterie of musicians. It is not uncommon to hear a folk instrument in perfect harmony with Gospel music or other innovative collaborations. These five days in October bring together more than 150 musicians and performing artists to celebrate Rajasthan’s vibrant musical heritage. The city of Jodhpur, particularly the Mehrangarh Fort becomes the stage for the festival with venues popping up in areas easily accessible to public.

The city wakes up to a musical dawn and twilight carries with it sounds from different parts of the world. The venues include the city’s Clock Tower, Jaswant Thada, Chokelao Bagh, Srinagar Chowk, Chokelao Mahal and the old Zenana courtyard. The festival opens with a traditional Algoza party with male dancers and Jumma Khan and his bhapang group and includes names like the Meghwal community. The more exclusive shows can be attended by buying passes that are now available at

People from across the country come for the festival
Image courtesy: Kavi Bhansali/Jodhpur RIFF

We recommend you stay close to Mehrangarh Fort so you don’t waste too much time trying to reach the venue. Here are some options:

Haveli Inn Pal: A private heritage residence converted into a cosy inn, Haveli Inn Pal is just 2 km from the fort. In fact some of the rooms provide a great view of the fort. The guesthouse is close to the Clock Tower, which is one of the venues of the festival. When you take a break from the festival, park yourself on the rooftop restaurant for a brilliant view of the city.
Phone: 0291 2612519;; opposite Lake Gulab Sagar, near Clock Tower; double room: Rs. 2550 – 3250 per night.

The Ajit Bhawan: You might have to dig a little deeper into your pocket, but it’s worth every rupee spent. The Ajit Bhawan complements the spirit of Rajasthan thanks to its heritage rooms. It’s just 4.5 km away from the festival venue, but you might have trouble tearing yourself away from the pool, gym and excellent hospitality.
Phone: 0291 2511410;; Circuit House Road; double room: Rs 13,000 for two nights

Getting There: Jodhpur airport, just 5km from the city centre, has direct flights to New Delhi and Mumbai. Overnight trains from all major cities and metros ply to the city. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation runs buses from New Delhi and other places in Rajasthan. Cabs are also an option.

AUTHOR'S BIO: With a penchant for travelling ‘ungoogled’, Supriya has willingly got lost a number of times in the most obscure places of India for the last 8 years. She lives on a healthy diet of anecdotes and tea with auto drivers, co-passengers and locals! Supriya currently runs a Bangalore based travel-photography outfit called Photography Onthemove and writes regular features for India and International travel publications.More on: