REVIEW: Taalbelia Thrilled And Awed Through Its Second Edition In Its Desert Oasis Charm! The Sherp January 2, 2018 FS Features, Reviews About 750 miles from here, an echo of mirth, music, oneness and love came forth; it all owed itself to Taalbelia. Marked in time not so long ago, the Sherp was witness to something truly magical. Something so pure in its form; stripped bare of all the modern intricacies, and something so binding that the 1000 odd audience in attendance would leave the place spellbound, only to tell stories of the experience for days to come. Taalbelia, regarded until now as India’s newest destination festival, managed to garner and hold an audience in awe for the 3 day duration of the festival. Held in the Shekhawati region of Mandawa, Rajasthan, from 23-25th December, 2017, Taalbelia was a multi-genre, multi-format festival in the true sense. With a carefully curated itinerary each day that ensured that there wasn’t a minute for boredom, the festival succeeded in creating its mark as one of India’s premier music/destination festivals. What was there to witness? Not much – just a whole lot of music, art, crafts, heritage, food, palatial environs, workshops, and the opportunity to meet many like minded people that you could share the experience with! Getting There Making his way from Mumbai, the Sherp landed in Jaipur on a colder than accustomed to morning, from where he was welcomed and driven away to the venue which was a 3 hour drive away. A little shut-eye, a little sight-seeing and the Sherp was excited to see what the next 3 days had in store. Itinerary below: A Glimpse Of The Venue View this post on Instagram A walk through #CastleMandawaHotel on Day 2 of @taalbeliafestival ! . . . #Taalbelia #23to25thDec #Mandawa #MusicFestival #3Days #4Stages #Multigenre #Music #Workshops #Adventure #GourmetDelight #Shopping #Day2 A post shared by SherpaLand (@sherpa.land) on Dec 24, 2017 at 12:22am PST The fresco town of Mandawa holds the ruins and structures of many forts and mansions, one of which is the Castle Mandawa Hotel. The locale isn’t unfamiliar to films, with as many films as PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, among others, having shot quite a few scenes here. A walk through the Castle itself transported one to an aphrodisiac dreamland, unreal to the normal world. The Stages Meera Chowk Risala Dhobi Ghat Big Ibhah The second edition of Taalbelia had much to offer – 4 hosted stages – Risala, Meera Chowk, Dhobi Ghat and Big Ibhah – spread across 2 lush venues, complete with music, workshops, activities and much more. The Castle Mandawa Hotel and The Desort Resort each hosted two stages. The Desort Resort was host to the after-dark programming, and had performances scheduled at the Dhobi Ghat stage and the Big Ibhah stage across all 3 days. Efficiently run shuttle vehicles ensured that each one of the guests could commute between venues, which was a 10 minute drive away, without any hassle and didn’t miss out on any of the performances. Performances The highlight of Taalbelia was its mixed bag selection of acts and performances. Everything from Hip Hop, Rap, Classical, Rock, Folk, Fusion, and Electronic music found its way in the delectable mix of performances at Taalbelia. The acts sure delivered in their prowess and set against the desert background made for an ethereal sight. Day 1 kicked off at the Dhobi Ghat stage, at The Desert Resort, with Bhanwari Devi delivering a mellifluous set before Mumbai’s own, Ankur & The Ghalat Family took to the stage to belt out some of their popular numbers that had the crowd singing along. View this post on Instagram @ankurtewari & #theghalatfamily getting the crowd pumped up at @taalbeliafestival with their song, "Koi Aur Hai"! . . . #Taalbelia #23to25thDec #Mandawa #MusicFestival #3Days #4Stages #Multigenre #Music #Workshops #Adventure #GourmetDelight #Shopping A post shared by SherpaLand (@sherpa.land) on Dec 23, 2017 at 6:17am PST A fervent set later, the Taalbelists made their way to the main stage, Big Ibhah, where the rest of the night winded out to the energetic music. Popular Indie rock act, Indus Creed were welcomed with a raucous uproar as they almost immediately broke out into a synchronized full volume song before breaking it down with ballads such as “Fireflies”, “Lonely Child“, and more. pic.twitter.com/ucAs0Z6Wpk — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 The Indie act was joined by a popular rock figure, “Grandpa Hot Pants” – Lou Majaw, who surprised us as soon as he came on stage clad only in a pair of shorts and a sleeveless tee, despite the biting cold! The combined act went on to deliver quite a stunning performance before Prem Joshua & Band, joined by Mahesh Vinayakram, took over the stage with their special soul-searching, fusion sounds. pic.twitter.com/m6a8acpL96 — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 The late night programming resounded with the electronic sets of Malfnktion and Sound Avtar, who ensured the crowd partied well into the wee hours on Day 1. Refueled by an early breakfast on Day 2, the Sherp was beckoned to the Meera Chowk stage, spellbinding in its simplistic setting, where Sumitra Devi rendered her beautiful voice to the waking attendees. The afternoon stage, Risala, had everyone on their feet with performances by Filter Coffee, Rapperiya Baalam, and Namit Das who was joined by Anurag Shanker. Kids, friends, families, all had their spirits elated as the warm afternoon rang with the sound of music. Day 2 featured a long list of stellar acts over at the Dhobi Ghat and Big Ibhah stage. Sawan Khan Manganiyar and Monica Dogra featured on the Dhobi Ghat stage, where Monica Dogra had something special for her fans with a never heard before set. Moving to the main stage the energy was high in anticipation for four remarkable performances by Maati Baani Collective joined by Mooralala, Grain (Live) featuring special collaborators, Avantika Bakshi and MojoJojo. Gaurav Raina (one half of Midival Punditz) unleashed the sounds of his solo project, Grain (Live), featuring Komorebi and Monica Dogra, among others. pic.twitter.com/yy3gT2WKJb — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 Avantika Bakshi came on unfazed by the stellar performance before her, only to deliver a masterful techno/EDM set that had everyone grooving on the cold night. Closing Day 2, MojoJojo had the energy up with his Drum and Bass set. pic.twitter.com/CqcvBgxUhX — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 Rising on Day 3 was a wake-up call met with anxiety from realizing that this paradise would soon be a memory of a weekend gone. With a renewed enthusiasm to experience as much on the final day, the Sherp indulged in the music of Meghwals at Meera Chowk before catching Mooralala and Kommune at the Risala stage in the afternoon. An addition to the lineup had us lucky enough to witness the spectacular set of Shadow and Light. In between sets a number of children accompanied by their parents made their way to the workshops by the beautiful pool where they could learn Kite Making, Lac Bangle Making, Miniature Painting and also partake in the Morchang & Kartaal workshop, and the Nagara workshop. At the Desert Resort, one could also indulge in shooting at the shooting range, and horse riding to get a sense of adventure in the rustic setting of Rajasthan. Day 3 at Desert Resort was amped up with Anand Bhaskar Collective taking over the Dhobi Ghat stage to get the crowd croonin’ to some of their hits like “Hey Ram”, “Radhe” and a number of popular Bollywood numbers. The electro/funk fusion of Madboy/Mink came on and put up a fun and cheery performance with Saba Azad displaying a bit of theatrical nuances in the performance. All anticipation was upon the main act of the night, Mohit Chauhan, who came on after a very heritage binding set by Desert Symphony. pic.twitter.com/XWPZTerGWj — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 Mohit Chauhan put on a supreme performance with acoustic renditions of some of his most popular ballads and songs such as “Pee Loon”, “Tum Se Hi”, and more. The rest of the night featured some of India’s most electrifying and exciting acts such as Reggae Rajahs, Rajakumari and Su Real. Reggae Rajahs brought the “riddim” and spirit of Jamaica to Taalbelia, and had everyone jumping to the reggae music and dance beats. One of India’s hottest Hip Hop acts, straight from LA, Rajakumari packed a punch in her performance and even brought the Gully Gang rhythm to the stage on her song “City Slums” ft. DIVINE. Putting the Taalbelia spirit to rest, Su Real whipped out a truly special electro set that commemorate the night in great style. pic.twitter.com/6I6W27U9Tj — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 As the dawn broke out the next day it was time to prep up and bid our farewell to a festival that enchanted and inspired over the 3 days in a fabulous setting, but not before a joyous performance by Tera Tali at Meera Chowk. Food & Beverages A big part of the experience at Taalbelia was the wide selection of some of the best food you’ll ever taste. The Gourmet selection had everything from Asian, Mughlai, Continental, Italian, and the local special Shekhawati cuisine. A special Shekhawati thaal loaded with sweets, savouries, dals, and so much more, had everyone drooling like never before! Needless to say, the Sherp was well fed, content and may have even gained a few pounds owing to the culinary goodness at Taalbelia! Food and drinks were to be bought against the exchange of coupons at the bars and buffet style food zones. Both areas had a generously flowing crowd owing to the biting cold, so guests did well to keep themselves fueled and filled to go through each day. Mentions While the performances had us stunned and occupied on all 3 days, there was much more to experience at Taalbelia. Informative and skilful workshops, fresco trails that informed us a bit more about the locality of Mandawa and the inspiring history to its many forts and princely castles, and the wonderful collection of fashionable clothes, jewellery, accessories, etc, at a pop-up curated by Anantaya were definite crowd pullers and ensured an enjoyable experience for everyone. The Master of Ceremonies, the talented and cheerful, Dhruv Vishvanath, did a commendable job in keeping the crowd entertained and excited throughout the festival. He even went on to dabble in his forte for a brief set where the crowd was privy to witness the musical avatar of one of India’s most talented percussion guitarists. pic.twitter.com/UvOwPNXObO — Rohit Mehra (@thejunkstory) December 31, 2017 In its second edition, Taalbelia did a monumental job in organizing and marking itself as one of India’s premier destination festivals to look out for. The event organized by Eventcrafter and co-hosted by the royal family of Mandawa shall have many such editions in the future as they keep growing and bettering with each year, and the Sherp hopes to be a part of every single one of them! Until then, the Sherp shall reminisce the experience over a cup of coffee each day. 😉 Overall, the Sherp rates Taalbelia 7/10! 🙂 Follow Taalbelia on Facebook here, and as always, stay tuned to the Sherp for more updates!