India’s major psytrance festivals will be taking shape in its Northern valleys. So we’re here to help you plan the definite psytrance vacation!
Summer might be a scorching season for many Indians, but not so much for the psytrance lovers. Because it is the time that several psytrance festivals arise from hibernation and resume form in the mystically welcoming valleys of the North. For fans of psychedelic music, the Northern Himalayas are synonymous with India’s thriving hippie culture – a culture that finds itself a host at the various psytrance festivals that bring together some acclaimed underground producers of trance music.
The Sherp has been an avid follower of small, intimate psytrance gatherings that take place in the states bordered by the Himalayan mountains in the north of India. Most of the festivals lack even a website, and function purely on the goodwill and popularity they command in the psytrance circuit. We’ve chronicled the very best summer psytrance festivals that will leave you North-bound before, but in this piece, we are here to plan you a cumulative psytrance vacation!
1. Comfortably priced tickets
Psytrance festival regulars will vouch for this – the tickets for most well-known psytrance festivals from the North are extremely affordable, as most of them are rather intimately organised events. Himalayan Music Festival held at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh every May charges a mere INR 500 for each ticket. On the other hand, slightly more established festivals such as the very popular Parvati Peaking held at Parvati Valley and Universal Religion held in Kathmandu, Nepal can be slightly more expensive but still modestly affordable.
Most of these music festivals do not have a website or an online module to book a ticket from, and often take bookings from over a phone call or emails. Respect for these transactions can be best maintained by wiring money immediately. But most of these festivals have tickets on the spot that can be bought once you reach there.
2. Camping at a psytrance festival
Strong supporters of the hippie movement will attest for its strong community spirit. An idea that is fueled by camping at psytrance festivals. And you will be surprised just how cheap camping at a psytrance festival really can be. While some of them require you to pitch your own tent, with some other festivals tents can also be rented.
3. A psytrance festival is music and vacation rolled into one
Dharamshala, Parvati Valley, Kasol, Manali and Rishikesh. No, we’re not just rattling off the names of the most loved, frequented and aspired tourist destinations in North India. We’re also telling you that these naturally stunning places play host to the several psytrance festivals popular in the country. These destinations also command enviably cool weather in the summers, making them the ideal places to visit on such a climate.
When traveling to Himachal Pradesh, you can book a flight to any of the three airports situated in the state, at Kangra, Kullu Manali Airport and Shimla Airport, depending on its proximity to the festival. A one way ticket to the relatively more popular Kullu Manali Airport from Mumbai would cost you anywhere between INR 8,000 to 9,000. But we have a better idea.
4. Be a vagabond
While The Sherp recommends luxury in all its ways, we’re also genuine supporters of the wanderlust movement – choosing the grime of traveling to the comfort of a flight. There are two ways to do this. You can book one of the many trains that would take you to Delhi, if you live anywhere else, and book a bus, air-conditioned or otherwise to any of these destinations, as regular buses ply to and fro these destinations. You can also book a bus at any of the other cities linked to these spots such as Amritsar and Chandigarh.
5. Have a go at the National Capital
The best bet, should you be heading there from Delhi, would be to reach the capital city early in the morning, only to book a bus in the late evenings. Buses to Manali, Kasol and Dharamshala usually take about 10 hours to reach from Delhi, and you can spend your night in the bus. While air conditioned buses would cost you about INR 1000 and above, non A/C buses will cost you anywhere around INR 500.
6. A spiritual detour at Amritsar
Manali and Dharamshala are much closer to Amritsar than they are to Delhi, and will take only about 7 to 8 hours to reach. Most of these buses leave at about noon, so what you can do it reach Amritsar as early in the day as possible. In the few hours remaining for your bus ride, you can manage a go at the ethereal Golden Temple and historical locations such as the Jallianwala Bagh ground and the Wagah Border. If you, instead, reach Amritsar by night and miss the train, you can save on your expenditure by staying at the Golden Temple for the night, where modest rooms are available for as low as INR 200 and where food is generously free for all. But make sure to respect the sanctity of the location at all costs.
7. Accommodation is surprisingly modest.
Because this writer has spent a month in Dharamshala for under INR 5000, The Sherp can attest that comfortably inexpensive modes of accommodation are available at many of these destinations. As Lonely Planet would throw up, Manali and Dharamshala are famous for their family run guest houses that charge very little for their sombre offerings. In fact, it would be immensely possible to get yourself a good room for a night for under INR 500. While you can find such places off the internet, you can also choose to ‘wing it’ and come across attractive offers on foot!
8. Eat and drink away!
Food in the Northers region of India is famously variant – it includes the spicy culinary from Punjab, the Mughlai delicacies from Delhi and the flavourful offerings from the North East. And all this at very subdued rates. Alcohol too is more moderately priced than most places in the country. In fact, a day’s worth of eating can comfortably cost you lesser than INR 300, with the price of the alcohol depending on the amount you consume.
9. Stay a while
A trip to the North comes with many add-ons. Music, in the case of psytrance festivals, a community bond, beautiful weather and a lot of culture and beauty waiting to be a discovered. If you’re heading there for a three-day festival, stay for longer, and soak in the true Himalayan experience.
10. Overview –
We can confirm that a trip all the way to the North when visiting a psytrance festival could be achieved for comfortably under INR 10,000, including the tickets, travel and stay. So hop on for your psytrance adventure and make good of it!