The quaint Shekhawati town came alive with the sounds of Taalbelia from 26th to 29th of January. 

The heritage town of Mandawa showed visitors that it could host much more than just frescos and tales of a regal era gone by. Between 26th to 29th of January, Taalbelia brought an exciting mix of world class music, art and culture to its debut edition. The fully sold-out four-day long multi-format festival, with 4 stages and more than 30 acts displaying their talents across different artistic fields, was a big hit with attendees. Not to mention, an array of immersive experiences ensured that attendees got the complete royal festival ordeal – right from adventure activities to gastronomic delights laid out for their indulgence.

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Shivarjun Mandawa, Director – Castle Mandawa Resorts said, “Our family has patronised the art, music and traditions of Shekhawati since time immemorial and being a part of the royal Mandawa tradition the onus rested on us to revive the glory of our land. We had been mulling over the possibilities to achieve the same and that’s when we came through the concept of Taalbelia and we decided to bring alive this concept which not only marks a distinct celebration of our city but also provides international exposure to our artists and opens various opportunities for our local community to benefit and enrich itself. We would like to thank everyone who came for giving Taalbelia their love and support and for encouraging our initiative to revive the glorious days of our land.”

Siddhartha Chaturvedi, Festival Curator, CEO, Event Crafter, said, “Taalbelia is a dream I’ve lived through my life as a music lover who have has always been on the look-out for distinct and unique musical experiences beyond the boundaries of genres. I’ve always wanted to create a space that stands as the meeting point for good music and everyone who is a universal music lover. It was this very dream that inspired me to put together this unique experience called ‘Taalbelia’. And, it would not have been such a wonderful experience had it not been hosted at this magical town of Mandawa between these two wonderful properties of Castle Mandawa and Desert Resort Mandawa.”

The round-the-clock festival was spread across 3 nights and 4 days at 2 breathtaking venues that also served as the residence to festival goers who were lucky to lock down on the accommodation early enough. Castle Mandawa and Desert Resort were in such high demand, that by the second day they sold out completely. The Luxury Swiss Tents were an equal delight!

An array of artists were present to entertain the festival attendees with a number of genres being covered by the likes of Grammy winners Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, George Brooks and India’s favourite jazz band – Soulmate. Other acts included Ankur & Ghalat Family, Arjun Vagale, Prateek Kuhad, Dhruv Vishwanath, Bhanwari Devi, Divine, Dualist Inquiry, Prem Joshua and Band, Rajasthan’s Josh Group, Reggae Rajahs, DJ Ritviz, Shadow & Light, Sid Vashi, Sahej Bakshi, Ghazi Khan & Anwar Khan, Sound Avatar and When Chai Met Toast.

The stages were equally memorable, with Meera Chowk luring early risers in it’s morning sessions, Risala taking over music duties in the afternoon, Dhobi Ghat enchanting audiences at sundown and The Big Ibhah setting the mood at night. The stages hosted different genres of contemporary, classical and folk music and created an atmosphere that music lovers would kill to experience every day of their lives.

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The festival saw 3 magical collaborations with Indian Ocean joining Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and George Brooks while the impromptu collaboration between Hari and Sukhmani and Rajasthan Josh’s Chugge Khan created magic twice! Khan joined them on Day 2 at the Big Ibhah and the festival ended with them performing a brilliant jugalbandi at Risala.

The Pro-Life workshops, that included nagada playing, a detailed lesson on Lac bangle making and much more, kept audiences busy while teaching them something new. Kids got to be a part of some interesting activities as well and were taught the art of miniature painting along with kite-making.

The Katla Bazaar, hosted by AnanTaya, displayed Taalbelia merchandise as well as other home and travel accessories. Stationary, hand-block printed garments, jewellery, festive bags, handcrafted mojaris were perfect as a reminder of the beautiful festival. A special listening booth was stationed at the venue with Taalbelia-themed headphones streaming music from all the performing artists and a separate section sold their music.

But the winner at the festival was the mouth-watering Shekhawati cuisine that brought food and non-food lovers to rave about it’s delicious flavours and authentic taste. Seasonal specials made from gram flour, dry vegetables, bajra and corn, hot raab along with other traditional favourites appeasing vegetarian and non-vegetarian palettes, were the toast of the festival.

In its debut edition, Taalbelia gave attendees the regal experience they were expecting from the festival and much more. Talk about the first long-weekend of the year well spent. We’re sure people are already eagerly waiting the next edition.

(All images courtesy – Taalbelia)