Rajasthan Melodies of a Mahal

Whisked away to a land filled with wondrous tunes, profound works of art, bright days of discovering new talents, and equally bright nights of stargazing; this is where Kavya Bali ended up in December 2016. This week, You & I joins the young stylist as she reminisces about the time she spent at the Magnetic Fields Festival in Rajasthan, enjoying a wide variety of music, cuisines, nomadic lifestyles, and so much more.

Sometimes, all it takes is to miss out on a performance by a favourite artist, and then there’s no way it’ll happen again. “I first came across this music festival when I heard that Nicholson, one of my favourite indie artists from Mumbai, had performed at Magnetic Fields,” said Kavya. “I also kept hearing a lot about it from my friends who had been there as well.” That was the moment she decided she wouldn’t miss out on this festival again, and after persuading her friends for a bit, the plan was made.


A musical initiative that began in 2013, the Magnetic Fields Festival is set up right in the heart of the Rajasthani desert in the Alsisar Mahal, a renovated and refurbished addition to the Alsisar Group of Hotels. Previously, it had been the residence of the Thakur of Alsisar. The 2016 event was held from December 9 -11, and this time, between enjoying a wide array of cultural programmes, experiencing local and international music, treasure hunts, yoga classes, and many other activities, the guests were definitely spoiled for choice.

“As it was a big gang of friends that accompanied me on this trip, it was madness from the get go!” shared Kavya. Choosing to completely immerse themselves in the experience, Kavya and her friends set up camp in the Bedouin tent village, located close to the palace’s towering structure.  Implementing the best of the old world and new, these luxury tents accommodated two to three guests, and had their own private en-suite bathrooms.


“Though I did want to extend my trip to explore more of Rajasthan, it unfortunately didn’t pan out,” said Kavya. “But our stay on the palace grounds during the performances and other activities made sure that we didn’t need to go anywhere else,” she added. Recollecting her time at the festival, she added, “I remember exploring the mahal and its dungeons; absorbing the rich history of the venue was truly breath-taking. At night, the whole palace would light up for the festival and it was a magnificent sight to see it come alive.”


Apart from all the food stalls that made delicious cuisine, beautiful art pieces, quaint workshops, and shops that offered everything from mehendi to collectible merchandise, it was the musical experience that everyone had turned up for. “Musical artists from different parts of the world came in to showcase their work, so we did enjoy some brilliant pieces,” said Kavya.


The talented yet somewhat underground artists that performed at the festival included Amsterdam-based Yuri Boselie aka Cinnaman, the Dutch DJ known for blending only the best of House, Hip-Hop, and Garage styles; Flako from Berlin, who specialises in live instrumentation, synthesisers, and even his own voice for creating unique compositions; Dakta Dub from Hyderabad, who loves weaving the different sounds of dub, reggae, dubstep and jazz; New Delhi’s Prateek Kuhaad and his soulful and folksy melodies; and Sanaya Ardeshir, aka Sandunes, whose electronica renditions seamlessly blend simple tunes and heavy synth-work.


Asked to pick out the most special moment from her getaway, the combination of the music and light installation instantly stood out for Kavya. “If I had to recommend this trip to people, I would focus on the beautiful emotion that was felt among all who were present, the venue itself, the music which transformed from foot-tapping dance numbers, to soul-stirring tunes, and even local Rajasthani folk songs,” she remembered.


With such a jam-packed line-up, Kavya couldn’t help but miss out on a few performances. Nevertheless, it gives her the opportunity to come back for more, and even explore the vibrant state on her next visit. In the end, what really struck her about the entire weekend was the closeness felt among all the attendees – including the guests, staff, and even the artists. “It was the feeling of unity and love that everyone took away from this festival experience.”              – as told to Roshni