In the past couple of weeks, I’ve driven down the world’s highest motorable road, gazed upon the world’s second highest mountain, slept in the world’s highest monastery and visited the world’s highest village. I’m on my way to the Ladakh Confluence, a four-day music festival (28-31 August) that will be held 8km downhill from Leh at Choglamsar, on the banks of the Indus river in Ladakh.
New beats: The venue, Choglamsar, near Leh; (left) Talvin Singh will perform at the festival.
The Confluence is the first of its kind music event in India. You won’t find popular music here. There is no electronica, pop or rock. Festival organizer Swaati Langeh describes the music as “pretty world, lots of folk, some mix of classical music. You can’t classify it”. If you’re not into this music, you may not have heard a lot of it.
Langeh says they are aiming for the festival to be “huge and expansive”. There will be one main stage, an acoustic stage, a drum circle and workshop area where participants can learn vocal gymnastics from the Austrian beatbox group Bauchklang or Thangka from the artists. Some of the locals will be giving lessons in chang brewing and archery.
The line-up consists of bands such as Terrakota from Portugal and contemporary folk music band Rajasthan Roots, and musicians such as Talvin Singh and Rahul Sharma. Also on the list of those who will be performing are Shaa’ir + Func, Rodney Branigan, Davide Swarup and Gateways. The common chord between these groups is percussion.
An assortment of music enthusiasts from around the world are coming. There will be artists, writers, anthropologists, adventurers, Buddhist scholars, eco-warriors and corporate executives.
Puneet Sahani, a scientist-turned-traveller from Spain, says, “I want to be there because of the atmosphere! I’ve been to the boom festival in Portugal, and this is Ladakh, which is more beautiful! I hope I meet some interesting people there.” Organizers expect 2,000-3,000 people to attend the first edition. “It’s as cosmopolitan and as Ladakhi as possible!” Langeh says.
If there’s one thing that’s prohibitive, it’s the cost of attending the festival. The Rs5,000 pass for four days is probably the least of your expenses. Cost of accommodation is likely to be higher than usual because of the rush. The Confluence website estimates that you’ll need around Rs25,000 for travel, food and lodging and the four-day pass.
For the schedule, tickets and information on hotels and travel, visit theconfluence
Getting there: The 1,100km Delhi-Ladakh journey is a favoured one with driving enthusiasts. There are multiple places you can stop on the way, but the popular halts are Manali, Jispa or Keylong and Sarchu or Pang.
Jet and Kingfisher Red fly from Delhi to Leh daily. Round-trip fares are Rs10,000-13,000.
Where to stay: The Royal Palace, located near the main market in Leh, offers double rooms for upwards of Rs2,500. Close to the market are Hotel Dragon (rooms upwards of Rs3,000) and Hotel Khanglachan (double room is around Rs2,200). If you are on a budget, try Oriental Guest House (www.orientalguesthouse.com), which has doubles upwards of Rs1,100.