Ziro Festival of Music 2018 

Photo of Ziro Festival of Music 2018  1/3 by Prakriti Varshney

What is Ziro Valley

Home to the Apatani Tribe, Ziro Valley is a quaint town located in Arunachal Pradesh and is easily accessible from Guwahati. Here, the people, villages, traditions, farming techniques, beliefs, and possibly everything is so unique that it will take ages for one to understand and get comfortable with. The traditional houses amongst the paddy fields are the best part of Ziro Valley. It is in the most beautiful places I have been to in my life.

What is Ziro Festival of Music

The Ziro Festival of Music is an outdoor festival held in the Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh. It is a festival of music, art, culture and happiness. People from different parts of the country, as well as the world, come and enjoy the enigma of Ziro and spend quality time in hills with good music.

How to reach Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh

The easiest mode to reach Ziro (Arunachal) is to fly to Guwahati (Assam) then take a train to Naharlagun (Arunachal).

From Naharlagun, Ziro is about 100 km and the journey takes 4-5 hours by shared taxi depending on the weather. Shared taxi charges range from INR 300-400 per seat.

(Note: All non-residents need an Inner Line Permit (you can apply online) to enter Arunachal Pradesh. Foreigners need a Protect Area Permit)

What is the entry fee for the 4-day fest

Entry fee changes every year accordingly. This year, the charge was INR 2000 per day (just entry). For stay, there are various camps nearby that you can book as you reach the venue.

My Experience of ZFM 2018

I arrived in Ziro on Sep 30th, 2018 which was the last day of the music festival. I bought the ticket which appeared too costly for me as I am forever a shoe-string budget traveller. After paying 2K, I had set my hopes high.

The Festival is managed by the locals, performers come from the nearby region, yet it felt like any of the Metropolitan's Music Festival. Maybe because no regional music was played, I don't know. People around me were all high - mountains, weed and reggae music was sufficient for them. But I wanted to hear something regional, something that may reflect the culture of the Northeast, and so I was disappointed.

Yes, the festival brings tourism to the state and helps to flourish the life of people here. It also provides a platform for independent artists and is a good way of meeting people from all walks of life. But my take is, that if some regional uniqueness is reflected in the festival, it will help the attendees associate better with the place they are at.

Another thought jumps in my mind that maybe the other days were good (with some regional touch) and I was unfortunate enough not to have attended them.

My experience of Ziro Valley

After the music festival, I stayed in Ziro Valley for a week and can't put in words how exhilarating the experience was!

I strolled around from village to village, had a few places in mind to visit like Old Ziro, Don Ponto, Shiv Linga, Fish Farms, Museum and trekking in Talley Valley. Mostly, hitchhiking to the places or going along with a few friends. Only, I couldn't make it to Talley Valley since it wasn't advised to go alone.

Other than that I had never-ending conversations with the people of Ziro. My most cherished moments would remain the tête-à-tête with the Apatani Women, whom I dearly called Ama. I indulged in the harvest of paddy fields with them. Talked about their life, history and everything that belonged to this beautiful valley. I even asked them if they ever went to ZFM, to which I always got the same answer, No. But why?

Locals on ZFM

I asked the locals why they never attended the festival and every answer was the same - festival is for young people to enjoy, party, hang out, drink and smoke.

Also, I had opted for a homestay close to the venue, so asked the owners if they liked the days of ZFM. A crisp account of a local's take on the festival is as mentioned:-

Tourism Boost - The music festival brings many tourists to the region but the boost lasts merely for 4 or 5 days and its aftermath for months. Land Pollution - People who visit Ziro for the festival always leave more than footprints. The trash and mess spread across the valley have a long-lasting impact on the environment and lives of the locals. Responsible Tourism - Organizers have been trying to drive tourism to Ziro through ZFM, but it is not responsible tourism. It isn't oriented towards maintaining the aura and beauty of the Valley.

And so my review (on Instagram) of the festival wasn't charming and ecstatic enough to make you pack your bags!

I have visited Ziro in the best and the worst form. I hope people coming here take some responsibility and avoid leaving their carbon footprints. That's the only way Ziro can be cherished forever and not be wasted within a few years.

Also, if you plan to attend the ZFM next year, I urge to you spend a few days with the locals and partake in farming methods or maybe sing, dance and cook with them. You'll create a memory of a lifetime for yourself.

Things to keep in mind when you attend ZFM

Leave No Trash - It is a well known saying, "Take only memories, leave only footprints." Kindly imply that. Not only in Ziro, but anywhere you visit. Take your trash along with you and avoid littering as much as possible. Cig Butts - All the smoke-loving people, I request you not to leave your cig waste behind at the festival site. You enjoy and smoke up, good for you, but don't put nature in trouble for it is a hazard to the environment. The Local Way - Do remember to get a taste of the life of Apatani Tribe before you pack your bags and run back to the city life. Walk the deserted roads, talk to the limited number of people you come across, learn about the days gone by, the ways of smiling through the odds - there is just so much you can do!! Leave No Carbon Footprints - As mentioned above, leave only footprints but make sure no Carbon Footprint, i.e. avoid using CO2 emitting appliances/commodities as much as possible. Let the valley be as pristine as it is before the commercial invasion.

Now, if I weigh the good and the bad, the good prevails and I'd never think twice before packing my bag and leaving for Ziro. The place & people have given me so many memories. ????

Photo of Ziro Festival of Music 2018  2/3 by Prakriti Varshney
Photo of Ziro Festival of Music 2018  3/3 by Prakriti Varshney

I hope this blog helps you plan your trip in the best way possible. Please shoot your queries at itisinthename@gmail.com or leave a comment. I'll try responding at the earliest.

This post was originally published on It Is In The Name.