Backpacking,  Travel

Ziro festival of Music: Our experience at ZFM 2018

Have you heard of Ziro before?? Not the one Aryabhatta discovered, that is zero, Duhh!

If you have, Congratulations! you have amazing general knowledge. If not, No worries! We were also unaware of the term before July 2018.

Let us begin with what is Ziro!

Ziro is one of the oldest town in lower Subansari district of Arunachal Pradesh , India. With pine clad hills, and rice fields, Ziro is home to Apatani tribe. The otherwise quiet valley lights up and echoes with sounds of laughter and music in month of September. In this month it hosts a four day outdoor music festival known as Ziro Festival of Music.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Ziro in its full glory

Ziro Festival of Music

Founded by Bobby Hano and ‘Menwhopause’ guitarist Anup Kutty in 2012, Ziro Music Festival showcase independent music scene in India. This fest is a beautiful amalgamation of culture, music and nature hosted by Apatani people of Ziro.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Band named Featherheads performing at Ziro Music Festival

The festival duration is of four days, this year it was on 27-30 September. The artists who graced the stage this year were Sukkanya Ramgopal (first woman ghatam artist in India), MONO (Japanese instrumental band), Prabh Deep, Nubya Gracia, Func, Avora Records, Mathias Durand, Ditty, Oorali, Sam Paa, Colored Keys, Search N Found, Small Talk, Comorebi, to name a few.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro , Arunachal Pradesh
Music band Oorali performing on day 4, Ziro Music Festival

This year the Ziro music festival pledged for zero waste and took few important steps to make it possible, like: organizers provided bag to collect trash generated by each individuals, water dispensers were available to refill reusable bottles, food stalls were serving in biodegradable serve wares, and stalls were serving drinks in bamboo mug etc.

What to expect

To be honest this festival is not the grandest, largest or any other fancy adjective one looks for! It’s USP is its venue, with view of paddy fields and pine clad hills, the major part of decor is taken care by nature itself.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro , Arunachal Pradesh
Beautiful view of valley from Arena, Ziro Music Festival

This year owing to zero waste, the decoration was minimal and bamboo was ubiquitous. The bamboo platforms made on the hills onlooking valley were best spots to witness sunsets. There were two stages, one for day performance (untill 5 p.m.) and the other for night performances.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Festival Arena, Ziro Music Festival

The performances vary from from local music to EDM, rap, jazz, rock, you name it! And as the fest mainly features fresh music, the line up is not the deciding factor. But be ready to get surprised, as some of the performances will completely blow your mind. North-East has very rich art and music culture to offer, which can be experienced up-close through the medium of this fest.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro , Arunachal Pradesh
Komorebi performing on Day 4, Ziro Music Festival

The food stalls and shops in festival arena serve local dishes, drinks and souvenirs. Not just the fest arena but the whole place is heaven for foodies especially for non-vegetarians.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
series of food stalls at Ziro Music Festival

However, Our advice is to eat just outside the fest gate as it will be way cheaper than the former. Do not miss local rice beer(Apong) and different flavours of wine especially Kiwi and pineapple.

Ziro Music Festival, Ziro , Arunachal Pradesh
Relishing on local food

Overall the festival is a new experience all together and different from other music fests in so many ways. If you are not someone who looks for famous artists in line up and is open to all kinds of music this fest is for you!

The tickets for the Ziro festival can be bought directly from their official site

Getting there

Now this is the hardest part of attending the festival, but trust us once you reach Ziro, you will realize it’s totally worth the pain!

By Air

Although the nearest airports are Lilabari Airport in North Lakhimpur and Tezpur airport but they have poor connectivity and do not have daily flights. The better way is to fly till Guwahati airport which is 450 k.m away from the destination.

By train

the nearest railway station is Naharlagun(100 K.m. away from Ziro) which can be reached by taking overnight train from Guwahati.

By road

Ziro can be assessed by roads by taking taxi/bus from Guwahati, Naharlagun, North Lakhim pur etc.

The best way to reach Ziro is to fly till Guwahati , take a overnight train to Naharlagun and finally hire a cab to Ziro. Shared cab is also an option if your are on budget, which costs upto 400 bucks. As we visited Majuli before our Ziro trip, we reached North Lakhimpur by taking ferry from Majuli and then we took a shared cab till Ziro.

It takes around 4-5hours to reach Ziro from Naharlagun and North Lakhimpur, if everything goes well! The ride to Ziro is a bumpy one and landslides are quite regular in Monsoon. Not to forget that sun sets early in North East, So our advice is to leave as early as possible for Ziro and reach before it gets dark. Cab services starts early in morning at 5A.M and continues till afternoon, after which it will be quite difficult to get a vehicle.

Kimin, Arunachal Pradesh
Time pass while the road getting cleared after landslide, enroute Ziro

The other important thing is to get an Inner line permit (ILP) to enter in Arunachal pradesh. ILP is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.Foreigners need a protected area permit. You can get ILP(valid for 15 days) for Arunachal Pradesh either online from their official site or you can get it offline from any of the offices near to Guwahati airport, railway station or at Kimin gate(entry point).

Where to stay

There are various camps set near festival ground where either you can book camp-stay or you can bring your own tent. Other than that home stays in nearby areas and villages like Hong village, Hari village etc. is also available which gets saturated during festival.

We stayed at camp Zingaros by Discover Northeast and it was sheer delight! As soon as we entered our campsite there was ongoing jamming session near camp fire 🙂

Camp Zingaros, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Proud owners of tent no.1, Camp Zingaros

The food, the hospitality, the hygiene everything was on point! So much so that we got jets and hand showers in washrooms 🙂

Staying in camp felt like staying with a large group of friends and we definitely recommend staying with camp Zingaros.

Other activities

Sun rises early in North-East, and by early we mean 5:00 A.M! So you get ample amount of time before hitting the fest which starts in afternoon. Morning walk to pine forests, interacting with local Apatani people, shopping souvenirs at Hapoli market, exploring nearby Hong village on bicycle, trying fishing with hands in Apatani style are the few of the many activities we recommend to indulge in once you are in Ziro.

Apatani tribe, Ziro Music Festival, Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh
Helping Apatani women in her field

We loved Ziro music festival and everything about Ziro, and we hope you will attend its next edition the coming year 🙂

-Travelling Scientists

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