Perhaps one of the most culturally and historically rich state, Rajasthan is incredibly colourful. A place which still celebrates its ancient traditions and culture, is not only a state of sand dunes and deserts but also famous for its cuisine and folk music. Recently I got an opportunity to travel to Rajasthan for a week. I travelled to villages in Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur. And the occasion was Rajasthan Kabir Yatra. Does that ring a bell? Rajasthan Kabir Yatra is actually a music voyage dedicated to the mystic poet and saint of 15th century, Kabir. And this musical voyage passed through villages of Rajasthan, showcasing the culture, cuisine and folk music of the state.
A Brief Introduction of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
Rajasthan Kabir Yatra or RKY is a non-profit initiative. This initiative has been started by Lokayan in partnership with the Jodhpur Commisionerate Police and along with Gramin Vikas Chetna Sansthan, Barmer. This Yatra is organised with support of Sant Dularam Kulariya Foundation, Nokha and has been endorsed by Shri Bhanwar – Narsi – Poonam Kulariya. AU Small Finance Bank, Shree Cement, Park Plaza Hotels and Resorts, 95FM Tadka are some of the sponsors of the Yatra.
This 6 days long music festival travels to several places in Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaisalmer. This year, it was organized from 2nd October to 7th October. People not only from India but from other countries too come to experience the voices of saints – poets such as Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Mira etc. The organizers invite several folk and sufi artists, singers from the country to perform the philosophies of these sufi poets and saint in musical form. This year artists from Kutch, Bengal, Mumbai, Malwa, Chennai, Delhi and also from Rajasthan came to mesmerize everyone with their voices. Artist not only who are sufi singers but rock bands also came here and made everyone dance on their tune. We all love travelling and this journey was all about travellers and sufi saints.
My Journey was all unplanned
My most of the journeys are always unplanned or poorly planned. Also, I tend to travel solo. I had missed the deadlines of registration and requested the organizers to allow me. Finally, I got the seat. But then I didn’t book my tickets which I usually don’t do. So, on the night of 1st October, I reached ISBT Kashmiri Gate. There I came to know that there was no bus to Rajasthan from there since there was a strike. I went to ISBT Kale Khan and from there I got a bus to Jaipur. So, I reached Jaipur at around 2AM. I had same food there (the food was pathetic). And there I couldn’t find any bus direct to Bikaner. So, I had to take a bus to Sikar. I reached Sikar at around 5AM. There I had to wait for the next bus. Someone told me that the bus to Bikaner had already left ten minutes before my arrival. After waiting long, a loading vehicle passed by which had vegetables loaded. I took lift up to Fatehpur. And there, I must have waited for couple of hours. I mentioned my arrival time at 9AM in the registration form but it was already 7AM there and I was still miles away. After waiting for a long time, a bus to Bikaner stopped there. It was a private bus and it dropped me at Ratangarh. From there, I got a bus to Bikaner. And around 12, I reached Bikaner.
We were asked to carry several things such our own sleeping bags, mattresses, cutleries, glass, water bottles, toiletries etc.
2nd October 2018: Day 1 of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
We were made to stay at Ashirvad Bhawan. It was huge building with lots of rooms and halls. Everyone was given a Yatri ID. There were around 400 people in total. That’s such a big amount. One of my friends, Quiline from Delhi was also there. But we didn’t come together. I was totally tired due to overnight travelling, and slept for a while. Schedule for everyday was made and everyone was asked to follow it. After lunch, we roamed around. In the evening, we were taken to Ravindra Rang Manch, for the opening ceremony of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra. It was my first time to come here, however there were many people who had already been to this Yatra previously. Artists for the first day were Madan Gopal Singh and Chaar Yaar (Delhi), Kaluram Bamaniya (Malwa), Sakoor Khan (Jaisalmer) and Mir Bassu Barkat Khan (Pugal). Last year, I visited Jashn – e – Rekhta in Delhi and there I got chance to listen Madan Gopal Singh and it was the second chance to enjoy their singing live. First we had high tea and then the opening ceremony was started. All the artists gave wonderful performances and the audience was all mesmerized, people were dancing. After this, we had dinner and were given the schedule for the next day.
3rd October: Day 2 – Bap Village, second destination of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
There were four buses from travellers. People had their own vehicles and some were on bikes too. We reached Bap village in the evening. The villagers welcomed us with full enthusiasm with dhol and dance. There was a carpet on the ground. There were kids in queue who put tilak on our forehead and tied kautuka on wrist. It was a complete traditional welcome. I was much impressed by such greeting. Inside the inn, there was full arrangement of dinner and accommodation. And the dinner was all local cuisine with delicious aroma. While I was having dinner there, I met a Facebook friend. I went up to him, showed him his photo asked if it was him or not.
There was huge ground in the village where the stage was set up. It was just walking distance from the place we were staying. Artist for this day were Shabnam Virmani & Srishti Students (Bangalore), Rising Malang (Dharamshala), Kera Raam (Barmer), Kasam Khan (Baap), Gavra Devi (Bikaner), Project Yugm (Jaipur). Whole village came to celebrate the vibes of Kabir. The songs and the music made everyone dance. Shabnam is famous for her singing style and she mesmerized everyone. Yugm Project in the end made everyone dance madly with their music. And the day ended here.
The next morning, after breakfast, we went to the village pond and there Rising Malang gave wonderful performance. We painted a wall there. I made a friend here, Bernard Lee, who’s from Hong Kong but lives in London. From there, after lunch, we headed to our next destination in the afternoon.
4th October: Day 3 – Nachana Village, third destination of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
We left in the hot noon and reached Nachna village in the evening. It was around 80KM away from Baap. After reaching there, we were given some directions. Next to our place where we were staying, there were sand dunes. After such a long time, I saw something like this. I climbed up to capture a glimpse of sun set but couldn’t. 3rd day’s artists were Kaluram Bamaniya (Malwa), Mahesharam (Jaisalmer), Dansingh (Bikaner), Smita Rao Bellur (Mumbai), Omprakash Nayak (Bikaner) and Meera Bai (Sadolai).
For the first time, I tasted aloe vera veg here in this village. Every village has its own unique cuisine. It might is little challenging in the beginning but that’s quite beautiful. In the next morning, we had breakfast of aloo paratha with pickle and halwa. We had a gathering for the morning musical event. From there, we moved to our next destination after lunch in the noon.
5th October: Day 4 – Fourth Destination of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
So the next destination was Jaisalmer city. We reached here in the night. While we were on the way to Jaisalmer, I saw wind mills. Never have I seen wind mills in real, only in books and on TV. It was my first time. We reached there in the night and the stage was set up near Hanuman Chowk. This night was celebrated with Shabnam Virmani & Srishti Students, Bagga Khan (Jaisalmer), Gavra Devi, Kera Ram, Kabir Café (Mumbai) and Sakur Khan.
My camera stopped working there and I couldn’t figure out any reason for the damage. So, I couldn’t capture much of the event. I used Quiline’s phone for photos. The dinner was delicious and scrumptious. After the event, we went to our places and slept. The breakfast in the morning had poha, bhujiya and dhokla.
I, Quiline and Lee decided to visit Jaisalmer Fort in the noon after breakfast, since we had enough time and we were there. We took a walk of around half an hour and reached the fort. Jaisalmer fort is majestic, a wonderful piece of architecture but I only found several temples here. Seems that most of the fort is now all temples. I also bought fridge magnet from one of the souvenirs shops from the fort. And there was no camera repairing shop in the market. I had a word with many shopkeepers there.
So after coming from the fort, we left to our next destination Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer. It was far and took long to reach here.
6th October: Day 5 – Fifth Destination of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
So, the next destination was at Sam Sand Dunes Jaisalmer. We were made to stay in a camp resort. The camp resort was such a beautiful place that I forgot the tiredness from the day’s journey. We were given separate rooms with attached washrooms. I took shower and took rest for a while. I shared room with Bhawesh Mishra and Lee. The dinner here was like a paradise in the dinner. Overall, everything was beautiful. The day’s stage was set up in the desert. We were taken there in the buses. Since, my camera was out of order, I couldn’t cover it much. We spent long in the desert. The sand dunes here were totally different from what I saw in Nachna village. The sand was fine and granulated. It was cold and it was pleasing. The sky here was full of stars and totally dark. We went deep inside the dunes and stayed there for long, staring at the stars. It was little spooky but was wonderful. This was among the best experience of my life. However I have always wanted anything like this with my life partner. But who knows, life is uncertain. The next morning, after breakfast, we headed to our next and final destination, Jodhpur.
7th October: Day 6 – Sixth Destination of Rajasthan Kabir Yatra
The next morning, we headed our next and final destination to Jodhpur. By the time, I was totally exhausted. I couldn’t take shower as I woke up late and I was badly tired. We stayed on the way for lunch. And my face was all dull and I badly needed to take shower and sleep. I slept whole the way to Jodhpur. I can’t survive heat due to hyperhidrosis and dehydration. After reaching Jodhpur, we were given our accommodation. I asked Bhagesh and he said he shared room with one more yatri. I asked Lee and we also took a room there in Maheshwari Bhawan, a grand building. It was a small room with AC, LED, attached washroom and storeroom. The AC didn’t work while night.
The closing ceremony was organized at a stepwell. It was beautiful. The stage had such a wonderful decoration. This night was the last night and was different from others. Kabir Café rocked the night with their music, Jheeni re jheeni, and other songs on Kabir. And then came the star of the night, Kutle Khan, a well – known name not only in Rajasthan but also in Bollywood, Mumbai. And he sparked the night with his stunning performance. That night everyone danced, everyone was drenched in the colours Kabir.
The dinner was planned at a very beautiful roof top café, OTA, where from I could easily see Mehrangarh Fort. So, the journey ended here but we returned with lots of memories. We made friends and planned further. Rajasthan Kabir Yatra wasn’t just a musical journey; it has several things to teach. It taught us the real philosophies of our mystic poets; I got to taste wonderful, delicious cuisines of different places, met with so many people, locals, Indians, foreigners. This journey will always be in my memories. There were seasoned travellers, there were bloggers, vloggers, media persons, and also a complete team who covered this whole event. I am much thankful to the organizers for such wonderful experience.