This year I attended Jaipur Literature Festival, also known as Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, this year. This festival happens every year, for five days from 24th Jan till 29th Jan. Festival organisers are Mr. William Dalrymple, Mr. Sanjay Roy, and Ms. Nandita Gokhale.Festival venue is Diggy Palace, an old haveli on Tonk Road. It has been converted to a hotel and festival happens in the premises of this haveli. A few guests also stay there.
At Diggy palace, literature festival happens in five venues – Front Lawn, Charbagh, Mughal Court, Baithak and Samvad. Each venue can hold at least 200 people, may be more. In each venue eight discussions / lectures of one hour duration take place, along with audience interaction, from 10am till 7 pm. Eight lectures multiplied by five venues multiplied by five days. A total of 200 discussions / lectures are delivered by eminent guests from fields which include academics, writers, poets, film personalities, politicians, members of civil society even scientists with flair for writing. All venues remain packed from morning till evening. First hour of the festival from 9 am to 10 am remains dedicated to live performance artists playing Indian classical music.
One can register for the festival by logging into the festival website. One can book a hotel through website of the festival. Different hotels suitable to different pockets are listed on the site. It is important to register twice, once for hotel booking and second time to register for the festival. Registration to festival is free. Of course, one can also register as a delegate by paying fee. A delegate may have access to speakers for a more intimate conversation. Because the festival does not charge any entry fee, many students from Jaipur and around visit the venue. Most days, venue is chock a bloc with young people milling around the venue. According to statistics, nearly 60% visitors to the festival are students. Hope these people imbibe knowledge and wisdom of eminent people who participate in the festival.
While delegates get to eat lunch in festival cafeteria, common participants have to buy tea, coffee, snacks and meals. Cash does not work in festival venue. Every one that buys food have to use cash card by depositing money. Cash card can be refunded to get back balance. A whole variety of foods ranging from Rajasthan kachori to chicken Tikka roll is available for purchase. So are Belgian waffles and filter coffee or Masala tea. Participants also can purchase gifts using their credit cards.
From New Delhi one can avail Ajmer Shatabdi for up and down journeys. Journey takes around five hours. Another superfast train is double Decker Jaipur-Sarai Rohilla express, which also takes around five hours to cover the journey. Once in Jaipur, travel is easy because one can dial Ola cab, and auto. Interested tourists can also avail Ola bike service. Ola cabs go by map and fare is more reasonable and honest, compared to private auto / cabs. One should be little careful about choosing right hotel. The one I selected was not a great one. But, fortunately I spent most of my time at the festival venue.
I enjoyed my two days at the Jaipur Literature Festival. I had the good fortune to listen Pico Iyer, Lisa Randall, Tridip Suhrid, Dipanka Gupta, Rohan and Sudha Murthy, Ashok Bajpayei, Hamid Karzai, Nandita Das and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, among others. It was an invigorating experience to be aware of raging debates in our society. It is a great forum to create better citizens of tomorrow. I wish to go back next year for five days.