Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dhanaulti Rocks 2005

My most memorable trip: hmm.. as I ponder to reveal, it would be unfair to call just one of them the most memorable.
I've been struck by wanderlust as long as I can recall, but I will describe a trip last winter into the middle of the Himalayas as the fondest ever.

Only three words describe the trip: Indian WoodStock '05

Dhanaulti is a small sleepy town, in the middle of nowhere and about 35 kilometers from the nearest signs of civilization, that is Mussorie. And it played host to the first of its kind Indian music festival- Dhanaulti Rocks 2005

Picture this:
Untouched Mountains
18 Indian music Bands
Three days of music
The best Sound(Marshall)
A mosh pit
A hotel which has never had electricity(not kidding, electricity had not reached it)

Oh yes, and I lived through it all, all extremes.

It all started with a newspaper clipping, billing this as the biggest music event ever. I scorned at it. It just was too good to be true.

But research followed, and a visits to Andijis.com and backing by Parikrama(parikrama.com) and names like Cassini's Division, Advaita, Nakshatra, Prestorika, Indian ocean, Pin Drop Violence, and I was hooked.

Well, all that followed was pure bliss. Packed my bag, put two fellow rockers into the car and headed from Chandigarh into the unknown serpentine roads to Dhanaulti (using only the instructions available at the site). We still didn’t know if there was any town like that.:))

Six hours of sheer driving pleasure, a magnificent sunset, homage at Paonta Sahib Gurudwara, amazing Dhaba Bread Pakoras and we hit Mussorie. Little did we know that the diversion to Dhanaulti was four kilometres before mussorie. So we turned back and entered what I would describe as the most amazing 30 kilometers of flattened non tarmac level land (it was not a road). The landscape was simply gorgeous.

And remember all this while we were still not sure the event was happening, it being too good to be true.

Only moment of concern was meeting a couple of bikers who were returning and warned us of the "event” being a hoax. We were twenty kilometers away and although we got concerned, we decided to keep going.

It got dark and by the time we hit dhanaulti and we were greeted by a quiet town, no where near the images of the "woodstock" we expected. By the time we figured out lodging (tents were available, but we figured it was too cold so took a hotel), found andiji's restaurant, got to the venue was (yes it was happening!); it was already 8 and dark.

Paid 500 rupees (the best 500 I've ever spent) and got passes, which were pink ribbons tied by Andy’s Australian girlfriend on the wrists.

The venue was a surreal clearing in a pine forest lit be psychedelic lights. No huge stage, just a 4 feet high arrangement. The sound "Marshall", yes it sounded that good!

A few warm up performances till Advaita came on (advaita.net) and we were just awestruck. Deep Indian vocals, traditional Indian instruments played in harmony with western instruments, just took the definition of creativity to a new high.

Imagine cold that made the guitarists hand shiver, yet the keep playing on, and when we did call it a day it was way past midnight, we headed to the hotel starry eyed after a day where unprecedented experiences had left our minds dazzled.

Next day we got up to a sunny winter day and spoiled ourselves to a coffee in the lawn with the sun rising over the mountains. Time stood still. We were challenged to scale a mountain by a local guide, and the day had already been planned.

So we put on our hiking shoes, and started on a 2 hour trek to the top of the highest peak in that area. Huffing and puffing and a lot of beautiful pictures later, we managed to scale the peak, and got a taste of what Hillary and Norgay must have experienced. I have watched numerous documentaries about scaling mountains and have always love the view from the top, but nothing comes close to experiencing it first hand. Freedom got a new definition, and it is liberating in a way to be able to stand atop a mountain and be able to see in all directions as far as you can see, mountains, valleys, forests, serpentine roads cutting through the landscapes, and elevation that gets the adrenaline pumping.

We returned not because we wanted to, but we heard faint sounds of bass coming from the valley below. Day two was on!

Reached back and were greeted to Parikrama live! It was a wonderful performances, and their rendition of covers from led zep, coldplay et al, and the original (but it rained ) were all well played. Truly the best band in India. What followed was a heavy performance by the winners of MTV rock Idols-Prestorika, and moksha.

It was fun watching locals getting high on rock, although I am sure it made no sense to them, but the energy of the place sure got to them.

Returned to the lodging late night, and were treated to warm paranthas by the firewood, god bless the cook who gave us food so late. Next day we heard orange street had were playing. Went to catch some breakfast and met he band on the roof of Andiji’s restaurant, sunbathing and all.

But real life has a funny way of pervading all bliss. Pressing issues at home forced us to leave that day without witnessing that day’s performances. But as luck would have it, on the way back we halted at a dhaba and were lucky to meet the ban members from Silk route enjoying Skyy and talking about music. How often do you get to share a drink with your favorite band in the middle of nowhere and talk about your favorite topic-music.

The heady feeling is anything but gone, and as I write about it six months after it took place, I realize I have blown the prescribed limit of description to smithereens, I still feel I have left out so much. It just was a trip beyond what words could ever describe!





5 comments:

Insouciant said...

It actually was surreal....

THis post is a story of by best three days spent on earth....

When I look back It almost seems like a fairy tale...

I dunno if its ever going to be the same again....

PS: I was planning to post it on my blog and u jst did....

Mag said...

sounds good:P

Cruel Intentions said...

Wanna Go Back Home

Anonymous said...

OMG!!!!!
You COPIED this too!!!

30.45 N,76.48 E said...

Excuse me?