International Thar Desert Festival: A Myriad of World Music and Culture

traveller Megha

International Thar Desert Festival is a magnificent blend of different cultures of music all over the globe. It is a state of Musical trance which explains to us that music is beyond any language. Before the fest introduction, it is vital to know the wonderful place “Jaisalmer”.

Jaisalmer, known as the ‘Golden City’, is situated in southern Rajasthan(Located around 575 kilometres from Jaipur). The name Golden City rightly fits because of the glittering golden sand all over the place. All the homes and monuments are built using the yellow sandstone, which is found abundantly in the region. This magnificent city is in the heart of the Thar Desert. This place portraits the ancient Jainism culture. The Mega Rajput Fort is the most renounced tourist spot; it is believed that Maharawal Jaisal Singh is the founder of the Golden City of India. In this new era, Jaisalmer is one of the top ten destinations for celebrating the New Year Eve in India and its been a growing stage for various International Events.

The International Thar Desert Festival is an annual event held mostly in the month of February in the beautiful city Jaisalmer. The festival is the best way to witness and explore the tradition and culture of Rajasthan. It is here that you get to witness remarkable musical performances, fascinating dances, and much more.

Fest Origin: The whole idea to blend such a Musical culture in the deserts was by John K Town. John is an Australian traveller who eventually while travelling in India fell in love with a remote village of Jaisalmer. He made the whole village his family and started a home-stay/desert camping in a beautiful piece of land called “Mala Ki Dhani”. The entire fest was organized solely with the help of the villagers.

Overview: International Thar Desert Festival

Before telling you more about the event, here’s a brief overview of the 

Best Time to Visit Jaisalmer September to February
Location 15 kilometres from Jaisalmer Fort
Best Transport route Local Jeeps/Auto to Mala Ki Dhani

Daily buses/trains to Jaisalmer from Jaipur, Delhi and other main cities of Rajasthan

Flavoursome savoury Dal Bhati churma

Red Goat Curry

Special Lassi

Places to wander nearby Khuris Desert Camel safari

Bahwai Lake

Sunset point  on the rocky mountain

Jaisalmer Golden Fort

Maharaja Picnic palace

Fest Dates Jan 29, 2018 to Jan 31, 2018 

Feb 17, 2019 to Feb 19, 2019

Event coordinator Bhati Bhai
Price (pocket’s best friend) 800-1000 per day (accommodation + food) (approx)

Essentials for International Thar Desert Festival

When packing your bags for the festival, make note of the following things.

Anytime you travel to Rajasthan make sure you are on a comfortable pair of cotton clothing. It is vital to protect your head from the bright sun so carry hats along and keep yourself hydrated every 2 hours.

During winter the temperature drops down drastically after sunset, make sure to carry shoes and warm clothes.

The Fest Culture

The fest brings about the best of music from different parts of the world. It is a unique amalgamation of different types of people and different styles of music.

The foremost culture of the fest is “Simplicity is the beauty of life”. The International Thar Desert Festival goes on for about 5 days to 8 days featuring special solo/ group performances by various travel Artists. It brings out the raw music that directly drops into your soul. During the day we will be wandering around the nearby places to visit.

But the day and night music jamming,  while savouring the mystery of deserts makes you travel to a timeless zone.

One is always free to make flexible plans according to their mood.

On the last day of the fest, we spend quality time with the school kids.

Get ready to wake the kid inside you!

International Thar Desert Festival Somalay and his mesmerizing Indian Music. Photography by Anas Ali


International Thar Desert Festival Israeli singer & traveller Maya Bar-Tal having a fun time with kids. Photography by Anas Ali

Witness the Kalbaliya Dance under the Fading Moonlight

Rajasthan is well known for its dances. At the festival, you get to witness these brilliant dance performances. 

This is going to be the best night of the Thar Desert Festival. The soulful and cultural voices of the singers will be blending with Khartal, Bhapang, Sindhi/kamaicha Sarangi, and Ravan Hatta folk instruments. Later on, this folk music just binds everybody around with Kalbaliya dance. One would wonder looking at these novice artists, who just carry on their ancestral skills. Eventually, we too danced to the Kalbaliya music in the end.

Don’t miss out on sipping a cold special Lassi while watching the dance!

International Thar Desert Festival Folk dance under the moonlight. Photography by Ankita Jain


International Thar Desert Festival Kabaliya Dance. Photography by Megha Katokar

Music Jamming on the shady shrubs of Bahwai Lake

Music Jam sessions are the best part of the International Thar Desert Festival. It is here that you can experience the magic of music.

This is the moment where one can witness the Myriad of World Music and Culture under a mono roof. Ha! The Sky!

Israeli Artist Avi  Mazliah expressed the unspoken emotions of the song in a unique contemporary style of dance. Then we had the strong and magical voice of Limor Ballas, a Freelance singer, who made us fall in love with the Hebrew language.

One can’t stop tapping their feet on the Cathy Guitar tune by Nepali Singer, Himalaya Rai and Afro beats on djambe drums by Gali Durugappa.


It feels great to just laze on the sandy banks surrounded by all sorts of Musical instruments and sipping the special Lassi.


Kick the heat with a huge glass of special Lassi in your hand. This Lassi is so stomach filling which is made of sweetened fresh curds, flavoured with lots of pista, cashew-nuts, Kesar (saffron) and dried grapes. Served chilled!

(Anytime you are hungry just grab a special Lassi at the best price of Rs. 50 to Rs. 80 available everywhere in Jaisalmer.)

International Thar Desert Festival
Lakeside Music Jamming. Photography by Anas Ali

International Thar Desert Festival Music jamming and friends. Photography by Ankita Jain

The International Thar Desert Festival Nights

The nights in the deserts are special. The clear skies allow you to stargaze the countless stars in the sky while you enjoy the sounds of music around you. It is a truly special feeling. 

The last night of the event was featured especially with the Music system and DJ for the introduction of the most undiscovered Australian Aborigine instrument “didgeridoo”. Artist Ofer Zvi turned the whole place into a disco tech with the crazy jamming of didgeridoo and digital music.

And one cannot get enough of listening to the soothing metallic musical instrument “Hang Pan” by Abhinav  Deodhar.

The desert reviles her other face which is calm and breezy when you put your head down on the pillow while the moonlight falls over the face and you gaze at shooting stars in pure silence.


International Thar Desert Festival Didgeridoo. Photography by Anas Ali

International Thar Desert Music Festival Be a part of the Thar Desert Festival at least once. Photography by Megha Katokar

Rich Bundle of Culture – Indian Musicals

The Indian artists at the festival are beyond splendid. They mesmerise the audience with their vocals and instruments.

The feeling of pride!  When one listens to the rich cultural heritage of Indian instruments in a Jugal-Bandi session. The International Thar Desert festival was bundled with a few of the best Indian Travel Artists who expressed a warm welcome to all the travellers- by playing the magical vocal instrument, ‘flute’ by artist Vivek Madhyahasta (from Karnataka) joined by earthen beats of ‘Ghatam’ by Rahul Singh (From South Africa) and Somalaya Sareswari (from West Bengal). Somalaya playing ‘sarod’ made us travel to another world.

We had a well versed Carnatic music and Hindustani singer, Gopika Jairam from Hyderabad, who set the whole mood magical with her excellent vocals.

It felt great to interact with all the well-versed artists across India and abroad and learn the most important message “Simplicity is the beauty of life”.

International Thar Desert Festival Raw music and folk artists. Photography by Anas Ali


The International Desert Festival The thrilling camel safari. Photography by Anas Ali

Flavoursome savoury

The food in Rajasthan, as everyone knows, is finger-licking delicious. When in Rajasthan, you have got to try these foods.

Dal Bhati Churma: This is the authentic savoury of Rajasthan which is cooked with a lot of patience using coal. The wheat flour is made into small buns and cooked using coal and sand, acting as a natural stove. These hot wheat buns are dipped in yummy dal (gravy). Meanwhile, don’t miss out on having a few spoons of classic Rajasthani sweet “churma”.


Red Goat Curry:  Mutton is cooked evenly in a huge vessel on a low flame. The red curry contains a lot of freshly powdered Rajasthani spice and dried red chillies. The red mutton curry with wheat roti (Wheat bread) coated with ghee on the plate-Is such a festival to the taste buds of all the spicy food lovers.

International Thar Desert Festival Dal Bhatti Churma. Photography by Subhrajit Bhattacharya


International Thar Desert Festival Red Goat Curry. Photography by Ayushi Mathur

Mala Ki Dhani – Welcomes you all!!

The whole event of the Thar Desert Festival would never have been possible without the warmth of all the localities. They make you, part of their family- interacting and are constantly around to guide all the travellers. The whole place is filled with humble-hearted villagers constantly exchanging smiles when you pass by.

Make sure to witness the ‘wow’ moment in the desert – Dusk breaking into dawn from the hilly mountain, capture this moment on your camera.

International Thar Desert Festival

The author of the current post – Ms Megha Katokar on the side of the other two travellers Madhu and Gal.

Visit the International Thar Music festival with a good camera to capture the wild camels, colourful pagadi (turbans), sam sand dunes, camel safari and the Mega golden fort of Jaisalmer.

Happy Wayfaring 🙂


Megha Katokar

Megha Katokar, a Compliance Professional, a Musician, a handwriting analyst, a travel addict, ambitious and a fun-loving free soul. A creature of her own kind. She is set up to document her wanderlust adventure and the amazing people and places she has come across all her nomadic journey. She is been an active part of the International Thar Music Festival at Jaisalmer. She also lusts for raw and local cuisine and never misses an opportunity to taste what the locals have to offer. A true Bangalorean by heart and a nomad soul, she wishes to inspire all her fellow travellers and pursues her dream career in travel.