JLF PIC                                                                                                      If in Rajasthan Jaipur do visit the JLF! Jaipur Lit Festival.

Whether you are a literary buff or not, this festival is a world festival right in the heart of India, so do not miss it for the world if you are near Jaipur, India during the month of January. Infact the Northern Delhi Jaipur Rajasthan triangle Indian tours are the very best during winters. This happens every mid week of January,so ensure you get your dose of world class music, food and literary culture all in one under this very colourful literary umbrella.

elsie gabriel with ustad amjad khan at jairpur lit fest 2017

The past decade has seen the Festival grow into the world’s largest free event of its kind. Having hosted 1300 speakers and welcoming nearly 1.2 million book lovers, its success of has been astonishing and heart warming. Equity and democracy run through the Festival’s veins, placing some of the world’s greatest minds, humanitarians, historians, politicians, business leaders, sports people and entertainers from all walks of life together on stage. This free and egalitarian access to these renowned thinkers and writers is a powerful statement in a country where access to such individuals remains the privilege of a few.

elsie gabriel with authors from australia

The aipur Literature Festival provides a potentially life-changing opportunity for audiences from Rajasthan, across India and the world to learn from and exchange ideas with contemporary literary stalwarts. Described as the ‘kumbh of literary festivals’, the 10th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival saw lakhs of cerebral literati punch a pack at the various ‘angaans’ and ‘gardens’ of the Diggi Palace at Jaipur, India; for four full days January 19th to the 23rd the atmosphere at the royal ancient grounds were filled with debate, discussion, humour and sunshine.

Celebrities of course graced the numerous live talk shows,debates and readings which saw house full audiences suiting in for real watching Javed Akhtar, Ashwin Sanghi, Lila Azam Zanhaneh, Prasoon Joshi, Richard Flanagan, Luke Harding, Bibek Debroy, Paul Beatty, Mallika Dua, Hardeep Singh Puri, Hyeonseo Lee, Alan Hollinghurst and Shashi Tharoor.

Over 400 world leading names and minds in the fields of fiction and non-fiction writing created a feast of words in the Pink City, giving the novice and well nurtured literati their hungry dues. I must say that the crowds came in drones, atleast 30% were youth, plenty of students came in from all over the land, proving that JLF brings India hope! Yes Hope that reading is alive! Even the young ones standing and staring out into the corridors, lawns and shamiana shows knew deep inside that one day they would surely want to be up there on stage or read out their books to a huge audience like this. Although the JLF was mighty crowded and commercial,[ I guess someone needs to pay the bills] the mela set high standards of organisational skills and delivered it with finesse. The Lit mela had everything from beers in the sunshine, to sit down Burmese Kowsweys, to African Coffees, to Tandoors in the over loaded gourmet scene. Enough to feed the army coming in hungry, daily for their dose of some cerebral portions.

elsie gabriel with author from usa

Some highlights include the Festival exuberant American poet Anne Waldman who has appeared in a number of sessions to talk about Ginsberg, her life and to share her experimental poetry. Young UK based poet and spoken-word artist Kate Tempest entertained the audience on the Front Lawn on the last day raising whoops and cheers for her energetic delivery and insightful texts.

Festival Directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple both featured in sessions to talk about their own recent books, Things to Leave Behind and Kohinoor. Hats off to the duo, who over the years have collected a fan following, been pied piper to all the cream de la creame of the literati in India and abroad all over the globe seeking a union of minds who can share and celebrate under one ancient Palace in the heart of India.


The yoga guru Sadhguru, author of Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy, spoke at the Front Lawn on the first morning suggesting that ‘Human intellect is firing like never before. This is why people are suffering. They have to think for themselves, not rely on scripture or a guru.’

Novelist and community activist Mridula Koshy, Anne Waldman, social theorist Ornit Shani, screenwriter and advertising guru Prasoon Joshi and chess champion Anuradha Beniwal delivered fantastically. Friday morning’s sessions with Rishi Kapoor and then Anand Neelakanta, Prasad Devineni, S.S. Rajamouli and Rana Daggubatidrew an excited and cheering crowd to fill the Front Lawn of the Diggi Palace.

Unsurprisingly the economy has been discussed in a number of sessions, always returning to the issues of de-monetisation. Some of the world’s finest economists and business minds including Ha-Joon Chang, Sanjay Agarwal, Kunal Bahl, Amitabh Kant,Frank Trentmann, David McWilliams, Dambisa Moyo, Sadaf Saazgot together at ZEE JLF to discuss this and other issues and ambitions in the field of economics.


Festival Director Namita Gokhale said, “There’s always a sweet sadness as the festival draws to a close. It’s been a wonderful exhilarating year, and the speakers and sessions covered a huge range of themes and narratives. I’m taking notes already, jotting down ideas, and gearing up for 2018.”
Festival Director William Dalrymple said, “I think it was our strongest year yet, both at the main festival and at the Music Stage. Our artists were all magnificent and I’m incredibly proud of them.”

Closing a fabulous 10 years, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival has hosted 1300 speakers and welcomed 1.2million book lovers.



Its one of a kind! Although the rest of India is still struggling to enhance its literacy levels in far off villages and towns, out here in the extreme end, JLF has surely put India on the Global map; and leading without runners-up in the race to ‘Intellectual Consumerism’ of a wide variety, with no borders or rules, just sheer stimulation of the mind. Living , not existing! Uplifting! World Class!

More than 100 musicians both global and local filled the mornings at Diggi Palace and the evenings at Clarks Amer. Music from artists including the arousing Shillong Chamber Choir, Swanand Kirkire and AnukurTewari started the day for festival visitors, and the hugely popular Raghu Dixit Project, Lisa Hannigan, Soulmate and Inna Modja drew the crowds on the lawn of Clarks Amer in the evening.


The crowds gathered at Amber Fort and Hawa Mahal for two mesmerising Heritage Evenings in partnership with Rajasthan Tourism, in two stunning settings. Lit to accentuate the beautiful details of these heritage properties, around 1,200 people flocked to Amber Fort to hear the celebrated poetry of Anne Waldman from the USA and Bollywood lyricist SwanandKirkire. At Hawa Mahal around 700 people went on a journey through the magical realm of entertainment with Vidya Shah and Luke Kenny.Of course meeting Padmashree Ustad Amjad Ali Khan himself was a eye opening experience, he is simplicity personified, the best lesson that I took away from the JLF!

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