Saputara Monsoon Festival Parade
We were right in the middle of the festival parade, walking with a contingent of drummers. Our feet involuntarily started to move to the electrifying beat. The drummers were now performing some acrobatic feats synchronized to the rhythm. The mists had just cleared leaving behind cool refreshing atmosphere. There were contingents of Garba Dancers and Tribal dancers. It was heart-warming to see school children participating with parade along with a contingent of foreign students studying in Gujarat. All this was part of Saputara Monsoon Festival
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It was magical and we could not believe that it was only the evening before we had reached Saputara where the monsoon clouds had darkened the sky. The town itself wore a festive look with colored lights along the main streets and the illuminated fountain in the main round-about.
The mere mention of traveling to Gujarat sets our hearts racing and often conjures up images of folk dances, traditional festivals, colourful dresses, age-old places of worship, intricate jewellery, mouth-watering dishes and more recently, the tall Statue of Unity.
When we visited Saputara in Dang District of Gujarat, we were pleasantly surprised that lush green mountains with their dense forests and gushing waterfalls, are other characteristics that ought to be added to the above list. Had we not experienced it, we would not have believed it.
Added to it was the icing on the cake in the form of monsoon season. Sahyadris in general is best enjoyed during the monsoons. This is when the brown, dry mountains give way to the pleasant green plants and trees. The rain water forms rivulets on the top of the hills and falls along the sides, giving rise to multiple waterfalls.
The cherry on the top is the Saputara Monsoon Festival, a cultural extravaganza lasting a whole month, brought to us by Gujarat Tourism.
Saputara Monsoon Festival 2019
This year is the ninth edition of the Monsoon Festival and is from 10th August to 9th September, 2019.
The ninth edition of this festival was kick-started on the 10th August, with a cultural parade, witnessed by the Tourism Minister, Mr Jawahar Chawda, MD of Gujarat Tourism, Mr Jenu Devan with the famous Bollywood actress, Bhagyashree and the District Collector Shri. N.K. Damor. The parade involved dancers, not only from Gujarat but also from other parts of India. There were folk and tribal dances including the mind-blowing drum dance.
On the opening day dance troupe from a few states performed folk dances, which were par excellence!
Check out the various folks dances from other Indian states here.
What to expect during the festival?
The low dark clouds which descend to the street level once in a while, make it the ideal place to romance with the monsoon.
The main street of the town transforms into a one big stage for the parades and market.
In addition, various programmes are held in many locations. The most important one is at the big white dome, near the main fountain circle. The fountain itself attracts attention as it is beautifully lit with ever changing colored lights.
The cultural programmes are carefully curated to bring the best of Dang region in one place. The daily program includes Patriotic songs, Terracotta exhibition in Artists Village, comedy show, live orchestra with the dome open for folk, freestyle or garba dancing, special events during religious festivals and so on. On certain days, music and songs will be played by a professional DJ , on popular requests and there are also Karaoke evenings!
There are also art and crafts display on the walls of the dome. The display of larger than life masks made of papier Mache, is not to be missed. For kids, there are magic shows, Aquarium, painting workshops, quiz programs, interactive games, fire eaters, mask wearing cartoon characters and people on stilt for those funny selfies.
Other activities include exhibitions, adventure activities, food festival, interactive games, competitions, flash mobs and much more.
On the last days there will be special programs on monsoon, Antakshari and a closing ceremony on 9th September.
What else to do in and around Saputara?
Saputara being the only hill station, Gujarat offers a lot more for those who want to experience monsoon to the fullest.
Read this Complete Guide on Saputara, the hill station, Gujarat including activities, tickets, shopping etc.
The nature lovers may drive to the nearby viewpoints or drive out on the hilly roads, criss-crossing the River Ambika, to nearby villages, nature parks, botanical gardens and several scenic waterfalls, which become more spectacular in the monsoon. There are also religious places like Shabari Dham and Pampa Sarovar where Shabari waited for Shri Ram, as per Ramayana.
Within Saputara there is a nice museum displaying tribal artifacts which is quite interesting and also an Artist Village, where a few artists and sculptors have made their home and also display their creations. There are also a few well-manicured gardens to relish when the weather is clear.
Last but not the least, a walk around the Saputara lake in the morning is so invigorating and leaves one with the right mood to enjoy the day. There is also boating on the lake and ropeway in the hills, but these were closed for the monsoon. These are for another day!
Click for a more detailed article on Things to do in Saputara a hill station in Gujarat.
When to visit Saputara Monsoon Festival 2019?
The festival was thrown open to public on 10th August 2019 and will be open till 9th September 2019.
How to reach Saputara?
Even during monsoon in Saputara, it is reasonably well connected by Air, road and rail.
The nearest airport is Surat and Saputara to Surata distance is 165 KM .
The nearest railway station is Nashik Road, about 85 KM.
Mumbai is about 250 KM by road. Vadodara is 290 KM by road and from Ahmedabad it is about 400KM.
Where to Stay in Saputara?
There are many hotels in and near Saputara to suit every pocket. Toran chain of hotels run by Gujarat Tourism are well located. They have added to their group a dormitory hotel for youngsters providing clean place to stay the night.
It is monsoons in Gujarat, and the rains in Saputara are intermittent but heavy. So carry umbrellas and raincoats.
We recommend an early start, if you are planning to travel from Mumbai by road.
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P.S.- This piece was first published in Sakal Times under the title “Drumming Up Magic” by the same authors.