The festival of music and art brings together bands, painters and graffiti artists from all over the world to this picturesque town in the hills of Uttarakhand
NAUKUCHIATAL (Uttarakhand): The hills of Naukuchiatal were alive with the sound of music with bands, painters and graffiti artists from all over the world gathering at the serene banks of the lake here for the annual Escape festival of music and art this weekend.
The music took centrestage as bands like Skinny Alley (Kolkata), Hari and Antoine (France), Scribe (Mumbai), Bhayanak Maut (Mumbai), Puoskari (Finland), AutoLaser, (Norway), treated people to three days of non-stop head-banging during May 18-20, last.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life and from across the country gathered at this picturesque town, packing into hotels and guesthouses in Naukuchiatal and surrounding areas. Living up to the name of the festival, some even put up tents a little away from the main area and spent the three days cut off from the rest of the world.
The music would begin in the morning and continue right through the day, till late in the evening and into the night.
With resorts and cottages full up, many had to drive down every day from Nainital, about 25 km away, or hitch a ride with passing commuters.
Besides music, art lovers too had something to cheer about with artists like Shivani Kohli (painter), Shiv Ahuja (photographer), Samita Chatterjee (graffiti artist) showcasing their talent.
The stages for the performances were put up right in front of the pristine lake overlooking spectacular mountain ranges. With artists showcasing their work and food stalls nearby, people did not have to go a long way from the music.
Escape, which began in 2009, is organised by Potheads, a music and arts event company. The number of visitors has steadily grown with news of this annual event spreading like wildfire.
The location, a short distance from the hustle-bustle of main town Nainital in Uttarakhand, is the perfect setting for music enthusiasts to drown themselves in the occasion.
"This is just incredible; never in my life have I been to a place like this. The music, the area, it is just three days of madness. The best Indian bands are here and I am sitting in this heaven and listening to them. I can't ask for anything more," Swaraj Mehta, a language trainer from Delhi, told IANS.
The festival gave people a reason to escape from their daily lives. Bands such as Skinny Alley, Hari and Sukhmani and The Captain of Hook enthralled the crowd with jazz music, while Bhayanak Maut, Vaeya, AutoLaser, Street Stories and Indigo Children gave hard rock and metal lovers a reason to go berserk.
Ashish Koshi, who made the long trip from Bangalore to attend the festival, was overwhelmed with the setting.
"This is like nothing I have seen in India, it's as if I am attending the Woodstock or something. This is my first time here and I will make it a point to come every year. I would recommend all the music-lovers to come here," Ashish told IANS, referring to the three-day epic festival in the US in 1969.
The events slotted for Escape were categorised under three names: Soul Garden, Magic Forest and Rabbit Hole. Soul Garden got the name due to the stage being set by the lake and featured fusion and jazz music.
Magic Forest with the stage set in a valley-like clearing, surrounded by trees and at night the place came alive with music, lights and visuals. The genres of music played here was rock and electronic. Rabbit Hole featured experimental and free jamming style music.
Naukuchiatal, which is 315 km away from Delhi, can be reached by road or by rail. By road it's close to a seven-hour drive while the nearest station is 25 km away in Kathgodam.