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History and evolution of music in India, and music festivals in India this winter
Monday, November 7th, 2016

Like all ancient cultures, India has music deeply entwined in not just its religious and spiritual rituals but also in everyday life. There’s a song and celebration for every occasion. Some of these songs having been passed on from multiple generations, even hundreds of years – the lullabies that a mother sings to the newborn, the naughty songs sung at the ‘Sangeet’ before a wedding, the blessings given at a baby shower and so on. India’s diversity makes this all the more fascinating, as you get to experience an incredible range of musical genres as well as accompanying instruments – from the Rajasthani folk songs to the mystical Sufi Qawwals, to the ancient devotional songs that are still popular to this day.

Let’s take you through a quick tour of the history of music in India. 

Music in ancient India: 

In ancient times, mainstream Indian music was mostly devotional in nature. It was restricted only to temples and sacred rituals, and was learnt by students over a long period of time. These musicians enjoyed the patronage of kings and rich landlords as well as a good social status. On the other hand, folk music, though popular, didn’t enjoy the same privileges.  Both forms were taught to the students in person, via aural methods.

History and evolution of music in India, and music festivals in India this winter

Goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, arts, wisdom and learning. She's always seen holding a 'Veena' - a musical instrument used mainly in Carnatic classical music.

Indian classical music:

Indian classical music is broadly split into 2 categories – “Hindustani music”, which is mainly found in North India; and “Carnatic music”, of South India. The latter tends to be more rhythmically intensive and structured than Hindustani music.

Both these musical traditions are still popular in their classical form, although fusion music has been steadily gaining popularity.

Music festivals in India, and their evolution:

Music festivals have a considerable history in India. The “Tyagaraja Aradhana”(founded in the 1840s) continues to be a popular music festival for fans of traditional Carnatic classical music. “Madras Music season” is a 6-week long event hosted in Chennai every year. This event was first created in the year 1927.

Since the 1950′s, Bollywood music started capturing popular imagination, and became the music of the masses, thanks to easy access provided by All India Radio. This naturally led to Bollywood song concerts that were popular not just in India, but in every country which had a sizeable Indian origin population.

The economic liberalization of India in the early 1990s opened the doors to western influences, and India saw the rise of Indie music artists and labels like Colonial Cousins, Silk Route, Euphoria, Daler Mehendi etc. A quarter century later, in the current day and time, India has turned into a great market for every kind of music – from electronic, metal, jazz, to EDM, multiple music genres have found a loyal fan following.

Much to the delight of the music lovers in India, the past decade has seen a steady rise of events themed around music – from standalone concerts to multi-city events; from big-name Indian artists to International names like David Guetta and Coldplay, India’s music lovers are spoiled for choice.

Although these festivals happen all through the year, the winter months happen to be the favorites, as it is the best time to stay outdoors in most Indian cities.

Here we bring you a handpicked list of 10 interesting music festivals, across genres, which you can experience in the next 4 months (Nov 2016 to Feb 2017).


(1)Coldplay Live in Mumbai

When: 19 November 2016
Where: Mumbai, Maharashtra

(2)Rann Utsav 2016:

When: 1st November 2016 – 20th February 2017
Where: Kutch, Gujarat, India

(3)Electric Daisy Carnival

When: 12th – 13th November 2016
Where: Buddh International Circuit, Delhi NCR
Genre: Electronic Dance Music

(4)Goa International Jazz Festival

When: 25th – 27th November 2016
Where: Stone Water Eco Resort, Goa
Genre: Jazz

(5)Chembai Sangeetholsavam

When: 25 November – 10 December 2016
Where: Guruvayur Temple, Guruvayur
Genre: Carnatic Music

(6)Hornbill Festival

When: 30th November – 08th December 2016
Where: Kisama Heritage Village, Nagaland
Genre: Naga Folk

(7)Go Supersonic Festival

When: December 2016 (dates to be announced)
Where: Goa (venue to be announced)
Genre: Dance

(8)Sunburn Festival

When: 27 – 30 December 2016
Where: Vagator, Goa
Genre: Multiple

(9)Madras Music Season

When: December 2016 to January 2017 (6 weeks)
Where: Chennai (Madras) Tamil Nadu, India
Genre: Carnatic Music

(10)Chasing Storm Festival

When: December 2016
Where: Coorg, India

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The wise man travels to discover himself - JR Lowell


My name is Sudha Mathew. I'm an ex-banker who quit the rat race after a decade to follow my passion for travel and to combine it with my experience in understanding client requirements and exceeding their expectations.


While our content is mostly about the holiday experience, the accommodation and services, there's so much more to a journey. I have discovered a whole new me through travel. So I've reserved this corner of the website to share the unexpected aspects of travel. This space is also to hear from you about your journeys and discoveries. Bon Voyage!

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