Tempers, tantrums, gossip and much impeding ensues, as the biggest literary event of the year gets closer. Mellow New Year greetings turn into impolite accusations, vitriolic comments and a few interjections by congratulatory columns. Whatever said and done, it’s hard to ignore the annual Zee Jaipur Lit Fest – India’s most relevant occasion to assimilate both substance and fluff! 21st to 25th Jan will see the world’s largest free literature festival come alive as thousands huddle around intimate stages at the Diggi Palace in the Pink City.
For you travel hungry folks, peg your money (not really, it’s a free event) and time on the talks by Elizabeth Gilbert and Sam Miller, who have made us travel within and outside. The author of Eat, Pray, Love and passionate speaker at the Ted Talks, Elizabeth Gilbert’s ambivalent feelings about her marriage ushered many women into exploring the world on their own. Sam Miller, on the other served us the delicious journey of Delhi in spirals. Make an exploration of your own, into the world of books and minds that bring us the best literary event in the subcontinent.
A festival of that acclaim needs some bit of the Bollywood razzle-dazzle, so names like Anupama Chopra, Amish Tripathi and Chetan Bhagat are sure to dispense their drawl with élan. But there are numerous others who are sure to enrapture you. I would make it to the sessions of Abdul Kalam, Hanif Kureishi, Alexis Wright, Deepti Kapoor, Madhu Trehan, Narayana Murthy, Tshering Tashi, Avantika Sujan and many more who are sure to make this worth your while.
Getting There: Jaipur is well connected to major north Indian cities by air, but the most convenient way to get in from Delhi is by the Shatabdi train or by road, which takes almost 4 hours to cover the 265km.
1. Stay just 1.2km away from the Diggi Palace at Samode Haveli, an exquisite boutique inn. Book ahead, as there are only 39 rooms, which get filled up pretty quickly. The hotel is known for its regal ambience, both in hospitality and architecture. (0141 263 2407; www.samode.com; Gangapole, Jaipur)
2. Budget travellers won’t have to walk too much (3km) if you book at Hotel Acacia Inn. Snug rooms and expected services like Wi-Fi, room service, TV and breakfast on the house. (0141 403 2302; www.acaciainn.in; 218, Opposite All India Radio Station, Mirza Ismail Road, Sindhi Camp, Jaipur)
1. Log into www.jaipurliteraturefestival.org to register as a general attendee or as a delegate, press member or a special Jaipur Bookmark member. It is imperative to register before entering.
2. Expect large crowds and less seating, so arrive early at the venue and choose which talks and seminars you want to attend in a day.