Young local musicians and the label Amarras Records have come together to give music lovers an unforgettable experience of Qawwali, Kumauni music and cuisine with the picturesque backdrop of the Kalsa river.
Held at the riverside resort of Chanfi, a village about 18 km from Bhimtal, the Amarras Records Music Tour is a two-day experience that ditches the crowded music festival format for a more intimate and informal experience where listeners and performers can bond over music. the food
A one-of-a-kind musical tour curated by Amarras Records, started in 2010 by Delhi-based Ashutosh Sharma and Wisconsin-based Ankur Malhotra in the US.
The label, known for releasing albums by Rajasthani folk group The Manganiyar Seduction, has backed Rajasthani musician Lakha Khan and Padma Shri awardee Sakar Khan and Barmer Boys.
Sharma said that after starting working with Sakkar Khan a decade ago, he felt that local artistes could not tour after reaching a certain age.
“We thought why not take the audience to the artists in small groups and give them a special experience. We did some random tours… the idea was to organize it well, but then Covid happened and the plan got delayed.” He told PTI.
Just before the pandemic, Sharma met Sarvajeet Tamta, 28, from Almora in Uttarakhand and signed his qawwali group Rahmat-e-Nusrat with the Amarras Records label.
Sharma said that Tomta’s interest in Kumaoni folk music and food inspired him to organize a musical trip to Nainital region, 360 km from the capital.
“We thought we could start the tour in the hills and Rajasthan. So we planned for both regions but we managed to start the hill tour first. Hopefully, we will start in Rajasthan by October,” he added.
Tamta considers famous Pakistani Sufi-Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan as his mentor. He said he wanted to pay tribute to the teacher through his band.
“I want people to understand the story, the reason for Kumaon’s local music,” added the singer-instrumentalist.
Tamta left home to pursue music at the age of 16 and formed his band Rahmat-e-Nusrat in 2014. Apart from Amarr’s Nights, the group also presents a monthly program dedicated to Indian and fusion music at the beautiful nursery near Humayun’s Tomb here. Jaipur Literature Festival and Zero Music Festival of Arunachal Pradesh.
The singer said that after his Qawwali band was popular with the audience, he decided to work on Kumaon’s folk tunes and formed another group, Himalimau, together with the same members.
The Amarras Records Music Tour at Solitude by the Riverside Resort in Chanfi gives Rahmat-e-Nusrat an opportunity to enthrall audiences with classic poems and Sufi kalams such as “Man Kunta Maula” by Amir Khusro. Aaj Rang Hai, including “Ali Maula” and “Shahe Marda”.
As Himalimau, the band performs folk compositions from different regions of Kumaon such as ‘Chapeli’, ‘Jhoda’ and ‘Neoli’. They also play songs from the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand and bordering Nepal, from where many have migrated in search of work.
The experience also saw Tamta showcasing his culinary skills and preparing special local dishes for visitors.
Music lovers have to trek a kilometer through the rocky terrain from Chanfi Bridge, the nearest road access area, to reach the tranquil spot amidst the green hills.
Sharma said that he spent a lot of time searching for the location, which not only enhances the appreciation but also the intimate experience of listening to Tomta’s music.
“This beautiful riverside location enhances the experience. It gives context… the difference is like buying a bandhani in Delhi and buying it from Jaipur.”
Sharma said that he plans to keep the property, which has seven cottages, more intimate than turning the music tour into a festival.
“The idea is to have peaceful sessions with people interacting with the artists. It’s not a come-and-go kind of situation … it’s an experience we want people to remember.”
Future plans for Sharma include connecting with folk artistes from other parts of the country and expanding the concept of music tours.
“Now we are focused on this, but moving forward, the goal is to give the stage to as many artists as possible,” he added.
Amarrass Records has already organized successful mountain tours in February, March and April. They will return with the May Edition from May 26-28.
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