What started as a small literary festival in the hills in 2005, soon evolved into a mountain festival that celebrates all aspects of our Himalayan heritage, from adventure sports to conservation, music, art and photography. The Mussoorie Mountain Festival is arguably one of the few festivals on mountain life in the world.
Hosted by Woodstock School’s Hanifl Centre for Outdoor Education and Environmental Study, this year the festival will be held in the virtual space due to the pandemic. Two sessions will air on the centre’s YouTube channel on December 7, 8 and 9, starting at 8 pm.
This year, more than 50 mountaineers, photographers, musicians, conservationists and writers are coming together to celebrate the diversity of the Himalayas. In the field of natural history, Rohit Chakravarty, an expert on the bats of Uttarakhand, will be participating along with Rodney Jackson, considered an authority on snow leopards. Duke University’s Professor Greg Wray will speak about art and biodiversity. “We had to reinvent our programme completely, but it has allowed us to invite speakers from all over the world. We’ve kept the sessions short — approximately five minutes, and have plenty of musical performances, which give variety to the programme,” said Stephen Alter, founder of the festival.
Musicians from across the Himalayas, including the Tetseo Sisters of Nagaland and Cadenza Collective from Nepal, will perform new songs recorded for the festival.
Historians Ram Guha and Shekhar Pathak will share the stage with publisher Rukun Advani. Poets Mamang Dai and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra will read from their work. Contemporary explorer Harish Kapadia will engage with mountaineering legends Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott and Stephen Venables. “We have some of the top British climbers from the 1970s and ’80s, like Bonington, Scott and Venables. We have speakers talking about bar-headed geese, the birds of Mussoorie and Nepal, cicadas and the bats of Uttarakhand,” says Alter. He adds that he would miss the personal interactions. “Earlier festivals included plenty of time for socialising and informal discussions. It’s difficult to curate that experience online,” says he.
For festival, schedule log into http://haniflcentre.in/mountain-festival
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