LF’s Guide to Make the Most of Zee Jaipur Lit Fest 2019

Not just Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, we give you a lowdown of what to do in Jaipur.

Sayoni Bhaduri

The annual literary extravaganza has begun! Zee Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), now in its 12th year, has become a must-visit event for authors, social commentators, media, literature buffs and tourists from all over the world. Jaipur, state capital of Rajasthan, is the gateway to the land of palaces, forts and history—making it an apt backdrop for this literary carnival.

Hosted at Diggi Palace Hotel, JLF is touted as ‘the greatest literary show on Earth’ and has hosted more than 2,000 speakers and more than million bibliophiles as audience. The five-day festival is curated by celebrated authors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple, who have through the years roped in the likes of Nobel Laureates J.M. Coetzee and Orhan Pamuk, Man Booker Prize winners Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood; Sahitya Akademi winners Girish Karnad, Gulzar and Javed Akhtar as well as popular literary juggernauts such as Amish Tripathi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Vikram Seth.

What’s in store in 2019?

There is a lot happening this year at JLF. The incredible line-up of speakers include Colson Whitehead, author of the Pulitzer Prize winning The Underground Railroad; Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thief, writer and feminist Germaine Greer, actor Manisha Koirala, Tamil author and literary chronicler Perumal Murugan, amongst others.

Apart from book launches and discussions of the intellectual kind, many of the sessions over the five-day programme focus on social and cultural upheavals that India and the world is currently undergoing. From #MeToo and gender dynamics to history and mythology to music and poetry to science and politics, JLF is a hotbed of ideas and thoughtful conversation across genres and fields. 

Must-attend Sessions at JLF 2019

January 24, 2019 | Thursday

Beyond The Female Eunuch:

Germaine Greer will be speaking to Bee Rowlatt; part of the Women Uninterrupted series.


Shashi Tharoor chats with Mihir Swarup Sharma about his mastery and usage of English language

India-The Historical Imagination:

Sanjeev Sanyal in conversation with Nikhil Kumar will enlighten audiences with refreshing perspectives and alternative insights on the Indian subcontinent’s evolution.

January 25, 2019 |Friday

More Views, Less News?-Eye Balls and Content:

This is a panel discussion on the state of news media in the world of advertising. Abhinandan Sekhri, Anuj Khare, Ruben Banerjee and Sudhir Chaudhary will be in conversation with Rajeev Punnoli Irrupatil.

Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians-Will Virat Kohli be the Biggest Celebrity if India Wins the World Cup?:

The self-explanatory subject will be discussed by Boria Majumdar, Rajdeep Sardesai and Shashi Tharoor with novelist Prayaag Akbar.

The Craft of Fiction:

What does it take to write a compelling piece of prose? Witness the conversation between Amitabha Bagchi, Anuradha Roy and Malashri Lal.

January 26, 2019 |Saturday

Cellphone Nation:

Mobile phone penetration and connectivity in interior India is at an all-time high; Assa Doron, Ravi Agrawal and Robin Jeffrey in conversation with Indian television journalist and author 
Barkha Dutt.

Book Lauch-The Forest of Enchantment

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and in conversation with Shobhaa De.

Heads You Win:

A discussion on the book; Jeffrey Archer in conversation with Barkha Dutt.

Naye Bharat Ki Hindi:

In modern day India, where does Hindi as a language stand? Akhil Katyal, Geetanjali Shree, Neelesh Misra, Pravin Kumar, Rakhshanda Jalil in conversation with Saurabh Dwivedi.

January 27, 2019 |Sunday

Before and After Pi:

Yann Martel, Man Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi, an international bestseller, in conversation with Jerry Pinto about the author’s life and perspective.

Healed: Life Learnings from Manisha Koirala

: A brave cancer survivor, Manisha Koirala in conversation with Sanjoy K. Roy speaks about her arduous journey.

Jugaad-On Frugal Engineering:

The ability to survive and make things work out in the most adverse situations is a life philosophy—jugaad—that every Indian has ingrained in them. CEO of Niti Ayog, Amitabh Kant, author of Jugaad Yatra: Exploring the Indian Art of Problem Solving, Dean Nelson and lyricist, poet and marketer Prasoon Joshi in conversation with writer and journalist John Elliott discuss this innovative approach.

January 28, 2019 |Monday

Kumbh-The Greatest Gathering on Earth:

Recently inscribed as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, Kumbh Mela 2019 will see more than a million devotees seeking penance. Awanish Awasthi, Daniela Bevilacqua, Deshna Mehta, James Mallinson and Sanjana Nanodkar will be in a conversation with Harish Trivedi to understand the phenomenon.


Claudia Roden, 
cookbook writer and cultural anthropologist and Roy Strongart historian, museum curator and writer, in conversation with food historian Pushpesh Pant speak about the world of gastronomy.

Calling Sehmat

: The book by Harinder Sikka was the basis for the Hindi film Raazi. The author will speak to Sanjoy K. Roy about the book

Also Read: More Than Momos-A Taste of Sikkim

Things To Do in Jaipur

If you find yourself with free time in-between sessions, head out to the city for a bit of sight-seeing and shopping.

City Palace:

The palace complex consists of smaller palaces, gardens, temples and more that together formed the heart of Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. Some of the must-visit structures within are Chandra Mahal, Diwan-i-Aam and Pritam Niwas Chowk. While the ornate and bright doorways of this palace complex will be etched in your memory with regal beauty, don’t forget to check out the City Palace Museum to understand the history of the city.

Jantar Mantar:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Jantar Mantar is an open air astronomical observatory envisioned by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II. The 19 instruments in the observatory provided readings—from measurement of time and predicting eclipse—to tracking location of major stars, which were as accurate as the European counterparts in 1700s.

Nahargarh Fort:

A popular site for Hindi film shoots, including Rang De Basanti and Shud Desi Romance, Nahargarh Fort is one of three forts surrounding Jaipur—the other two are the grand Amer fort and Jaigarh. Apart from the extensive fortifications and retreat palaces, sunsets from Nahargarh are known to be extraordinary. Don’t forget to check out the Nahargarh step well or bauri.

What to Eat in Jaipur?

Your visit to Jaipur will not be complete without indulging in the gastronomic wonders of Rajasthan. These are the must-have dishes that bring out the true flavours and indigenous traditions of Jaipur.

Dal Baati Churma at Chokhi Dhaani:

One dish that serves as an introduction to Rajasthani cuisine is dal baati churma. It is a wholesome dish that covers a variety of textures and tastes. Dal is a spicy stew-like dish made with multiple variety of lentils and tempered with cumin, asafetida and ginger. Baati are dough balls made from wheat that is slow cooked in charcoal. These two are tied together with sweet churma, a granular mixture made with wheat, sugar and ghee.

Lal Maans at 1135 AD:

Literally translated to red meat, this meat dish has garnered a following, world over. The vibrantly red, spice-rich mutton dish is cooked in dried red chilies and whole spices. Ghee is another important ingredient in the dish as well as the cooking medium. Historically, the meat used was the spoils from the hunting games of the Rajput royals.

Gatte ki Sabzi at Spice Court

: Besan dumplings steamed or boiled and then dunked in a savoury yogurt sauce—spiced with cumin, chilies, ginger and garlic—is every vegetarian’s delight in Rajasthan. Soak up the sauce with a hot ghee-soaked phulka or naan.


Also Read: Jaipur's Top 6 Hidden Treats

Ghewar at Laxmi Mishthan Bhandar:

End on a sweet note with ghewar. A specialty usually made during the festival of Teej, the honeycomb disc is often found in sweet shops, all year round due to its popularity and high demand. A mixture of flour and water is deep-fried in hot ghee as a disc, which gives the crumbly honeycomb-texture. This disc is then dipped in sugar syrup before being devoured by hungry patrons.

Images: Shutterstock.com


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