Click for larger ImageThe First Desert Kite Festival attracted 65 fliers from 7 countries. Fliers from Holland, Belgium, France, Australia, England and the USA competed with each other and Indian fliers for the coveted championships in Display Flying and the Kite Cutting competition. A live audience of over 20,000 watched the event spread over three days. Star TV, Doordarshan, MTV and BITV beamed the event into millions of homes across the country and in other parts of Asia. The event also generated very positive publicity in the print media - both in India and overseas.

In budgetary terms, the total outlay on the Festival was Rs. 1.8 million. The success of the Festival is due entirely to the incalculable support of the Welcomgroup Umaid Bhawan Palace, the RTDC Ghoomar, Ajit Bhawan Palace, Balsamand Palace, The Umed Club, Rajasthan Tours, Alliance Air, the Department of Tourism Govt. of India, the District administration and the hospitable people of Jodhpur.

The Second Desert Kite Festival aims to take off higher. The venue is the same - Jodhpur. The dates are 12 to 14 January ’98. The Festival will comprise 2 categories - Display Flying and the Fighter Kite Championship - with prizes in both sections.

A brief programme of the Festival
Date Venue Time
11 Jan All fliers assemble at Jodhpur. Welcome Dinner with Mah. Gaj Singh at the Balsamand Palace 2000 hrs
12 Jan Festival Inauguration at the Polo Ground 0930 hrs
Aerial drop of kites by the Air Force. Flying display by school children.
Full day of flying at the Polo Ground. Dinner at Umaid Bhawan Palace.
13 Jan The Festival continues at the Polo Ground

Dinner and night flying at Osian

0930 to 1800 hrs
14 Jan Makar Sankranti. The Festival shifts to the Umaid Bhawan lawns. Finals of the Fighter Kite Championship and judging of the Display kites. Prize Giving
The Festival concludes after lunch at the Palace.


Kite flying is a universal sport, unique in its fascination across the globe. An ancient sport, perhaps originating in China, it is practiced in almost 50 % of the countries on earth. The desire to fly goes back a long, long way and after magic carpets ceased to fly and before aircraft were invented, kite flying was the closest mankind got to this innate desire.

Click for larger ImageToday this sport is witnessing a major revival and India, with its ancient tradition of kite flying, could well benefit from partcipating in this celebration of the international kite flying community. The first and most evident benefit would be the arrival of a new, activity oriented, tourist into India, more interested in the culure and traditions of the country, more ecologically aware, and with a much greater " repeat " value. The second major benefit would be an interaction between traditional Indian kite makers and their foreign counterparts. An ancient traditional Indian skill would receive a new lease of life. Kite Festivals attract many other traditional handicraftsmen and performers. They, too, would benefit from the increased exposure.

The 2nd Desert Kite Festival will have almost 75 fliers from 7 countries.


From the USA comes a delegation of 7 people:

  1. George Peters - one of the foremost kite designers in the world today. With his striking kites and colourful banners George puts up a "wind garden," often flying many kites simultaneously and has sometimes been called a "One Man Kite Festival." George returns to India after 5 years, having last participated in the Golden Jubilee celebrations held at the Umaid Bhawan Palace in 1993. He is accompanied by Melanie Walker - a fine kite maker.
  2. Tal Streeter - the "Wise man of Kites" is also journeying to India after close to 5 years. A sculptor and artist, Tal turned to kites for the sheer exhuberance of this unusual art form - making kites which challenge his training as a sculptor. Tal is also a very well respected writer and has published 3 wonderful books which use kites as a vehicle to explore a country’s soul. " A Kite Journey through India," published in 1996 is a fascinating account of his travels in the country. Though his eyes are frequently raised to the sky, he doesn’t miss much on the ground either ! Tal has also written 2 books on kites in Japan - probably the finest books in the English language on the Japanese kite tradition. Tal is accompanied by his wife, Dorothy Ann Streeter and her sister, Virginia Lee Fryer - both serious kite enthusiasts and keen observers.

From the Drachen Foundation in Seattle comes Ms. Ali Fujino. The Drachen Foundation is a non profit organization devoted to kites. Their archives contain rare kites, plans, photographs, films, videos and all other kite related materials. Ali hopes to take back a treasure trove of Indian kite related material for display at the various exhibitions the Foundation organizes and supports.

Mr. Scott Skinner, President of the Drachen Foundation and a world renowned kite designer will also partcipate with his fabulous kites.


Click for larger ImageFrom France comes

  1. Jean-Philippe Bequet- Editor of Kite Passion and Cerf Volant Passion - the leading kite magazines in the world today with a combined circulation poised to touch the 1,00,000 mark. Jean-Philippe returns to Jodhpur after a year - he was with us for the birth of the 1st Festival in Jan 97.
  2. Nicolas Chorier- who is making waves with his aerial photography from kites. Nicolas, or Nicolai - as he is frequently callled, sends a remote controlled camera upto 1000 feet in the air on one of his kites and captures the scene in the sky and on the ground in an entirely unusual perspective. The camera Nicolai sends aloft can be a a still or video camera, capable of transmitting a signal to a receiver on the ground. We hope to get some really exciting footage of fighter kite battles from Nicolai.


From Belgium comes a team of three people who call themselves "The Desert Kite Team!"

  1. Frank Coenraets and Guy van Acker were with us at the 1st Festival. Apart from their beautiful big kites (Guy van Acker’s Cat kite was one of the most attractive kites in the air at the 1st Festival, Nest Lernout’s miniature Cody was a hit too)
  2. Andries van Looken.

The Belgians are keen fighter kite enthusiasts and will undoubtedly have learned from their experiences in India the last time and are expected to provide a serious challenge to the Indian fliers.

Hong KongClick for larger Image

Hong Kong is another country which boasts a fighter kite tradition and the Hong Kong Kite Fighting Club is sending a strong delegation of 5 expert fliers to challenge Indian fliers on home ground. While the Hong Kong fliers also use paper and bamboo kites and fly with manjha, a major difference is that the flier has no assistant to take up and let out line from the reel or charkhi - he does the whole thing all by himself, using his palms and the tops of his legs to reel in the charkhi, or let out line. The flier’s jeans have strips of rubber stitched onto the upper legs to facilitate this process ! This will be a new and exciting sight for Jodhpur.


From England we shall have an exciting buggier and mountain-boarder, Paul Thody of Air Born Kites. David Brittain and his buggy were the star attraction of the 1st Festival - the children followed him everywhere. Unfortunately, David will not be with us this time for personal reasons, but Paul should provide the excitement that high speed buggying generates.

New Zealand

From New Zealand come Colin Mckay and Geraldine Lopdell - owners of a kite store called "Kite Supply!" and serious fliers themselves.


There will be

  • 5 teams from Jodhpur
  • 2 from Bombay
  • 1 from Jaipur
  • 1 from Aligarh and
  • 1 from Bikaner

who will battle it out in the skies for the Fighter Kite Championship. Their most serious competition will come from the Hong Kong Fighter Kite Club - champion fliers and veterans of many aerial battles ! The Belgians too are expected to test the skills of our local fliers.

The Festival is being organised by Nomad Travels of Mumbai in collaboration with RTDC, Dept. of Tourism Govt. of India, Alliance Air, Indian Railways, the WG Umaid Bhawan Palace, Balsamand Palace, Rajasthan Tours, Karni Bhawan, the Air Force and the Army. All local coordination is being handled by Capt. M. Mathur a leading handicrafts exporter of Jodhpur and a childhood friend of the chief organiser of the Festival, Mr. Ajay Prakash, Chief Executive of Nomad Travels.

Mr. Prakash, an avid kite flier himself has participated in International kite Festivals in France and Thailand and hopes to make the Desert Kite Festival as popular as the Dieppe Kite Festival - the biggest and best kite festival in the world, held every two years in France where almost 2000 fliers from all over the world gather at a seaside park to enthrall the people.

Click for larger ImageFestivals like this generate tremendous spin off benefits in terms of tourism and support to local traditional craftsmen feels Prakash. " We have a great kite tradition, we have the finest craftsmen, the Indian fighter kite is recognised as a masterpiece of design the world over, India has some of the finest places to fly from, the sport is gaining popularity by the day. Isn’t it time we integrated with the global kite flying community ? " says Prakash.

A seminar will also be held during the Festival to chart out future plans for the Desert Kite Festival which has now established itself as an exciting event on the International kite Calendar. The Department of Tourism is expected to list the Desert Kite Festival as an an annual event in its calendar of Fairs and Festivals and to give it world wide publicity. The event already figures on the internet sites of Kite Passion magazine and Gomberg Kite Productions International. Nomad Travels, too is setting up a web site to promote the event and to promote tourism in general in the State.

Next year the Desert Kite Festival will host the World Cup of Fighter Kites - a challenging competition between all the fighter kite nations of the world - Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal and India to determine the best among the best and to determine who would bring home the Gold for their country if Kite Flying were included as a competitive sport in the Olympics.