Visiting Pushkar Camel Fair Rajasthan
Camel time in Pushkar (Photo Credits)
What is the Pushkar Camel Fair?
For a start, fifty thousand odd camels. The Pushkar Camel Fair has a unique character of its own. It’s extremely colourful with a whole lot of things going on: Folk performances, camel races, dances, great food, art and photography, it all comes together here.
It started out as a local trade fair for camel and other cattle owners. It takes place every year at the time of Kartik Purnima (the full moon in the month of Kartika in the Hindu lunar calendar), and over the years, it has become an attraction for travellers.
Camel trading, coupled with a bunch of religious rituals is still the premise of the whole affair, and the trading is what draws most tourists. The later part becomes a pilgrimage and ‘a must’ is taking a dip in the holy Pushkar lake.
Villagers gather with their camels and other livestock at Pushkar Camel Fair (Photo Credits)
When and where is it held?
The venue is always the same—Pushkar, near Ajmer in Rajasthan. It usually falls in November, depending on the Hindu calendar.
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Inn Seventh Heaven, a beautiful oasis to stay at (Photo Credits)
Getting to Pushkar
Ajmer, about 30 mins away by road (very frequent and cheap local buses and a whole lot of other rides are available), is the nearest railway takes you from Ajmer to Pushkar (since 2012). The mountain which you pass to get to Pushkar from Ajmer is called Nag Parbat (Snake Mountain). You can even take an auto rickshaw, but all the best with getting the rickshaw driver to take you by meter. Either way you should only be paying him 100 rupees. If you’re flying down, Jaipur is the closest airport and the drive to Pushkar is about 2.5 hrs. Taxi fares are almost double (USD 30-60) during the Camel Fair as compared to the rest of the year.
How is Pushkar Camel Fair celebrated?
The first thing you’ll notice when you get here is… well… camels! They’re all over the place! There are so many of them all dressed up and being paraded around for sale, that you almost miss the two odd lakh people that are in the area at the same time. Camel traders, pilgrims, tourists, all there to play their parts in this old school but still going strong, colourful carnival.
There are camel races and some hilarious camel beauty contests – camels are even shaved for them! Temple dancing, snake charmers, folk singers, classical musicians, magicians, acrobats, an art and craft bazaar, camel dances and trading, carousel rides are all available to entertain you.
There’s another set of pious people you’ll find here who have come for the purpose of pilgrimage. They bathe in holy lake waters of to wash off their sins. Pushkar is considered the only holy land for worshipping Lord Brahma – the creator of the universe and the lake is said to have formed where he dropped a flower. After all the hoopla with the camels is over, full moon and two days around it are dedicated by pilgrims to bathing in the lake. It is said the special blessings are bestowed upon those who take a dip in Pushkar Lake on full moon day.
Pushkar Camel Fair (Photo Credits)
Best ways to experience the Pushkar Camel Fair while travelling in India?
If you are willing to spend, you might want to go up in a hot air balloon and get an aerial view of the scene. Go on one of those special Pushkar Fare walking tours (they run in the morning evening). The morning walk is best to see pilgrims bathing in the lake and have a first hand experience of rituals being performed. While evening, is the best time to witness the ground where the bustling fair is held at its best.
Precautions for Pushkar Camel Fair in India?
Pushkar is full to the brim with visitors during fair, and accommodations prices skyrocket while rooms run out very fast. That’s why it’s better to arrive a few days before and get a good cheap deal to make your bookings. You can choose to stay anywhere between a home/farm stay, a guest house, a desert tent or a swanky heritage hotel in Pushkar.
Pushkar is a bit infamous for its drug scene and you know how sometimes, things can go out of hand at such places during festivals. Thus, it’s best to stay on your guard. Don’t get duped by local pundits (priests) and other greedy people who are looking to make a buck off tourists. It gets very crowded during the fair and you’re basically in a desert, so stay hydrated, cover your head and face to avoid the sand troubling you, dress relatively conservative so you don’t get the wrong kind of attention (its Rajasthan you’re in, not Goa).
Visiting India during November? Here is what you need to know regarding weather and other best places to visit things to do.
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