What is the Pushkar Camel Fair?
Fifty thousand odd camels, for a start. The Pushkar Camel Fair has a unique character if 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 local camel and other cattle owners, 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 has become a big 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. This is the earlier part of the festival, say the first week or so and then it becomes all about pilgrimage and taking a dip in the holy Pushkar lake.
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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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 go up to get to Pushkar from Ajmer is called Nag Parbat (Snake Mountain) to Pushkar. You can even take an auto rickshaws but all the best with getting the rickshaw driver to take you by meter. Either way what you should pay him is 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, thousands of them, they’re so many of them all dressed up, being paraded around for sale, that you almost miss the two odd lakh people that are in Pushkar at the same time. Camel traders, pilgrims, tourists, all there to play their parts in this old school but still going strong, colorful 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.
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 all the rituals around it while evening is the best time to witness the ground where the fair is held at its bustling 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 of make your bookings in. 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 things can go out of hand at such places during festivals sometimes, so 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 and desert, so stay hydrated, cover your head and face to avoid the sand troubling you too much, 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.
Contact us to plan your trip to India around Pushkar Camel Fair.