If you’re in the market for camel (or some cattle or horses for that matter) then get yourself to Pushkar in November. This small village in the Rajasthan desert comes to life during the annual Pushkar Camal Fair. Its offers everything you would expect from India and a whole lot more.
Pushkar Camel Fair is a feast for the senses.
Drawing in traders, travellers and religious pilgrims from Rajasthan and beyond, this classic Indian festival has become a firm fixture for foreign tourists and expatriates.
It’s popular for good reason, but despite the rising numbers of people it’s a festival that hasn’t lost its charm.
Here’s five reasons why Pushkar Camel Fair should find a place on your to do list in November (there are plenty more reasons to go, but five should be enough to convince you to book a train ticket).
Go for the camels, the cattle and the beautiful white horses
Although the tourists have arrived in increasing numbers, Pushkar is first and foremost a place for people to trade.
That means there are plenty of camels, cattle and amazingly beautiful white horses with the most amazing bright blue eyes for sale. Wandering around the mela ground or taking a ride on a camel cart is something that shouldn’t be missed.
But there’s a lot more to Pushkar than trading animals
Pushkar is one for the holiest places in India and taking a dip in Pushkar Lake (or Sarovar) is said to cleanse sins (as well as cure skin diseases). Pushkar is mentioned in the Hindu epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharta, and coins from the 4th century refer to the lake.
Conveniently, Pushkar Camel Fair takes place at the most spiritual time of the year. That means tourists get to see the best of both worlds.
The animal trading generally takes place during the first half of the festival, whilst the religious celebrations take place in the second half.
Pushkar’s pagrees (turbans) are an awesome sight
If you’re after an impressive array of head wear, Pushkar will not disappoint.
It’s colour, colour, colour, and more colour, coming in a diverse range of dazzling pagrees.
If the turban’s don’t give the place enough colour, then the women’s saris will.
All the fun of the fair
It’s a friendly place. The fair has embraced the fact that it has become a tourist favourite. Foreigners get the chance to compete against locals in an annual Kabaddi match and there’s the longest mustache competition amongst other events that take place.
Musicians, acrobats, folk dancers and comedians rub shoulders with animal traders and sadhus. It’s the perfect mix.
It’s really well organised too. There’s always something going on in the parade ground or around the fair.
It’s a mela and that means there’s a chance to buy things
Traders come here to stock up on what they need for the year ahead. That means there are things for you to buy too. In addition to the mela, an arts and crafts sale is also organised. Called Shilpgram, it’s housed in a Tourist Village Campus on the side of the camp and is home to artisans from across Rajasthan who come to display their wares.
When is it: The date changes each year. In 2016 Pushkar runs from 8th – 15th November.
Train Station: The nearest train station from Delhi is Ajmer, which is about 11km away from Pushkar. The train tickets will sell out quickly, so make sure you book nice and early.
Accommodation: Tented camps pop up all over Pushkar to cater for toursits. Again, book up nice and early to secure a space.