The Pushkar camel fair is one of the world’s biggest camel fairs. Over 50,000 camels are bought and sold in Pushkar, a tiny desert town of Rajasthan, during the annual Pushkar Fair.
The Pushkar Camel Fair was historically a bazaar for camel and cattle traders during the holy ‘Kartik Purnima festival’, held on the full moon in the Hindu lunar month. Locally known as “Pushkar ka Mela”, the fair sees 5 days of a variety of cultural activities that are deep-rooted in Rajasthani identity. Along with the well-known camel and livestock display, other attractions at the fair include “matka phod” (bursting of the earthen pot), showcasing the longest moustache, as well as “bridal competition”.
During the five days of festivities, tens of thousands of tourists flock the town of Pushkar, and it is said that at times there are more photographers present, shooting the events, than the locals. Off late, the fair also witnesses cricket matches between the local players and randomly selected foreign tourists. Recent estimates show that about 2,00,000 visitors attend the festival. These include not only tourists, but also pilgrims.
Pilgrims attend the festival to take a sacred dip in Pushkar’s lake. The moon night is considered the most auspicious time to take a dip in the lake and participants are said to be bestowed with special blessings.
What does the event offer?
The most famous event here is the camel race. However, there are also eccentric ‘beauty contests’ for camels. The camel owners decorate their camels in fineries and even shave them for this event. Other attractions include temple dancing, folk music competitions, as well as an exhibition of local handicrafts. However, if you’re a foreigner get ready to haggle; don’t make the mistake to expect ‘local rates’.
There are also other performers of local arts, including magicians, dancers, acrobats, snake charmers and carousel rides. Apart from walking amid the thronging masses visiting the event, you can have a bird-eye view of the event via a hot air balloon ride!
When is the Pushkar camel fair?
While the fair is usually held in November, the exact date is calculated based on lunar cycles. It is advisable to reach the festival venue early if you’re looking to get a view of the camels. Soon after, the festival focuses more on religious celebrations. This year the fair will be held between October 30th and November 6.
How do I get to Pushkar?
If you’re planning on travelling by train, the closest station is Ajmer, which connects with Pushkar with a recently established train line. If you’re driving, it’s a quick half hour drive through Nag Parbat to Pushkar. Local buses are not great for a comfortable experience but are incredibly cheap, and ideal if you’re looking to soak in the local ambiance. Taxis and auto rickshaws can be expensive, so you should be prepared to bargain aggressively, especially during the Pushkar camel fair. If you plan to fly in, the closest airport is in Jaipur, approximately three hours away.