The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the most authentic carnivals in India. Originally intended to attract camels, horses, and cattle traders during the holy Kartik Purnima festival, the fair now attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
The Pushkar Camel Fair is held every year around the full moon during the Hindu lunar month, which usually falls in November. Pilgrims come to swim in the sacred waters of the Pushkar lake to be forgiven of their sins, especially during the two days around the full moon which is said to be the most auspicious time to do so, because of the special blessings it bestows.
‘What makes the Pushkar Camel Fair so amazing is the first few days of the festival, when the sand dunes at the edge of the Thar Desert are full of over 30,000 camels for as far as the eye can see!’
Tourists rub elbows with camel traders and pilgrims in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see camels – and these are no ordinary camels: they are adorned so elaborately, shaved, dressed up, made to dance and race, and even compete in beauty contests. The next few days of the fair are filled with folk music concerts, snake charmers, magic shows, spiritual walks, acrobats temple dancing, an arts bazaar, and a crazy mustache competition.
For the best experience, go early to watch the Pushkar Camel Festival in full swing. The mornings tend to be more quiet as the pilgrims bathe in the lake, but in the afternoons and evenings, the entire desert lights up with music, dancing, and lots of camel action especially during the first few days. Then the rest of the festival is concentrated on fun spiritual activities. The program of events changes regularly, so make sure you grab a guide from your hotel.
Want to take your Pushkar Camel Fair experience a notch higher? Then go on a hot air balloon to watch the entire spectacle from the air!
The Pushkar Camel Fair is held in the tiny town of Pushkar, found on the outskirts of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, India. Most of the activities will be centered on the fairgrounds, found westwards of the town center near where the National Highway 89 and the Brahma Temple Road intersect.
Check out the mela grounds where most of the events and contests will be held. This is where you’ll see livestock dancing, the camel races, and other kinds of outlandish contests never before seen in other parts of the world.
If you’re tired or want to watch the spectacle from afar, the best place to do so is at the Savitri Mandir, a lookout point that takes around 45 minutes of hiking to get to.
Pushkar is a pretty small town, so getting around on foot is easy and straightforward. Motorbikes and cycles can also be rented to explore the town and other nearby cities. But for a truly authentic experience, check out the camel safaris.
There are guesthouses and hotels found in and around the Pushkar lake, as well as on the outskirts of town. Accommodations near the festival grounds get fully booked near the fair dates, so make sure to book early.
Temple hopping is a must-do in Pushkar. There’s more than 500 temples in Pushkar alone, all of which have their own unique personality. Spiritual walks are a great way to see the most popular temples efficiently.
Shopping in Pushkar is awesome! Rajasthani silk clothing are the best buys here, as well as jewellery and leather goods. The main street comes alive with markets come sun down, perfect for lots of eating and shopping.
The Pushkar Camel Fair will be held on October 30 – November 12, 2019.
Feature image credit: Vinod Khapekar Photography
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