One the highlights of my trip to India, and of any of my overseas adventures, was the time I spent in Pushkar and the Pushkar Camel Fair. You know you are going to experience something very special, as you first see the long lines of camels, going to and leaving the town on the small country roads as you drive into town!
The town is a place of lakes and temples located in Rajasthan. It is a sacred Hindu site with 52 ghats along Pushkar Lake where devout Hindus make at least one pilgrimage to bathe at the holy ghats and wash away their sins, thereby earning themselves a place in heaven. In addition to the ghats, it has many temples including one of the few temples in India dedicated to Brahma.
But in October/November, ten days after Diwali, this peaceful town becomes a huge annual fair and animal market. Tents and campsites spring up to accommodate the thousands of pilgrims, villagers with herds of cattle, horses and camels and tourists from all over the world. Men buy and sell their livestock while the women go to the stalls, full of bracelets, clothes, textiles and fabrics. I loved the camel bells and other decorations but I gave up my camels several years ago! There is entertainment, music and dance, and many food stalls along with camel races. In the evenings, people sit around campfires listening to folk music and telling stories. The fair reaches its peak on the night of the full moon festival when the pilgrims bathe in the lake. It is “unequaled for color, music, costumes and festivities” per the well-known book, 1000 Places to See Before you Die.
I stayed in a tented camp along with our group where we had our meals. For photography, morning is the time to visit to see the camps begin to wake up and the light is great. People were cooking, washing and beginning to sell their livestock. I also went back just before sunset when the light was also excellent.
Asia Transpacific Journeys has a great small group trip to visit the Fair. I went with them and was thrilled with the experience. You will stay in a private tented camp with good accommodations and meals.