The Pushkar Camel Fair

If you ever travel to India, try your hardest to time it around the annual Pushkar camel fair. Not only does it take place in Rajasthan – one of my favourite areas of India, which includes Udaipur, Jaipur, Agra, and Jodphur – it is about as colourful as India gets.

From Jaipur airport, be prepared for a 2-½ hour hair-raising ride along the highway to Pushkar. My husband and I encountered close shaves with oncoming trucks, camel carts, and cars driving up the wrong side of the road, despite the concrete wall separating the lanes. To quote a local, “In India you must have good horn, good brakes, and good luck.”

Also be prepared for your accommodation not living up to expectations. The supposedly 5 star Swiss-made tents at Pushkar’s Royal Desert Camp were anything but 5 star! After trekking through scorching, bur-filled sand in the heat of the day to our tent, we were greeted with lumpy mattresses.

Oh, and be prepared to become a vegetarian teetotaller for the duration of your stay. I hadn’t done my research, so I was unaware that Pushkar is a holy town where alcohol and meat are forbidden. Think of it as a health camp and don’t make the same mistake we did by giving your driver money to buy contraband beer from a distant ‘wine shop’ (an odd name for a shop that doesn’t actually sell wine). He bought himself a bottle of cheap whiskey with the change and disappeared for two days.

Luckily, the centre of town is closed to cars during the fair, so we didn’t need our driver. Instead, we relied on the camel cart drivers to ferry us across the desert each day. Well, ‘rely’ is perhaps too strong a word. The first driver we hired promised he’d return to collect us in four hours after we paid him for the return trip. He never returned. It probably had something to do with the inflated tourist price he fleeced from us, the equivalent to a week’s normal wage. He most likely took the rest of the week off.

The centre of Pushkar was colourful and chaotic. Hindu pilgrims immersed themselves in the filthy water at the ghats surrounding the holy lake. Waves of people visited the many surrounding temples. The daily schedule at the Mela Ground offered everything from camel races to moustache competitions and Indian bride line-ups. There were Indian holy men, hawkers, five-legged holy cows, Rajasthani women in beautifully decorated saris, camel traders donning bright turbans, and thousands of camels. Due to the holiness of Pushkar and the general hospitality of Indians, the only hostility we encountered was from a stoned, dreadlocked, European hippie in his sixties dressed as an Indian holy man. Curiously no one was asking him for blessings.

So, Pushkar was not a trip without incident. But that’s India. You’ve got to love it.

11 thoughts on “The Pushkar Camel Fair

  1. Date of festival – 6nov – 17 nov 2013
    Place – Pushkar Rajasthan
    Information Mail Id – info@ijdreamvacation.com
    Other Local Information : 09810893332
    Website : http://pushkarfairindia.com

    Get ready to experience all the fun and frolic at the enthralling Pushkar Fair! Enjoy the annual camel and live stock fair in the holy town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India. This is one of the most popular and largest fairs of buying and selling of livestocks. The spell binding fair is also a popular tourist attraction as it hosts some of the most enjoyable and unique competitions such as “matka phod”, “longest moustache”, and “bridal competition”. The exciting Pushkar Fair will run from 6th November to 17th November 2013!

  2. I have been ‘settled’ in Australia for 14 years now…the last 8 waiting for a daughter from the China Program. I love your posts and remember my 6 months in India .Now I have ‘holidays’ not travelling adventures, but I can re-live it through you. Thankyou! I love your blog!

    • I can’t imagine how long the 8 year adoption wait has felt for you. But it will be all worthwhile when your daughter finally joins you. We waited six months for my youngest daughter’s adoption and that felt like a life time to me. I will keep my fingers crossed for you. It’s a sad state of affairs that it takes so long to place a child in a loving home when there are so many kids around the world in orphanages.
      Thanks for reading my blogs. I hope you continue to enjoy them. There will be plenty more India adventures to come.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    That trip sounds great! I’m glad to have found your blog through the Open Adoption Blogger site. Your blog kinda reminds me of “Mut Hut Mama” – an American parent writing about her experiences living on an African wildlife reserve.

    Good to find you 🙂
    Addison

  4. So many memories of a wonderful experience in Pushkar, and the vaguries of travelling in India! Well done

  5. Must spread my wings one day and head over there, sounds like fun. No need to tell Steve that there will be no meat or beer though!

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