A kaleidoscope of colours and a chaotic cacophony greeted me when I visited the Pushkar Fair this year. I have heard and read so much about this fair that in my mind I had already visited the place, traversed its alleys, took a dip in the holy lake while marvelling at the esoteric Brahma Temple and stared at the millions of camels displayed for trade. But when I actually visited the Pushkar Fair, I clearly realized that my imagination fell short of the actual magnanimity of the event! It was an overwhelming experience of the senses, especially that of sight, sound and smell.
My decision to visit the Pushkar Fair was quite a sudden one. A friend from school whom I had met after a long 14 years suggested the place sometime back. And my itchy feet are always in search of adventure (Yes, visiting Pushkar during the Camel Fair is no short of an adventure). After a lot of permutation and combinations with our leaves, finally, we were on the train towards Ajmer.
The Pushkar Fair is held annually beginning on the Hindu calendar month of Kartik and ends on the Kartik Purnima (full moon night) at Pushkar, a charming town situated just at the edge of the Thar Desert. Considered to be one of the most sacred towns of the Hindus, Pushkar finds mention in the Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata also. Like any temple town, Pushkar also has its share of mythology and history.
It is said that the demon Vajra Nabha was creating havoc on the earthlings. Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe killed the demon with his celestial weapon – the lotus flower. In this process, petals of the lotus fell on the earth where the lake was created. So the Pushkar Lake is considered one of the most sacred places according to the Hindus. Taking a dip into the Pushkar Lake on the Kartik Poornima equals the virtue and good deeds that can be attained only by sacrifice and penance and worship. No wonder, Pushkar sees a surge of devotees and pilgrimage during the Kartik Poornima. And the date of the Pushkar Fair also coincides with the date of Kartik Poornima. Historically too, Pushkar finds mention in the inscriptions at Sanchi as a centre of pilgrimage.
Pushkar is the temple town of Rajasthan. The lake is infact, surrounded by 52 ghats and almost 400 temples.Usually a quaint town, Pushkar turns itself into a cultural and visual extravaganza during the 15 days of Fair. Pushkar Fair or the Pushkar Camel Fair is actually a livestock fair amidst cultural background. It brings together traders and villages from all over Rajasthan where camels, horses and cattle are traded. It also brings together visitors from around the world to experience one of the epic spectacles. It is estimated that more than 250000 visitors travel to Pushkar during the Fair.
Well, the Pushkar Fair actually celebrates the importance of camels in the life of Rajasthani people. Personally, I have always found camels to be fascinating. So this fair dedicated to camels was on my bucket list for long. The trading of the camels mainly takes place a few days before the fair begins. Because, now the fair is mainly to attract tourism with giant ferry wheels, various competitions, cultural shows and delectable Rajasthani cuisines.
We happened to be at Pushkar in the last two days of the fair. Camels that were brought for trading were almost gone. The fair-ground had camels decorated colourfully. These camels were mainly used for the tourists to take a ride or pull a caravan. I was lost in the place. There were so many colours all around. Not only the colourfully decked up camels but also the turbans of the men were so strikingly colourful. And the women with their colourful dresses and glittering jewellery were there. But the most beautiful of all were the smiles on the faces of the people. That made the whole place brighter. I was overwhelmed and completely at loss for words. It was more magnificent than whatever picture I had in my mind about Pushkar.
The fair-ground itself was a spectacle with shops of jewellery, traditional dresses, utensils, Rajasthani handicrafts and weapons and various baubles. Food stalls, candy stalls and giant wheels were all there. You should definitely not miss the food stalls offering spicy and mouth-watering Rajasthani cuisines. There are also magic shows, circus and other shows going on in the fair.
We took a caravan ride towards the dunes to see the sunset. Well, sunsets are always special to me and the sunset at Pushkar will remain one of my favourites. And the evening was spent listening to the soulful voice of Mame Khan. Yes, he performed that day at the Pushkar fair in the evening cultural programme.
The Pushkar Lake is another striking place at Pushkar. As I have already told, the place is considered holy among the Hindu pilgrims. So even at 9 PM, we saw a few taking their dip of faith in the waters of the Pushkar Lake. We visited the Lake the next morning too and went around the lake doing the Parikrama. I also went exploring the small town to delve into its culture, discover the aroma of the place and see the unseen. It is always enjoyable to unravel the secrets of a place, but in Pushkar during the time of the fair is not for the faint-hearted. There were people in multitudes. Being the last day of the fair, there was a sea of people. Visiting the Brahma Temple became quite a task for us.
Pushkar Fair is a carnival. It is the celebration of the indomitable spirit of the desert people. And Pushkar itself has a story at every nook and corner. You just have to look for it. The camels, the people and their smiles all have their own tales to share.
So, how did I like the Pushkar Fair? Well, I was simply impressed by the place and the fair had me speechless. Will I visit the Fair again? Definitely, I will. One day spent at the Pushkar Fair seemed quite less to me.
How to reach the Pushkar Fair?
The nearest airport is Jaipur and the nearest Railway station is Ajmer. Pushkar is only 16 km from Ajmer. Ajmer is well connected by roadways from major towns in Rajasthan as well as Delhi.
Places to see in Pushkar apart from the Fair:
- The Pushkar Lake
- The Brahma Temple
- Naga Parvat
- Savitri Temple. You can take a ropeway ride to the Savitri temple and have a view of the entire Pushkar town from the hill top.
- You can also take hot air balloon ride at Pushkar.
Some important Tips:
- During the Pushkar Fair, if you want to see the camels in trade, visit Pushkar a few days before the start of the fair. You can see the camels arriving and can take wonderful pictures.
- Just be careful of your belongings in the crowd.
- Be ready to walk a lot. Because of the fair, vehicle will not be allowed in most of the places.
- Don’t forget to taste the Rajasthani cuisine at Pushkar. Being a holy town, you will not get non-vegetarian items at Pushkar. Also, do taste the sweets from the numerous sweet shops, especially the Rasmalai, Rabri and Kalakand. You will get authentic Rajasthani food at Mamata Hotel in Pushkar.
- The Pushkar Fair has many interesting events on the fair-ground. You can see various competitions like the moustache competitions among others. They also have fashion shows for the foreigners. Decked in traditional Indian attires, men and women from across the world sashay in the ramp showing their oriental side.