Camel drivers, sellers, shepherds, ambulants and gipsies. Welcome to Pushkar Camel Fair, a dusty confusion that will leave everybody pleasantly amazed. In November the annual camel fair takes place in Pushkar; an unmissable event for anybody passing by Rajasthan in that period.
Here there are not official communications, websites, or local newspaper to indicate the exact date nor the program of the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. Here, in the little villages of That Desert, cameleers and shepherds share the atavistic knowledge that 8 days before the Kartika (the month of November) full moon the Pushkar Camel Fair will begins. And they know that if they want to sell the camels and the livestock they worked on one year long they have to reach Pushkar on time. They start thus endless walking journeys, that can last up to one month, through the desert dunes. Indeed the first spectacle you can admire while reaching Pushkar during the very first days of the fair is the one of cameleers emerging in the distance from from the sand dunes with slow and tired rhythm, followed by herds of camels keeping the same pace.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE CAMELEERS
When everybody, cameleers, shepherds, ambulants, gipsies or simple stuff sellers that make the Camel fair a big part of their low earnings, has arrived, the first day is dedicated to the settlement of the camp, of the tends, of the goods and especially of the herds, so to present tem in the best possible way to buyers.
WELCOME TO PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR
Then the real fair starts. The desert around the little town of Pushkar is now the scene of battles to the last rupee to buy a camel, a goat or a horse. Magic shows or local dances mix with sellers of anything could exist and with tourists. Everything can be sold and everything can be bought here, at the Pushkar Camel fair.
Exchanges and negotiations push ahead for some days between new arrivals, endless bargains, frauds and refunds. The nights spend under the big desert stars see the camps lighted with fires, songs, dances and parties that start at night when the negotiations end. There is who, lonely, studies commercial strategies for tomorrow, and who instead joins the celebrations.
Because Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the most relevant economic and negotiation events in the area but also celebration and religion. The shepherds and the nomadic people of the desert come here to sell animals to get their yearly income but also to pray on the borders of the holy lake of Pushkar, second holiest Hindu city after Varanasi, and to enjoy the Mela, a religious celebration that takes place immediately after the fair.
THE HOLY FESTIVAL
When the camel fair is definitely ended (this year 25thNovember) the Mela religious Fest starts. The city gets full of colorful bazaars and everybody, cameleers, buyers, sellers, celebrate it together praying and resting. Convenants are made and weddings are agreed till the last day of the fest, the Kartik Purnima day when, according to the tradition, the prayers arrived for the occasion in Pushkar have to do the roundabout of the holy lake.
The Pushkar camel fair, even if nowadays very targeted for international tourism, because, or to cause, of the efforts of the Rajasthan touristic office that understood it could be a very attractive event for tourists, still preserves the true characteristics of once upon a time. Obviously, owing to this touristic development, ambulants trying to sell souvenirs increased quite much, hotel prices doubled and there is the risk itself not to find an accommodation for full booking of the structures. But this dusty confusion is part of the beauty of the event.
Sunset at the Pushkar Camel Fair
WHERE TO STAY
Pushkar, during the days of the fair, is filed whit luxury tended camps for tourists that want to see this event. We suggest to those wanting to try the thrill to sleep under the stars, in an accommodation not stars lacking however, to book at the Royal Safari Camp (tends from 140 per night), The Heritage Camp (tends from 130 euros per night) and Camp Bliss (tends from 220 euros per night).
To have more information about Pushkar, read HERE our Pushkar city guide.
Words by Federico Sigali
Pictures by Anthony Pappone