World ? Asia ? India

Pushkar Camel Fair

The star of the show. Courtesy of India Tourism Office
Courtesy of India Tourism Office
25 Oct - 2 Nov 2009 (annual)
Link: Pushkar Camel Fair Website
The peaceful lakeside town of Pushkar fills to bursting during this unmissable annual event. Originally intended to attract camel and cattle traders to do business during the Katrik Purnima festival, Pushkar Camel Fair has grown into a major tourist attraction.
Indians flock with their camels to the small town on the edge of the Thar Desert a week in advance of the Pushkar Camel Fair, which officially lasts for a few days around the full moon. The highlight of the fair is undoubtedly the camel racing, which takes place amidst singing and dancing in the amphitheatre. In addition, camels, sporting ornamental saddles and head-dresses adorned with ribbons, are bought and sold. Although the fair is traditionally a sideline to the main Hindu festival, the carnival atmosphere makes the event accessible to all.

As well as being able to ride on camels or in carts, it is also possible to arrange camel treks into the surrounding desert with, well, just about anyone that you meet in Pushkar. At festival time the streets are overrun with tourists, travellers, hawkers, painted and bizarrely contorted sadhus (holy men), children, animals and bicycles - all of Indian life concentrated in one mass, funnelled through the narrow streets of the town.

Once the Pushkar Camel Fair is over, life in Pushkar returns to normal. The town is peaceful and, without hordes of people, a very beautiful place to stay - countless hotels have rooftops on which to soak up the sun and enjoy the sight of locals flying kites high over the surrounding hills.
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