Pushkar Camel Fair is the largest camel fair in India which is held in the town of Pushkar of Rajasthan state.
I go there every year during my Pushkar Photography Tour.
Pushkar means - Like the blue lotus.
Locally it is called the Pushkar Mela which is an annual 10-day camel and livestock fair. Pushkar is a holy Hindu town and has the only Brahma temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in India. It is celebrated from Kartik Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima, the full moon day of Kartik (October–November) according to the Hindu calendar.
The Mythological Story
According to the legend, the full moon day is considered to be the main day as Lord Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake.
Though buying and selling livestock happen as a part of the fair there are other activities with attracting a great number of national and international tourists. There are competitions like matka phod, bridal competition, longest mustache, kabaddi matches set against foreigners and turban tying contest for the foreign guests. It also includes plenty of cow beauty contests, camel safaris, horse shows, camel races and many more.
The livestock includes camels, sheep, goats, cows and horses too. Women go to the stalls, to buy clothes, bracelets, fabrics and textiles. The camel race starts off the festival. Many villagers come before a week to the festival. The folk songs and music entertains the public.
It is said that 50,000 camels and 2,00,000 people are gathered for the fair. Pushkar Camel Fair is considered to be the biggest colorful gathering of people and livestock. The villagers dress up in their traditional attire.
Declining Number of Camels
It’s very unfortunate that the use of camels is very limited nowadays. People prefer to use a motorized vehicle rather than using the slow camel. Also, the maintenance cost of a camel is significantly more than a vehicle.
When you talk to elderly people, you will come to know how they used to make a lot of money and go back home with gold coins and sweets, nows its more of bearing the burden of a tradition as they don’t have any other skills.
The Raika community has been in the profession of camel rearing for more than 7 centuries but, with the current state of affairs, it seems to be a dying profession. I was talking to a young camel owner. He said, he was an electrician by profession but since his father was not keeping well, he had to take leave from his job in Bangalore and come here. There are many like that.
So, maybe in another decade, these fares will be only in pictures.
Too Many Photographers in Pushkar?
Yes, it is true that there are too many photographers who come during the Pushkar Camel Fair. It has become really popular over the years and is a favorite for photographers. You just have to make your way and make sure that there are no photographers in your frame. Sometimes, it might not be possible, but it is possible. My pictures are proof.
There are a plethora of hotels in Pushkar starting from Rs.500/- onwards. There are many five star hotels in Pushkar, the most popular being Pushkar Westin.
Pushkar Ananta Resort is another popular hotel.
For backpackers, Zostel Puskar is highly recommended. It is quite economical and a great opportunity to meet other travelers.
Most of the hotels are located around the Pushkar lake.
TIP: If you are coming for the Camel fair, it is advisable to stay as close to the Mela Ground as possible. Because you will be traveling to the fair, two times a day every day (during morning and evening), staying closer reduces the travel time.
Places to Visit in Pushkar
If you are coming for the Pushkar Camel Fair, that will take most of your time.
Walking along the Pushkar Lake
The second palace where you might like to spend your time is the Ghats (bank) of the Bramha lake. You must spend one evening during the Arati.
Pushkar Brahma Temple
Pushkar Brahma Temple is another most visited palace in Pushkar.
The Bramha temple is the most visited place in Pushkar for the pilgrims. This is one of the very few Bramha temples in India. According to Hindu mythology, Bramha is the creator, but due to some incident, he is not a very popular god.
You might like to have a quick look. Unfortunately, most of the time it is too crowded, and no opportunity for photography inside.
One more place I would highly recommend is the Savitri Mata temple. Located on top of a hill, you get great views from here. It is a nice trek up to the top.
Rangji Temple Pushkar
Rangji Temple is another very nice temple to spend some time. Here, there is no crowd, unlike the Bramha temple.
Apart from there, the streets of Pushkar. There is a lot happening in the streets. You will see lots of Sadhus and pilgrims who come here from all over Rajasthan to visit the fair.
Pushkar is hot in summer and cold in winter. Temperature ranges from 25 degrees to 40 degrees Celsius in summer. Winter temperature varies from 5 degrees to 30 degrees celsius.
Tip: If you go to Camel fair in the morning (early morning is a good time), do carry a warm jacket.
How to Reach Pushkar
Nearest Airport to Pushkar
The nearest airport is Kishangarh. There are limited flights from New Delhi. It is just 50 km from Pushkar and takes about 90 minutes to reach.
The nearest international airport is Jaipur. Jaipur airport is 150 km from Pushkar and takes about 3.5 hours to reach.
Nearest Railway to Pushkar
If you are coming by train, you can come to Ajmer.
Ajmer to Pushkar is 16kms and takes about 38 mins to go. There are a lot of taxis available. UBER is a great way to commute.
Enjoy my Pushkar Images
Tips for photographers
If you are planning your tour to Pushkar for the Camel fair, make sure you reach here a week before the actual festival date. Most camels are sold and they leave early.
Utilize the mornings and evenings.
Wear comfortable shoes, you will have to walk a lot and that how you will find photographic opportunities.
Carry less gear. Less is more.
In my previous tours, I carried two full-frame bodies with a lot of lenses and that became my limitation. However, a telephoto lens will be very helpful for capturing candid portraits.
The camel owners ask for money. The initial travelers started offering money and now its kind of a must to take a picture. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it is. So, carry a lot of notes of less denomination.
Keep a note on the Tourism Department calendar of events. There are a lot of interesting events happening during the fair, like camel riding, most beautiful camel, mustache competition, etc.
ThanksgivingThanks to all the participants on my Photography tours to Pushkar over the last 8 years.
All rights reserved. No copying without permission of the author Ssaurabh A Chatterjee