Pushkar Camel Fair
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Pushkar Fair 2018 brings in the real excitement and everyone is waiting to explore the glamour accompanied with true happiness. The event attracts many pilgrims from different corners of the country and you can feel the ultimate serenity, which purifies your mind and soul. It cleans your soul from all sins and thus you can discover the magical ambiance if the camel fair in Pushkar. Alongside, the enchanting view of the desert landscape takes you to the real heaven and thus it becomes a popular tourist destination in Rajasthan especially during Pushkar Fair.

 

The City

The small and beautiful town of Pushkar is set in a valley just about 14 km off Ajmer in the north Indian state of Rajasthan. Surrounded by hills on three sides and sand dunes on the other, Pushkar forms a fascinating location and a befitting backdrop for the annual religious and cattle fair which is globally famous and attracts thousands of visitors from all parts of the world.

 

Importance

According to mythology, all the 330 gods and goddesses of Hinduism assembled at Pushkar Lake on the day of Purnima (full moon night) to consecrate the lake. This is how the lake came to be deemed as sacred. This is the reason behind an enormous amount of pilgrims coming together at the Pushkar Lake for a holy bath to wash away their sins and pay their respects at the Brahma Mandir, the only one of its kind in India. The waters of this lake are also believed to possess healing properties.

 

Pushkar has also been mentioned in the Mahabharata, a 2000 yrs old epic as one of the most ancient sacred sites in India. Besides this, it has also been referred to in the Hindu scriptures as one of the five holy cities.

The dates of the Pushkar Camel Fair are linked to the Hindu lunar calendar. The Fair has two components — camel trading and religious rituals. The camel trading, which is the main attraction for tourists, happens at the commencement of the festival and then winds up as the focus shifts to the religious aspect. Pushkar is among the five dhams or pilgrimages that are held in high esteem by Hindus, the others being Badrinath, Puri, Rameswaram, and Dwarka. It is said that in battle lord Brahma killed the demon Vajra Nabh with a lotus flower, whose petals floated down to earth and landed in three places in and around Pushkar where lakes sprang up. According to legends, Pushkar Lake was surrounded by 500 temples and 52 palaces (several rajas and maharajas maintained palaces here for pilgrimage) at one point. The Brahma temple is the most important temple here and is, in fact, the only Brahma temple of India.

 

If you’re interested in the camels (and other livestock), you should plan to arrive a few days before the official start of the fair. The official dates are when the government-sponsored cultural activities take place. However, camel traders tend to arrive early and leave early.

 

Highlights

Although the Pushkar Mela is primarily held to showcase the camels and livestock, and is the world’s largest cattle fair, there are other events and features which are the main highlights of this fair. These events enhance the entire experience of the fair while gifting the visitor with some lovely memories.

 

Places around

Savitri Lake

The Savitri Temple located atop Ratnagiri hills is one of the must visit places in Pushkar. Blessed with scenic views of the valley, it’s a picturesque lookout. Escape to the temple early in the morning for a spectacular sunrise or wait for a glorious sunset. To get to the top, opt for the hour long strenuous uphill climb of or take the ropeway. The ropeway takes you to the very top in 6 minutes costing around INR 90 per person.

Anasagar Lake

In the heart of Pushkar, Anasagar Lake is a pictorial beauty. The perfect background for a relaxing evening stroll. Enjoy boating, savor the local chaat (snacks) or just click pictures and watch the golden sunset. Another place to check out by the lake is, Daulat Bagh. The lush garden laid out by Emperor Jahangir is a breathtaking site.

Taragarh Fort

The beautiful Taragarh Fort in Ajmer built by the Chauhan rulers is one of the places to not miss in Rajasthan. Dating back to 1345, it is one of the oldest hill forts in the world. After a steep climb of around two hours, one can reach the fort and marvel at the impressive Mughal designs of the bygone era.

Other interesting places to check out include Lake Foy Sagar, Mayo College, Adhai Din Ka Jhonpda, Soniji Ki Nasiyan and Nareli Jain Temple.

Ajmer

One of these is Ajmer. Located at a distance of almost 16km, its home to the famous mausoleum, known as “dargah Sharif”, of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti. Besides this, one should also visit the Mayo College. Founded by the 6th Earl of Mayo, the Viceroy of India from 1869-1872, it’s famous for its incredible architecture.

Khimsar

Then, there is Khimsar, which lies at a distance of almost 171km. One of the prime attractions of this place is the Nagaur Fort. Founded by Prince Rao Karamasji, the eighth son of Rao Jodha in 1523, it was constructed with the intention of protecting the village from invasions. The walls of this 450 years old structure is worth admiring, as are the finely carved balconies of the Zenana Mahal. Although it has been converted into a heritage hotel, it still houses the royal family.

 

Getting There

The closest railway station, which receives long distance Indian Railways trains, is Ajmer. The train line linking Ajmer and Pushkar opened in early 2012. The Ajmer-Pushkar Passenger departs Ajmer at 10 a.m. and arrives in Pushkar at 11.25 a.m. It’s an unreserved train, so you can’t book tickets in advance. The fare is 10 rupees. The train doesn’t run on Tuesdays or Fridays.

Otherwise, if you go by road, it’s a windy 30 minute drive through the aptly named Snake Mountain (Nag Parbat) to Pushkar. The local buses are dilapidated and crowded but the fare is only 20 rupees and the journey is very authentic (translation, rather rough). Buses depart from the bus station, as well as near the railway station (walk across the pedestrian overpass to the opposite side of the road). One way in a taxi usually costs approximately 500-600 rupees but can be more during the camel fair. Negotiate hard!

Alternatively, the nearest airport is in Kishangarh, about 40 minutes northeast of Ajmer. It was inaugurated on October 11, 2017. The airport is to receive daily flights from Delhi, plus other cities including Udaipur and Mumbai. The flights are expected to be operated by small commuter airlines such as Zoom Air and Supreme Airlines, in addition to carriers such as Air India and Spice Jet. The other option is the airport in Jaipur, around two and a half hours away. Taxi fares to Pushkar can double during the festival. Expect to pay 2,000 rupees upwards.

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Details

The influx of visitors during the camel fair causes the demand for accommodations to skyrocket, and prices increase accordingly.

There are two main options for organizing a place to stay -- either arrive a couple of days before the fair starts and find somewhere (which is the cheaper option), or book in advance.
Accommodations include simple guesthouses, luxury tented camps set up in the desert especially for the festival, heritage hotels, and farm stays.

Itinerary

Here’s what you can expect in the lead-up to the festival and during it.

 

November 12, 2018 — camels, herders and traders start arriving and setting up camp at the sand dunes.

 

November 13-14, 2018 — arrivals continue and the gathering grows at the sand dunes. Lively trading starts taking place. This is a great time for photography, as it’s possible to move around freely and observe the scene.

 

November 15, 2018 — the sand dunes are at their most crowded with camels, horses, other livestock, traders and herders.

 

November 16, 2018 — more and more people arrive in Pushkar, and the official program of camel races, competitions and other activities begins at the fairground.

 

November 17, 2018 — the scene at the sand dunes gets busy with camel cart rides, vendors, musicians, gypsies and tourists. Camels and traders start disappearing back into the desert as their business concludes.

 

November 18-19, 2018 — the town starts to swell, especially around the temples and market area near the lake, as pilgrims begin arriving for the religious part of the fair. Official events for tourists continue at the stadium. There are amusement rides, folk dances, music performances, stalls, and other entertainment including turban tying and mustache competitions.

 

November 20, 2018 — the town is full of colorfully dressed pilgrims from all over the region, while most of the camels and their herders have now left the sand dunes.

 

November 21-22, 2018 — The town is busy with pilgrims. Bhajans(devotional hymns) and religious ceremonies take place at the temples. The most important temple, which is the center of celebrations, is dedicated to Lord Brahma (the creator) and the religious part of the festival is held in honor of him.

 

November 23, 2018 (Kartik Punima) — this is the holy full moon night when thousands of pilgrims gather to bathe in the lake to absolve themselves of all sins, drawing the fair to a close. There’s a grand finale of events, including a maha aarti (worship with fire) by the lake and fireworks display.

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Tips

Scams to Be Aware Of:

If you go to the lake at Pushkar, it's likely that you'll be approached by Brahmins or Hindu priests who will give you a blessing (even if you don't want it or agree to it) and ask for a large donation in return. They will pressure you to pay up and even threaten to call the police. It's also common for locals to come and give you flowers or flower petals, and then demand a large sum of money. Be sure to firmly avoid anyone who approaches you.

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Organizer

Rajasthan Government

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