The five-day fair is as important to locals as it is exciting for tourists. Villagers from across India may spend days trekking through the harsh desert to reach the fair in hopes of trading camels for cash. Men barter, buy and sell other livestock, including sheep, goats and cows, while the women shout out deals on homemade clothes, fabrics and bracelets from rows of cramped stalls. Silver ornaments, richly printed textiles, beaded necklaces from Nagaur, body tattoos and cowrie jewelry are just a few of the varied treasures one can find among the hundreds of stalls. For locals, the camel fair is a potentially lucrative opportunity; for tourists, it is a great opportunity to score inexpensive souvenirs.
Camel races start off the festival, and the following days are filled with activity and fun. Under the hot desert sun, locals participate in surprisingly competitive moustache contests, bridal races and more. People are not the only competitors; the camels also vie for prizes. The extravagantly decorated creatures compete in beauty contests and show off their strength by carrying large numbers of people in front of cheering crowds.
At night, the full moon and massive bonfires illuminate performances by Thar desert locals. Puppet shows induce laughter, magicians awe and dancers enchant until the stars fade into morning.
The music performances are a rare treat for outsiders. The energetic beats and mesmerizing melodies are supplied by musicians from the regions semi-nomadic communities. Each song is handed down through generations, resulting in a rich, centuries-old tradition.
Reaching the Camel Fair
The 2012 camel fair takes place from November 24th to the 27th. Reaching Pushkar is not a challenge as the local airport is well-connected to India's major cities, including Indore, Mumbai, Delhi, Udaipur and more. The Ajmer railway station is just 11 kilometers from the city center, and regular buses run from Delhi, Bikaner and Jodhpur.
Adventurous travelers who want to totally immerse themselves in the experience can set up camp in tents along the rivers. The city of Pushkar is also home to peaceful resorts, safari camps, affordable hotels and luxurious villas for those who desire a more accommodating stay.
Weather and What to Bring
Travelers should expect cool days and chilly nights during the fair. To remain comfortable during your visit, consider packing the following:
Light but warm clothes for night.
Clothing that can easily be layered during the day.
Local currency for shopping.
A mosquito net, toilet paper and extra water if camping.
Do not bring alcohol or non-vegetarian foods as Pushkar is a holy city and such items are forbidden.