The Pushkar Fair – Camels, People, Colors, Culture and More

If you’ve decided to visit India, you’ve probably heard the word “Pushkar” several times. You can’t help but wonder what the hype is all about. It’s vital that you know about Pushkar, as a town first.

By Vikas Agarwal
pushkar camel fair largest in the world
Raikas keeping watch over their animals. The Pushkar Festival is the largest camel fair on the globe and the camels are dressed up colorfully, paraded, and even entered into races and beauty contests. Scenes like this one become a commonplace in this fair where, at one point you begin to wonder whether camels outnumber the humans ⓒ Photo by OlegDoroshenko.

The Pushkar Fair – Camels, People, Colors, Culture and More

The Background of Pushkar takes us back to Mythological Times
The Pushkar Festival in Today’s Time
The People
Camels- The Stars of Pushkar
The Bramha Temple forms the Center of it All
What We can Do for You


Pushkar is an, otherwise, indistinct place in the Northern Indian State of Rajasthan. It is about 11 kilometers from Ajmer and is home to roughly 15,000 people – a very small population by Indian standards.Traditionally Indians consider Pushkar to be one of the holiest and the most ancient pilgrimages dating back to time immemorial. Recorded history makes a mention of the town in 5th Century AD when there were already hundreds of temples in the vicinity. The count today stands at a whopping 400.In a country where spirituality and ancient pilgrim sites are galore, Pushkar has something unique to its credit; it is home to perhaps the only temple dedicated to Lord Bramha – The Creator. Of course, there is also the largest camel fair in the entire world. During the festival, Rajasthan, being a scenic desert, sees over 50,000 camels descending in Pushkar raking up a mega-cloud of dust and festivities that never seem to end.

Camel herder stands with his camels at the Pushkar Fair. Rajasthan, India - Photo by JeremyRichards

Camel herdsmen standing guard over their precious animals. Every year more than 500,000 camels, horses and cattle are traded during the Pushkar Mela in Rajasthan ⓒ Jeremy Richards

dancing camel pushkar fair

Here’s another photograph to give you an actual feel of the fair. Camels are part of everything in the fair from trade to entertainment ⓒ Arun Sambhu Mishra


The Background of Pushkar takes us back to Mythological Times

Surely, if the devout Hindus of the mystic India flock towards Pushkar in thousands, there has to be a Godly reason behind it. Legend has it that when a Lotus (Pushpa) petal from the divine hands (Kara) of Lord Bramha dropped right in the center of the Aravali Hills, a lake was instantly created in the desert land and water simply sprouted to fill its serene self.

The people of the country and beyond come together to commemorate this divine event every year. The Lord is worshipped in full glory during the auspicious 8th Lunar month of the Hindu calendar during October or November every year. The period is called Kartik Poornima. Believers bathe in this lake during the full moon of this month as it is believed that all 330 million Hindu gods join them in the holy dip.

people perform puja pushkar holy lake

The Pushkar Lake has high religious significance. Prepare to take a dip with the gods if you’re up for it! Of course, during auspicious times, the lake would be teaming with people ⓒ Photo by Nikolpetr


The Pushkar Festival in Today’s Time

The tiny town fills up with over 200,000 people during the festival. Now, add the livestock and camels, which are an integral part of the fair, to these numbers and the commotion is epic. If you’re thinking, it’s just a “crowd” think again. The hosts are mostly comprised of nomadic tribes with their colorful attires and customs.

It’s a fun affair with dancing, mustache competitions, camel races, camel beauty contests, wrestling and what-nots. You’ll find the narrow alleys teeming with hawkers and henna girls tagging at you for business. Take it all as a good sport and become one with the pleasant confusion of colors. You find makeshift tents all over the Pushkar Fair grounds that make for temporary accommodations. The hotels and restaurants buzz with people of all classes.

visitors to pushkar camel fair

No bus, no car, no train is enough to carry the devout to the Pushkar Fair. Scenes like these will stop drawing awe from you after a while ⓒ Photo by Milonk.

eunuchs in pushkar camel fair

Two holy hijras in female dress and jewelry at the Camel Fair in Pushkar. These so-called third gender people prefer to call themselves as Kinnar, a reference to the mythological beings who excel at song and dance. Scenes similar to this will entice you and keep your attention span long. It’s a riot of colors out there! ⓒ Kaetana

Then, you find the colorfully lit ferry’s wheels and other fairground rides open to everyone. The local tribes come out in full glory with their silver bangles and anklets, bright colored sarees and turbans to add to the beauty and variety. You hear constant drumming and watch dancers all the time. If loud sounds are not your thing, make sure you bring some earplugs along.
entertainment during pushkar festival

It’s entertainment galore for kids in Pushkar! It’s not everyday that they get to enjoy such rides in the tiny town! No doubt they make the most of it!


The People

If you’ve come equipped with your camera, you’ll have plenty to satisfy your hunger for exotic captures. The women, especially, would be a treat for your cameras with their exotic attires. They seem as if ancient sculptures have come to life in Technicolor. Witness them peeping through their veiled sarees. The traditional kajal makes for pitch-black eyeliner, with exquisitely designed nose rings with chains that vanish behind their ears. You will be hard-pressed for words to describe the exotica of these traditional beauties. Stand admiring them for a while and you’re sure to be approached for a chance to photograph them, of course for a small price. Then there are others who are going to pull you into a small tent, only to decorate your hands with the traditional henna designs as they giggle at you in a friendly manner.

rope performance pushkar anuual camel fair

Wonder child! If you’ve only been concentrating on the tiny pots on the child’s head, take a look at her feet. She’s actually moving on the rope, over a slippery plate!!

You’ll find hundreds of ash-covered Sadhus (ascetics) lost in their own world of divine trance and sometimes a bit of marijuana. You find snake charmers, dancers and people displaying cows with more than four legs – the variety of things that simply keep your mouth gaped open are countless.


Camels- The Stars of Pushkar

The fair is a bonanza for the Rika Tribe who are almost the exclusive sellers of camels at Pushkar. They are a marginalized community whose survival depends solely on camel raring. These camels were once the lifeline of the desert.

young camels for sale in pushkar camel fair

Thousands of camels are traded at the Pushkar Fair every year. This group of young animals are only a small portion of the well-groomed camels on sale. Don’t you get a feeling that the camels know they look awesome – just take a look at their expressions!! ⓒ Richards Jeremy

It is believed that the Rikas were entrusted with the care of camels by Lord Shiva himself. Legend has it that Shiva, the lord of destruction, had himself created camel for the amusement of his wife, Parvathi. Catch a glimpse of these majestic camels at dusk as their masters heard them back home. The dim light grazing through them is a scene to behold. You might find a fire twirler or two just beside the camels as the night falls making the whole scene even more beautiful.
camel herds pushkar camel fair rajasthan

Camels on their way back from the Pushkar Fair. These hardy animals are native to Rajasthan and Gujarat as they are suited to the dry desert climate. Scenes like these are something that you’ll never find elsewhere in the world. They’re a treat to your eyes and a feast to your cameras! ⓒ OlegD


The Bramha Temple forms the Center of it All

One of the few temples in the world dedicated to the creator of the world, Lord Bramha, is a major attraction. People flock to it from all over the country during this time. You will be consumed by the riot of colors that engulf this temple. As you course through the marble steps of this majestic 210-meter temple, you will be surrounded by devotees and uninhibited hawkers. It is perhaps the most magnificent of the 400 temples in the region.

Senior men perform puja - ritual ceremony at holy Pushkar

Elderly men performing the puja ritual at the lakeside during the Pushkar Fair. The ceremony involves incense, flowers and food offered to the gods while mantras are chanted. It is the devotion towards the divine that makes everything real in Pushkar ⓒ Kaetana


What We can Do for You

Attending the Pushkar fair all by yourself can be quite overwhelming, but that must not stop you from basking in the glory of this spectacular event. We accompany you at every step and allow you to enjoy everything that Pushkar has to offer while keeping you safe. We arrange accommodation in luxurious tents meant for two, right in the midst of the mela (fair) so that you can enjoy it to the hilt. All necessities such as food and travel are taken care. We also book comfortable accommodations off the mela for your delight. If you want to experience India, Pushkar fair is the best way to go about it.

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