Pushkar is a town bordering the Thar Desert, in the northeastern Indian state of Rajasthan. It’s set on Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu site with 52 ghats (stone staircases) where pilgrims bathe. The town has hundreds of temples, including 14th-century Jagatpita Brahma Mandir, dedicated to the god of creation, which has a distinctive red spire and walls inlaid with pilgrims’ silver coins.
The Pushkar Fair (Pushkar Camel Fair) or locally Pushkar ka Mela is an annual five-day Camel and livestock fair held in the town of Pushkar in the state of Rajasthan,India. It is one of the world’s largest camel fairs. Apart from the buying and selling of livestock, it has become an important tourist attraction. Competitions such as the “matka phod”, “longest moustache”, and “bridal competition” are the main draws for this fair which attracts thousands of tourists. In recent years the fair has also included an exhibition cricket match between the local Pushkar club and a team of random foreign tourists. The Imperial gazetter of India mentions an attendance of 100,000 pilgrims in early 1900s.
Thousands of people go to the banks of the Pushkar lake where the fair takes place. Men buy and sell their livestock, which includes camels, cows, sheep and goats. The women go to the stalls, full of bracelets, clothes, textiles and fabrics. A camel race starts off the festival, with music, songs and exhibitions to follow. Between these events, the most waited for is the test of how the camel is able to bring the items. In order to demonstrate, the men go up on the group of camels one after another.
It is celebrated for five days from the kartik Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima, the Full moon day (the 15th) of Kartik (October–November) in Hindu Calender. The full moon day is the main day and the day, according to legend, when the Hindu god Bramha sprung up the Pushkar Lake, thus numerous people swim in its sacred waters.
Facts about Pushkar Fair:
1.The Biggest Camel Fair in the world
Globalization came to India in 1991 but the globe reached Pushkar as early as 1909 (Source – The Imperial Gazetteer of India). Pushkar Camel Fair has the presence of 50,000 camels with thousands of camel farmers, gypsies and musicians from deeper regions of Rajasthan and more than 200,000 global travellers.
The Pushkar Camel Fair starts with buying and selling of camels & horses and by day 5 the mood starts to change towards celebration. Though the last day of the carnival is religious as it is the day of kartik purnima (Full Moon), day 5, 6, 7 & 8 are really interesting. In these 4 days one can enjoy the Camel Race, tribal dance to gypsy music, mustache competition and my favorite, the tug of war competition.
The last day of the fair is pretty calm as all the local farmers and performers gather on the Pushkar Lake for a holy bath which is an ancient ritual which has been continued for around 2000 years. Every local and many travelers take the blessing of Brahma in the famous Brahma temple before heading back to their homes.
- 2000 year old Temple of Brahma
There is a story behind the name of Pushkar. It is believed that Brahma dropped a lotus flower in a lake (Pushkar Lake) and the city of Pushkar came to existence. Since then Pushkar has become one of many homes of Brahma.
As compared to other Hindu Gods Brahma has only 5 historic temples in the world and the most important one is in Pushkar. Though there isn’t any written history on Brahma temple it is considered to be 2000 years old and was even destroyed in 14th century by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb as he wanted to turn whole India into an Islamic state. Though soon after Aurangzeb’s death the local rulers and their disciples rebuilt the temple and brought it back to its glory.
3.Desert Safari & Rural Weddings
The reason I added rural weddings along with desert safaris is because they have a strong connection. In Rajasthan 3 cities are famous for their Desert Safaris; Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Pushkar. A vast region of Rajasthan is covered in desert and this part is known as Thar Desert. Thar is the 18th largest desert region in the world and Pushkar is the first desert city of Thar.
A Desert Safari in Pushkar is 24-36 hours long and the attraction of a Pushkar Safari is the local villages where most travellers loves to attend rural weddings. Rajasthan is a famous wedding destination and rural weddings attract many married couples to rejoice their youth days of marriage and this time in Pushkar style.
So along with a trip to the sand dunes, a lot of married couples come along with their kids and sometimes even grandkids, to experience or rejuvenate their blessing days.
4.The Ajmer Sharif
Pushkar comes under the district of Ajmer and the Ajmer city (40 Kms from Pushkar) is a famous for the shrine of Sufi saint name Moinuddin Chishti. Moinuddin Chishti (1138-1236 AD) wandered around the city of Ajmer & Rajasthan to spread a simple message that there is on god.
” One call him Allah another call him God, but their one and only one”
His simple and sweet tone still shuffles the mind of many Islamic and Hindu pilgrims who seeks his blessings at Ajmer Sharif and under one roof which is simply amazing in this multi religious society of India.
- Activities at Fair
On the last two days of the fair many cultural and amusement activities are organized for the visitors to have loads of fun and frolic. Camel Races,Turban Tying, Musical Chairs for Camels, Camel Beauty Contest and Laadoo Oonth are some of them. These activities are for every age group and indeed there is something to enjoy for every visitor to the fair.
The Pushkar Fair is one of the significant tourist attractions in Rajasthan. The huge influx of visitors during the camel fair causes the demand for accommodations to rise, and prices increase accordingly. Before you attend the festival make plans for your stay. There are two main options for organizing a place to stay, either arrive a couple of days before the fair starts and find accommodation or book in advance. Lodgings include simple guest houses, desert tents, heritage hotels, and farm stays.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to reach Pushkar is in Jaipur. The Jaipur International Airport is around two and a half hours away. Buses, state owned and private luxury ones play on the route. Taxis and other private vehicles can be booked for comfortable travel.
The closest railway station, which receives long distance Indian Railways trains, is Ajmer. There is a single train line linking Ajmer and Pushkar. Either take a taxi from Ajmer railway station or reach Pushkar by train coming from Ajmer.
By Road Pushkar is well-connected through Jaipur and Ajmer. A 30 minute drive through the aptly named Snake Mountain (Nag Parbat) takes you to Pushkar. State owned buses, deluxe Volvos and taxis ply on the route.
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