Puskhar Camel Fair 2011

We knew we were entering Pushkar when we saw a bunch of policemen diverting traffic that comprised doddering state buses, eager tourists in air conditioned cars, masses of locals footing it and the camels looking serene in the midst of all this.

The Pushkar camel fair is an annual melee that attracts people from all over Rajasthan. People walk through the deserts and villages with camels, horses and cattle and camp in Pushkar’s fair grounds. At the end of ten days, the animals would have been bought and sold. On the side, the stocking of vessels, clothes and knickknacks for the year would have happened. Everyone goes back home, ready to come back the next year.

It was sheer coincidence that we had ended up in Pushkar at this time of the year but what a good thing to have happened.

The driver dropped us off at the outskirts of the town. We made our way past the crowds and reached the Rajasthan Tourist Information centre (No doubt set up to cater to the burgeoning tourist crowd, who were luckily outnumbered 1 to 5 by the locals...yes, yes we were tourists too). The helpful volunteers handed us a brochure listing all the delights that were in store in the coming days.

A quick scan revealed that the camel dance competition had already taken place the previous day. We were disappointed but could not stay so given the huge rush of colour and action around us

Clutching our brochure with its map, we tried to figure our way around. It became amply clear after a while that the map's creator had used his artistic license. Where we expected a vast, paved main road, we noticed a tiny muddy road stuffed with people.

We managed to make our way through the crowds to our first stop, the Brahma temple. Pushkar’s avatar as camel trade hotspot is only an aside. On regular days, people come to visit one of Pushkar 400+ temples and famous ghats. The Brahma temple is especially special since there are very few temples to a god who has been cursed by mythology to remain temple-less

Sadly when we saw the crowds, we decided to quickly abort the visit and instead go in search of food

This also took us through a crowded street

But food has always been a bigger draw than religion and we stuck at it. Raju’s restaurant was tucked away on the first floor. Raju (or his Man Friday) made us scribble out our orders. After this unorthodox start, everything else went smoothly – the food, the calm above the streets and the undisrupted view of the ghats.

Fortified, we explored the ghats and noticed the stern sign issuing orders on decorum to ‘foreigners’ –

Lest you think that Pushkar is all work and no fun, there were also posters like this –

(Gleeful boys no doubt waiting for the belles to show up)

And this

Doesn't the gentleman in the middle look like the dictator of a minor country? Surely, the first gentleman is being sought by Interpol for some crimes?

Taking in all these little features of Pushkar, we finally reached the mela grounds where all action was afoot. We hired a young man's cart to take us through the camp

The sight was unbelievable. Tents, animal and people stretched for miles ahead.

Our young driver updated us on various aspects of camel trade. (If you are curious – a camel costs between 30000 Rs and 50000 Rs). I loved the cute designer motifs on this one and was nearly tempted…

There are also designer camel accessories –

Our day in Pushkar came to an end with a kabbadi match between locals and outsiders

The crowds could not have been more attentive or enthusiastic had it been IPL. D and I were drawn into it as well, and watched from the sidelines cheering along with the locals.

We were ready to keep going on but these darn timebound travels do put a stop to such plans.

Maybe next year?

p.s. We heard an advertisement on radio on the way back to Jaipur. Stuck innocuously between two romantic Shah Rukh numbers, the male voice laughed and said ‘In reel life, you can survive gun shots, but in real life can you?’ Then sobering, the voice continued ‘Bodyguards are of no use when bullets hit you’. Finally the radio ad concluded with ‘use so and so brand bullet proof vests’. Surely we were in the same country..


Aparna said...

Hmmm...crowds always put me off so maybe I won't go to pushkar during mela-time. The brahma temple would be worth a visit tho, I guess.
LOL on the last para....bullet-proof vests???!!!

Mum's delight said...

Haha I can imagine you with a pet camel!

Anita said...

Aparna - They also advertised bullet proof vehicles.

Mum's delight - That would have been interesting - Camel in a Bombay flat.

Soma said...

like! the way you have interspersed writing with the photographs - brings it to life.