The largest cattle fair in the country, Pushkar festival is a spectacle – really, nothing can prepare you for this. Over thousands of camels, livestock, farmers, traders, and villagers from different corners of India and beyond, make this special fair what it truly is – an affair you cannot forget.
We don’t prefer any tailor-made trips, and for something like this – you really should go ‘on your own’. The legacy, the tolerant friendly tribals, the mood, delicious authentic Rajasthan cuisine, the frenzy mela, the camels, eager hard-working children, beautiful and traditionally dressed tribal women, often accentuated by bold and carefree attitudes, and men flaunting long noble moustaches… I can go on! In the dry heat, surrounded by multitudes of people and animals – Pushkar takes on the role of a perfect host, offering a home, just for a few days, where almost everyone ‘belongs’.
Here are a few images from this trip, where the simple and magnificent Pushkar left us quite heady, and exhilarated.
One of the champions of the much-accepted camel race – this handsomely festooned camel held its head high, basking in the generous attention showered by all passersby.
The pilgrims, locals and tribals are not just humble. These kind people go out of their way to make you feel one among them. Like this warm and friendly man we spent hours talking to.
Kaushik and I were highly miffed with the attitude of a few travellers – insensitive and showing no respect for many shy and modest tribal women, these photographers went about shoving their cameras into peoples’ face, without getting to know them, or least, seeking their permission before such a shameful act. Very pissing off!
Just sitting in the midst of camels, and observing them for hours on end is quite therapeutic. These ships of the desert flaunted artworks on their backs, were carefully groomed and decorated like brides waiting to be accepted – and why not – the bidding did get the best of them a new home and a deserving master a great companion. Traders and farmers alike take care of their animals – camels are their guardian, and hence highly respected. We met several herders and traders from different parts of the country, and a few even claimed to have travelled all the way from Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Balloon rides, camel rides, to giant wheels and live shows – a lot to keep tourists seeking such activities entertained.
Sitting in a circle, five tribesmen invited us to share their smoke, a traditional pipe filled with hashish, and in their words, “of the purest form.” Humbly declining the offer, we shared a few cups of tea, and thoroughly enjoyed the stories. In the blistering heat, with hundreds of people walking about them, here were five men completely oblivious to the madness around, speaking of their love for the desert, freezing nights, and of younger and more vibrant days.
With flood lights aimlessly spaced out, lighting up numerous patches of the vast landscape, this place is quite magical at night. Glistening sand, ghostly tents, and timid camels – the tired traders and tribals sat about letting the coolness of the night calm their taut nerves and restless minds.
Photo credit: Kaushik Bajibab