The Pushkar Camel Fair in India is one of the world’s largest camel and livestock fairs. It takes place in the Rajasthani town of Pushkar each November, during the full moon and the holy festival of Kartik Purnima. The fair has become a popular tourist attraction, with upwards of 400,000 people in attendance in recent years.
Aside from being one of the biggest traditional melas (“meetings”) in the world there are also many other events that take place during the fair. From longest-moustache competitions, camel races, and musical performances, to a bridal competition and even a cricket match between locals and foreigners. The Pushkar Camel Fair has also become known as a meeting place where marriages are quite often arranged.
People come from all over the world to see the fair and locals come from all over the region, some walking with their livestock for three weeks straight across the desert just to get there. Although the small town of 15,000 has many options for accommodation, these tend to fill up quickly. The majority of visitors stay directly on the fair grounds in tent circles.
The official fair lasts five days, although herders and traders begin arriving to the area with their livestock and wares about a week before. Negotiations over the sale of camels, horses, and more take several days with the seller holding out for the best offer. Interestingly, the best prices offered also happen to be in years when the monsoon has been good.
During the fair there are many things to see and do, including shopping at the many bazars and craft stalls that have been set up by local women to sell fabrics, jewelery and other wares, and watching camel races and competitions in the stadium. There are also horse rides and hot-air balloon excursions.
Pushkar is also one of the oldest existing cities in India and is home to one of five sacred pilgrim sites of devout Hindus. The last day of the fair is when the Kartik Purnima festival is celebrated and when thousands of devotees will bathe in the holy lake in Pushkar, which is believed to lead them to salvation.
Interested in visiting Pushkar for the many temples or for the craziness of the Pushkar Camel Fair? You’ve got opitons! Check out our tours to Rajasthan to experience it for yourself.