Camel Festivals across Rajasthan

Large areas of the State of Rajasthan are covered with the Thar Desert, and camels have played an essential role in the life and culture of the people of the region. Camels are one of the few who can survive the harsh conditions of living in a desert and are often referred to as the Ship of a Desert. Camels form a significant part of the livestock of the people living in the various villages, small towns and cities situated in and near the Thar desert.

Camels are revered as a highly significant beast, and Rajasthan is host to various camel festivals all across Rajasthan, which involve trading of these majestic beasts along with a cultural extravaganza which attracts a large volume of tourist and travelers to these camel festivals.

Colourful camels at their best!

Bikaner Camel Festival

The Camel fair at Bikaner is an annual event which is organised by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture and this two-day event is held in January every year. This festival is celebrated honouring the ships of the desert and includes various activities such as camel dance, neck shaking rides on camels, camel races etc.

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Various Celebrations at the Camel Fair, Bikaner.

This two-day festival commences with a colorful parade involving herds of camel beautifully decorated against the backdrop of the Junagarh Fort. These camels are adorned with sparkling bridles, traditional necklaces, heavy anklets etc. by their owners who wish to show-off and display these majestic beasts.

Travelers can also witness a wide array of events such as camel race events, camels indulging in various sports and games, and numerous traditional and cultural performances. These events attract thousands of travelers annual to Bikaner who visit the region to witness and experience the festivities of the Camel Fair.
The biggest attraction of this festival is the traditional Rajasthani dance and music performances during the festival. Other events such as fire dance, acrobats, other forms of traditional performances add a lot of glamour to the festival. Performers from all over the country showcase and display their skills and entertain the visitors with their spectacular acts.

Another attraction of this Camel fair is ifs puppet shows where beautiful and colorful puppets shows are organized with the puppet dolls narrating various stories including local folklore. The festival witnesses a spectacular and a vivid firework display as its closing ceremony.

Travelers can indulge in some local delicacies during the festival which includes in traditional Rajasthani cuisines and highlights of the festival are special sweets and tea made of camel milk. Travelers can also shop for traditional handicrafts, jewelry, pottery and other traditional articles.

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Sightseeing around the Bikaner Camel Fair.

After the commencement of the two-day Bikaner Camel festival, travelers can stay back for a few more days to explore various local attractions. These include the Junagarh Fort, which is famous for its complex and detailed stone carvings adorning the red and golden sandstones all over the Fort.

The Devi Kund, which is a collection of chattris or cenotaphs which showcase an amazing blend of the Mughal and Rajput architecture. The Kote Gate, which is the main entrance gate to the city of Bikaner, also separates the old city and the new city of Bikaner. The Bhandasar Jain Temple dedicated to the fifth Tirthankara of Jainism is a spectacular Jain architecture.

The Prachina Cultural Centre and Museum and the Ganga Government Museum contains a wide array of historical objects, ancient artefacts and showcases a large range of terracotta objects ranging from medieval musical instruments, weapons, arms and armor from periods of various Rajput Kings, statues and artefacts of various time periods etc.

The Deshnok Karni Mata Temple, which is dedicated to Karni Mata is famous for its rats, who are revered in the temple and considered sacred. The Shiv Bari Temple is also known for its architecture.

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Pushkar Mela

Pushkar Mela is an annual livestock fair and also the most significant trading of livestock in India, that takes place in the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, usually during the months of Oct-Nov every year. The city of Pushkar attracts almost a million visitors annually with 1/4th of the visitors visiting Pushkar during the fair.

The Pushkar Mela is not only about livestock trade and pilgrimage and is highly popular among tourist for a wide array of reason, especially among the foreign tourist.

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Various Celebrations at the Pushkar Mela.

The Pushkar Mela is famous for its local culture and hospitality which attracts thousands of travelers annually to this region. Travelers can mingle with the locals, dress up in traditional Rajasthani attire, indulge in rich Rajasthani cuisine while witnessing the entire city Pushkar covered by decorated camels, colorful staff, locals dressed in traditional attire, the divineness of the Pushkar Lake, etc.

The Pushkar Mela also hosts many live musical events ranging from traditional music to modern rock and music bands. Well known bands to have performed at the Pushkar Mela include the Indian Ocean, Prem Joshua and Band, Advaita and many more.

The Pushkar Mela is also the home to some of the strangest and most bizarre competitions in the world. These include a bride-groom contest, a contest of pot breaking, tug-of-war, turban competition, moustaches and beard competitions, turban competitions etc.

The town of Pushkar have several local markets or bazaars, with the most famous being the Sarafa Bazaar, Kedalganj Bazaar, the Bada Bazaar which sells a wide assortment of traditional Rajasthani garments and handicrafts, jewelry, leather items, rose items, trinkets etc. These bazaars have a lively, colorful atmosphere filled with the hospitality of the local people which enhances the entire experience of shopping.

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Sightseeing around Pushkar Mela

Travelers and tourists have a wide array of sightseeing options and activities to indulge in post completion of the Pushkar Mela and extend their stay at Pushkar to witness and experience the local sights and sounds of Pushkar. Travelers can experience hot air balloon rides and have a bird’s eye view of the colorful and vibrant sights and scenes of the fair while also enjoying the mesmerizing natural beauty of Pushkar and areas around it.

The town of Pushkar is also famous for several outdoor activities such as camel and horseback safaris. Pushkar offers travelers a wide array of camel and horseback safaris from a short hour-long safari, sunset and sunrise safari to a full day Pushkar fair on horseback to an overnight camel safari with overnight camping in the desert under the stars. Visitors can explore the rustic landscape of Pushkar, travel through sand-dunes and enjoy the sights and sounds of the country-side of the region.

Further, any visit to Pushkar is incomplete without spending a night camping in the desert. With colorful tents set under the stars, festivities can last the entire chilly night with music and bonfire. Travelers can experience lives of nomads and tribal of Rajasthan.

Also, with over 52 ghats and 400 temples surrounding the sacred lake, the Pushkar Lake receives thousands of visitors every year who come here to take a dip and bathe in the holy waters of the sacred lake. Visitors can witness an assortment of sights and scenes at the Pushkar Lake which includes Hindu saints and sadhus, pilgrims’ bathing in the holy water and various religious ceremonies being held on the ghats of this sacred lake. Some of the famous ghats among visitors include the Bhrama Ghat, Varaha Ghat, Badri Ghat, Gangaur Ghat, Yajna Ghat and the Saptarishi Ghat.

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Desert Festival of Jaisalmer

Second, in our list is the glamorous Desert festival of Jaisalmer. Located amidst the wavy Sam dunes of the famous Thar Desert, this festival lasts for three whole days and is organized in the month of February. The dates are in line with the Hindu calendar such that the festival always ends at the night of the full moon, or Poornima. The event is carefully planned to make each day as exciting as the other. Fun and frolic competitions, breathtaking performances, and soothing ambiance complement the colorful panorama of this festival. The best part is that you get to camp in the picturesque landscape of the Thar Desert.

The fair kick starts with a celebratory march that parades from the majestic Jaisalmer fort, all the way to the ShahidPoonam Singh Stadium. Tourists pour in from all the corners of the world. They are welcomed with savory delicacies and refreshing beverages. Villagers dress up their camels in fine clothes and engage them in races, sports like polo, and perform gymnastic stunts on their backs to entertain their audience. Camels are also trained to align in different formations and dance. Imagine how unbelievable it will be.

Local people proudly narrate the stories of Rajasthan’s glorious history as they tour you around the city palaces. Amusing folklore and legends are depicted using puppets and folk dances. Among these, the Gair dance and the fire dance are the most beloved art forms of foreigners. A musical touch is brought to the event when Bhopa’sLanghas and Manganiars chant the ballads and serenades of their land. The famous nomads called Kalabaaz also grace the presence by their daring gymnastic stunts.

Besides these, there are a myriad of activities one can take part in. From tattooing the camel’s body to fur cutting, there is a huge competition to decide who decorated their camel the best. You can form teams and compete in a tug of war. There is a competition to see who can tie a turban the fastest and with perfection. But the best segment is always the longest mustache competition. A lot of entries register for this, with localities and tourists comparing whose mustache is the mightiest. And in the end, the people get to click pictures with the winner.

The last day ends at an equally spectacular note with a concert comprising of Rajasthani folk. Tourists also get to witness a dramatic aerial display by the Air Force. At last, a cricket match to engage all the guests and a parachuting event are conducted to the end day with a blast.

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Nagaur Fair

Claimed as the second-largest fair of India, Nagaur Cattle Fair of Rajasthan is the festival of cheer and celebration. Famous as the Rameoji Cattle Fair, this is one of the biggest trading platforms for animals and hence gets its name. Every year between January and February, the golden dunes of Jodhpur see hundreds of herders bringing their animals and setting up tents in the desert. This event lasts for four to eight days and is jointly supervised by the Department of Tourism and the Department of Animal Husbandry.

Nestling somewhere in the town of Jodhpur, the venue of this fair is strategically located to provide its visitors a complete cultural experience.

Despite being popular as the cattle fair, this fair hosts numerous animals like the gorgeous Marwari horses and the king of the deserts, the camels. It has been recorded that every year, over 70,000 cows, bullocks, horses, sheep and camels are traded during this event. The first half of the day observes nomadic vendors decorating their animals with metallic anklets and shimmery clothes. All localities lavishly dress in bright colored attires. Camps are set up in which these animals rest. The buyers then approach individual camps and select the animals they like. The traditional trading method gives vibes of the early years and is a rare event to experience.

The second half of the day is when the celebrations start. Acts and plays are put up by local village people and performers in every corner of the fair. Jugglers and acrobats thrill the audience with their well-coordinated acts. Popular folklore and legends are narrated by the storytellers and puppeteers along with their puppets. Classical Jodhpuri music is played throughout the event to bring Marwari touch to the ambiance. People from local communities dance with tourists on traditional tunes and teach them different classical forms.

An endless list of activities for entertaining the guests is made. Friendly competitions of tug of war between the tourists and villagers, sports matches and other games are conducted throughout the evening. There is a competition of the longest mustache present, and everyone gets to click amazing pictures with the winner. Crowds cheer as camels and bullocks are raced. Huge bets are placed in cockfights. Animals are tattooed and decorated as a part of animal beauty contests. And all the time, street vendors prepare and serve the visitors with regional sweets made using camel milk.

Stalls and exhibitions filled with designer pottery, intricately detailed handicrafts, wooden carvings, and iron crafts are set up for the tourists to purchase as memoirs. Fine-textured camel leather and other such accessories are also a rage here.

The hallmark of the event is India’s largest red chili market, Mirchi Bazaar. You will be left shocked by the variety of chili that is found and sold here. So when attending the Nagaur fair, a trip to the lanes of Mirchi Bazaar is a must.

Just like its start, the carnival also ends with a blast with people lighting up the night sky with fascinating fireworks.

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Tips to Remember

Rajasthan is the land of royals, traditions, and bewitching beauty. It is a paradise for those who love glorious palaces and exquisite architecture. When it comes to discovering India, it tops the travel list. Hence, here are some tips to keep in mind when paying a visit to Rajasthan in the cold season. Make sure this trip of yours goes smooth sailing and gives you memories of a lifetime.

  • The months from October to February are considered the best time to visit the Land of Deserts. The rest of the year, otherwise, experiences an unbearable hot and dry climate that makes traveling tiring and sweaty.
  • Winters in the desert are a bit different than those in cities. While days are very warm and comfy, the nighttime becomes very chilly and windy. So it is advisable to include layers and sweatshirts in your wardrobe to withstand the cold weather at night.
  • Since the days are sunny, it is advised to carry plenty of sunscreen, moisturizer, sunglasses, and scarves to beat the scorching heat.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Do not consume alcohol while visiting monuments, markets, and other such public areas.
  • There is no strict dress code. However, avoid wearing skimpy or revealing clothes that may hurt the sentiments of the local people.
  • Flip flops and flat shoes are best when traveling to dunes. Avoid wearing heels in sand areas.
  • Sure, hotels are luxurious, but when visiting the royal state, try ditching the conventional hotels and go for heritage accommodations instead. Many sites and palaces have been converted into royal guest houses for travelers. Camps are organized by certain agencies in deserts. Try out such options for an enriching experience.
  • Lastly, and most importantly, do not forget to pack your camera for the infinitely many picture-perfect moments that you’ll encounter on your journey.

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