A visit to India just wouldn’t be the same without seeing the Pushkar Camel Fair. Yes, the camel fair.
Located west of Delhi at India’s most sacred body of water, the quiet town of Pushkar is a concentrated hub of the country’s culture and religion. This Hindu holy city boasts upwards of 400 temples and palaces, scattered like pebbles on the shores of Lake Pushkar, a lake said to have been created and blessed by Lord Brahma. One of few temples dedicated to the deity exists in Pushkar and this distinct 14th-century red and blue structure remains the most visited site in the city.
Hindu roots run deep in Pushkar. Lakeside temples light up in the evenings, illuminated by the reflecting sunset, and the dainty tink of temple hand bells and scents of aromatic incense fill the air as pujari perform the final arti ceremonies of the day. Immediately, visitors absorb the ethereal ambiance conjured by the numerous temples and holy symbolism of the city. Thousands make the trek to Pushkar annually not only for spirituality, but for frivolity and commerce at the Pushkar Camel Fair.
Every year in early November, during the month of Kartik on the Hindu calendar, this colorful festival attracts those looking to sell or trade their wares, place wagers on camel races and participate in local contests. This rural bazaar is a showcase of all things Rajasthani, with vendors offering a medley of hand-dyed fabrics, fine silver jewelry and traditional artifacts from tribal villagers.
Amidst the colorful bustle, camels and livestock are informally traded and sold – a scene reminiscent of makeshift used car lots in empty fields. When the bartering has concluded, festival-goers organize camel and horse races to show off the mettle of their newly-acquired stock. The camel beauty pageant is another highlight – the furry, humped contestants are pampered, preened and adorned with fresh flowers, silver jewelry and bright sashes before being paraded and fawned over by the spectators. Nights are filled with traditional entertainment including spirited music, puppet shows and intriguing Rajasthani dance performances.
It is believed that during these five days, the gods descend on the city and create an atmosphere most sanctified. Thus, the festival is the benchmark for India’s most popular pilgrimage. Thousands gather to swim in the holy waters of Lake Pushkar and pay homage to Lord Brahma during the height of these divine days.
The Deepan ceremony closes the fair in a magnificent spectacle as millions of tiny candles are lit and set afloat on the lake. Whether beholding this famous festival is on your list of travel goals, or you simply desire to visit the quaint town and its peaceful temples, traveling in luxury is effortless. Just outside of the city, a 33-acre tented sanctuary beckons visitors in search of cultural awakening. The Orchard – so named for the orchard of indigenous trees, roses and other botanical treasures found on grounds – is open from September to March, the whole of India’s winter. These semi-permanent tented suites, though modeled after the local’s simple canvas housing, are stunning statements of opulence. Individual 590 square-foot havens include a permanent en suite bathroom with shower, a bedroom and separate living and dressing areas. Each suite is air conditioned throughout, with electricity and additional creature comforts of plush robes, slippers and consistent running hot water. Beautiful hardwood furnishings grace the distinctly contemporary interiors, accented by Rajasthani blue pottery, marble lamps and a sheer silk curtain that separates the bedroom from the rest of the suite. Guests can luxuriate in natural herbal bath amenities and are greeted each evening with the resort’s signature turndown service of incense, aromatherapies and rose petals fresh from the gardens.
In contrast with the open expanses perfect for festivals and crowds in Pushkar, The Orchard is speckled with every manner of native plant life available. Most notable is the amla, or Indian gooseberry tree, and the groves of roses and other flowers. The gardens also contain home grown vegetables, cared for by hand and prepared with as much care for each meal. Local villagers tend to the verdant grounds year-round, implementing natural time-tested farming practices to ensure the sustainability of the area. These same villagers own the resort’s land and are your hosts, providing world-class hospitality that is familiar and cozy.
Dine during the day with a 360-degree view of the surrounding orchard in the massive Golgan, a circular tent erected at the center of the complex. Out of reverence for the holy site of Pushkar, meals are exclusively vegetarian and no alcoholic beverages are served. Catch glimpses of the lush greenery through the airy muslin curtains that encircle the tent while dining on garden-fresh produce. In the evenings, dinner is presented beneath a canopy of stars, with a resident troupe of Rajasthani dancers providing entertainment around a glowing bonfire.
Beyond the buzzing activity of the Camel Fair, The Orchard provides restful and reflective moments for its guests. From yoga exercises to soaring hot-air balloon rides over the lake, new experiences await in India’s sacred city.
For more information about customizing your journey India or any other destination, contact your travel professional.