Best Festival

Pushkar Camel Fair, Rajasthan

Oct 27, 2006
Outside Magazine

You haven't lived until you've communed with camels, which is why you can't miss the Pushkar Camel Fair, a mind-blowingly biblical convergence of camels, camel traders, mystics, and musicians, all camped out in Rajasthan's Thar Desert. For centuries, during the month of Kartik (the eighth lunar month of the Hindu calendar, falling roughly around October and November on the Gregorian calendar), Rajasthan's camel herders have trekked to the town of Pushkar in time for the full moon. This year's fair (November 2–5) will bring about 200,000 people and 50,000 camels to the desert bash.

At the fair you'll find a sea of khaki-brown sand dunes pitched with dung-colored tents and entire families camped out: Hindu men in turbans, Rajasthani tribal women in color-drenched skirts and saris, kids hawking everything from camel bells to camel-cart rides. You'll also find camels—and lots of them: babies with spindly legs and big, goofy heads; teenage camels; worn-out camels; camels standing; camels sleeping; camels adorned with braids, tassels, and tattoos. You can ride camels, watch camel races, or witness the business of camel trading up close. (Want to take home a new pet? A three-year-old camel goes for around 25,000 rupees—or $567.)

Stay at the Royal Camp, upscale tented lodging pioneered by the Maharaja of Jodhpur in the 1990s, just a few dunes from the festivities. Each safari-style, canvas tent has twin beds with crisp white linens, a front porch with teak chairs, a private bath, and buckets of hot bathwater delivered to your door. DETAILS: Doubles from $250, including meals; 011-91-291-2571991,

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