As promised in my blog before Pushkar Fair, sharing my experience during the fair because I finally managed to go this time after contemplating for many years.
We were three girls travelling… all with different agendas – some got fulfilled, some not. I wanted to do photography at the fair. One girl wanted to go for Hot air ballooning at off-the-road experience being a professional off-roader. The third girl wanted to visit the Ajmer-Sharif Dargah.
At the end of the trip, our score was two wishes accomplished out of four with photography and Off-roading done. Hot-air ballooning was cancelled and the person who wanted to visit the dargah wasn’t feeling too well by the end of the trip.
Pushkar was buzzing and decorated and lit like a bride for Pushkar Fair. It looked magnificent in the evening when lights shone on the city full-power. The nomadic feel was in the air. We were there for two days and the place was totally packed. And the fact that Pushkar is the only place in the world to have Brahma Temple makes it a must-visit place for people across the globe. We were lucky enough to get accommodation in a budget hostel – 12 Monks Hostel in the heart of the city, 300 meters from the Brahma Temple. But all this thankfully didn’t deter the spirit of the fair, or rather the festival, for the people of Pushkar. During the fair, it’s a photographer’s delight so there were more photographers than people who came to visit the Pushkar Fair. Every movement at the fair and the city was being captured, even if one had to pay for it. Apparently, being photographed has become a business in Pushkar and people expect to be paid for every shot.
After road-tripping from Delhi to Pushkar, we started the Pushkar trip with a visit to the city and some interesting Indian-Israeli fusion vegetarian food which is unique to Pushkar. Pushkar being a religious place is primarily vegetarian and being a hub for foreign tourists who would stay for months has come up with interesting vegetarian options for foods which are essentially non-vegetarian. So for foodies it’s a gastronomical treat from saag-gatta, kai-sangri, sev-tamatar, bajra roti to vegetarian falafals. The fest time adds hawkers selling finger foods like freshly roasted peanuts and gajak etc.
As the saying goes, ‘pehle pet-puja fir kaam duja’, so once we were fully-fed we took a round of the city and attended the evening aarti at the lake for an auspicious beginning to the trip. There is puja happening simultaneously at various ghats and in totally it’s a very soothing site.
After the puja, we finally headed to the Pushkar Fair set up in Mela Maidan. The fair brought the memories of childhood back with Mary-go-round, maut ka kua, circus, bubbles etc. it was heartening to see kids and elders all enjoying the carnival alike, leaving all inhibitions and tensions of worldly life behind.
After the carnival, we ventured into the next ground and were greeted by the mind-blowing music concert by the World-renowned Rajasthani Folk Singer Mame Khan. We got seat closest to the stage and that added to the excitement. He sang all the popular Rajasthani folk and sufi songs and the pleasant weather complimented the ambiance. This was like a rare wish being granted and a perfect ending to a fun-filled day in Rajasthan.
We had kept the second day to explore the cattle grounds and the various activities going on there. There were huge grounds full of camels where trading was going on. Apparently, lot of cattle dwellers had already gone back but there still quite a few and we got to capture some nice moments there. Most camels were colorfully decorated to attract buyers. While walking around, my friend saw a camel that looked sad, so she went up to it and gently stroked it. While she was still there, a man walked up to her and asked to help calm the camel with him as he had sold off the camel’s husband in the morning.
The camels were also used for camel ride experience to the people at the fair. This works as an alternate source of income. The fair has lot of stalls selling all kind of local stuff. The camel dwellers being gypsy and nomadic tribes use this occasion to buy things and stock up for rest of the year’s travels. There were all kind of things being sold from clothes to utility items. Many shops had entire families including kids present there learning lessons of life. Some kids had painted their faces and dressed up like gods and goddesses, trying to earn some money by being photographed like this. The Fair is also used to create social awareness about various societal issues like woman empowerment, saving girl child, health and hygiene.
After spending half a day on Day-2 of Pushkar visit at the cattle grounds, we went for the off-the-road experience, the next activity of the list of activity. As mentioned in the previous blog about beginnings of Pushkar Fair, the expanse and grandeur of the fair has grown over the years, but the cattle grounds are still reminiscent of the core nomadic event and how it all started as a conglomeration of people during transit. The Fair still lives up to the image.
Before taking you on to off-roading experience, here are some of the interesting moments captured in Pushkar and at the fair over two days.