While we were staying with K.P.’s lovely family in Jaipur, Ryan, Charleli and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to take a day trip to the famous Pushkar Camel Fair. The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the world’s largest camel fairs, an annual five-day event that includes not only the buying and selling of livestock but also competitions such as “who has the longest moustache?”
As always, getting to our destination was an adventure in itself. Our first autorickshaw took us to the train station rather than the bus station and was gone with another customer before we realized our mistake. Our next ride was marginally more helpful. Instead of taking us to the public bus station, he took us to a private bus company where he would be paid commission. Fair enough, but the bus didn’t leave for 2 hours! We then insisted he take us to the public bus station, at which point he told us “oh no! No bus to Pushkar. Pushkar very very problem!” Somehow we eventually arrived at the station, and mistakenly paid the driver twice. Woops! Stupid tourists. The bus was squishy and full and just barely made it over the hill, but finally we had arrived in Pushkar!
Pushkar is beautifully located on the shores of Pushkar Lake and is one of the oldest existing cities in India. Like a mini (though MUCH cleaner) Varanasi, there are ghats located all along the lake shore peopled with women and children in bright saris every color of the rainbow bathing, washing and drying clothes against the light blue backdrop of the city’s buildings. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed along the ghats and so to be respectful, I obeyed (I know – shocking!).
You’d think that it would be quite easy to find thousands of camels and a fair, but if you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know that Ryan, Charleli and I become dumber when we are together, at least when it comes to finding things. We must have walked down every street in every direction before we finally found the GINORMOUS fair. I’ve never seen so many camels in my life! Let alone camels with brightly colored tassels, camels with dangling bells, camels with designs shaved into their fur, camels camels camels! You could pay for a ride on a camel or a ride on a wagon pulled by a camel. There were endless numbers of camels dotting the landscape, their owners sitting nearby, chatting with other camel owners, discussing camel-y things. If you’ve ever heard the strange noises a camel makes, imagine thousands of camels making thousands of weird, and often very rude, camel noises. At one point we heard what sounded like a very painful camel-y scream and discovered a camel being held by about 5 men, having its nose pierced. YOWZA! His nose ring was slightly bigger than mine, but still, come on camel, suck it up and be a man. There were also dozens, if not hundreds of gorgeous horses being bought, sold and traded. All except the dead one we passed in the middle of the path. Hopefully that guy got his money back.
The human part of the camel fair was just as interesting, if not quite a bit more annoying. Men following us around playing some sort of violin type thing and then demanding payment. Heck no, I did not ask for my own theme music and if I had, they would have been playing “The Final Countdown” or “Eye of the Tiger” or some other such epic tune. Women and children in lovely saris were often walking up to us and asking us to take their photo for a fee “Rajasthani photo?” No, thanks little lady. There were also snake charmers randomly placed amongst the camels and a wandering vet providing his services. Despite these varied and amazing sights, the three of us were still stared at constantly and asked to be in photos. One of my favorite moments was when a group of young men asked to take a photo of Ryan and I, but then at the last moment, they asked Ryan to get out of the photo. Bahahahahaha. Too funny. Ryan says I’m probably “in a relationship with” dozens of Indian men on Facebook now.
In addition to the livestock and people-watching, there was a huge mid-way being set up, complete with a very large Ferris wheel. Judging solely from my travelling midway experience in Canada, I’d think twice or three times about riding a Zipper in India. There were also endless stalls of goods to buy, including tassels of every colour for your camel’s best fair outfit.
Alas, as evening started to descend upon us, it was time to head home (as it were) to Jaipur and the delicious home cooking of K.P. and his family. The Pushkar Camel Fair was definitely a highlight of our India adventure, even if we missed the moustache contest!