Pushkar and Pushkar Fair Photography Tour, Rajasthan.
I went to Pushkar a few days before the Pushkar cattle fair starts.
Nearby villagers had arrived at the fairground with their cattle, and some were still on their way. Though the ground was still being set up, animal trade had started.
Hundred thousands of tourists, photographers, and locals from the nearby villages attend the Pushkar Fair every year. But as the big influx of tourists was not to come until the camel fair started, the grounds were yet to fill up.
Even though I was only carrying a phone camera, I decided to treat my visit as a Pushkar photography tour. While walking in the tiny streets of the Pushkar bazaar and wandering on the ghats of the Pushkar Lake, I not only clicked some Pushkar photos that I am happy with, I also captured some deep-felt emotions.
Now without saying much, let me take you on this photo tour of Pushkar.
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Please Note: All the below Pushkar pictures are clicked on One Plus 5 T. Photos are unedited but sometimes cropped to zoom in and with reduced quality to minimize the file size.
While walking around the Pushkar camel fair one early afternoon.
Pushkar Fair. (Pushkar ka Mela in Hindi)
Before the Pushkar camel festival even starts, Rajasthanis bring their camels, horses and other cattle to trade at the fairgrounds.
Once upon a time, the Pushkar cattle fair was the only place to sell and buy animals. As people of Rajasthan needed camels to run their daily life, they would all go to the fair primarily for animal trade.
But a thick-mustached camel owner told me that now the fair has lost its charm. Machines, tractors, cars, trolleys, and other modern equipment have replaced animals.
Even though the camel trade is going down, these beautiful creatures don’t come for cheap. The man told me that the four thousand five hundred rupees that he had in cash were not enough to buy another camel. Healthy camels can cost as much as fifty-thousand rupees. But everybody gave me a different price of the animals traded in the Pushkar mela.
This grand affair of ten days also sees handsome horses sold to compete in races. Of course, the fortunate or unfortunate azure-eyed racehorses cost crores of rupees.
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In Pushkar festival, every camel cart driver would tell you that he will show you the best sunset ever. That he will take you to such beautiful rose gardens that you would have never imagined. That he would reveal the secrets of the farthest dunes only to you.
As I have been to remote dunes in Jaisalmer, I politely declined their honest offers.
Then a young Rajasthani camel-cart owner invited me to sit on his cart. As Kushal had the most innocent face, I happily joined him. Later when men teased me, Kushal gently asked me to ignore them.
You wouldn’t find many Indian women traveling solo in India. I was a curious entity for the local men. Also, Rajasthan is a very traditional state, and locals still keep their women behind the purdah.
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Before you judge me for sitting on Kushal’s camel, I will tell you that his camel was generously fed and well taken care of. Kushal asked me to sit on top of him as the other cart members enjoyed his camel ride one by one.
I couldn’t say no. I didn’t know how to say no. When I talked to Kushal about animal safari, he said that his camel is like his friend. They roam around together all day long.
I never visit a zoo, converted into a vegetarian, never buy leather, and don’t ride animals. But in this situation, I didn’t know if a camel safari is right or wrong.
In Rajasthan, people rely on camels for moving around, carrying loads, and food (milk and meat) for centuries. It is not only hard but impossible to explain to them that camels are sensitive living beings — just like us — and should be let free. Locals would shoo you away like you were some crazy eco-sensitive being.
Also, can Rajasthanis survive without employing camels to carry weight and travel distances? I am not sure.
But when I saw hundreds of animals driven around with a thread through their nose and a cart on their back, I wasn’t happy.
What can we do? To bring a change, we have to give people an alternative.
Please let me know in comments if you think of a solution, if there is any.
I saw many faces of children in the Pushkar fair.
Children ran around asking to be clicked for ten rupees or they just asked for the money audaciously. Sometimes they chased behind the camel cart to be driven around.
Handing them some mango candies, I wondered if they would even remember me the next day.
And then I saw this.
All depends on the parents of these little-ones.
After walking around in the mela grounds, I went to the Pushkar market.
Pushkar Bazaar is a busy affair around the year and more so at the time of the camel fair in Pushkar. The streets bustled with international and Indian tourists and locals. Photographers raced through the streets while clicking away with their big Canons and Nikons.
Amongst all the chaos in Pushkar city, I tried capturing the real Pushkar.
The streets of Pushkar are fringed by artists. This man was kind enough to invite me to his shop to just talk without trying to sell me anything. He paints dancing figures, gods, and goddesses on old postcards – as you can see behind him. He also teaches this art and showed me a collection of his students’ work.
I will always remember him for the honesty and innocence he bore, like a true artist.
How would Rajasthan be without kachori? Little unhealthy deep-fried balls that I absolutely love since I was a little girl. First time I had proper Rajasthani pyaaz or onion kachori was when I had traveled to Jaisalmer and Jodhpur with a group of friends from college.
I didn’t tell my family about the trip, but I committed other sins, too. One of them was eating a handful of pyaaz kachoris. The ones you see in the picture are dal kachoris, which are also delicious.
In Pushkar, chat-wallahs serve kachoris with kadhi, a curry made with besan and sour curd. If you travel to Pushkar, please try these.
Pushkar Lake and Pushkar Ghats.
Karthik (a Hindu month overlapping between October and November) is auspicious for Hindus as it is dedicated to the worship of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Pushkar mela is held in the Karthik month every year. During the fair, Hindus from distant places travel to pay their tributes in the Brahma temple in Pushkar and to bathe in the Pushkar lake.
On the full moon of the Karthik month, the fair ends.
Pushkar lake, located in the center of the city, has many ghats. Each ghat has its pujari or a priest who holds his own aarti at sunset.
While crossing one of the ghats, a pandit stopped me to check if I had performed the prayer that they suggest everyone should do. When I told him that I didn’t, he said I was entangled in greed and money.
The pandit called himself the original priest and were one of the many there.
Each ghat has its own small lake where you are asked to sit, listen to the many attendants of the main pujari who tell you religious stories, then you pray, and throw a coin in the water to fulfill your wishes. Of course, you also pay the attendant.
Hidden behind the shield of god and religion, some of these pandits were just making money. When I refused, the pandit started harassing me.
You might want to tie a red thread on your right wrist if you want to stay away from those who trade religion for peanuts.
Pushkar Photos at night.
As the Pushkar animal fair progresses, classical Rajasthani dancers perform their shows and musicians make music, villagers do puppet shows, experts walk on ropes, and many more cultural acts are performed.
During these prime days of the mela, the animal traders also start leaving the fair. But the show goes on to keep the tourists entertained. A local from Pushkar told me that camels also dance towards the end of the Pushkar mela.
Having no intention and heart to see camels dance at the instruction of humans, I was happy to leave the fair early before it became a touristy affair.
And to be fair, I have had my share of fun.
My Stay in Pushkar, Rajasthan.
I stayed at Saral Shambhala, the eco hut and luxury tents located in the Chawandiya Village of district Pushkar.
Please Note: This was not a sponsored trip. I was introduced to the owner of the place, a sweet lady called Nivi, by a common friend. Nivi invited me to stay at Saral Shambhala because she is kind. The opinions here are my own and, of course, honest.
I arrived in Saral Shambhala after a long-delayed train ride. Settled amidst a big farm and gooseberry fields, the eco-community environment of Saral Shambhala made me feel at home within minutes.
I had to go close to find the face hidden in the mud.
I would love to back to Saral Shambhala to stay for a month, at least. To read the ancient books and write. To watch the birds. To hang out with Sitabai. To talk to the people who run the place with so much love.
Until next time.
You can book a stay at Saral Shambhala luxury tents and eco hut here.
Do you think Pushkar has lost its charm? Or do you think tourism is essential for Rajasthan?
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