The Pushkar Fair, also known as the Pushkar Camel Fair, or Pushkar Mela, is a colorful and vibrant display of unique exhibitions, exciting competitions and fascinating events. Extending to seven days, this annual camel and livestock fair, held in the town of Pushkar between the months of October and November, draws a large number of crowds. Besides, this fair is renowned for being one of the world’s largest cattle fairs.
Apart from its celebratory aspect, this wonderful event also possesses a religious significance. Over the years, the fair has found an honorable mention in Rajasthan Tourism.
A Brief History of Pushkar Mela
According to mythology, all the 330 gods and goddesses of Hinduism assembled at Pushkar Lake on the day of Purnima (full moon night) to consecrate the lake. This is how the lake came to be deemed as sacred. This is the reason behind an enormous amount of pilgrims coming together at the Pushkar Lake for a holy bath to wash away their sins and pay their respects at the Brahma Mandir, the only one of its kind in India. The waters of this lake are also believed to possess healing properties.
Pushkar has also been mentioned in the Mahabharata, a 2000 yrs old epic as one of the most ancient sacred sites in India. Besides this, it has also been referred to in the Hindu scriptures as one of the five holy cities.
When it is celebrated and where?
As the name implies, Pushkar Camel Fair, or Pushkar Mela, as it’s commonly known, is held over a period of seven days in the town of Pushkar, which lies in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan. The fair is celebrated between the months of October and November on the occasion of the holy Kartik Purnima. This year it is going to be start from 15th November - 23 Novermber 2018 on the auspicious day of full moon in Kartik month.
Highlights of Pushkar Mela
Although the Pushkar Mela is primarily held to showcase the camels and livestock, and is the world’s largest cattle fair, there are other events and features which are the main highlights of this fair. These events enhance the entire experience of the fair while gifting the visitor with some lovely memories.
Elevated Sitting Arena
There is the elevated sitting arena, which allows the visitors to be seated in a specially designed tented viewing gallery equipped with all the modern amenities. The opening ceremony is in itself a grand event. It’s marked by hundreds of brightly adorned camels and horses mounted by riders clad in vibrant traditional Rajasthani attire.
Pushkar Glamping Experience
One of the best thing to enjoy in Pushkar Fair is the Pushkar Glamping Experience. These camps combine the pleasures of camping amidst luxury. An example of this is the tented accommodation at the Sky Waltz Camp which offers a choice of air conditioned and non-air conditioned options of glamping stay in Pushkar Fair. The other major attraction is the stunning performances by eminent fusion maestros from around the world.
Hot Air Ballooning
You can also enjoy hot air ballooning at the Pushkar Fair. Watching the buzzing activities from above gives you an experience like no other. This thrilling activity is one of the top reasons to visit Pushkar Fair. Further, along with this unique experience, one can also indulge in a number of adventurous activities like paramotors, quad biking and horse riding, among others.
Of course, there is the cattle fair, which is one of the major highlights of Pushkar Festival, Rajasthan. The fair witnesses the cattle owners bringing their livestock – camels, horses, cows, goat and sheep, all dressed in colorful attire to be sold and purchased.
However, it must be remembered that the fair has a strong religious association with it too. This is also the time when a large number of pilgrims visit the lake to mark the importance of this event while the temple city buzzes with religious activities.
You should also visit the famous Pushkar Mela for taking home with you delightful handicrafts. During the event, a number of makeshift stalls are set up which sell items ranging from saddle straps, saddles and beads to strings of cowries. The fair is also attended by women in large numbers, and as such, one can also find a gamut of traditional silver ornaments, bead necklaces from Nagpur, garments of patchwork, printed textiles from Ajmer and traditional footwear, besides others.
Harmony Half Marathon
Harmony Half Marathon is one of the things not to miss in Pushkar Fair. Held during the course of the Pushkar Fair, the run starts from Dargah Ajmer Sharif and ends at the Pushkar Stadium Ground.
Accommodation Options in Pushkar Mela
Any complete guide for Pushkar Fair, Rajasthan is incomplete without a mention of the excellent accommodation options available during the course of it. One of the best ways of experiencing the tranquil countryside during the Pushkar Fair is staying in tents. An example of this is the Skywaltz Pushkar Camp, which provide the options of luxury air conditioned tents.
Places to See around Pushkar
Once you are in Pushkar and have enjoyed the Pushkar Festival, you might want to visit other places which lie around Pushkar, and which are also worth visiting because of the numerous attractions they behold.
The Savitri Temple located atop Ratnagiri hills is one of the must visit places in Pushkar. Blessed with scenic views of the valley, it’s a picturesque lookout. Escape to the temple early in the morning for a spectacular sunrise or wait for a glorious sunset. To get to the top, opt for the hour long strenuous uphill climb of or take the ropeway. The ropeway takes you to the very top in 6 minutes costing around INR 90 per person.
In the heart of Pushkar, Anasagar Lake is a pictorial beauty. The perfect background for a relaxing evening stroll. Enjoy boating, savor the local chaat (snacks) or just click pictures and watch the golden sunset. Another place to check out by the lake is, Daulat Bagh. The lush garden laid out by Emperor Jahangir is a breathtaking site.
The beautiful Taragarh Fort in Ajmer built by the Chauhan rulers is one of the places to not miss in Rajasthan. Dating back to 1345, it is one of the oldest hill forts in the world. After a steep climb of around two hours, one can reach the fort and marvel at the impressive Mughal designs of the bygone era.
Other interesting places to check out include Lake Foy Sagar, Mayo College, Adhai Din Ka Jhonpda, Soniji Ki Nasiyan and Nareli Jain Temple.
One of these is Ajmer. Located at a distance of almost 16km, its home to the famous mausoleum, known as “dargah Sharif”, of the Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-Din Chishti. Besides this, one should also visit the Mayo College. Founded by the 6th Earl of Mayo, the Viceroy of India from 1869-1872, it’s famous for its incredible architecture.
Then, there is Khimsar, which lies at a distance of almost 171km. One of the prime attractions of this place is the Nagaur Fort. Founded by Prince Rao Karamasji, the eighth son of Rao Jodha in 1523, it was constructed with the intention of protecting the village from invasions. The walls of this 450 years old structure is worth admiring, as are the finely carved balconies of the Zenana Mahal. Although it has been converted into a heritage hotel, it still houses the royal family.
However, apart from all these, you wouldn’t want to visit Pushkar, which is in Rajasthan, and miss out on visiting its capital, Jaipur. The biggest city of Rajasthan, it’s famous for the beautifully laid out gardens, wonderful monuments and lovely handloom garments. Some of the monuments worth visiting here are Hawa Mahal, City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Rambagh Palace and others. Besides, it’s one of the best places to shop for crafts, gems and various other artifacts. Some of the best markets worth visiting are Bapu Bazaar, Johari Bazaar and Nehru Bazaar, among others.
How to Reach Pushkar
By Air: Sanganer airport in Jaipur is the nearest airport to Pushkar, at a distance of 146km. From there, one can hire taxis or private vehicles to reach Pushkar.
By Train: Pushkar Terminus Railway Station, which has been in operation since 2012, is connected to Ajmer railway station, located at a distance of 11km.
By Road: Pushkar is well connected to the national highways of Rajasthan. Regular buses ply from Pushkar to the major cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer from the Ajmer bus stand.