Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair – Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair: Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Welcome to the enchanting city of Pushkar, a mesmerizing gem nestled in the heart of Rajasthan, India. As we embark on this virtual journey, we invite you to explore the myriad wonders and hidden treasures that make Pushkar a destination like no other. Beyond the famed Camel Fair, Pushkar offers a rich tapestry of history, spirituality, culture, and natural beauty waiting to be unraveled.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The Timeless Appeal of Pushkar

A Spiritual Oasis

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar is renowned for its sacred lake, the Pushkar Sarovar, believed to be created by Lord Brahma himself. As we stand by its serene shores, we’re enveloped in an aura of spirituality that transcends time. Pilgrims from around the world flock here to take a dip in its holy waters, seeking redemption and purification.

 

 

Pushkar: A Tranquil Oasis in the Aravalli Hills

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Just 10 kilometers from Ajmer lies the small town of Pushkar, at an altitude of about 1,700 feet in the Aravalli hills. Area-wise, it is not very significant. There is no special novelty happening there, so when you visit there, you feel as if time has stopped. Set around a medium-sized lake called Pushkar, various ghats and temples of gods and goddesses are the main attractions in the town, although the pilgrim traffic here is relatively low. Hence, one can walk comfortably in the spacious environment, sit quietly on the ghat, enjoy food and drink, or visit various temples according to one’s religious spirit.

Pushkar Mela: The Transformation of Tranquility

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

This scenario changes drastically during the new year of the Hindu calendar (Vikram Samvat). From Kartak Sud Agiyaras to Kartak Sud Poonam (from the 11th day of the first month of the Hindu calendar to the full moon day of the same month), when you come to Pushkar, you will see a completely different situation. Forget freedom, relaxation, and peace; instead, it will be difficult to find a place to set foot. Apart from India, many tourists from all corners of the world flock to the Pushkar fair held during this period. This town, with a population of 20,000, then begins to bustle with 200,000 to 250,000 people.

The Evolution of Pushkar’s Camel FairPushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Years ago, Pushkar’s Fair was known as ‘Camel Fair’, as camels and other animals were traded there. Traders and buyers used to come here with their milch cattle, stay, and make their deals. An international gathering that was once perhaps limited to shepherds has become an international gathering. Various attractions have been added to it from time to time, the focus of which is on tourists, especially foreign tourists. Background: Before knowing the features of this fair, it is necessary to know about Pushkar’s significance.

Mythological Significance of Pushkar

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Every religious place owns its own legend. For Pushkar, it is said that Lord Brahma himself performed Yagya here. (The temple of Lord Brahma is built today in place of that Yagya.) As mentioned in Padma Puran, once Brahmaji came to this region with a lotus in his hand and wanted to perform Yajna. His lotus fell from his hand, and there was such a tremendous sound that all the gods trembled. When Lord Brahma was asked the reason for the sound, he answered that a demon named Vajranabh had been killed with a lotus. The place where the flower (Pushp) fell from the hand (Kar) was called Pushkar by Lord Brahma. The impact of the lotus caused water to erupt from the ground, creating three reservoirs, known as Jyeshtha (biggest), Madhya (the medium), and Kanishtha (smallest) Pushkar, according to their size.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

According to this legend, taking a dip in the Pushkar reservoir on Kartik Sud Poonam (the full moon day of the first month of the Hindu calendar) washes away all sins. The merit of several Yagyas is obtained; hence, Pushkar has significance in terms of Hinduism. Along with that, it has grown in popularity as a tourist destination over the years.

Pushkar’s Religious Significance:

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar’s Brahma temple is believed to have been built in the 14th century. A modestly constructed and well-constructed temple is situated at a height accessible by some steps. Beautiful carvings of mandapam and sanctum with peacock carvings of Saraswati’s vehicle are worth seeing. The ‘Choumurti’ i.e., four-headed statue of Lord Brahma, is installed in the sanctum. Next to it is an idol of his second wife, Goddess Gayatri. At the rear of the main temple is the shrine of Goddess Savitri, the first wife of Lord Brahma. It is said that on the occasion of Yagya, Goddess Savitri came and sat here after being discontent with Lord Brahma. In anger, she cursed that Lord Brahma would not be worshiped anywhere else except Pushkar. Apart from Pushkar, half a dozen places in India have Lord BrahmaPushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan temples. But none of them is as sacred as Pushkar for devotees. Hence Pushkar is also known as ‘Pushkarraj’. It is believed that bathing in the lake of Pushkar is equal to visiting pilgrimage places of Badrinath, Jagannath Puri, Rameswaram and Dwarka, located in the four corners of India all together.

Apart from the temple of Lord Brahma, there are other temples such as Ram Mandir, Varah Temple, Atmteshwar Mahadev, Rangji Temple, Ram Vaikunth Temple, Lakshmi Temple, etc. These many temples have made Pushkar a religious pilgrimage site. But during the fair, it becomes a cultural center rather than a religious one.

The fun at the fair

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

It is natural that the camel has special importance in the desert region of Rajasthan. As a result, camels are the most traded in the Pushkar camel fair. Herdsmen from various villages and towns in the state come here with their camels. Camels are decorated with Colors, dupatas, embroidered cloths, artistic lettering, etc.

In a large field, camels are tethered, some are walking around, and some are also showing camel tricks. The owners of the camels are often dressed in Rajasthani traditional clothes and become an additional attraction for the photographers. However, those not particularly keen on photography are not lacking in attractions here. Innovative competitions, fun fairs, cultural events, food stalls, stalls selling exotic goods, etc. keep us engrossed and entertained for hours. As if nothing is still missing in terms of entertainment for tourists, now film actors are also invited to the fair.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Little Pushkar is crowded during the fair days. Apart from tourists, various traders, shopkeepers, beggars, jugglers and many people who provide entertainment gather here. In Rajasthan, men and women are mostly seen wearing traditional clothes. The atmosphere of Pushkar Mela seems more colorful due to clothes having flamboyant colors like red, yellow, parrot, orange, pink etc.

Adventure-Cultural Competitions

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Innovative competitions add an element of excitement to the Pushkar Mela. Also, the element of innovation is maintained as new competitions are added every year. Many of the competitions aimed at foreign tourists are reminiscent of Rajasthani culture. Apart from authentic Rajasthani competitions like long moustache, fastest turban tying, camel race etc., sports like music chair, tug of war, kabaddi, satodi, matkadod are also played here. Foreign guests are invited to participate. Pushkar Mela is a great example of how cultural things can be commercialized and used to attract tourists.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The fair now has an added attraction of over-viewing Pushkar. You get a chance to see the colorful atmosphere of Pushkar from a height by sitting in a hot air balloon. Viewing a place from a height is even more fun, as it provides an extra (depth) dimension. Viewing Aravalli mountains, deserts, lakes, temples, ghats etc. from a hot air balloon gondola is a special experience.

Declining demand for camels at fairs

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The form of the fair which was once known as ‘Camel Fair’ has changed completely today. The main reason for organizing the sale of camels is no longer at the center. Over the past few years, the volume of camel trade has been gradually decreasing. Complaints that camels are not fetching the same price as before are responsible for this and the reason for this is the law called ‘Rajasthan Camel Act’ passed in 2015. In 2014, the Rajasthan government gave the camel the status of official state animal, and the next year, the Rajasthan Camel Act came into force to protect it. With this law, Rajasthan camels cannot be sold outside the state. Earlier, buyers from Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh used to come to Pushkar Mela to buy camels. Now as that order has stopped, the demand and price of camels is continuously decreasing.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Herdsmen of Rajasthan’s Raika Rabari community, involved in heritage camel rearing, have approached the state government about the issue, but no resolution has been forthcoming. According to the calculation made eight years ago, the number of camels in Rajasthan was 3,25,000, which has reduced to 2,13,000 today. It is feared that it will continue to decline, as pastoralists are losing interest in camels due to the severe impact of a law on the sale of camels.

There are many other problems related to camel rearing, but it is out of place to discuss them here. The fact is that in the midst of the fair, the tendency to extract more and more revenue from tourists is threatening the very purpose of the fair.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

A different thing, but worth quoting here: A German scientist, Dr. Ilse Koeher Rollefson working among Rabari people regarding the camels of Rajasthan has received the title of ‘Our Lady of Camels’. In 1996 AD, Dr. Rollefson started the Lokhit Pashupalak Sansthan, whose main objective was to solve various problems of the Raika community related Camels. She started a camel milk dairy.

According to Dr. Rollefson, the Pushkar fair is no longer what it used to be. A large number of people gather together on Kartik Poonam as the surrounding villagers come to Pushkar to celebrate. It would have been a great opportunity to trade cattle which are the backbone of Rajasthan’s economy. Now the situation has worsened after the status of State Animal given to the Camels. It seems that the government has lost interest in the Pushkar camel fair.

The Sweets of Pushkar, without whose the fair is incompletePushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

As Pushkar is a holy pilgrimage site for Hindus, so Non vegetarian food is not available nearby, but there are many vegetarian options. Pushkar has a variety of mouth-watering delicacies from sweets or farsan shops, from small hotels to lorries. These dishes have the authentic Rajasthani flavor and specialty of Pushkar. For example, the tea served here in clay pots has a unique taste.

A street in Pushkar is called Halwai Gali. Rabdi and Malpua sold in another street called Malpua Gali. Malpuas of Pushkar are smaller in size compared to Malpuas of Gujarat. They are continuously dipped in a thick, hot syrup of sugar and, removed it with a spoon and served when ordered. Enjoy Malpuas with creamy Rabdi and then digest them by walking on foot in Pushkar.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Mung dal and Onion kachori is a specialty of Rajasthan. The big and puffy kachoris found in Pushkar are a treat to savor. With such kachori, it is suggested to combine with Makhaniya Lassi, Mawa Lassi and Gulkand yukt Lassi.

As Kachori is found almost everywhere in Rajasthan and its taste is varied, same can be said for Dalbati. Pushkar’s desi ghee dipped Bati is appreciated. Other traditional Indian dishes are also available here, but as foreigners come in large numbers, there are many hotels that serve their dishes.

The Temples of Reverence

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The city is dotted with temples that speak of a rich architectural heritage. Among them, the Brahma Temple is the most significant, dedicated to the Creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma. Its exquisite architecture and the deep resonance of chants evoke a sense of divinity that is unparalleled.

The Cultural Kaleidoscope

A Mélange of FestivalsPushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

While the Camel Fair may be the most famous event in Pushkar, the city boasts a year-round calendar of festivities. The vibrant Pushkar Fair, held annually, draws travelers and traders from far and wide, offering a glimpse into Rajasthan’s rural life and traditions. However, Pushkar’s charm extends beyond the fair, with celebrations like Holi, Diwali, and Teej filling the air with music, colors, and fervor.

Artisanal TreasuresPushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The winding streets of Pushkar are lined with artisan stalls and shops, offering an array of handicrafts, textiles, and jewelry. The local artisans’ intricate craftsmanship is a testament to Rajasthan’s artistic heritage. Don’t miss the chance to browse through the bustling markets and acquire unique souvenirs.

Natural Beauty and Adventure

The Aravalli RangePushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

For nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers, Pushkar provides a gateway to the majestic Aravalli Range. Explore the picturesque landscapes, embark on treks, and relish the serene sunsets from elevated vantage points. The Aravalli Range offers a refreshing escape from the bustling city life.

Pushkar LakePushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar Lake is not just a spiritual site but also a serene spot for relaxation. Enjoy a peaceful boat ride on the lake, surrounded by the Aravalli hills, and witness the breathtaking vistas that unfold before you.

Gastronomic Delights

Authentic Rajasthani CuisinePushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

No visit to Pushkar is complete without savoring the authentic flavors of Rajasthani cuisine. Indulge in mouthwatering dishes like Dal Baati Churma, Gatte ki Sabzi, and the delectable sweets of Rajasthan. The city’s eateries serve up an explosion of flavors that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight.

The Environmental Impact on the FairPushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

It is natural to create problems when more tourists gather on the same day. The first and most important thing is the cleanliness of this place. Who would think of maintaining cleanliness in such a crowd that there is barely a place to walk? However, this problem is seen here on other days of the year as well, as this place is religious—and dirtiness has become a feature of our religious places. When millions of tourists flock to Pushkar Fair, there is sometimes a water shortage in the town. Also, an enormous quantity of plastic waste is generated due to food and drink.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

As the importance of tourism increases with the decline of the camel fair, many hotels and resorts are built here. A helipad has also been constructed. The environment is inevitably affected when tourism facilities are constructed on the hills of Pushkar, which is teeming with camel population. After visiting the Pushkar fair (if we are nature lovers) one question keeps coming up, is it good or bad to develop an unknown and small place as a tourist destination?

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The beauty of any place is maintained only as long as there is limited traffic. It is not difficult to imagine the condition of the environment and cleanliness in a place where millions of people live for just seven-eight days. The Pushkar fair may have brought huge revenue to the government, Pushkar may have been on the global map, but its original identity is slowly fading. A brief visit to the Pushkar Mela is worth doing before this identity, the camel, is omitted from the fair altogether.

 

Here are some essential points to know for visiting Pushkar:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Pushkar is during the cooler months, from October to March, when the weather is pleasant for outdoor activities. The Pushkar Mela is held immediately after Diwali from Kartak Sud (Devauthi) Agiyaras to Kartak Sud Punam (Dev Diwali), which usually falls in October or November. At this time, the season is very favorable, as winter has started.

Pushkar Camel Fair:

If you want to witness the world-famous Pushkar Camel Fair, plan your trip in November. It’s a vibrant cultural experience.

Religious Etiquette:

When visiting temples and ghats, remember to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering sacred places. Respect local customs and traditions.

Accommodation:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar offers a range of accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury resorts. Book your stay in advance, especially during the Camel Fair. Pushkar is a relatively small center, but being a popular tourist destination, it is a good place to stay. Of course, since the Pushkar Mela is famous not only at the national level but also at the international level, there is a huge rush of tourists here. Hence, it is imperative to go to the fair by planning in advance as far as possible. Foreign tourists book here months in advance. During the days of the fair, various agencies also set up tent accommodations here. If convenient, one can also stop at Ajmer, where more options are available. Website for hotels owned by Rajasthan Tourism Department: https://www.rajasthan.gov.in/sm/order/activity-grid/149118/409/41/2945

Local Cuisine:

Don’t miss out on trying Rajasthani cuisine, including Dal Baati Churma and Gatte ki Sabzi. Explore local eateries and savor the flavors of Pushkar.

Shopping:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar is a shopper’s paradise. Explore the local markets for textiles, jewelry, handicrafts, and souvenirs. Bargaining is common, so be prepared to haggle.

 

 

Transportation:

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

The nearest major city is Ajmer, just 10 kilometers away. You can reach Pushkar by road or take a train to Ajmer Junction and then take a short drive to Pushkar. Taxis and buses will be available from Ajmer to Pushkar. Ajmer is connected to major cities in the country by rail. The nearest airport from Pushkar is Jaipur, which is 140 km by road. There are several options available to reach Ajmer from Jaipur by rail or road.

 

Pushkar Lake:

Spend time by the serene Pushkar Lake, which is central to the town’s spiritual essence. You can also enjoy a boat ride on the lake.

Festivals:

Apart from the Camel Fair, Pushkar hosts various festivals throughout the year. Check the local calendar to see if any events coincide with your visit.

Local Culture:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Engage with the locals and learn about their way of life. Pushkar has a diverse culture, and interacting with residents can be enriching.

Photography:

Pushkar offers incredible photo opportunities, from the vibrant streets to the picturesque landscapes. However, always seek permission before photographing people.

Safety:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Pushkar is generally safe for tourists, but it’s advisable to take usual precautions regarding your belongings and personal safety.

Explore Beyond the Fair:

While the Camel Fair is a major attraction, make sure to explore other hidden gems in Pushkar, like temples, trekking trails, and the Aravalli Range.

Respect the Environment:

Help preserve Pushkar’s natural beauty by disposing of trash responsibly and avoiding activities that harm the environment.

Local Guides:Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

Consider hiring a local guide to get insights into the history and culture of Pushkar. They can enhance your overall experience.

Plus Know This:

The Rajasthan government has fully commercialized the fair. Many types of programs, from traditional to modern, are held here. Fair visitors need to keep their goals clear. If this does not happen, there is a real possibility that the budget may get imbalanced here.

+ For those who are fond of photography, this fair is a huge and unique attraction in terms of subject diversity.
= Pickpockets dwelve here to try their hand at the fair crowd. Be careful while walking around the fair.Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan
= There are more than five hundred temples and a total of fifty-two holy ghats found in the town around Pushkar lake.

There is a lot to see in the three and a quarter kilometer heritage walk organized by the Pushkar Municipality. Starting from Mahal Badshahi, the trip covers Brahma Ghat, Brahma Temple, Mota Ganeshji Temple, Gyan Gopalji Temple, Shahi Masjid, Malpua Gali, Ramalakshman Temple, Rangji Temple, Warah Temple and Bihariji Temple. In addition to getting an idea of the religious and artistic importance of these places, the culture of Pushkar should also be introduced. The journey starts at noon and ends at sunset.

By keeping these points in mind, your visit to Pushkar will be filled with cultural richness, spiritual experiences, and memorable moments. Enjoy your journey!

Conclusion

Pushkar: Beyond the Camel Fair - Exploring Hidden Gems in Rajasthan

In conclusion, Pushkar transcends its reputation as the host of the Camel Fair. It is a city that weaves history, spirituality, culture, and natural beauty into a tapestry of wonder. From the sacred Pushkar Sarovar to the vibrant festivals, artisan treasures, and breathtaking landscapes, Pushkar invites travelers to embark on a journey of discovery. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore Pushkar’s hidden gems, as this city beckons you to experience Rajasthan’s true essence.


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