Pushkar Mela (Mela = Fair) is an annual gathering that convenes every year around November/ December at the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, India. What started as an annual event for cattle traders to exchange camels and cows, has grown into a 7-day extravaganza showcasing the rich culture of the north Indian state of Rajasthan.
Pack film, lots of film, if you are headed to Pushkar for the Annual Cattle Trading Fair, the Pushkar Mela. You will be rewarded with the sight of literally thousands of people, colors, lights, sounds, and everything that truly symbolizes the Indian cultural spirit.
We went to Pushkar not knowing what to expect. We had done some research earlier and online sources mentioned the same usual things that we Indians have been hearing about India all too often from our friends abroad – its culture, colors, people, dances etc. But Pushkar Mela manages to overwhelm everyone, even those like us who have been born in this wonderful country and have lived here ever since!
The Fair was held last year, between the 17th and 21st of November (if you do plan to visit it this year, check the dates in advance as the schedule of the fair usually changes). Getting into Pushkar is very easy – fly off to Jaipur, spend four hours in a cab or bus and you’ll then find yourself in the the center of the frenzy. If you opt to catch a train, get off at Ajmer (there are regular trains from Jaipur or Delhi) and take a bus or a taxi for 30 minutes or so.
Once you’re there, getting a place to dump your luggage is also easy. You can choose the hundreds of hotels and guest houses that dot the town and offer clean and really affordable accommodation – $50 a night is like paying for a presidential suit in Pushkar. If you are coming as a group, there are dormitories that offer many rooms with 6, 8 beds etc.
The Fair is celebrated for over 7 days and has a printed calendar. You can watch, click or even participate in games such as ‘Matka Phod’ (Break a Pot), Bridal Make up, ‘Catch a Chicken’ etc. We saw many tourists participating and even winning against the locals at these competitions but having just a weekend to go click-crazy, we opted to not take part in the games and instead, let our cameras go on a picture-taking frenzy!
Another thing you will notice is the many photographers mingling around. But what’s even more surprising are the many film cameras you will find suspended around people’s necks. Leicas, Hassleblads coexist happily alongside Lubitels and LC-As at Pushkar. My Lubitel got many a curious, ‘that-is-a-wicked-little-thing!’ glances and struck me a few interesting conversations!
Venture out from the fair grounds to the place where the camels and cattle are traded for some really good clicks. The nomads will be dancing, singing, and making merry as they count the money they made through the sales. Participate in the fun and you will be amply rewarded with many memorable clicks and some yummy desert cuisine!
This Fair is highly recommended if you planning a trip to India!
Check out more photos: http://www.lomography.com/homes/prao06/albums/1660168-pushkar-mela-the-great-indian-fair