Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

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Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

Visiting Pushkar during the Camel Fair is an overwhelming experience. Tens of thousands of people flood into the tiny town, transforming it from a quietly relaxing spot into a massive carnival. Tourists, villagers, religious pilgrims, camels, cows and horses spill out into the surrounding desert.

It’s intense and more than a little exhausting. The once-empty fairgrounds have been converted into a sprawling carnival and market, complete with Ferris wheels and other rides. Aggressive touts roam the streets selling necklaces, carvings, hats and hundreds of other trinkets. Fake sadhus and henna girls wander the streets, hustling for baksheesh.

I’ve been told that every village within 200 kilometers sits empty as the residents have packed everything into carts and made their journey here. There are tens of thousands of people filing through the narrow streets, shopping, bathing in the sacred lake or making offerings at the many temples. They’ll continue filtering in during the week until it’s nearly impossible to move by the last day.

I’ve been sorting through my photos (1,500 of them) and finally had to admit that there was no way I could capture it all in one post. So here are ten shots from the first half of the week-long event. I hope you enjoy them.

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

This shot was taken right at the outer edge of the sprawling camp. It continued to grow for days as more and more wagon caravans rolled in. By midweek it peaked and people began breaking camp and leaving, their livestock trading and buying finished.

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

This family was from a small village about 40 kilometers from Pushkar. They’d arrived in a two-wheeled cart pulled by a camel and were sleeping in a simple pup tent. They’d called me over and asked me to take their photo, then hit me up for the inevitable baksheesh tip.

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

The camels and livestock all go through quite a bit of hay while they’re here. This feed wallah was busily weighing out another batch every time I passed by.

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

Obligatory snake-charmer photo. These guys are everywhere and make their living posing for photos for tourists. I’d avoided most of them but passed these two as the sun was setting and couldn’t resist, giving them 20 rupees for their effort.

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

 

Photos from the Pushkar Camel Fair, Part 1

The Ferris wheels are the best deal in town, affording incredible views of the town and camp for a measly fifty cents.

 

 

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt November 25, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Wow, these are absolutely incredible. If anyone out there should be watermarking their blog photos, it should you! Looking forward to Part 2. Safe travels.

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Wow, thanks Matt!

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Mary November 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I want to see how they get that ferris wheel out into the desert.

Looks like a fantastic event. Where did you stay while you were there? When is it held?

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:35 pm

Me too — I never saw them break it down or assemble it, unfortunately. The Camel Fair is usually in early-mid November. It shifts each year, as it’s tied to the lunar calendar, peaking on the full moon.

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retrotraveller November 26, 2010 at 12:39 am

Yeah… beautiful set of photographs. I haven’t been on the road for a while and I miss places like this – livestock market and bazaars are great places to experience cultures – I even miss the ‘baksheesh’ moments!

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Thanks, Retro. A week spent during the Camel Fair should satisfy your baksheesh cravings for at least a year ;)

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Theodora November 26, 2010 at 2:38 am

Amazing shots! Loving the camel jewellery… Did you stay the entire week?!

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm

Yeah, I was here before and after. The town itself is a lot more enjoyable without the Fair in town, but it’s quite an experience during, as well….

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Andi November 26, 2010 at 4:19 am

There are no words other than how f*cking cool!!!!!!!!!!! I will experience this one day. Love the painted camels.

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Do it!

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suzanne November 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm

wes-
Really lovely photos. You have the rare ability to capture the essence of people & places. Your posts always leave me wanting more.
Now I really can’t wait to get to India!

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wes November 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Thanks, Suzanne — that really makes my day (and it was a good day to start with!)

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Erica November 28, 2010 at 6:08 pm

There is something about ferris wheels that make me smile. Beautiful photos Wes!

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wes November 30, 2010 at 7:01 pm

Thanks, Erica. I love carnivals — something about them make me giddy…

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Sherry Ott November 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Really nice post – great job of capturing it! I find that India and Nepal are my favorite places to take photos – the people are all so eager to have their photo and they don’t put on cheesy grins. When I was there 2 years ago – no one asked me for money though for photos – sounds like things are changing!

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wes November 30, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Thanks, Sherry – -means a lot coming from you. I’ve been a fan of your work for awhile.

As for the baksheesh requests, I think it had more to do with the Fair than any major cultural changes. There were a ton of people in town who were just here to feed off the tourists. Pushkar isn’t necessarily like that year round…

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Priyank December 31, 2010 at 9:13 pm

Hi Wes, loved the picture of the boy holding the camel – the empty but thoughtful expression on his face. :-)

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wes January 1, 2011 at 10:17 am

Thanks! He was a funny one — he insisted that I take his photo, then kind of glared at me the whole time. So I made him wait a minute until the camels passed behind him :)

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