Pushkar Camel Fair: The Good & the Bad

Posted on Posted in Blog, India

I’ll start off with the bad and end with the good, so we have a happier ending.

Bad

Getting to Pushkar

As most of you know, getting around India is never smooth sailing and getting to Pushkar was no different. My friend Matt, another girl, and I tried to get an Uber from Jaipur from Pushkar. We were told by the hostel and others that it would only cost 1,000 rupees, lies!!

Note to all*** When the estimate that Uber gives for a trip is not always true. For this particular trip, 1,000 rupees was just the base amount and then you would have to pay on top of that for tolls, per mileage, etc. This is what led us to a confrontation with our first Uber driver and Matt had to reach over and take the keys out of the ignition so we could stop the car and get our bags out.

While we were waiting by this fancy hotel for our next Uber driver, a tuk tuk driver came up and started talking to us. He offered to have his nephew drive us for only 2,000 rupees, which was better than what the Uber would have been. When our second Uber driver came we had the same issue! We tried to talk him down but he just left. Tuk tuk driver’s nephew it was! 

The drive actually wasn’t that bad, but when we got to Pushkar the driver tried to get another 300 rupees out of us because we had dropped the other girl off at a different hostel before ours. I can’t say I can blame him for trying to get more money, but the haggling does wear you down sometimes.

The Crowds

The Pushkar Camel Fair is a 10-day affair. The best way to describe it is a: carnival-state fair-camel show-religious pilgrimage event. It is all those things rolled up into one, so you can imagine there would be quite a few people there. It is also a time where people from the countryside of India can come in and enjoy festivities.

Pushkar is a holy site and the last day of the fair is the holiest day where you can bathe in the lake. The last 2 days are the worse for crowds. If you can imagine thousands of people jamming into tiny Indian streets, that’s it. We saw people getting walked on, children getting smooched, and elderly falling down. The police tried to have some sort of crowd control with detours, but it didn’t help that much.

The Unwelcome Attention

As I mentioned before, as a foreigner in India you will be hounded for selfies and touched. This was especially bad in Pushkar because many of the people attending the fair had never seen a foreigner. We were being constantly touched by children, older women, and older men. They had never seen someone like us before so it was mostly just curiosity. However, the younger men saw it as an opportunity. Suffice it to say, my butt has not been pinched so much in my life. 

I admit that after these 2 days, I had developed a short temper with the stares and selfies. And I know that is the problem for many tourists who come to India or are afraid to go there. I had to let all of that fall away so I could enjoy the rest of my time. If you have a negative preconceived notion of how a place will be, then you will never truly enjoy it. And if you let a few things get you down, then you can never move past it. I went through the same thing. Not all of India is like that, I had gone 4 weeks with no issues and met amazing people. It is about moving past the negativities and enjoying all of the positives.

The Good

Whew! We got through that, now the positives.

Pushkar

Pushkar is actually not what I expected at all. It is set in between a hill range and the desert. The desert in this part of India is not like the Sahara, but more arid with small vegetation and rockier sand. But the city, without all the people, I have been told has a very chill vibe. It is also extremely small so walking through the town is quite easy.

The Shopping

Rajasthan is known for their shopping and silver and besides Udaipur, Pushkar is where you want to be at. The shops varied from silver, linen, toys, hats, bags…you name it, they had it. The silver in India is also extremely cheap compared to the states and Europe. So if you want cheap silver, India is where it is at.

I was looking for a few things in particular, a pendant for my mom and an anklet. But I am a shopper that has a picture in their mind of what they want and will search until they find it. I don’t like to settle, which meant I ended up not buying anything in Pushkar. I’m too picky. Also the crowds on the last day did make it difficult to move around the streets and see the shops.

The Hostel

We stayed in the Madpackers in Pushkar. I really enjoyed it because it was an old hotel with hand-painted murals on the walls. The entire hostel was decked out in traditional Mughal architecture and had three different roof levels, which made seeing Pushkar at sunset and sunrise perfect.

My Health

I was finally starting to feel better!! I had been suffering for about a week with this intestinal issue and the antibiotics were finally helping me get back to normal. It’s not fun when you are hungry but don’t want to eat because you know you will be in pain and discomfort 20 minutes later.

The Camel Fair

The Camel Fair was pretty interesting. I got to ride my first camel!! And see my first camel too.

We got to see the final ceremonies of the fair. They had tug-of-war and a few different events. They also showcased people who had won prizes during the fair.

We got to see an Indian concert.

We didn’t get to see any camel races because they were earlier in the fair. I would recommend going to the fair earlier because you will see more camels and there will be less people.

Overall, Pushkar provided some bad and some good. A mantra that I have been saying since my first day has been “everything is an experience, whether it is good or bad.” This was never so prevalent than with Pushkar, but I wouldn’t trade anything for my time there.

But I lost my sunglasses there, damn….!

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