Pushkar Mela: fairest of fairs:
That singular carnival we know as the pushkar mela can actually best be understood as a conglomeration of two or even three fairs. There’s religious fair, spanning the last five days of the kartik month from Ekadashi (11th day of the waxing phase of the moon) to Purnima (full moon day), in November. The cattle fair of international fame starts taking shape about a week before Ekadashi. Once any animal arrives at the Pushkar fair, there is a traditional taboo on its leaving before Ekadashi, starting when the cattle fair wanes as the moon grows; and the rising full moon of Purnima – even as the sun sets on the other side of the sand dunes – signals the closure of the cattle fair. In the interstices exists a rural trade and entertainment fair. It’s a week long, sometime charming, often garish extravaganza, finishing on the night of the full moon.
Things to see and do:
For the devotee, it is essential to take a dip in the sarovar, and to visit the Brahma Temple. The offerings and prices do not change during the fair.
Shopping Of course, there are camels to be bought for anything between Rs. 3000 and 25000, a more do-able level, you can get ornate swords, carved bamboo, walking sticks and staffs, rajasthani jootis and the musical instrument, Ravanhatta.
The Pushkar Bazaar, open all seven days, is a mecca of cheap and gaily Shiny skirts, tops, jholas and such like, all catering to the backpacker Israeli and European tourist.
At the moon of Kartik Poornima each year up to 200000 people flock to Pushkar, bringing with them 50000 cattle for several days of pilgrimage, horse dealing, camel racing and colour festivities. The RajasthanTourist office has promoted it as an international attraction by adding Rajasthan dance programmes and other cultural events and putting up a huge tent city for foreign visitors. It’s one of India’s biggest and most colourful festivals. The fair will take place:
Pushkar is packed with temples although many were destroyed by Aurangzeb. The most famous is that of Brahma, which is said to be the only temple to Brahma in India. It’s marked by a red spire and over the entrance gateway is the ‘hans’ or goose symbol of Brahma who is said to have Personally chosen Pushkar as its site. The Ranji temple is also important.
Buses run frequently from Ajmer, outside the railway station, for Rs 1.50. It’s quite a spectacular climb up and over the hill but the bus is likely to be too crowded to offer much of a view. The private minibuses are like little old hot rods.
Things to Buy:
Like any good freak centre there are lots of travellers’ clothes tailors in town. During the Cattle Fair there are many artisans selling locally made jewwllwry and other items.
Noted for its school of painting which is still produced today, this small town is 27 km form Ajmer.