Saturday, 31 October 2009

WSJ Photo Journal: Pushkar Mela

Photo © Kevin Frayer/Associated Press-All Rights Reserved

The WSJ Photo Journal with a photograph by Kevin Frayer has reminded me that the Pushkar fair (or mela) is taking place from October 30 to November 2 this year. It is one of the world's largest camel fairs, and is held in the quaint town of Pushkar. At that time, hotel rooms and other accommodations are available at a hefty premium, especially at the venerable but ideally located Pushkar Palace.

While it's famed for its camels, the fair is also a marketplace for livestock including the reputed Marawri horses. It has recently become a magnet for tourists, both local and foreign, with tour agencies setting up itineraries centered around the fair itself as the main attraction. Photo trips also abound, since the camel traders, the sand dunes of the Thar Desert and the setting sun prove irresistible to photographers hoping to capture the Rajasthani essence.

Although a one-time-must-see event, the Pushkar mela itself has become a tourist event rather than a genuine tribal camel trading occasion. The actual trading itself takes place days before the start of the event, and by the time tourists arrive, most of the trades have been competed, and only the stragglers are left.

You can read my take on Pushkar fair in an early (and acerbic) post on this blog under the title "Reheated Itineraries".