Camel Festival Bikaner
Rajasthan over the years has earned the status of being India’s cultural and festive hub. With festivals all year round, Rajasthan is always brimming with cultural activities & celebrations. Since January happens to be the best time to enjoy outdoor activities in Rajasthan, so this year, I thought of covering one of the festivals falling over the weekend which not many urbanites like us know about.
Bikaner in the western Rajasthan, is home to the largest camel breeding farm in Asia & known as the camel capital of India hosts a unique Camel Festival that has become quite a tourist attraction. Organized by the Department of Tourism, Art and Culture, Camel Festival is a sought after yearly event in Rajasthan that Bikaner celebrates in honor of the ship of the desert, Camel. The Festival was a two day affair, with several unique and entertaining camel & cultural activities. This year, the festival was held on January 14th & 15th.
Was it worth attending?
Definitely! Camel Festival in Bikaner is definitely a must visit event if you are the sorts who enjoy the old rustic charm of medieval royal India coupled with a festival which dons a slight touch & essence of rural merriment. Having missed one of my cousin’s wedding for the festival, I was more apprehensive about its worthiness and the significant weekend which otherwise would have been a family gala. The Festival nevertheless did not disappoint even a single bit!
6 Reasons why you should attend the Camel Festival?
1. The ‘Shobha Yatra’ Start: The Festival was a two day affair & the parade ‘Shobha Yatra’ which marked the start of the festival from Junagarh Fort to Karni Singh Stadium was as grandeur as a royal wedding parade of some prince of a princely state of Rajasthan. It was a lively & colourful procession of beautifully adorned camels, traditionally clad Rajasthani locals, folk dancers, performers and army bagpiper bands reciting against the red sandstone backdrop of majestic Junagarh Fort
2. Camel competitions & performances: The festival offered spectacular displays of decked up camels dressed in vibrant bridles, traditional necklaces and heavy anklets showing off wonderful footwork to the lovely tunes on desert sands. Some interesting competitions during the festival were beauty pageants for camels including which one was the best-dressed and had the best hairdo! No-where else in the world except Rajasthan, one can see such beautifully festooned camels.
3. Sports competitions: Apart from the stunning camel performances & cultural activities, the festivities included local sports competitions amongst local and foreign visitors which kept the festival goers engaged. The competitions included free-style wrestling, water pot race, tug of war, kabbadi & kho-kho competitions between the Indian guests and the foreign visitors. With Sultan and Dangal songs as background scores, the wrestling matches in-particular supplemented enthusiasm amongst populace & added swag to the festival. One of the highlights was the free-style wrestling match between America & India cheers to which could be heard miles away.
4. Cultural performances: Though the festival was exclusively organized to venerate the desert king, the Camels, the traditional Rajasthani folk music & dance performances added charm & glamour to the festival. The locals displayed their skills through captivating fire performances & pulsating dances on soulful folk music all of which were nothing short of spectacular. The festival was supposed to conclude with some stunning firework displays which we had to miss due to our scheduled return journey to Delhi.
5. Formidable forts & Museums: Though Bikaner is not famous for its tranquil lakes & forts but this rustic town is actually gateway to some elegant palaces and formidable forts, the most famous being Junagarh and Gajner Forts. Alongside two eventful days at the festival, one can look at exploring the city. Junagarh fort can easily be covered on the second day, during the morning hours before the start of the festival. With just one extra day squeezed in, Gajner fort along with desert camel safari and Karni Mata Mandir can be covered which happens to be the biggest draw of Bikaner.
6. Rajasthani Cuisine: Rajasthan is no disappointment for those who view good food as an essential element of a happy holiday. The local Rajasthani dishes specially dal baati churma and Rajasthani thali particularly with besan gatte ki sabzi appetizes all the food lovers. While in Bikaner, one should also try out the lip-smacking lassi made of camel milk. The mouth-watering rasgullas from Chotu Motu Joshi sweet shop will sum-up your holiday with sweet memories. This humble town will definitely impress you with its zest for life and the Camel Festival was just the perfect time to sink in to spirit of the town making it a perfect weekend getaway from Delhi.