Pushkar's history can be traced back to 2,000 years, to a time when gods lived amongst humans. It is said that the lake of Pushkar, where god Brahma bathed, washes every sin and can cure terminal diseases. This tiny town and the serene lake shines like a pearl in Rajasthan's crown.
The grand livestock fair where people from around the country gather to trade camels, sheep and cattle, has also become an indispensable part of Pushkar's history. This massive congregation has grown to become a festival celebrating Rajasthan's craftsmanship and culture.
Visiting the Pushkar Mela 2016 should be on the bucket list of everyone, but if you haven't given it a single thought till now, here are 10 reasons why should.
1. Ride the Pushkar skies on a hot air balloon.
The experience of watching crowds of people turning tiny as you float higher in the sky, is truly surreal and worth giving a shot. Pushkar is one of the few places in the country where a hot air balloon ride is easily accessible, and during the Pushkar Mela its awesomeness get further multiplied.
Tip: You HAVE to get on the hot air balloon if you are going as far Pushkar. If you are concerned about the charges, then don't worry! You can easily save up for them and make it in time for an experience of a lifetime.
2. Watch the best of fusion bands for free!
Throughout the years, Rajasthan government has put a great effort to entertain the crowds who are at the Pushkar Mela. Adding to the livestock trading and display of craftsmanship, you also get to watch awesome fusion bands like Indian Ocean (last year) and Prem Joshua and Band (this year).
Tip: There is no entry fee for the concert. The positions are taken on first-come-first basis. So be there ahead of time to get a good spot with a great view.
3. Get a glimpse of camel trading as it was centuries ago.
The trading of cattle is an ancient practice which brings together different communities for the purpose of earning a livelihood. Hundred thousands of camel and cattle owners gather around the Pushkar lake to trade their livestock. This phenomenon of an event is both fascinating and thrilling to observe, given the amazing energy of people there.
Tip: If you want to see the massive gathering of camels and the real trade then wake up at the crack of dawn and head towards the sand dunes.
4. Watch the Pushkar Lake transform into the holiest lake of Hinduism.
Celebrated from Kartik Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima, the Pushkar Mela lasts seven days. The full moon night of the Hindu month of Kartik is considered so auspicious that according to scriptures, this is the day when god Brahma sprung up the Pushkar Lake and 330 million gods and goddesses came to bath in it. Commemorating this mythological phenomenon, people from all religions gather to wash their sins in this lake under the light of a full moon.
Tip: This is the event which attracts the most number of people. If you are traveling specifically for the Kartik Poornima then book your hotel in advance since it will be nearly impossible to get a room on the spot.
5. Dive into world cuisine (like Italian, Lebanese etc) in the small town of Pushkar.
The cafe culture of Pushkar will blow your mind. But the most cherished discovery will be the authentic and affordable Daal Bhaati Churma. Though everything at the fair might be double its price, but the food there is definitely worth each penny since all cooks and shop-owners are eager to impress.
Tip: Check out Funkey Monkey Cafe, Nirvana Cafe, Kabir Cafe for the not-so local food. Kumavat Bhojnalayae is most popular for its Daal Bhaati.
6. Experience the beauty of Rajasthan's diverse art and craft.
The Pushkar Fair attracts the best of India's craftsmen. Gathered here are many rural artisan communities who are the heart of Rajasthani culture. The Shilpgram is an initiative by the Rajasthan Government to promote local arts and artisans. Situated near the mela grounds, Shilpgram invites craftsmen to set up permanent and makeshift stalls which sell everything from paintings and leather ware to puppets and jewelry.
Tip: Given the massive number of people at the fair, you will be spoilt for choice but whatever you buy will feed the fading tribe of craftsmen in Rajasthan. Make sure to bring a souvenir!
7. Watch the nation's favorite cricket match of 'Lagaan' recreated on Mela grounds.
A group of locals and foreigners bound by the love for cricket will be showcasing their passion for the sport by dressing up in full Lagaan costume and recreating the iconic cricket match. The match takes place on the Day 5 of the Mela, at around 1:00 pm.
Tip: For those who prefer other sport there is loads of action like kabaddi, volleyball, Langri taang, matka phore and more. Don’t miss the foreign participation which happens with a lot of zest!!
8. Participate in Pushkar Mela's first ever marathon and kite flying competition.
Taking place for the first time ever in Pushkar Mela, the Harmony Marathon is a 14 km run from Ajmer Sharif to Brahma Temple, celebrating the uniqueness and oneness of the incredible state of Rajasthan. Also debuting this year is the Pushkar ki Patang, where kite flyers will flaunt their 'patangbazi' and also support local kite makers from all around India with their intricately crafted and unique kites.
Tip: The Pushkar ki Patang will take place on the Day 4 (11th November) at 11:30 am in the fair grounds. The Harmony Marathon starts from Ajmer Sharif at 6 am on 14th November.
9. Be a part of the fascinating and unique competitions.
The Mela grounds host competitions which involve showing-off and winning of the most gorgeous candidate, from camels, moustaches, stunts to brides and grooms, everyone is here at there beautiful best! Rajasthanis take pride in its glorious moustaches and a display of a well pampered moustache that wins you a lot of respect and recognition. As for the Bride and Groom Competition, men and women dress up in wedding attire and compete for the title for the best dressed.
Tip: You can definitely take part in this competition, but remember that the best moustache holders from all over Rajasthan are going to be your competition. So you better start preparing right now.
10. Watch the iconic, world renowned sun set of the Pushkar Lake.
The mention of Pushkar Lake pilgrimage is found in 4th century coins and inscribed on 2nd century Stupas, proving that the lake was a revered water body even thousands of years ago. Despite not falling on any major trade route of the time, Greek, Chinese, Persian and Mughal travelers found their way to this holy lake. Till this date, people gather to get a glimpse of the sun setting on the Pushkar Lake, lighting it golden with the last rays.
Tip: There is a popular sunset point in Pushkar, you can find its way through the Brahma Temple. Many devotees also make it to the point to take a dip during the Kartik Purnima, but the sight is worth the effort.