• Nicola Chilton

In Pictures - the Pushkar Camel Fair

In 2012 I travelled to the edge of Rajasthan's Thar Desert to attend the Kartik Mela, also known as the Pushkar Camel Fair. What began as an annual gathering of camel and livestock traders now encompasses ferris wheels, beauty pageants, horse races, and ad-hoc tattoo stalls set up in the dust at the side of the street. At the heart of it the camels are still the stars of the show, dressed in finery, paraded around the fairgrounds, posing for photos and ultimately traded, although the horses give them a gallop for their money. At sunrise the fair is at its quietest, the traders' families stirring to make chai and prepare their animals for the day ahead. The crowds haven't surfaced yet, and you need a good blanket or shawl to keep out the chill. In the daytime Pushkar is a kaleidoscope of colours, the reds and yellows of turbans, the pinks and greens of sarees sparkling with mirrors and sequins, the greens and blues of the pompoms adorning the camels made all the more vivid by the desert light. And at sunset, the dusty air turns golden, bathing the scene in sepia tones. Walk with me as we explore the fairgrounds, stop for hot cups of chai, watch the traders showing off their animals, and try not to bid for the best in show.

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