In the three+ years we’ve been together, my girlfriend, Victoria, has made no secret of her desire to visit the Pushkar Fair in India, where livestock—mostly camels and horses—are decorated, put on show, and traded. It is a crowded and colorful scene set amidst the arid landscape of the Aravalli Hills bordering the Thar Desert in the northwest state of Rajasthan. I had never been to India, so when Vic was invited to attend a conference in Jaipur scheduled for late October, we were in the perfect position to strike a few items off our bucket lists. Before long, frequent flyer miles were cashed in and travel plans solidified. We were headed to Rajasthan, aka the “Land of Kings.”
I must admit, having grown up in western Illinois, I wasn’t overly excited by the idea of attending an event based around livestock, but after a small amount of research I knew it would be a spectacle. In addition, Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, was wrapping up and the fair coincides with Kartika Purnima, which brings a massive pilgrimage of devout Hindus, Jains and Sikhs to Pushkar. The city is home to one of the few temples dedicated to the four-faced god of creation, Brahma. Pushkar Lake, the small body of water around which the town sits, is said to have formed when the deity dropped a lotus flower. Tens of thousands of devoted pilgrims come each year to bathe in one of the 52 ghats that surround the lake, purifying themselves in the sacred waters.
My head is still spinning from all that I took in—kind, curious faces, aggressive hawkers eager to take every rupee you have, sacred cows and wild dogs meandering in the streets, potentially deadly motorcycle traffic with every step, women in vibrantly colored saris, and Rajasthani men with handsome weathered faces and incredible mustaches that would put any hipster to shame.
Our Pushkar experience is something Vic and I will be talking about for many years to come. I hope you enjoy the photos.