Camel-palooza 2010: The Pushkar Camel Fair

I found myself under a shiny half moon, in the midst of a desert in Pushkar, India, surrounded on all sides by the shadows of thousands of camel silhouettes and the harrowing braying noises that these funny-looking beasts make when they’re happy, mad, or just going to the bathroom. Smoke from the fires of nomadic camel herders’ makeshift campsites floated through the air. I breathed it all in, standing as still as possible.

Of all the experiences I had looked forward to in planning my India trip, the annual Pushkar Camel Fair, I have to admit, topped the list. Oh sure, I was all, “The Taj Mahal will be great! Can’t wait to see the Ganges!” but really, deep down, I wanted to see what on god’s earth the largest camel fair in India was all about. I wanted to know what it was like to be surrounded by tens of thousands of camels at once.

And here I was.

So what was it all about? In short, the camel fair is an opportunity for folks to buy, sell and trade camels and other animals, like horses. People and their camels arrive from all over India, and converge for 2 weeks in Pushkar.

Of course, the event also includes a myriad of activities: camel races, football (soccer) matches, traditional singing and dancing, mustache competitions, street food, camel flair for sale (yes, camels have flair to wear) and other fair-like shenanigans.

There are few things that top standing on a sand hill, in the middle of the desert in Rajasthan, looking out upon a sea of camels, tents and turbans. It was one of the moments I had hoped hardest to make happen, and here I was, alive, in its absurd and perfect midst.


  1. I cann’t wait to see your photos. I saw your gorgeous henna tatoo on Ayez’s blog yesterday. It is amazing. Enjoy your Great Adventure.

  2. John and Wendy says:

    Hi Valerie: We love hearing your stories and seeing the beautiful photos. Hope you are enjoying your adventure. Keep them coming. Love you!

    John and Wendy

  3. glad to hear it wasn’t just a depressing sea of camels staked to the ground in the middle of rings of newly grass free patches. xo

    • Valerie Conners says:

      well, mind you – there were some PETA nightmare moments. Chiefly camels with their too front legs tied together trying to run…

  4. bill conners says:

    WOW……………………i actually feel that i’m there with you. Looking at your pictures, i can almost see myself standing next to you……love you,Dad

  5. Oh! I thought I’d died and gone to Fair Heaven while reading your post! A Festival devoted to the Camel. Perfect! This is one I truely am sad to miss attending with you. I hope you picked up some sweet camel flair. For me.

  6. Val,

    Can I be your sidekick?

  7. Two Questions

    1) Where are the picture of the mustache competition?

    2) Is there an Indian equivalent of fair food like fried dough and butterfly french fries?

    • Valerie Conners says:

      oh chad. 1) We MISSED the mustache competition. It was at the end of the festival. and 2) I’d say the pakora or parantha are fried food equivalents. But much spicier.

  8. I’m so fascinated by how you and Ayaz have been able to catch all these perfect moments while in India. Your timing is impeccable. Although, I’m sure it was planned, still. With everything that can go wrong while traveling – oversleeping, missing your plane, train, etc… The travel God is smiling down on you. 😉

    • Valerie Conners says:

      eee! I hope so! You know, we did plan hard to be in Pushkar for the camel festival, and Udaipur for Diwali – but yes, we’ve been good about rolling with everything – taking all adventures and misadventures in flow, and keeping in mind it’s all part of the journey 😉

  9. These stories and pictures are just blowing me away. I love seeing where you are on your journey. Miss you! I’m so glad you’re living the dream!! xoxo

  10. Caroline Ely says:

    I saw our friend Indira and we spoke of your blog over noodles in Union Square. We are excited and intrigued by some of the things you are doing. Knowing much more than I do, she says you are availing yourselves of experiences off the path — things that many Indians would not do. She admires you and so do I.

    Go in peace, courage, and surrealism. BestCaroline

  11. Caroline Ely says:

    Interesting…looked over this post and the verbal fragment “do” is everywhere. Better start “do”ing or I will be “do”leful.

  12. Andy "aka the brother-in-law" Dalton says:

    I’m with ChadP, there must be more on this beauty contest of mustaches. I cannot believe this hasn’t crossed the pond to an Atlantic City venue near us. Are we talking full Burt Renolds, Smokey and the Bandit stach? Is there a waxed-stach category for the likes of 80’s relief pitcher Rollie Fingers. We really need a more indepth blog post dedicated just to this topic. I’m also wondering if Camel Fest is anything like going to a car auction with Dad.

    • Valerie Conners says:

      but didn’t read my reply?? We missed it!! it was the last day of the festival and we were only there at the beginning. But I have all sorts of fantasies at the ridiculousness of it all – I can only imagine. And yes – very much like the car auction with dad – LOLOL!

  13. So how much does a camel run these days??? Wish u planned things to start the trip off buying camels & riding them everywhere! so fun. miss u doodie!