During the holy month of Kartika, the devout descend on the town of Pushkar in Rajasthan, said to be the spot where Lord Brahma dropped a lotus flower to form the lake around which the town is built. Tens of thousands of believers come to bathe in Pushkar Lake, more and more each day as the full moon, the holiest day, approaches.
Simultaneously, tourists descend on the town for the Pushkar Camel Fair, a concurrent event that’s one of the largest livestock fairs in the world. If you get there early you can watch camels arrive in streams over the horizon, tens of thousands of them. Tent cities pop up around the fairgrounds for the herders and their families. There’s an arena for events, which run all week long, and several Ferris wheels are erected. The dusty streets leading into Pushkar are lined with stalls selling everything from precious cashmere to camel decorations.
The sacred movement of over 50,000 bathers is pushed right up against the seemingly outlandish spectacle of 50,000 camels, and for two weeks Pushkar expands to nearly 200,000 people. Here’s what one of my days at last year’s fair looked like.