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Last Updated on December 5, 2019 by asoulwindow

This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. I traveled solo in shoestring budget to Pushkar fair. Check out all my blogs in the series which apart from many interesting aspects of Pushkar fair, lists down information like – Best time to go to Pushkar, Best things to eat in Pushkar Fair, How to reach Pushkar Fair, Offbeat things to do in Pushkar etc. This blog is about the camels and other animals like horses of Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. It’s a cattle fair after all! Incredible India!
Camels are the biggest draw at the Pushkar fair. The foreign tourists lapped up the touristy camel rides and the grin on their faces told me they were even enjoying the mad rides in the sweltering heat of Rajasthan hinterland. I personally never take a camel ride or ride on any animal for that matter. I find it unethical. Humans are not supposed to use animals as vehicles. Period!
The families hopped on to another version of camel ride on a cart with a ‘room’ created on a wooden plank on the rear of the cart. The room was embellished with knick knacks and decorated in ethnic Rajasthani tradition, alongwith curtains.
The poor camel had the onus to pull this makeshift home and its temporary inhabitants in all sizes and forms. Personally, I find camel ride and other animal rides unethical and have always advised people to boycott it.
The camels which were employed for the ‘entertainment’ of the tourists were painted in curious camel art. Their skin was shaved in interesting patterns such as moon, sun, mountains etc. The most outrageous though was a Giant ‘Merry Go Round’ painted on the poor camel. Perhaps to go with the Pushkar fair theme.
Painting on their body in black ink was also popular. Incongruous motifs were painted on them such as peacocks, faces, and sceneries. I saw ‘Ram Ram Sa’ written on one. It’s a way of greeting in Rajasthan. Tail art was also very prominent. Some were even wearing ‘ghunghroo’ in their legs. No stones were left unturned to doll them up so as to grab maximum eyeballs which translate into business.
Coming back to the stadium area, I saw a mob gathering around a tall sturdy horse. He looked majestic in his shiny golden brown coat. He was a very well built muscular horse. What made him more attractive was his shiny golden mane and hair falling on the forehead.
But instead of basking in the glory he got intimidated with all the attention and started jumping. He was made to parade in front of the prospective buyers. Before things could go out of hand, the owner brought him to control.
He particularly got irked when his prospective buyers started touching his testicles repeatedly. Wonder why? My guess is it their way of judging the quality of the horse. My guess was this particular horse must have fetched a handsome amount.
Though the Pushkar fair belongs to predominantly camels but a high quality horse will anyday fetch much higher price than a camel would dream of. While a camel may be sold for between Rs.20,000 to 40,000/- a horse’s price range is more dramatic, falling in the range of Rs.15,000 to an astronomical Rs.400,000/- How do you determine the quality and price? Factors like age, skin quality, hair, fitness, condition of muscles etc. count here. So, a lot is at stake here!
My eyes settled at a horse struggling to adjust the fodder bag. His upper jaw had somehow come out of the bag while lower jaw remained inside the bag. Not only was he not able to eat it but it was also an irritating situation for him to be in. The XL size heart that I am the owner of, I helped the poor chap re-adjust it and he chomped merrily ever after.
Then suddenly I saw a black dog standing in peace in the middle of all the chaos. He stared at me and made me gloomy as he reminded me of my black Pomeranian pet Henry (aka Hen) who passed away recently due to old age. His face and mannerisms matched with that of Hen. It was amusing to see that in this cattle dominated fair , there were many dog owners, who pampered and loved their dogs despite being poor themselves.
There were all kinds of cattles there, old, weary, experienced, inexperienced. For many animals it was their 1st Pushkar fair. I could see a lot of baby horses and some baby camels. But for some, it was their last.
My heart saddened at the sight of a crow feasting on a freshly dead camel. Perhaps, he was too old to take the arduous journey to Pushkar. The medical facilities for animals were not up to the mark either. I could also see a lot of camel bones scattered around in the camp site area, revealing the unsaid state of animals.
Most animals I saw were made to stand in harsh sun for hours. Few lucky ones got the shade. There were huge cemented drinking troughs for cattle from where all animals quenched their thirst. However, some cattle owners also used it to wash themselves and their utensils etc. Eeewww!

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  1. Tales of travelling sisters

    Thanks for showing the other side of Pushkar fair! The living conditions of the animals looks were very poor, I wish they were treated in a very good way. I once took Camel ride in Jaisalmer desert, was so disheartened by the state of the camel that I decided never to take ride in any of the animals in touristy places. Good to know you share the same thoughts. Cheers!

  2. Though I love attending Pushkar Fair in Rajasthan, but the cruelty towards animal in the names of entertainment is utterly disgusting. Trading is absolutely fine , but people should be considerate enough to treat the animal right way.

  3. GORGEOUS PHOTOS! I love the first one with the camel in all of the color dressing 🙂 I never really thought about the negative side of riding camels… I see people doing it SO MUCH on Instagram. I’m sad that they aren’t being treated well. It’s definitely not worth it for the photos.

  4. It breaks my heart when I see animals that are made to do things that are clearly against their own will. Unlike humans, these animals have no means to express their disagreement to what they are made to do. It is good to use them in festivals and fairs especially in a country like India wherein it is a huge part of the culture. But they should be given fair treatment. Thanks for showcasing this ugly side (most of them) to such fairs.

  5. I must say again – your people and animal photography is excellent. The camels you’ve captured in all that color are excellent photos! I can imagine foreigners lining up to ride the camels in the heat before taking their Instagram shots. I agree, they shouldn’t be ridden – it’s exploiting them. You inspire me to visit the Pushkar Fair for all these photo opportunities.

  6. It must have been a sad day for the animals. But then, how will the locals make money if the entire animal rides are scrapped? It’ll surely take a lot to educate the locals on the negative impacts of this act. All in all, the Pushkar Fair looks festive and colorful. Considering your irritation, it must have been hard on you staying for long to capture the moments from the fair.

  7. I so agree with you. I hate riding animals and I get too sad seeing the cruel behaviour of humans animals. I never knew animals are sold in Pushkar fair. I really pity them. Your photos are an eye-opener. I really wish to do something to stop animal cruelty.

  8. Pushkar looks like it created mixed emotions for you. Do you think it should be banned? There’s ethical issues, lack of treatment for animals, just so people can get wealthy. Isn’t this parallel to riding an animal, ie exploiting it?

  9. I agree with you as it comes to not riding camels and elephants and the like at fairs and stuff. I just feel so bad for the animals! Most are mistreated, and, if they’re not, they are still having to work in the heat with (usually) a limited water supply. I hate it 🙁

  10. I fail to understand people taking elephant and camel rides and enjoying it at the expense of the poor animals. Pushkar is indeed a great conglomeration of man and beast, man of how own free will and the animals by compulsion.Your pictures capture the raw intensity of the plight of the animals.

  11. I agree that these are such unethical and cruel actions! Animals shouldn’t be treated like this. If there is no demands, there is no supply. We should recognize it and get rid of our selfishness. Animals deserve better environment to live, no to be used as our own sakes.

  12. Glad that you wrote about it. This is the downside of anything that grows too popular. During my visit a couple of years ago, I faced a near stampede-like situation. Also, there are some kids who will pose for photos and demand money for clicking the picture. But I guess this is their only opportunity to earn in the whole year.

  13. Coincidently, just today I posted my bit about painting horses . I am getting more and more conscious about this and am glad people around me too, are . This is quite pitiful to see what goes behind the Pushkar fair and kudos to you for having brought that up.

  14. The photographs are fantastic. You have quite effectively tried to capture the whole essence of fair. However, I have a different opinion about riding an animal. Humans are animals too. And riding an animal can be seen as a symbiotic relationship in context to domesticated animals like camel or horse but the condition is they shouldn’t be changed or made to live in extreme conditions.

  15. A very interesting post especially since you not just capture the beauty of the fair but also the stark reality of it all. My sister went to Pushkar this year and came back not really impressed. It does have a certain appeal to it, but over the years it seems part of the focus has shifted it from being a local fair to an international one and thus more of a show. Nevertheless, I would one day like to experience it for myself.

  16. That is devastating! I had an impression that the fair was supposed to celebrate the animals but it doesn’t seem that way. I hope this will raise the awareness of those planning to visit the fair.

  17. I have to congratulate you for the photos, they are fantastic! I have been to Pushkar twice, but I was never there for the camel festival. I know the amazing vibe of the city and it’s definitely one of those places that you must see in India, both spiritual and incredible interesting.

  18. This Fair doesn’t sound like a good time for the animals at all. The practice of drawing on the animals or shaving them seems like insult to injury. I hope people start to realize how unkind this type of tourist attraction really is.

  19. I saw camels for the first time in Morocco, and loved them. This fair is very raw and shows the real treatment of camels in your country. It would be good to know they’re being looked after, but it’s something I can’t be sure of unfortunately…

  20. This is such a heart-wrenching write – up. We can’t stand animal cruelty. Even we don’t go for any rides on the animals. Wish, animals were treated a little more ethically.

  21. Hats off to your policy of never taking any ride on any animal, coz they aren’t the vehicles of humans. It does look sad to see the animals being used as a tourist trap here. Btw, I thought, a horse’s health & age is judged by its teeth!!!

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