Foreign tourists throng famous Pushkar fair

Pushkar: The international cattle fair held annually in the month of November here in the tiny rugged city of Pushkar-13 km away from Ajmer in Rajasthan- has been attracting more tourists from across the globe this year, according to officials. The camel and cattle fair remains the highlight of the week-long fair that began on November 3 where a large number of animals from rural India come to be traded off.

"Compared to last year, more tourists from Europe, Kenya, Korea, Israel and several other places are thronging the fair to witness the excellent display of colourful India," says G S Gangwal, Deputy Director in Rajashtan`s department of Tourism. According to official estimates out of the 3,50,000 visitors to the fair in 2010 over 5,800 were foreign tourists.

Known primarily as the world`s largest camel fair, the number of horses has also increased considerably over the years, say officials. "So far more than 17,535 cattle have come to the fair, which includes large number of horses this year," says Gangwal. In 2010, a total of 16,000 animals participated in the fair.

Moreover, while the rugged terrain of the Sahara desert provides a befitting spot for annual cattle fair, the pristine beauty of the valley surrounded by hills on the three sides and sand dunes on the other lure in a large number of tourists.

"The picturesque beauty, rich cultural and traditional heritage, exciting activities and the festivities during the fair that offers a glimpse of the rural Rajasthan are all tempting and I would love to visit the place again," says a Spainiard who took to wearing a turban in the traditional Rajasthani style while roaming around the fair.

While villagers, business men and cattle traders congregate to buy, sell or even exchange the festival has other highlights like camel races, street theatre and other events that showcase the state`s rich culture, rural lifestyle, performances art and handicrafts among others.

Various sports like football and kabaddi competitions, where foreigners wrestle with villagers, is another highlight of the event. The next interesting highlight of the fair is the bridal competition for foreigners which displays an excellent combination of the alien beauty and indigenous culture.

Besides, the fair, Pushkar also brings in lakhs of devotees to participate in the ritual bath on Kartik Ekadashi on the land that follore refers to that of Lord Brahma. "Looking at the increasing number of visitors, the government has undertaken a centre-sponsored project to develop a Mela Maidan near Savitri temple, the temple of Brahma`s first wife," says Gangwal.