Floating Over The Fair
From the basket of a hot air balloon just before sunrise, the Pushkar Camel Fair below looks uncrowded, quiet and serene. The feeling is very different when you're on the ground - thousands of camels, cattle and beautiful Marwari horses along with their trainers and breeders, other tradesmen and trinket sellers, livestock buyers, musicians, pilgrims, locals and tourists all meet in an explosion of colorful activity that only India could produce. The hot air balloon ride (my first) was fantastic but I preferred being on the ground in the middle of the mêlée. I recommend strolling around aimlessly, sitting in the packed stadium to watch a camel dancing competition (really!) and riding on a camel cart through the fair grounds at sunset. If you're imagining it smells like a West Texas feed lot, prepare to be amazed. The only smells are the occasional pleasant whiff of a hay bale and marigold blooms. More importantly, in contrast to the many forts and palaces I visited in Rajasthan (which were beautiful and historic to be sure) there is so much LIFE happening at the Pushkar Fair. Quite an amazing place, really.