My husband and I had already been traveling for four months when we arrived in Rajasthan, the cultural center of India. We had heard that festivals in India were amazing and it turned out that we could make it to the Camel Festival in Bikaner in January. We really didn't know what to expect.
We were staying at a lovely, historic hotel in the city of Bikaner, and took the 30-minute journey out into the desert to see the Festival. And we were so glad we did!
The setting was a large desert area, and there were hundreds of camels, many of them fantastically decorated! There were camel races, camel shaving contests, a Miss and Mr. Bikaner contest, music and dance performances and more.
The most amazing thing was that this was a yearly local event, and hundreds of locals came out to attend - there were very few foreigners, and people watching was as interesting as the camels. Everyone shouted and cheered as sword-wielding riders rode their camels hard and fast during the fiercely competitive camel races. People laughed and cheered loudly in the stadium while the judges watched intently during the camel "dancing" competition.
Camels are quite large, magnificent and interesting creatures, and seeing them so colorfully decorated, and racing, and dancing, and artistically "shaved," along with the exotic men in turbans and long flowing robes who were showing them, was truly a once in a lifetime spectacle that we will never forget!