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Travel in India

How to Travel to India's Pushkar Camel Fair
By:William Jackson

There's nothing quite like the sight of 50,000 camels from all over south and central Asia, gathered together in one spot and surrounded by miles and miles of sandy desert. Welcome to the Pushkar Camel Fair, a yearly event in the Indian state of Rajasthan and centered around the small desert town of Pushkar.

Find out when Diwali will be celebrated in India this year. Diwali is a religious (Hindu) festival, the "Festival of Lights," typically celebrated by lighting oil lamps and fireworks. The dates of Diwali change from year to year, so find several sources that corroborate your findings. Ask an Indian friend, or visit several Hindu or Indian websites (see Resources). Usually Diwali occurs around the end of October or the beginning of November. Book your tickets to New Delhi, India, so that you arrive a day or two prior to Diwali.

Arrive in New Delhi. Delhi is home to the region's largest international airport (Indira Gandhi International). Chances are, you'll arrive in the middle of the night, so catch a cab outside the terminal (there's an official airport cab service booth) and find a place to stay for the night. Hotels in Delhi range in price from 40 to over 250 dollars, depending on scale of luxury.

Go to Delhi's central train station. Any cab driver should know how to get there. Once there, purchase a ticket for Ajmer, Rajasthan. Depending on the type of seat you want, this ticket will cost anywhere from a few dollars to more than 75 dollars. The train ride will only take a few hours. Upon arrival in Ajmer, disembark.

Go to the bus station in Ajmer. Any cab driver will be able to get you there. At the bus station, purchase a ticket for Pushkar--this will only cost a dollar or two. The bus ride will take about 30 minutes.

Enjoy the town and environs. The Camel Fair won't begin for a few more days, so enjoy the enchanting white-washed town with its holy lake and hilltop temple and seemingly endless shopping. Consider a camel safari. As the days pass, you'll notice more and more camels congregating on the outskirts of town, until the desert is literally filled with them.

Enjoy one of two accommodation options: tents or hotels. The tent "camps" are found just outside of town (a 10-minute walk), while hotels are plentiful within Pushkar and mostly inexpensive. The tent camps, run like hotels, cost a tad more than the hotels (they typically offer all meals, showers, raised beds and a bathroom), but the ambiance may be worth it.

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