I was told last year's fair was the worst they had seen.
Until a few days ago, I hadn't seen a camel in my life. And then I went to the Pushkar Mela in Rajasthan. From zero, I think I might have actually seen every camel in India over my week long stay there.
Pushkar is the world's largest camel fair. Camel herders travel from as far as the Thar Desert in Western Rajasthan to sell their animals. For some the journey takes 3 days, for others it takes a few weeks. I met a few herders who had travelled for more than a month to get there.
While trading camels is the main idea at Pushkar, other livestock and cattle are also traded. Though this has slowed down over the past few years because of modernisation and mechanisation in the fields of farming and transportation. As a result, these beasts of burden were becoming obsolete in many parts of the country. The number of camels traded this year were half those traded in 2010. I was told that last year's fair was the worst they had ever seen owing to the government's sudden announcement of demonetisation.
Through this photo essay I have documented the Pushkar Mela camel trade. The reason I chose to do this in black and white is because soon this mela won't be a November calendar event. It is likely to become a memory.
Morning activities of camel herders
Following the master herder
Many ships of the desert, at port
One of the largest camel fairs in the world
Herder relaxing with a smoke
Instructing his camel to stretch its neck after drinking water
Helping the camel to down its medication
Herders set up their tents
Milking his camel
Relaxing at the sand dunes
Camels being ushered to the point of sale
Herder guides the camels to line up
Being trained for a dance performance
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By Vijayaraj PS
Photographs by Vijayaraj PS