The Pushkar fair has now become a must-see on the itinerary of every tourist.

Located in Ajmer district of Rajasthan, the city plays host to the biggest camel fair in Asia. Pushkar is one of the oldest cities in India and is situated on the shores of the Pushkar Lake. According to legend Lord Brahma is the creator of this city and is said to have performed penance for 60,000 years.

The fair is a much-awaited annual event and is normally held after Deepavali. This year the mela began on November 20 and will come to a close on November 28. The city celebrates this mela which sees the influx of tourists and pilgrims.

This fair is the region’s central cattle market for local herdsmen and farmers to buy and sell camels, horses and cattle.

The villagers take this opportunity to deck up in their finery. It is a common sight to see tall men in bright coloured turbans, well kept moustaches, gold and silver rings in their ears. The women, on the other hand, are dressed in colourful gagra cholis and have their heads covered with odhnis. Their ears and feet are decked with chunky silver and gold jewellery. Even the animals are all dressed for the occasion.

Giant ferris wheels and open air theatres offer entertainment. There are also camel, horse and donkey races. When the sun has set, people huddle around campfires listening to Rajasthani folk ballads.

The fair reaches its peak on the full moon night, when pilgrims take a dip in the lake. As dusk begins to fall, clay lamps on leaf boats are lit and set afloat. This is the night the pilgrims are waiting for – it is believed to be auspicious to take a dip in the waters at this time.

On a hot air balloon

Imagine a flying machine without wings, without a propeller. Actually, it is not even a machine. It is a balloon made of 6,500 metres of cloth. Its total space: 180, 000 cubic ft. The fabric: Nomex, an anti-flammable material that is used to make suits for car race drivers. The fuel: Propane.

Now imagine standing in a wicker basket without seat belts and soaring 1,000 ft in the sky. There is no runway, just a patch of land. There is no fixed landing spot. You can land anywhere close to the pilot marker depending on the wind speed/direction.

Sounds thrilling? Well, it sure is. And what better way to have a bird’s eye view of the Pushkar Fair than a hot air balloon ride. Not only can you count the camels and the cattle scrubbed and groomed for sale, you can also have a bird’s eye view of the 52 ghats, the country’s only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma and the millions who partake in the festivities.