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Published: February 24th 2019
It’s a question we had to answer for ourselves and now it’s one of the most common questions we get about the fairs of Rajasthan...Which fair is better? Which one should I attend? Which one is more authentic?
Whew. Even after attending both, it is hard to say. I suppose it all depends on what you are looking for and what you want to do. My Personal Opinion
For me Pushkar is hands down the fair I will attend again in the future. No wavering, no question. I make this decision with solid confidence because of some of the aspects for which I have grown so fond: the accommodations at Camp Bliss, the bustling market of the city of Pushkar, the energy of the fair, the crepes at Sunset Cafe, the incredible shopping and the accessibility of being able to walk everywhere on the fairgrounds, the city and to accommodations.
I have no regrets going to Chandrabhaga because I knew my curiosity would never rest until I experienced it for myself. I would always wonder and I would never trust anyone else’s judgement. So I am glad dad and I went
to Chandrabhaga, but it was excruciatingly difficult to leave Pushkar and I kind of question leaving so early.
I think everyone knows the benefits of Pushkar as it is photographed, publicized and plastered all over social media, but not everyone knows what happens down south at Chandrabhaga. Chandrabhaga
People are drawn to this fair because they want an authentic Indian Fair experience and that is exactly what you get. No exceptions. There is nothing at this fair that caters to tour groups or goras. It is a fair for the locals.
If you want a fair where you will not see another westerner and you will not see hawkers targeting tourists, this fair is for you. If you want to take photographs that are not staged and not have westerners jockeying for the same perfect shot, this fair is for you.
If you want to blend in and not be noticed by literally every other human at the fair, this fair is not for you. You will be stared at, you will be curiously followed and you will be considered a celebrity. You will not feel unsafe, you will not
be badgered and you will not find anyone who speaks English.
To me there was one HUGE benefit to the Chandrabhaga Fair...the water crossing. I could have sat all day watching camel herds enter the fair via the river crossing. It was magical, photographic and downright mesmerizing. It is nothing you can find at Pushkar.
If you love camels, Chandrabhaga offers camels. Dad and I debated it and even tried to develop a system for counting, but I think the camel population at Chandrabhaga was larger than at Pushkar. Like Pushkar, the camel herds are accessible and photogenic. The herds look well tended to and nicely managed. The colors and sizes and breeds seem more varied than at Pushkar.
If you love horses, there were wonderful Marwar horses and interesting horse judging at Chandrabhaga, but the quality and numbers of horses are much greater at Pushkar. The presentation at Chandrabhaga could never compete with the fancy accommodations and horse stalls at Pushkar.
If your heart swells for animals the way mine does, you may want to stick with Pushkar. I do not say this with disrespect as the herdsman at Chandrabhaga seemed to care dearly about
their animals and tended to them as would any good animal steward. But this fair had a few moments that were hard to digest for someone who is such an animal sympathizer.
It seems that the fair time must coincide with cattle/buffalo calving times which indicates that very small calves were traveling to, being born at and trying to survive at the fair. It was hard for me to see these very young babies trying to survive the heat and fair conditions.
The newborns were tied up unable to nurse, nuzzle or seek relief from their mothers. They had little crocheted muzzles so they could not nurse at will. I know there are reasons for this that may include milking and I do not want to project that my culture is better at animal husbandry than any other culture, but I am a firm believer that very new babies need their mothers’ around the clock nurturing for at least their first few days of life. We were unfortunately aware that several newborn calves perished while we were at the fair. I only point this out because it can be a difficult thing to observe.
as you consider which fairs to visit in Rajasthan, my ultimate advice would be simple...visit both! The contrast and comparison is part of the experience. But if you have to make the difficult decision to only see one, you have to ask yourself what you are looking for and what you need from the experience.
Photo ops are abundant at both fairs and the culture is ripe for the picking at both fairs. If you’ve had your fill of tour buses or westerners, opt for Chandrabhaga. If you want to experience the fair and a have all the niceties like cafes and shopping and nearby accommodations, plant yourself at Pushkar.
Either way, bring your camera, your sponge-like attention for cultural richness and your flexible sense of adventure.
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