The centuries-old Pushkar Camel Fair is fast losing its appeal among ruralfolk with the presence of foreign tourists beginning to overshadow the animal trade here, feel participants.
The fair, which began on October 31 at Pushkar near Ajmer, would draw to a close on November 6. It is expected to witness more foreign tourists in the last two days, diverting fair’s focus from business to show-off.
Many blame it on the presence of hot-air balloons, hang gliders and modern facilities for robbing the fair of its rural charm, trade and rare cultural exchange. Raghunath, a 70-year-old hoping to sell seven camels at the fair, exclaims in exasperation: “They didn’t sell. No they didn’t.”
He came walking all the way from a remote hamlet in Pali district to the fair. Now he has lost hope for a good business, because he finds himself surrounded by nine photographers, eager to click live the bargain, the deal and the talk in between.
The fair has about 9,684 animals, including horses, cows, donkeys and camels for sale and around 7,000 foreign and presumably an equal number of Indian tourists.
HL Sharma, the tourist officer of the fair said, “the number of tourists will increase.” But only 2,439 animals have been sold so far, he says.
Sources say the presence of hot-air balloons, hang gliders and modern facilities have robbed the fair of its rural charm.
“I went with an old image of the fair, after 10 years, but its essence is fading,” says renowned photographer Sudhir Kasliwal, who has been photographing the fair since 1977. “The attire, jewellery and even the architecture is becoming urban. The organisers must provide 5-star facilities not 5-star looks,” he points out at the jeans-clad kalbeliya girls and tiles plastered on ancient dharmshalas.