Kolayat Fair, Bikaner

The largest fair of Bikaner, in India’s desert state of Rajasthan, the Kolayat Fair combines a huge cattle fair with a pilgrimage to the town’s holy lake. It’s quite a spectacle as buffaloes, camels, horses and cattle are traded, and pilgrims bathe and float clay lanterns in the lake.

Tourists also experience a great time as the fair is celebrated on an expansive scale between the month of October and November. The fair is also known as ‘Kapil Muni Fair’which is scheduled to start from 17th November to 26thNovember, 2012. The folklore of the fair is not the only attraction in fact it also has a great religious significance. It is believed that a holy dip can provide them respite from all the sins they have done. The historical significance of the fair also lures a large number of tourists. There are several temples near the lake and the most famous one is dedicated to the sage Kapil Muni. It is believed that a day’s stay at Kolayat is equivalent of spending 10 years at any other holy sacred place.

On Kartik Purnima, Deep Malika is performed in the evening where devotees float clay lamps in the sacred lake as part of the ritual. The thousand of diyas (clay lamps) floating in the lake is just a mesmerizing sight to behold.  This evening in Bikaner is beautifully filled with the holy chanting and divine rituals that gives a magnificent experience to the tourists and visitors.

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Pushkar Camel Fair

The Pushkar Camel Fair is one of the largest in India and the only one of its kind in the entire world. During the fair, Lakhs of people from rural India flock to Pushkar, along with camel and cattle for several days of livestock trading, horse dealing, pilgrimage and religious festival.

An astonishing 50,000 camels converge on the tiny desert town of Pushkar, in India’s state of Rajasthan, for the annual Pushkar Fair. It’s a fascinating and peculiar sight, and a great opportunity to witness an old traditional style Indian festival.

The original intention behind the Pushkar Camel Fair was to attract local camel and cattle traders to do business during the holy Kartik Purnima festival, held in Pushkar around the full moon in the Hindu lunar month of Kartika. The fair has now also become a major tourist attraction.

Pushkar, this small town of Rajasthan, becomes a cultural phenomenon when colorfully dressed devotees, musicians, acrobats, folk dancers, traders, comedians, ‘sadhus’ monks and tourists reach here during Pushkar fair.. The camel and cattle trading is at its peak during the first half of festival period. During the later half, religious activities dominate the scenario. Devotees take dips in the holy “Sarovar” lake, as the sacred water is known to bestow salvation.

This small town is transformed into a spectacular fair ground, as rows of make shift stalls display an entire range of objects of art to daily utility stuff. Decoration items for cattle, camel and women, everything is sold together. Small handicraft items are the best bargain for buying souvenirs. The camel and horse races have crowds to cheer. Camel judging competitions are quite popular with animal lovers. Each evening brings different folk dances and music of Rajasthan, performers delivering live shows to the roaring and applauding crowds.

Pushkar fair has its own magic and it’s a lifetime experience for travelers. It has featured in numbers of travel shows, films and magazines.

Starting from the November20 to 28, 2012, the Pushkar camel Fair is truly a feast for the eyes. If you are any where within striking distance at the time, it’s an event not to be missed.

Rajasthan’s popular game of Polo

Polo ! The very name conjures vision of aristocracy and excellence, of style and rare athletic prowess. Polo is a game that signifies power, adventure, beauty, elegance, graceful team work, class and above all – Tradition. Among the world’s most ancient sports, Polo is not less than a religion in Rajasthan. For a game, that is as “Exclusive as Elusive”, Jaipur is a natural home of polo, in Rajasthan.

Believed to be originated in China and Persia nearly two thousand years back Horse Polo has become the most fascinating sport of the elites of Rajasthan.  Polo is such an amazing sport that it not only excites the player but also the spectators, even if they know a little bit about the game. Horse Polo is a glamorous sport and has drawn international attention to India.

The Mughals were responsible for bringing the game from Persia to the East. Emperor Babur established the game of Polo in India. In the 1850s, British tea planters discovered the game in Manipur.

Rajputs being keen equestrians made the game their own during the Mughal period and even gave it several twists. In 1889, the Minister of Jodhpur Sir Partap Singh invited the Bengal Lancers to raise the Jodhpur Lancers; thus Polo was introduced to Jodhpur in its current form. The various Polo teams of Rajasthan have won numerous accolades and there have been several Polo players who have gained international acclaim.

Since the days of Emperor Akbar it has been the Indian Maharajas that have given this game its Royal Tradition. The history of Polo in Indian is full of proud achievements. Rajasthan is famous for its immortal legends of patriotism, sacrifice and glorious traditions of valour. Since 1887, this fascinating game has been greatly influenced by the traditions of Rajasthan. It is a matter of pride that most of the high handicap players produced in India have been from Rajasthan.

Since then Polo has become a part of the royal heritage of Rajasthan. While the 61st Cavalry also based in Jaipur, has kept it alive in the army.  Here, the game is not just played on horses; there is camel polo, elephant polo and even bicycle Polo!

As time passed, the polo scene has changed but Jodhpur still leads the way and is considered to be a perfect destination for Polo. The Polo Season starts every year in winter in the month of December which lasts till mid April in different parts of India.

The Jodhpur Polo Season starts in December.. !!

Diwali in Rajasthan

Diwali, the festival of lights, is the most popular of all the festivals from South Asia. It is an occasion for celebrations by Hindus as well as Jains and Sikhs. It marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year according to the Lunar Calendar. It celebrates the victory of goodness over evil, light over darkness and ushers in the New Year. On this festival people clean their houses and wear new clothes.

Diwali is a 5 days festival as Dhanteras, Choti Diwali, Badi (Main) Diwali, Padwa and Bhaiduj. There are many different names for the days of Diwali in different regions of India. During Diwali people pray to Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, light, prosperity and wisdom, and also worship Lord Ganesha, the ‘Remover of Obstacles’, the ‘Lord of Beginnings’.

On the first day of the Diwali festival people pray and eat a special breakfast made of many different foods. Dipa Lights (also called Diwali Diyas, candles, Ghee Lamps, Parvati Ganesha Lamps) that are made of clay, fueled with Oil or Ghee (clarified butter), the wick made of cotton wool, are placed outside of houses, on floors and doorways.

During Diwali festival doorways are hung with torans of mango leaves and marigolds. On the day of Diwali, in the evening people wear best of their clothes, exchange gifts, burst crackers and make merry with their family friends and relatives.

Boat Excursion at Dholpur!

Raj Niwas Palace , Dholpur is an ideal base for exploring the National Chambal Wildlife Sanctuary and surrounding areas, with excursions designed to appeal to everyone, from the serious birder to the wildlife enthusiasts. Set in 13 acres of garden, the palace grounds are full of peacock and birdlife that nip over from the National Chambal Sanctuary nearby.

National Cambal Wildlife Sanctuary is a 400 Km stretch of protected river for critically endangered Gharials & river dolphins. This vast area of sanctuary can be best explored on boats, providing spectacular opportunities to view the wildlife. A boat excursion to National Chambal Sanctuary offers many good viewpoints for photography of Gharials, shore birds and landscapes. The river safari is a unique experience, unlike anything on the Indian wildlife circuit. The boat ride on the calm waters of the Chambal, combined with the dramatic landscape and close-up views of the amazing abundance of wildlife are the highlights of the river safari.

A boat excursion will also offer many good viewpoints for photography of water and shore birds and unique landscapes. Walking trails in the ravines and along the river offer opportunities for close observation of the wide variety of plants and animals in the Sanctuary.

The boatman, are particularly skilled at cutting the boats engines, and manoeuvring as close to the birds and animals as possible, without disturbing them. Trained naturalists accompany visitors and provide expert information on the varied flora and fauna of the Chambal. A safari takes you on a four hour ride down the River Chambal, drifting past Gharials basking on the sandbanks, marsh crocodiles and turtles sunning themselves on the rocks  , while the dolphins, usually in pairs, splash in and out of the river as they come up for air.

The boatman and naturalists are all local residents that have been trained and given livelihood options that have them appreciate the National Chambal Sanctuary and provide the means of sustainable and mutually beneficial coexistence with the wildlife.

 

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Bikana Heritage Rail Museum opened for public viewing

The old museum of Heritage Rails in Bikaner has now been open for the Public. The museum called “Bikana Heritage Rail Museum” displays equipment, items and documents pertaining to the operation and maintenance of the railways.

This museum was set up to educate the common man as to how and what equipment and items were in use in railway department since last 200 years.

Currently, around 350 items have been displayed in the museum relating to Bikaner and Jodhpur State Railway era, and some of these items were imported from England, US and other countries during State era. An example of the development process of the railways can be understood from a painting entitled “Janana Station Bikaner” which depicts Bikaner railway station as ladies station in the year 1920.

One more important item on display is a ‘Crane’ made in England in the year 1889 which was used for supply of coal in the engine. Similarly a Crew-Rest Van made in the year 1940 has been displayed.  Besides, other items like hand-pumps, water lifting pump, drill machine, ground-light fittings, weighing machine, telecommunication equipment  tool box and hand-held signaling equipments have also been displayed in the museum.

Don’t miss to visit the incredible heritage Rail Museum on your next trip to Bikaner .

Pre Paid Camel Rides in Sam sand dunes

Often in your own city or may be in a foreign land you must have used a prepaid taxi service at bus stands or railway stations in the past. Now, for the first time in the country, there will be a prepaid camel safari service for lakhs of tourists coming to Jaisalmer from November 1, 2012.

Yes you read it right, if you come to the Sam sand dunes at Jaisalmer, you will find a prepaid camel service for desert safari.

The district administration decided to start prepaid camel safari after receiving some cheat and fraud complaints from the stranded tourists. As per the officials, in the prepaid safari, the tourists will be given a token after depositing the money, which the tourist has to return after the safari finishes. In the same way, the tokens for identification will be issued to the camel riders as well.

The tourists will also be protected from ‘lapkas’ who forcibly stop the tourist vehicles in the middle of the road and there will be continuous monitoring. Similarly, directions have been issued to remove illegal dhabas near the Sam road.

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