Highlights: Procession of ornamented and decorated camels, best breed competition, camel dance, tug-of-war contest, acrobatics, folk dances, fireworks etc
Itinerary Possible: New Delhi (1night) – Shekhawati (1night) – Bikaner (2nights) – Jaipur (2nights) – New Delhi – Onward destination
Additions Possible in Itinerary: Jodhpur (2nights); Jaisalmer (2nights); Agra (1night); Udaipur (2nights)
Dates of festival: First half of January, usually in the first week, every year
Background of the Festival: The festival is organized by the Department of Tourism of Rajasthan Government. The Festival is dedicated to camels, surly and hardy animals without which the desert life of Rajasthan would be incomplete. The festival is an ideal event for those who wish to witness Rajasthan in its full colourful glory.
Description: Bikaner comes alive for the Festival, which is attended by tourists and locals alike. The centre of attraction is camels, the ship of the desert. The festival opens with a parade of beautifully bedecked camels which in itself is a colourful spectacle against the red backdrop of the Junagarh Fort.
The celebrations include camel races, camel milking and fur cutting design, the best breed competition, camel acrobatics and camel beauty pageants.
While, everything revolves around the camels at the Festival, the cultural display and sounds and folk dances are distinctly Rajasthani – something which has made the state popular among the tourists world over. The Festival is open to the public free of charge; it is actually quite popular among tourists.
There’s plenty of scope for eating, souvenir-shopping and taking some great photos. You can watch skirt-swirling dancers and fire dancers enjoying and entertaining people with their performances. There are games like tug-of-war for both men and women, and wrestling competition. Women do participate in musical chair competition. There are exhibition matches for kho-kho and kabaddi.
Do make it a point to savour the tea prepared from camel milk along with snacks which are available at several places across the venue. A grand display of fireworks, lighting up the fortified Desert City of Bikaner, marks the end of the event.
Sightseeing in Bikaner:
Apart from attending and enjoying Camel Festival in Bikaner, there are other places which are worth exploring.
Day 1: After having breakfast at the hotel, head to Raisar Village. Enjoy camel riding for an hour. Afterwards, head to Junagarh Fort, a fort built during the late 16th and early 17th Century. It replaced an old stone fort of 15th Century. Monuments at the Fort represent 16 successive generations of the rulers of Bikaner.
After a detailed sightseeing of the Junagarh Fort, move on to the field close to it where the Camel Festival commences. Enjoy the inauguration ceremony and look at camel processions of different groups.
Around afternoon, when there is a rest period at the Festival, go to Bhandasar to see the beautiful Jainese Temple. This was built in the 15th Century. Built in red sandstone, the Temple is decorated with mirror work, frescoes and leaf paintings.
Return to the Festival and enjoy the evening session.
Day 2: After breakfast go on to visit Karni Mata Temple, a unique temple where rats are all over and are revered by the followers. You can also visit National Research Center on Camel to better understand different breeds of camel. One of the oldest temples of Bikaner, situated right in the middle of Bikaner, Shri Laxminath Temple, is also a worthwhile place to visit.
Afterwards, go to the Festival area for the whole day. Enjoy the dances, different games and cultural programs. Leave after watching the fireworks.
Have dinner and retire to your room.
Day 3: Bikaner – Onward destination: Check out after breakfast and head off to your desired destination, as per your pre-decided itinerary.