Organised by the Department of Tourism, Government of Rajasthan, the two-day Bikaner Camel Festival in January celebrates the hardy camel, well-known as the 'ship of the desert'. The high and mighty camel is an integral part of life in the desert of Rajasthan, and a celebration around its well-deserved reputation is a must-visit.
A Proud Past
The region in and around Bikaner is famed for the camels it breeds and the age-old tradition of camel taming and training. The grace, beauty, and strength of the Bikaner camels are legendary. The erstwhile Bikaner army had a camel regiment named the Ganga Risala, and it participated in both the world wars and conflicts in Somaliland, Egypt and China. This regiment was the predecessor of the Indian Army's camel unit, the Ganga Jaisalmer Risala, utilised in the India-Pakistan war of 1965 but disbanded in 1975. Currently, the border Security Force (BSF) Bikaner Camel Corp still uses the camel to patrol the harsh international border with Pakistan. You would have noticed the vibrant Bikaner camel contingent, part of the annual Republic Day parade on Kartavyapath (previously known as Rajpath) in New Delhi.
Pomp And Parade
The first day of the camel festival starts with the procession of heavily and beautifully adorned camels. They are adorned with flower, and bead garlands, ankle straps, and highly decorative bridles. The parade begins at the magnificent Junagarh Fort and weaves through the city to the applause and cheering of thousands of locals and tourists, who are eager to catch sight of the procession. The journey ends at the Dr. Karni Singh Stadium, where the pageantry truly begins. Camel owners show off their most majestic camels dressed to the nines. They participate in competitions such as camel milking and intricate designs cut into the coarse outer coat of the camel. However, the camel dance competition is the most awaited part of the festival at the Dr. Karni Singh Stadium. The spectators are left spellbound by the sight of the gigantic camels jiving to the tune of their trainers, as the day ends.
The festival's second day sees several competitions for tourists and locals. You can participate in tug-of-war, formulated for men and women, though the water-pot race is exclusively for women. Then there is the turban-tying competition, specially made for foreign tourists, while locals from in and around Bikaner participate in wrestling and kabaddi display competitions. When in Bikaner, ensure you indulge in the region's unique cuisine. The Bikaneri dishes use minimum water and instead rely on milk and buttermilk to cook the lentils, beans such as sangri, and vegetables such as ker. The desserts, made of camel milk, are a must-try, as is the camel-milk tea. The festival ends with a line-up of performances such as the Kal Belia, Ghoomar dances, and a dazzling fireworks display.
When January 13 to 15
How to get there
By air The nearest airport is Jodhpur International Airport, which is serviced by many airlines.
By rail Bikaner Junction, and Lalgarh Railway Station, are about six kilometres away from the city.
By road Bikaner is well-connected to all major cities of the surrounding states, including New Delhi.