Fairs & Festivals Rajasthan
Nagaur Fair, Nagaur
Desert Festival, Jaisalmer
Baneshwar Fair, Baneshwar
Mewar Festival, Udaipur
Urs Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer
Summer Festival Mt. Abu
Pushkar Fair, Ajmer
Camel Festival, Bikaner
R a j a s t h a n
F a i r s & F e s t i v a l s
About The Festival
Once a year during winters, the sands around Jaisalmer come alive with the
brilliant colors, music and laughter of the Desert Festival. Dressed in
brilliantly hued costumes, the people of the desert dance and sing
haunting ballads of valor, romance and tragedy. The fair has snake
charmers, puppeteers, acrobats and folk performers. Camels, of course,
play a stellar role in this festival, where the rich and colorful folk
culture of Rajasthan is on show. The festival closes with an enchanting
sound and light show amidst the sand dunes on a moonlit night.
The Jaisalmer fort provides an ethereal backdrop to the annual desert
festival. Sponsored by the Rajasthan State Tourism Corporation, this
festival is a joyful celebration of the traditional performing arts and
creative crafts of Rajasthan.
A few days before the spring full moon according to the Hindu calendar,
musicians, dancers and performers from all over Rajasthan start moving in
colorful camel caravans towards the golden town of Jaisalmer, which dons a
festive look. The otherwise barren landscape is splashed with vibrant
colors marking the opening of the Desert Festival. The 12th century fort
of Jaisalmer, built in yellow sandstone, provides a fairytale background.
Over the years, the desert dwellers in their solitude have woven a
fascinating tapestry with threads of music and rhythm and the Desert
Festival is a celebration of their heritage. It is a chance of a lifetime
to see the folk art forms against the landscape that has nurtured them for
hundreds of years.
With the arrival of the artists, a delightful series of programs begins in
and around Jaisalmer. There is music everywhere and at every given hour.
Through the winding lanes of the fortified town to the sand dunes and even
the rivers of abandoned villages, the music casts a potent spell.
Beginning at sunrise, it reaches its zenith under the umbrella of the
star-studded sky. Though it is mainly a festival of the performing arts,
there are several other events that give a glimpse of the desert culture.
Through the day, visitors can come face to face with the desert craftsmen.
Exquisitely embroidered skirts, hand-woven shawls, rugs, carvings on wood
and stone, camel decorations, embroidered leather bags, ethnic silver
jewelry and terracotta are brought in from all over the desert. These
skillfully achieved crafts are objects d'art for the handicraft buff.
Evenings are meant for the main shows of music and dance. Vibrating desert
drums can be heard for miles around. Nearly all the variations of
performing arts of these desert people are displayed. Continuing till late
into the night, the number of spectators swells up each night and the
grand finale, on the full moon night, takes place by silvery sand dunes.
Although the basic design of the festival remains the same, each year
there are a few new events. Some of the most spectacular and memorable
shows of past festivals have been the dream-like pageant, "Blood, Blade
and Romance" on the sand dunes recreating the legendary past; the camel
tattoo of the Border Security Force, which has a highly trained camel
corps to guard the western border; and the pulsating folk ensemble of a
Camels are not just beasts of burden but an integral part of the desert
life and the camel events confirm this fact. Special efforts go into
dressing the animal for entering the spectacular competition of the
best-dressed camel. Interestingly, there is a folk song to describe the
making of the camel's necklace-the Gorband. Camel owners vie with each
other for winning the camel races and a feeling of pride is discernible
both in the eyes of the owner and his mount that wins. To add some more
fun and color, the camel show has two unique events - the camel polo and
the camel dance.
Other interesting competitions on the fringes are the moustache and turban
tying competitions, which not only demonstrate a glorious tradition but
also inspire its preservation. Both the turban and the moustache have been
centuries old symbols of honor in Rajasthan.
Keeping the moustache twisted upwards meant keeping the pride intact while
drooping moustaches conveyed complete surrender. Tying a turban is not
only an intriguing tradition but an art as well. Varying styles of tying
the turban and colors describe the caste, region and also the occasion. To
the viewers, it appears complicated but those who have inherited the
tradition tie a turban out of meters of cloth at the blink of an eye.
Unlike the major festivals of Rajasthan, the desert festival has no
legends to recount. It is a created event but the music traditions of the
desert are so fascinating that conceiving the musical festival came as
almost a natural solution for facilitating their preservation. It was also
inspired by the Music Festival of Salzburg-though totally different in
concept and content. Both the towns exude music and have a heavy inflow of
tourists. But unlike the Salzburg Festival, the shows of the Jaisalmer
Festival are not ticketed. Sponsored by the state tourism corporation, it
has been designed to promote tourism in the enigmatic Thar Desert.
Once the festival is over, it certainly leaves behind a nostalgic feeling.
Some connoisseurs of music have been to the festival more than once and
there is a tourist from Holland who has attended the festival four times.
Today, this traditional extravaganza is a coveted event for music
lovers-the performers as well as the listeners. For the performers, it has
become a prestigious event to participate in. It has also helped find new
talent and expended patronage to many artistes.
Jaisalmer is the only place where this desert festival is celebrated with
great zest and zeal. Rajasthan being a popular tourist destination, the
festival adds to its color.
Places to Visit
In order to witness its colorful festivities, one must visit
Jaisalmer, the golden sand dunes where the festival takes place
One can reach Jodhpur from any of the major cities by air and from Jodhpur
one can go to the venue of the desert festival by taking any of the road
transport options that are easily available there. Jodhpur is the nearest
big city to Jaisalmer, which is well connected to the venue of the Desert
Festival. It is also well connected by train and buses.
Festival Tour Packages
Mewar Festival Rajasthan
14 Nights & 15 Days
Destination Covered :
Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Pushkar, Ajmer, Delhi
Camel Fair Pushkar
Duration : 20 Nights & 21 Days
Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Pushkar, Ranthambore, Kota,
Bundi, Chittaurgarh, Bijaipur, Udaipur, Khumbalgarh, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer,
Bikaner, Mandawa, Delhi
Desert Fair Jaisalmer
Duration :14 Nights & 15 Days
Destination Covered :
Delhi, Mandawa, Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur,
Pushkar, Ajmer, Delhi