We have travelled to India several times, but the most recent time was particularly memorable, as we timed our visit to coincide with the annual CAMEL trading fair in Pushkar…. A fabulous, exotic, one of a kind event, that brings people from all around the region to trade camels, livestock and show case prized horses.
But first, we land in Mumbai.
The beach front in Mumbai serves as a market of sorts… With ambulent vendors selling a variety of fruits and prepared foods. Here an assortment of berries and star fruit.
Near where we are staying, there is a small market chockfull of little storefronts overflowing with produce, onto the sidewalk.
As we walk through this little market checking out what local fruit there is to be had, most of the vendors are taking their siesta during the heat of the day.
Ahh the delectable paper dhosa, a paper thin crispy “crepe”, found throughout India ~ each region offers a different take on the dhosa. Makes for a terrific snack during the day. Here served with a few different types of dahl (lentils).
Market near Jaipur, India
Making our way toward Pushkar, we stop in Jaipur, one of our favorite cities and the capital of Rajahsthan.
Jaipur is also known as the “Pink City” due to the prevalence of pink hued sandstone buildings ~ palaces, forts and temples.
One of the reasons we love this region is for the magnificent architecture. A grandiose arched gate leading to the City Palace, offers just a glimpse of the treasures that can be found here.
Antique wooden blocks from the printing press in front of the Hawa Mahal (“The Palace of Winds”). Constructed of sandstone and sitting at the entrance of the City Palace, this landmark building allowed the women of the court of the Maharaja to observe the activities in the street below, without being seen themselves.
It feels as though the entire city is a giant market. Everywhere people have “set up shop”… to hawk their wares. Here, a baleful of deep aubergine eggplants.
In amongst the fruits and vegetables, there are all sorts of other interesting items being sold. This man offers a collection of antique coins and rings.
On the outskirts of the city we find wagon fulls of fruit, which are contrasted against the vivid colors of the saris of the women.
The deeper we go into the rural parts of Rajhastan, the more colorful the women adorned in their vivid saris and antique jewelry. A stop at a rural market delivers a microcosm of Rajasthan’s rich culture.
Produce is sold from wagons and directly at ground level.
Even otherwise drab alleyways are transformed into richly colorful scenes from the women’s vivid colors. Why wear drab clothes when you can wear such gorgeous bright ones?
Peta is buying us some tomatoes for the road.
It’s easy to strike up conversations and connect with the women at the market place. Bright blue, pastel yellow, lime green and two shades of orange, make for quite a palette of colors.
Probably our favorite Indian snack to eat at markets. A crispy round “shell”, filled with crunchy chickpeas and smothered in a yummy sweet and spicy sauce.
Market in Pushkar, India
By FAR, our absolute favorite place in India we have been to, is Pushkar, Rajasthan. In fact, so enthralled were we, that Ben wanted to stop traveling and just be living in the sacred city of Pushkar. We stayed about six weeks, and in was in intense experience to be sure.
Pushkar, like Hoi An in Viet Nam, remains for us a place we consider “home”.
This was our view from our little room right on the Sacred Lake. Early morning prayers, early evening prayers, drumming.. and a constant flow of people coming to bathe in the holy waters. he mythology of the creator-god Brahma, whose most prominent temple stands in Pushkar. The Pushkar Lake finds mention on coins as early as the 4th century BC.
Early evening prayers on the steps of the sacred lake. Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake), where pilgrims throng in large numbers to take a sacred bath, especially around October–November when the Pushkar Fair is held. A dip in the sacred lake is believed to cleanse sins and cure skin diseases. Over 500 Hindu temples are situated around the lake precincts.
Young girls after their sacred bathing enjoy conversing with us. People come from all over the state of Rajasthan and the nearby state of Gujarat to these waters.
“Aarti ritual” at dusk ~The parallel prayers at different ghats in some cases augmented by loudspeakers, leads to a cacophony of simultaneous prayers. …
At the entrance to the sacred lake there is a market devoted solely to the sale of flower petals. These are used for devotional purposes by Hindu pilgrims. The colors are as vivid as the women’s saris.
The intensity of colors, the mass of flowers, add yet another layer of visual impact.
Here the petals of flowers have been carefully strung into a garland.
Close the flower market is the daily food market where women in brightly colored saris sit on the ground with their produced. The state of Rajasthan has both a large desert and fertile ground, yielding an impressive array of vegetables.
Pushkar is a vegetarian only city. Not even eggs are consumed or allowed. In fact, the “no meat allowed” is posted both in Hindi and English at the entrance to the town and is a rule that is taken very seriously.
Delicious daikon and very large cauliflower for sale in these large big metal containers. No doubt destined for curry dinners at home.
The”sadhu”, also known as “baba”, are holy men who renounce material possessions. Sadhus are wandering ascetics, highly revered as “close to the gods” and respected by all.
There are about 5 million Sadhus in India and Nepal. As we wonder the market place, the presence of these holy men makes this market unlike any other in the world.
Ben is addicted to his morning hot chai (tea with aromatic Indian spices). Interestingly, the tea is served in the market, inside small clay cups which are used only once for this purpose. The clay itself adds yet another aroma to the chai and for this reason it is only used once.
As we amble through the market we witness these very loving cows. Cows of course in India are considered holy and move freely without constraint. The problem is that many of them are hungry, especially in a city like Pushkar where there are not many grassy areas for them to graze. So they have a tendency to flock near the market area with the hope of scoring some greens.
It’s a love fest!
Locals were quite amused to see that we bought some greens from a vendor at the market in order to feed some of the cows. This little guy was very appreciative.
Peta is stoked with this unusual find at the market ~ natural pigments for paint piled up into soft pyramids of colors.
Heading home after a successful day at the market.
The most unique market we have probably ever been to, is this camel “fair” ~ a once a year market for the selling and buying of (primarily) camels.
Kids doing their best to sell Ben one of their dad’s camels.
The men who come to the fair are interested either in buying or selling camels and livestock. The women, do what most of them do every day whether at home or “on the road” ~ go to market, prepare meals and care for the little ones.
A Gujarati camel trader.
Ben, feeling very at home, in Pushkar.
A very popular item sold at market to many of the Gujarat men are the handmade wooden walking sticks.
Gypsy women shopping at the jewelry market.
This fourth and final post on India concludes our retrospective series on Markets in Asia. For Indonesia and Hong Kong, see here; For Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar, see here; For Viet Nam, see here.