Bikaner Camel Festival: This Indian festival is held annually in Bikaner to celebrate the contribution of the camel, known as the 'ship of the desert', in the lives of the people of Rajasthan. The Bikaner Camel Festival is organized by the Department of Tourism, Art & Culture of Rajasthan. It draws tourists in large numbers to experience this wonderful display of the culture of Rajasthan. Held in January in Northwest Rajasthan, the Bikaner Camel Festival inaugurates a host of colorful festivals in India that are held throughout the year.
The Bikaner Camel Festival starts with a procession of beautifully decorated camels set against the picturesque backdrop of the Royal Junagarh Fort. The procession heads towards its open desert location where the festivities begin. Visitors are treated to a spectacle of unusual camel performances, camel races, camel dances, and neck shaking camel rides. The Camel Pageant, held on the first day, allows camel owners to show off their Camels' decorations and jewelry. Camel dance performances are also held along with competitions for best decorated camel, fur cutting design, camel milking and the best camel hair cut.
The camels display amazing footwork, dancing gracefully to the slightest direction of their riders. Colorful bridles, bejeweled necks, jingling anklets and long, lanky camel shadows on dusky sands all add up to an experience you will never forget. Tea and sweets prepared by camel's milk are made available to the visitors interested in enjoying them.
On the second day, the fleetest camels of the region take part in the camel races. The competition is fierce as the best camels vie for the honors. Thousands of excited tourists and locals cheer their favorites.
During the evenings, the campfires that light the grounds of the Bikaner Camel Festival lend a romantic feel to the festival. Adding beauty to the ambiance are the numerous folk musicians and dancers who charm the audience with their alluring performances. The mesmerizing spectacle of fire dancers and beautiful fireworks that light up the night sky is not to be missed.
Situated in the heart of the desert belt, Bikaner was always an inaccessible land. Before the advent of modern motor vehicles, the survival of the people of this region depended on the 'Ship of the desert' - the Camel. The camels of this region were famous for their endurance as well as their strength and beauty.
In fact, the Bikaner army had an elite camel corps, called the Ganga Risala, which took active part in both the World Wars. The Ganga Risala was a Camel unit in the army even after India’s independence and it took part in the Indo-Pak wars. Bikaner also boasts of the only camel breeding center in India.
Camels can still be seen pulling heavy loads on carts in this region. With such a long association with camels, it is but natural that the Department of Tourism, Art & Culture chose to hold the Camel Festival in Bikaner.