Jaisalmer Desert Festival

Karen via Creatice Commons at https://www.flickr.com/photos/welshkaren/

Known as the “Golden City,” Jaisalmer sits in the center of the Thar Desert in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Look up, and you’ll feel the grandiosity of the golden citadel that looks over the area. Not only is this a magical place to experience in all its glowing glory, it’s also the home to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, one of the most eccentric festivals in all of India. It’s certainly the kind of once in a lifetime experience you’ll want to add to your bucket list.

We’re talking about competitive camel races, who-has-the-best-mustache contests, and lots of vibrant colors. A huge highlight of the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is the huge Bazaar, featuring lots of crafts from Rajasthan; the perfect place to shop for souvenirs so you can carry the desert home with you.

How It All Got Started

Originally, the Jaisalmer Desert Festival was started by the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation as a way to expose tourists to the interesting culture of this region. Don’t let this deter you from attending, though. This festival has grown into one of the most exotic events in India. Tourists from both India and abroad attend in anticipation of interesting activities and a fun-filled three days.

What to Expect

Three days of this extravagant festival are enough to show off how special, unique, and quirky India can be. There’s dancing, handcrafted goods, colorful costumes, and lots of interesting competitions.

In addition to the contests previously mentioned, let’s add turban tying and the “Mr. Desert” pageant to the mix.

If all of these competitions aren’t enough, you’ll be surrounded by one of the most beautiful views in the world. With a backdrop of the setting sun, Rajasthan’s rich culture and heritage is laid out for all who come and visitors are welcome with open arms.

At the end of the festival, folk singers host live performances right outside of the dunes under the night sky.

Aside from all the competitions, there are also a lot of activities for attendees. You can ride a camel, try delicious food from the region, watch cultural performances, catch a camel polo match, or listen to live music. There’s even a camel tug-of-war; we can only imagine the excitement that might bring. Oh, and you’ll definitely be blown away by the fire dancers who spit kerosene from their mouths while holding rods aflame, sparking up “ooh’s” and “aaahh’s” from the crowd.  

This may be your chance to see one of the most beautiful fireworks you’ll ever experience, too. At night they light up the citadel as they explode in the sky.

Things to Keep in Mind

If you’ve been dying to pose like a Bollywood star, now is your chance; at the Jaisalmer Desert Festival, you’ll have plenty of chances to be photographed.

The things previously mentioned that you’re bound to see are only a handful of the interesting activities and events that the Jaisalmer Desert Festival has to offer. It’s definitely smart to give yourself the full three days to really experience everything full throttle. One day you may want to ride a camel, and the next you may be more enticed by the snake charmers, who really are quite charming.

How to Get There

The closest airport to the Jaisalmer Desert Festival is the Jodhpur Airport. You can also choose to fly into Delhi and then take a bus or a train into the city, which should take about 6 hours.

Once you’re in Jaisalmer, there is a tourist help center built specifically to assist foreigners with any issues they may face.