Jaisalmeri Breed Camel
The Jaisalmeri camels are well known for riding and race potential.They have small head and mouth with narrow muzzle.Also, there is no luxuriant growth of hairs on their eyebrows, eyelids and ears. The body colour is predominantly light brown. The Jaisalmeri camels have thin skin and short hairs on body.Jaisalmeri breed encompasses the Jaisalmer, Barmer and part of Jodhpur district in Rajasthan.
Keeping with the rich and glorious past of Bikaner, daughter of present Maharaja Narendra Singh Ji recently (Oct, 2000) opened a museum "PRACHINA". It is an endeavor to recreate the past and highlight the pace of modernization activated with times and a representation of regional museum as there was a lacuna of courtly tradition and craft Museum in Bikaner.
Bikaner Camel Festival
"Camels, Desert and Temperatures"
We arrived in Bikaner on a lovely sunny day. We stayed with Vijay (The Camel Man) at his homely guesthouse and immediately felt very welcome.
We borrowed (at no cost!) Vijay's bicycles and headed off into the town 5KM away. It was an experience being on the roads and being hooted at by tuk-tuks and enormouse ASHOK LEYLAND lorries. The camel carts owners shout and wave as you pass ... clearly most foreigners don't ride bikes.
The next morning we went to the Urmul Trust shop near the Bus Stand and bought some woollen shawls to keep the penetrating cold at bay. In January the nights and mornings are really cold and although we had a couple of jumpers on it still wasn't enough.
We then attended the first day of the Camel Festival at the Dr Kali Singh Stadium. There was a procession followed by Camel Dancing (a kind of riderless camel dressage) and the She Camel Milking Competition which was an Udder Endurance test. The Camel Clipping competition was judged on the beauty of the designs that had been clipped into the coats of the camels.
Unlike Pushkar, this festival is set up for tourists but the locals attend too and there is a good atmosphere. The next two days of the festival were held in a village 40KM away from Bikaner but we opted to do a Camel Safari for a day and night in the desert.
We were rather disappointed not to be given the reins of the camel. The camel men lead you for a while and then just jump in the cart ahead and go to sleep holding the reins. Therefore, you are just a bundle on the back and don't really get the experience of handling the animal. That said, it was fascinating to be near them and learn a little about them from the English speaking guide travelling with you. We slept overnight in tents and were warm enough with all our clothes on and hats (me in the 'monkey hat' and gloves. The mattress was pretty uncomfortable though, but hey! you are in the desert. The cold and the clouds negated any star gazing which also dampened the experience. Think carefully what you want out of a camel safari and make sure the conditions match your expectations.
"Camel Clipping Competition"
This camel has the words 'I am proud of India' clipped into his coat with animals and patterns.
Bikaner is to camels what Newmarket is to racehorses. There is a breeding centre here, all the best stock goes straight to the Border Security Force so they can man the border with Pakistan in the dunes.
Dance troupe from Gujarat. About 6 men and 6 women and a Puck-like character with a bow and arrow and lots of gourds strung round his waist. They were quite acrobatic and later did lots of standing on shoulders type things.