Jaisalmer is a golden city of sand dunes and sandstones. The best time to visit Jaisalmer is during the month of February (or late January) when the famous Desert Festival takes place. This festival is an annual ritual and a part of the state’s tradition which has inspired a chain of foreign tourists to tour this part of the world. While cities like Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur have always been on the wish-list of foreign tourists, the desert city of Jaisalmer had to lie in obscurity and negligence all these years. But the Desert Festival has emerged as its true redeemer and has brought it the shining glory it always deserved.
The festival is a 3-day affair which brings to the fore the quirkiness and the richness of the state’s culture, tradition and talent. So, for the whole of three days, Jaisalmer gets seeped in numerous competitions, events, shows and performances. The fire-eaters showcase their awe-evoking talent to a stunned audience as they swallow fire and set huge balls of fire shooting across the sky. The camel rides also act as big-time lure. Camels are adorned with colorful clothes and jewels and parades are observed. It is a great time to experience the true thrill of a bumpy camel ride across the mounds of sands.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of the festival is the moustache competition. The participants of this contest show their long moustaches (they are extremely long and can even run up to several feet in length). Their incredible display of such incredible moustaches earns applause and admiration from all the witnesses. At the end, the person with the longest moustache is declared the winner. This contest has been chronicled in details and almost every tourism booklet of Rajasthan has at least one such picture of a moustache-winner. The tourists, especially the foreigners, love to click pictures with the winners and post them on their social profiles.
The Desert Festival also observes musical shows and dance performances, most of them centering on the folk culture. So, visitors and tourists can enjoy a soothing experience of the folk dance and folk music. They are the real jewels of traditional India and are sadly getting buried beneath the dazzle of modern life.
Handicraft fairs add another layer to this festival. And then there are the ever-popular ‘turban flying’ contest and the ‘Mr. Desert’ pageant contest. They are the big-time crowd pullers and have contributed immensely to Rajasthan and Jaisalmer tourism.
Camels are also made to take part in the extravaganza. So, there is the tug-of-war between the camels which make for an interesting display of the camel culture. And there is the camel polo, which is the Rajasthani alternative for the conventional horse polo.
This upcoming season, the Desert Festival will be held from 12th- 14th February, 2014. There will be all sorts of contests, performances and games. And yes, there will be good food.
In addition, tourists can also savor the charm of sightseeing at Jaisalmer Fort, Nathmal Ji Ki Haveli, Gadisagar Lake, Sam Sand Dunes, Patwon ki Haveli, Jain Group of Temples and Bada Bagh Cenotaphs.