Elephant Festival in Jaipur in North India

by Amanda/Backpacking Tips Asia
(Oslo, Norway)

Entrance to Elephant Festival at Rambagh Polo Ground

Entrance to Elephant Festival at Rambagh Polo Ground

Entrance to Elephant Festival at Rambagh Polo Ground Sign outside Rambagh Polo Ground

As the name suggests, elephants are the center of attention at the Elephant Festival held annually in Jaipur.

Why elephants? What is the significance? In Indian culture, elephants is a symbol of royalty. Elephants have been represented in stones and paintings, dating back to Indus Valley civilization. Indian history indicates that elephants are of great significance, religiously and artistically.

That's why they're decorated with Indian paintings, patterned rugs and lots of gold and silver jewelry including anklets. Even their trunks are decorated with paintings. It's an Elephant Pageant or officially an "Elephant Decoration Competition"!

Decorated elephant at Elephant festival in Jaipur

The mahouts aren't exactly dressed down for the occasion. Dressed like royal maharajas, the whole event takes you back to ancient time.

The parade takes place at Jaipur's polo ground. You should come early to get a good spot of the event. The tourist seating area gets packed before the event starts. You have no idea how many locals and tourists come to this festival.

The parade starts with the first elephants, followed by beating drums, folk dancers, horses, camels and more decorated elephants. As the parade is moving, tourists are following with each step and with the hope of getting a good photo shot of the elephants.

After the parade, entertainment is on with folk dance shows and elephant polo matches.

Female Folk dancer at Elephant festival in Jaipur

Folk dancers at Elephant festival in Jaipur

Each elephant is lined up with their mahout on top so people can take pictures. Not every mahout is totally engaged in the festival, like this mahout talking in his mobile phone.

Guy talking in mobile phone at Elephant festival in Jaipur

As a preparation for Holi festival, tourists and backpackers can play Holi. Basically, while you're sitting on an elephant you're throwing colors at the other participants sitting on another elephant. It's hard not to get into the crossfire :-) They're also throwing colored powder at the audience and everyone passing by.

Conclusion: The Elephant Festival was quite fun and entertaining. It was cool to have experienced it once. It's a good foreplay for the Holi festival the following day.

March 26th, 2013
March 16th, 2014
March 5th, 2015

Where: Rambagh Polo Ground, from 4 pm to 7 pm

How to get there: The easiest way to get to Rambagh Polo ground (Rambagh Polo Club) is to grab a rickshaw. Any rickshaw driver knows where it is.


Posted: March 03, 2013

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