Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

Every year, some 30,000 camels descend on Pushkar, a small town in the state of Rajasthan, in what’s been billed as India’s “greatest tribal gathering”. Photographer Annapurna Mellor captures the madness.

Gazing through his long, sandy eyelashes, the beast stares curiously into my lens. I’ve photographed camels before—on the dunes of the Gobi, the Sahara, and Egypt’s Western Desert—and each time, they strike me as grand, proud, tranquil beings.

Despite their grace, it’s my own kind, the herders who live among these creatures, who I’m here to learn more about.