The King Cobra  ( Scientific name Ophipohagus Hannah) is highly revered in India .Celebrated in myths and legends they are worshipped on the day of Nag Panchmi.

Native to the Indian Sub Continent and  South East Asia it is the largest venomous snake on Planet Earth.

These colourful snake charmers were spotted at the Camel Fair in Pushkar. Keep an eye on the gentleman without the turban. Watch the bag across his shoulder. Do observe the King has his eye on him as well.

watch the man in the background
The Snake Charmers

The Kind Cobra has wonderful eyesight and smelling capabilities. It is also equipped with a deadly venom, a neurotoxin which attacks the Central Nervous System.

Watch the man without a turban now adorns a bandanna and has set his bag on the sandy soil. The King has honed onto him and is all attention.

the basket is out of the bag
The King carefully watches the man in the foreground

The King Cobra is unique as it is the only snake that makes a nest for its eggs.

Myth and legend surround the King and it is said they have a remarkable memory as well.

The basket is  now opened and the King Cobra has a companion.

The King Cobra rears upto a third of its length and can grow to a length of 18 feet or  5.5 metres.

The camels do not seem to be concerned with the presence of these snakes in their midst.

two cobras in a camel fair
The basket opens

As the habitat of the King Cobra shrinks their numbers in the wild are declining. They are known to have a lifespan of about 20 years.

As per The Indian Wildlife Protection Act 1972  the actions of the Snake charmers in holding the King Cobra  captive are illegal.

It is also cruel as they defang them and keep them for hours in a basket in hot and dry conditions.

then there were two
Two to tango

Trust you were spellbound by the enchanting King Cobras in Pushkar.

King Cobra
The King Cobra and the shadow of the Wind Pipe

Published by

mukul chand

51 year old entrepreneur who has traveled extensively around the world for work and pleasure , is based in New Delhi, India. A passionate traveler born with a love for flora and fauna, is an active naturalist and amateur photographer. Here he shares his unique insight into Incredible India revealing its mysterious and exotic treasures. Writing from his heart he shares his experiences as he crisscrosses this vast and amazing land.

114 thoughts on “THE SNAKE CHARMERS”

  1. Reblogged this on LARRA_ and commented:
    Despite the sucky reality of how the snakes are being treated, there’s a part of my heart that was warmed up because, to me, it’s beautiful art. ❤ ❤ ❤
    I’ve never been to India, but I’ve always been interested in world cultures and traditions. I looked it up and it’s apparently a pretty significant part of history. It would be sad to see it die out. Plus, it’s the livelihood of many people (I’m guessing from the lower end of the socio-economic scale, some of which may not know nor desire any other way to live) who might enjoy doing it and have passed down this beautiful tradition from generation to generation. I’m sure it has made a lot of people happy and are fascinated by it (as it did me when I watched appropriations of it via Disney and other Western production companies…actually, it still makes me happy :P)
    I grew up with such “past times” (there’s a lot of Filipino versions of esoteric entertainment) and there’s a huge part of me that links this to those experiences as a child.
    Like magicians do, snake charmers also have their secret (or a “cheat”)…unfortunately, in this case, it involves some animal cruelty.
    I wish the government and these people can work together to come up with an alternative to defanging and maybe try and make sure that the snakes get good treatment when they get home. It would be good initiative for the snake charmers to put them in well ventilated baskets too.
    The snakes, who are deprived of their freedom, help them pay the bills and therefore, I feel that it would be fair to at least have their well-being looked after as well.

    Like, can’t they just stick a biodegradable styrofoam-like packing peanut on their fangs or something? That will block out the venom from coming out, plus it pads the sharpness of the fangs, so it’ll just be pressure, not puncture, if they bite.
    I don’t know if that’s actually a feasible and logical suggestion, but I thought I should just throw it out there, you know. Brainstorming and shit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Am delighted to read your comments and opinion. I have heard this argument many a time about livelihood etc., however we need to be realistic. There are far better ways of making a living. The Govt even provides some loans of upto USD 20 now . There also Skill development programmes. Their skills are used in a positive way. Harming these creatures who cannot speak cannot be defended on grounds of the livelihood of the two legged.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s a good point. I still think this snake charming deal is pretty cool though.
        Opinion wise, I’m for finding a solution in being able to do this without harming the snakes. I don’t know if that’s actually a possibility, but I can at least hope.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If nothing can be done for the well-being of the snakes at all (like if they have to suffer as much as they do and packing peanuts can’t be used to pad the fangs), then I am (as much as it saddens me) would be for banning it.
        Torture and mutilation is a pretty fucked up price to pay for a relationship that only benefits one party.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’d say its more of “concern” than “angst.” While I agree with your cause, it’s not something that directly resonates with mine. Thanks for sharing though. Its always good to be aware.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah when you said angst all I could think of was the band, “Silverchair” with their angry songs lol. Anyway this has gone completely off topic. Signing out now for reals ✌

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Midwestern – down at the nearest National Park here in Botany Nay Sydney Australia there is still a snake pit that is used on a Sunday for snake Dancing and display, Australian Pythons and Carpet snakes some Tiger snakes and Browns but nothing commercial and nothing illegal. An old friend of mine who died a couple of years ago began her stage career as a snake dancer but I don’t know which variety of snake as in did the fangs have to be removed or nay.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have heard of mystics in the forests of India, that charm the snakes and they don’t cage them. They meditate and the snakes come around on their own, drawn by the mystical music.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sure there are always exceptions to the rule, where the snakes are not exploited or harmed. I’m sure the dance was in celebration of the snake.
    Anything that I would do in the presence of a snake may be misconstrued as dancing. .. however it’s just me trying to get away! Ha ha!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Mukul, your article is informative and entertaining. There’s also another name for the King Cobra Hamadryad . Curiously this name is given to a nymph also. Yes, the Serpent is rich in folk lore and religions though Semitic religions connote it with the Devil ( Eve being lured by the Serpent) There’s a snake temple in Kerala where priestly duties are carried out by a prophetess. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I suppose that he proliferation of smartphones will eventually eliminate such entertainments. Noting that the two snakes appear to be supporting three individuals or more, a question arises re how they will earn a living when the snakes are no longer a business …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your views, I love reading them as it makes writing and sharing the contents worthwhile.
      The community of snake charmers are extremely skilled with reptiles and are increasingly being inducted by the Forest Department . Snakes are required for their venom and these Snake Charmers know the minds of poachers.


      1. It was dusk and we had to stay out of sight in that rice paddy until dark. We saw the cobra moving parallel to our column and its hood was open and then it slowly lowered itself into the water and out of our sight. Most of our bodies were underwater and I know that my legs tingled with venomous anticipation.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. just curious.. is it a king cobra? from the picture, it seems like the regular cobra, Naja naja..! Like you have mentioned, that King Cobra is a much longer, around 15′ and the body is way thicker…! The little i do know, i doubt if such a snake would fit in the basket this snake seems so comfortable in!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We have done with our hotel bookings. I would like to know are there any other interesting tourist so spots in Ajmer other than dargah. Do you also know anything about nathdwara temple I’m udaipur. How far is it from city?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Do visit the lesser known Golden Temple in Ajmer. A beautiful Jain temple in Red Stone. A gorgeous mythological world in Pure Gold can be seen inside the premises. Nathdwara is famous for the Krishna Temple located about 45 kms from Udaipur and is about a 45 min to an hours drive by road. Devigarh is an allsuite Heritage Hotel near Nathdwara.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you so much Mukul. This info is helpful. Will get in touch if I need any other information.. I didn’t read about the red stone Golden temple of Ajmer anywhere on the net. Tnx

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes. I am going to Udaipur too. We will Def visit Nathdwara. I am just checking Web for ancient temples. I like to visit very old and popular ones.

        Liked by 1 person

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