It was almost past afternoon on a hot and humid Friday that I decided to spend the weekend differently. Parties and friendly get together, I have had enough. So I just shut down my office desktop, wrapped up every paper on my desk and reached my apartment. There I managed to see everything I require is duly in place or not and luckily I had all that I needed. Packed my clothes, camera and laptop in my rucksack and decided to start my Rajasthan Diary. I started my trip for Pushkar, a small town in Rajasthan, India. One of my friends also joined me in my trip.
I have always preferred bus services. Regular buses ply between Ajmer and New Delhi. Pushkar is only 14 kilometres from Ajmer. Local vans and jeeps are available from Ajmer. We boarded the bus at 11-30PM and next day at 10AM we were in Pushkar. Although the bus journey was very much tiring, hence I recommend people to avail the Delhi- Ajmer Shatabdi Express. Many other express and superfast trains are also available.
When I reached Pushkar a sense of religious piousness filled me although I was mesmerized to see more foreign tourists than Indian nationals. The restaurants and many others stalls have signs in Hebrew which was another thing which caught my attention. Hotels were mostly filled in even in hot summer days. Luckily we managed a room in Rajasthan Tourism’s own hotel. This Hotel Sarovar where we stayed is completely owned and managed by Rajasthan Tourism Department Corporation. It is a very nice hotel and the food quality was excellent. If rooms are available you can put up here. There is a calmness around the hotel as it is away from hustle and bustle of the main market area.
It was around 2PM that I decided to explore and my friend eagerly accompanied me, although the scorching heat of the sun was keeping the people away from the streets. But when in Rome I don’t want to be a Roman, I want to be a traveller instead. My first destination was the famous and holy Lake of Pushkar. Legends say that the lake was created by Lord Shiva’s tears. So it is one of the oldest and sacred lakes in India. Although I am not much into these mythological facts but I did not want to disrespect the belief. The scenery surrounding the lake was beautiful and it gave me delight. There are 52 ghats surrounding the lake. The ghats are basically bathing places however you cannot bath in every ghat. The common business around this area is done by the pundits. In lieu of giving the God’s blessing they dragged me by the lake and uttered some hymns and made some offerings to the lake and charged me heavy. I strictly disliked this but had no choice. In their opinion if someone is visiting Pushkar for the first time then such offering must be done in the very first place, which many religious people actually do every day. I personally found this logic very much orthodox and illogical and did not pay heed to the man. But the way he was arranging and convinced me made me feel that he and many others doing the same thing are in this profession for a very long time. It would be unfair to judge the man’s knowledge of the religious hymns and the procedures of offering to the God, so I better remained silent and had a look at what is being done here to earn a living. Countless number of temples surrounds the lake and beware of the monkeys which remain mostly in these temple rooftops. These monkeys are the real nuisance of the place.
Next thing on our list was the Savitri temple. This particular temple along with other 2 temples of Pushkar is the only temples located on the mountain top. Aravalli Range, the oldest mountain range of India, surrounds the town of Puskar. Savitri temple is accessible by walking down the main market road and taking a short detour to reach the foothills and from there continue the climb. By walking, it took roughly 25 minutes to reach the foothills. When we were supposed to ascend the stairs made of rock, there I met a British girl who accompanied us. She was Charlie Gilmartin, a young and jolly British girl enjoying her stay in Pushkar and eagerly waiting for her next destination i.e. Udaipur.
While climbing the stairs I was very much out of my breath. Realization came again that I need to quit my smoking. The stairs are carved out of the mountain rocks and are very steep. At certain points while climbing uphill its like jumping two to three escalator steps at a time. This makes the entire uphill climb very much tiring. People descending down the stairs greeted us well as they were mostly locals and took special interest to greet my new British friend. But once I was up at the mountain top the entire tiredness seemed to fade away, thanks to the picturesque view of the Pushkar town and the surrounding valley and the view of the desert far away. The entire town can be viewed from the mountain top and it was like I cannot believe my eyes what I’m seeing. Truly Incredible India!
Another prime thing to do in Pushkar is the camel safari. The herdsmen make people tour the surrounding desert region and the only oasis found in that place. Added bonus of the camel safari is watching the sunset behind the high sand dunes sitting on top of the camel. The entire experience is worth remembering for a long time. Although I had similar experience in Jaisalmer, but could not do this time in Pushkar because the charges for the short trip was high and after much discussion on the fair I had a negative nod on him.
The major shops as well as the eateries lie along the Sadar Bazar road. This is the most happening road of the town. It is a narrow town and shops and food joints lie on both sides of the street. Although the street is very much congested with cows, buffaloes, motorcycles and humans traveling through the same narrow avenue, I bet you can understand how congested it might be. But the food joints mainly Italian, Israeli and German bakery offers quality food. There are some tattoo parlours also which draw large crowd. Mainly hippie style shops attract the crowd followed by the Rajasthan handicrafts stores and the foreign exchange ones. This road surrounds the holy lake of Pushkar and leads to the main temple complex i.e. The Brahma temple, the only temple in India dedicated to God Brahma. I found the temple to be very much simple and the floors and the wall murals well maintained in-spite of the rush throughout the year. Brahma temple is dedicated to Lord Brahma who holds a very significant position in Hindu mythology and his various other forms also known as his avatars. Devotees flock to this temple from far flung areas and even from all across the nation. The other Brahma temple lie in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Pushkar being my weekend trip was very much enticing. I became a lot apprehensive about the place since I have read a lot about it, and whatever I read I was not disappointed. Best way to roam around the town is to get bikes and scooters on hire and travel like boss. Traffic restrictions are very limited and the ease of access to remote places is good. Even the locals also less interfere with the tourists and at night the town is safe. Marijuana is available almost everywhere and that brings a lot of foreign nationals here more than the Indians. Alcohol is strictly prohibited and not easily available unless you have got that special contact. I am not much into visiting temples and worshipping idols, so I did not visit the temple complexes which are in plenty. Every corner of the street has a temple. But if you’re looking for some yoga and quality time getting high on weeds do visit this place. You will have one heck of a time to remember for long and cherish for. Do get in touch with the locals; get some info on the culture and things happening around. Pushkar is ready to surprise you.