Pushkar street art and a well posed cow
Pushkar is definately a special place and for a wonderful month while it was home I realised two things: 1. I could have stayed longer and 2. I will eventually be back. In the end I didn’t make it to Jaipur (where I was headed), instead I made a last minute decision and stayed on the train until Ajmer.
After taking a local bus for a quick 20 minutes I reached Pushkar, nothing compared to the last 32 hour train ride from Gokarna! Lucky I had good company and a good night sleep on the very adequate, well stocked with chai and other Indian culinary delights, non-a/c sleeper train (in my opinion the best travel choice).
Pushkar is located in the state of Rajasthan and a holy place; one of the five sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindus. The town of Pushkar surrounds a central lake where there are numerous ghats used for bathing (apparently 52 however I didn’t count them) and even more temples (I have heard anywhere from 500 to 2000).
Pushkar has a theological connection to Lord Shiva as the lake was believed to be formed by Shiva’s tears; mourning the death of his wife Sati. Due to the large number of temples it is almost impossible to avoid offering pooja; a ceremony held by a holy man where you (and your family) are blessed, an offering of flowers and rice placed into the lake then a red and white coloured string tied around your wrist (your Pushkar VIP band) and a donation given (used for the upkeep of the temples).
Pushkar is an animal lovers paradise. Every morning offerings of grain is given to the animals surrounding the lake and walking around it’s impossible to not encounter cows, swans, monkeys, pigeons and dogs (usually sleeping during the day after a long night of noisy territorial disputes).
Pushkar has the most beautiful scented roses my nose has ever had the pleasure of smelling and there are many people selling flowers for pooja offerings. The perfumed oils and incense sticks come highly recommended and for just a few dollars you can purchase a bottle of absolutely divine Pushkar rose perfume oil and take a piece of Pushkar home with you.
Pushkar is well known for its clothing and many foreigners visit each year to buy clothing, jewellery and other unique items to take with them to sell overseas. Even if you’re not doing business (many people start after visiting and I am no exception) Pushkar is a shoppers paradise.
I came to learn that Pushkar is a popular next stop after Gokarna and for the next few weeks I enjoyed seeing familiar faces from Kudle beach. Much time was spent exploring Pushkar and surrounding areas, learning the clothing business and some wire jewellery making, eating, drinking chai at the central square (a great place to meet people) and place to watch the festivities (every night there was different celebration).
Note: Pushkar is a holy place where alcohol and meat (including eggs) are not allowed. Of course if you look hard enough you can find them but for the most part I’m a believer in respecting my surroundings, especially when immersed in a different culture and believe it’s good to do without occasionally. Shoulders and knees should be kept covered and there are no shoes to be worn and no smoking around the lake.
If you are approached by a man offering you a flower it will most likely be to take part in a pooja ceremony and if you have already have and don’t want to again then you can show your wrist band.
There are many gypsy’s living around Pushkar; the women sell jewellery and do henna while the men play on home-made violin-like instruments which create an incredible sound. This is how they make their money and you will be expected to pay to listen to them play; it’s nice to experience this at least once. There are many gypsy’s outside the Sunset Café where many people gather each evening to watch the sunset and play music.
Breakfast in the central square