Unlike many visitors to the holy city of Pushkar, my mother and I were not pilgrims or hippies. Our visit to what is one of the oldest cities in India had no motives based on religious or recreational drugs. We were simply visiting to admire what would be one of the most beautiful destinations on our Rajasthan tour.
The Hindu pilgrim town of Pushkar is one of India’s oldest cities – and certainly on of the holiest. The tranquility of this lake-surrounding town was incomparable to the bustling metropolises we had visited so far and from the moment we began our stroll around town we knew that it was going to be a relaxing retreat compared to our experiences in India so far.
Pushchair attracts thousands of tourist for the same reason but it also attracts thousands of Hindu visitors for much more meaningful purposes than a ‘nice little retreat’.
Thousands of Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to Pushkar every year as it is the only place in the world that contains a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma is said to have created the entire universe by dropping a lotus on the ground that resulted in the immediate creation of a gorgeous lake.
In Hindi ‘Pushkar’ means lotus – so you can probably deduct where that certain lotus flower was dropped and why Pushkar became such a holy site for members of the Hindu community…
A visit to Pushkar is considered the ultimate pilgrimage for people following the Hindu faith and is said to result in ultimate salvation.
It is also a pretty beautiful place to hangout while partaking in the whole deliverance from sin and its consequences thing…
After relaxing our way through the hottest part of the afternoon, (AKA the sweltering time of day that transported everyone in India into hell’s kitchen), my mother and I headed into town to start a walking tour of the holy city.
Unfortunately our guide wasn’t so good at the whole ‘guiding’ part of his job and we learnt absolutely nothing from him other than when we should get our wallets out.
We visited the famous Brahma temple before immediately being led to the lake where we were
convinced guilt-tripped into partaking in an essential ‘priest blessing’ that would ‘improve our karma if we do it with a good heart’ after getting angry at us for having a giggle during his tour.
He was a foul man but we eventually decided to attempt to redeem the awkward situation by going along with the priest.
It was quite a nice moment of chanting by the waters until he decided to take a phone call in the middle of the ceremony and then went on talk cash.
Completely unimpressed with the religious scam and the concept of ‘buying karma’ we gave a petty donation to this ‘priest’ and immediately ended our shitty tour – not without our guide also demanding a tip for his hour of non-guiding.
Despite the horribly phoney ‘spiritual experience’, we still loved Pushkar. We spent the afternoon strolling through the relaxed bazaar, that had everything from hippy-chic tie-dye to didgeridoos. We stopped to indulge in our tonic water cravings and people watched along the commercialised yet still somehow magical streets before we headed to the lake side to admire the sunset over the city.
Surrounded by cows, locals, a few other tourists and some very clever well-fed child beggars (including a small boy who ended his long spiel with “I don’t like you – you’re BAD” before deciding to switch to a more vulnerable solo traveler), we watched the sky turn a bright yellow as the day ended over the pretty holy city of Pushkar.
We weren’t quite ready to head home yet so we took some top-of-the-city seats at one of towns many deserted rooftop restaurants and indulged in the most delicious fresh mango juices I have tasted to date.
We spent the evening taking one last stroll around town. Our awful guide had not explained how to return to our hotel but with the guidance of a few kind strangers we managed to weave our way back through the back streets of town past all kind of camels and cows and find our way home.
We were up early the next day – keen to admire the sun rise over our new favourite Indian town.
There was not a soul about – even the cows were only just opening their eyes.
We headed straight for the lake. We sat for a long time simply enjoying the rare Indian serenity. Eventually we were joined by the some cows and their owners who tried to sell us some more karma if we paid to feed their cows…
Despite being unimpressed with the whole karma industry of Pushkar we took a lovely long stroll around the beautiful lake.
We watched the crowd of pilgrims grow as everyone began to partake in a dip in the holy waters in order to complete their pilgrimage.The lake, known as ‘Tirtha Raj’, houses 52 bathing ghats and 400 milky-blue temples. The morning air was filled with hums with puja (prayers) as Hindu devotees of all age, shape and size took their turn in the water. The morning was filled with a blend of chanting, drums and gongs, and devotional songs through the early morning stillness.
We strolled, we people-watched and we relaxed. It was the perfect end to a visit to one of Rajasthan’s most beautiful, and peaceful, destinations.