Puja in Pushkar

Pushkar Travel Blog

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After Udaipur we got up nice and early at 6.30 am to scoff a banana pancake and hit the road.  We loaded onto autorickshaws up to the bus station and boarded yet another bus, this time to do the journey to Pushkar.  It was about 7 hours and actually was 2 buses, one to Ajmer near Pushkar, then a smaller local bus full of us and all our massive back packs, to the annoyance of the locals, to Pushkar, a small and extremely holy city full of temples based on a small lake. 

We settled into our rooms and had quick showers, then went on an orientation walk of the town.  Reasonably small and set up for the huge tourist influx they attract, the streets, named something like the 'spiritual walkway' are actually lined with touristy shops which are aimed at the massive israeli hippy travelling community who set up shop here for months smoking opium.  So think loads of hippy style clothing, great jewellry and all sorts of gimmisky gadjets and trinkets for the average backpacker.  Add to this a load of restaurants serving a selection of indian, italian and massive amounts of israeli specialities, oh, and endless amounts of beggers and dubious "holy men" and you have an image of Pushkar.

We wadered down to the lake for sunset, and it was lovely to wacth.  There is a big crowd of tourists,locals and priests.  Interesting mix!  Our guide showed us where the Brahma temple is, the only one in India, for the next day then we settled in a restaurant with a pool table to have humus and pitta with salad and falafal!  Tasty.  I finished it off with a cold coffee with ice cream which was absolutely delicious.  We were all exhausted so we explored the buss of the streets under lamplight on the way back to the hotel and then passed out for a much needed nights sleep.

The next day some of us had booked a cooking class.  We were given a recipe selection which we would be cooking that day.  I was first to put on the apron and make the locally drunk chai tea.  This is made with a selction of spices which form the chai spice - the chai masala.  Its a mixture of cinamon and nutmeg and ginger i think.  Very tasty.  This is put in with some assam tea and half milk and half water and boiled up and simmered then bioled up and simmered a few times with some sugar to make india's favourite drink.  Pretty tasty too.  We have them most days for a few pence in a small glass.  The heat of the drink makes your body feel cool in the hot air - strangely!

After this we moved onto the next dish - saffron rice.  This was easy to make by sticking all the ingredients in a pressure cooker for 5 mins then viola - a lovely simple veg rice with all spices and saffron.  We then cooked a local rajasthani curry - gatta curry - made with chick pea flour dumplings in a curry sauce.  The lady explained that all curries come from the same basic curry mix - made of mainly ginger onion and garlic and spices.  Then to make each type of curry you add either yoghurt or tomato paste depending - or even milk or cream.  This gave us a good understanding of indian cookery and i'll be experimenting when i one day am back in a kitchen!

We also made a palak paneer - tofu like cheese in a spinach gravy - and a lentils dish as well as each rolling and cooking our own chapatis in the gas flame.  Really easy to do - will be trying those at home.

Then of course - the best part came- and we ate all the lovely food we had prepared.  It really was delicious stuff, different to in the restaurants and I would probably play with the spice levels to make it even tastier but well worth the mornings time. 

We left the class with bloated stomachs to wander around the town.  We planned to see some temples but beign lazy we stopped and sat in shops chatyting to store keepers - looking for the odd bargain.  I got a lovely scarf for 50p and some bangles for a pound.

After a lazy day of wandering - and a quick look in the Brahma temple - I sat with a drink by the lake and absorbed the atmosphere.  There were a group of people playing drums as the sun went down with various beggars and performers and holy men caught in the commotion along the Ghats.  I wandered amongst it for a bit - but the begging is really quite heavy here so I had to give up eventually and head back to the hotel for dinner.  Pushkar was nice but too many beggars and fake holy men trying to extract 100dollars to carry out Puja - a blessing.  Very dodgy and a shame that such a holy place attracts such charlatans in the fist place.  But thats just the way ti is in a poor country I guess.

The next day another early start of 5am to jump on a 7 hour bus ride to Jaipur.  Too many early bus rides around here!
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photo by: Stevie_Wes