Nothing to see, nothing to do, nothing to drink....yet so nice to be here

Pushkar Travel Blog

 › entry 27 of 33 › view all entries

A morning bus journey from Jaipur to Pushkar passed rather uneventfully.  The main entertainment being an Israeli newlywed who was desperate to go home to get away from the thieving Indians who demanded money everywhere she went.  With the baggage handler mildly smiling at her, her husband bore the brunt of her anger.  Delhi and Jaipur may not be the best starting places for a romantic honeymoon !  The view out of the window getting ever increasingly desert like with arid sand with a reducing amount of water starved vegetation.

Pushkar another highly religious Hindu place of pilgrimage with the story going that Brahma convened his entire pantheon of 900000 celestial beings to the lake at Pushkar.

  Both Gandhi and Nehru requested their ashes be scattered in to the lake. Watching the sunset over Pushkar lake one of the 41 things not to miss in India (according to the 2008 Rough Guide). 

However I knew in advance that an infamous set of Indian cock-ups had firstly polluted the lake by washing toxic paints in to it from a festival, that killed all the fish.  To rectify this, they intentionally drained the lake by trawling a layer of sand from the bottom of the lake without devising a strategy to get the water back.  Being on the edge of the desert, any water is still disappearing through the now porous lake bed !  Predictions expect that it will take 5 years before water will remain in the lake. 

On top of the removal of the one attraction in town, Pushkar is a rare case of sticking to its religious guns and alcohol, meat, drugs and even cuddling in public are strictly prohibited.


So nothing to see and nothing to do is the ingredients of a car crash stay, yet Pushkar has an alluring feel about it that still provides a hippy atmosphere.  The one street that surrounds the missing lake is a pretty bazaar (some may say sadly too targetted at tourists) that is pleasant to walk through with a stunning displays of colours in the form of clothing, food or artwork.  The restaurants all add to a relaxed atmosphere that play mellow sitar music or an Indian take on Cafe del Mar.  The food a welcoming move from the fixed Indian or Chinese menus with a full range of Italian, Israeli, American and Greek cuisine.  I had falafel and houmous with pitta bread for lunch and pizza for dinner.    

I went for a wander up to the Savitri temple, standing 800 metres above the town to watch the sunset.

  A hard 45 minute climb that brought back memories of the Himalayas but rewarded with great views over the town, but also the desert in the opposite direction.

Pushkars other claim to fame is it hosts the worlds largest animal market where 20000 camels are brought from all over Rajasthan and further to be traded.  I went for a wander to investigate.  Sadly the much celebrated camel fair is in November so I wasn't in a strong bargaining position to negotiate a price for my girlfriend with the dozen or so camel owners still around offering desert camel safaris.  I will have to come back !  Sorry Natalie  :-) 

In hindsight, wandering around the desert for 2 hours with about 2 cupfuls of water not the most sensible of plans.

  I attracted many odd looks from local kids playing around their desert tents, not expecting a white man calling by.  I made it back to the town without collapsing in the blistering heat. I stocked up on water, slapped on the suntan lotion and found the sun terrace on the roof of my hostal to start topping up my tan before my return to blighty in 2 weeks, happy in the knowledge that England suffering its coldest weather for many a year.   

With a full day before my next destination in the evening, I made a quick trip from Pushkar in to nearby Ajmer.  Ajmer another religious city, but is a pocket of Islam amongst the Hindu masses. Ajmer the location of the tomb of a highly revered Sufi saint from the 13th century.

  7 pilgrimages to Ajmer is supposed to equal 1 to Mecca. 

However 1st stop was to the Nashiyan Jain temple.  The temple itself closed to non-Jain, but it allows access to its unique model for how Jain religion sees the Universe.  Visitors are greeted by a stunning model made entirely of gold (weighing in at over a tonne) depicting the holy mountain that the planets revolve around with a replica of every Jain temple in Rajasthan (that existed at the time of the models construction in 1820) with tradition sights of elephants and soldiers walking around much of the rest.   Two floors of windows allow many different views of a unique and impressive construction.

On to the Dargah Kwaja temple that contains the Sufi saint.  Originally house in a brick tomb, the Mughal emperors Shah Jahan and Jahangir (of Agra fame) added their opulence to add a marble mausoleum and several gates.

  Tourists can enter the tomb by giving a voluntary contribution (I gave 20 rupees) in return for a Muslim cap.  The saints grave guarded by priests that bash everyone with peacock feathers before asking for money.  Rose petals are thrown on the grave by worshippers that keep 5 men fully occupied filling baskets to recycle the petals and sell them again outside.  Many people happily paying money for the privelige of touching the cloth that is draped over the grave.  Ever more convinced that religion is one big money making scam !  Everyone shuffled around the grave with most muttering or chanting prayers.  Humbled by the sincerity of the worshipping even though thinking they shouldn't be giving so much money to a clearly wealthy religion.

Last stop to Adhai-din-ka-Jhonpra which was a 7th century Jain temple before the more powerful Muslims controvertially converted it in to a mosque.

  The site still excellently preserved with 7 arches displaying Koran calligraphy in front of dozens of impressively carved pillars.  Definitely worth a stop.

Returning to Pushkar and still only mid afternoon, time for a little more time in my hammock before moving on.  Such a hard life......

rajeevpareek says:
Nice description but bit harsh on Indians. Anyway are you planning to visit south India?
Posted on: Jan 22, 2010
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Pushkar Hostels review
An Indian/English run hostal offering clean and great value facilities
Run by an Indian/English couple, this hotel is very close to the bus station in a side street off main road. Very clean with comfy beds, hot shower… read entire review
photo by: Stevie_Wes