Day 145: Pilgrims and hippies
Pushkar Travel Blog› entry 195 of 260 › view all entries
Thanks to the people I met here and/or travelled with: Ed (Netherlands)
Pushkar is one of the holy pilgrimage sites in India and every Hindu is expected to travel to Pushkar at least once in their lives. The city (or rather, village) is built around the holy Pushkar lake, which according to legend was formed when the god Brahma dropped a lotus flower to the earth. Of the three main gods in Hinduism, Brahma (the creator) is the most important, yet also the least worshipped. Pushkar is one of the very few places in India that has a Brahma temple.
This being a holy place means there are some strict rules. Firstly this is an entirely 'dry' town, there is no alcohol available anywhere. Secondly it is strictly vegetarian, no meat or animal products (not even eggs) are to be eaten in Pushkar.
Lastly, the centre is mostly car-free, with tuk-tuks almost banned completely. Now if only the same would apply for those annoying motorcycles... Still, this is one of India's most relaxed and laid-back places and as a result it attracts a fair number of backpackers.
Backpackers of the laid-back type and Hindu pilgrims. The two make an interesting combination and Pushkar town tries to serve both equally, so regularly you will see a building which has a shop selling incense and floral offerings on the ground floor and a restaurant advertising banana pancakes, pizza and free wi-fi on the floor above.
Around the holy lake there are over 400 temples and 52 bathing ghats (stepped terraces leading into the water), where locals do their daily laundry and pilgrims wash away their sins in the murky brown water.
Pushkar is one of those magical places where there isn't much to do, but where one could easily spend days or weeks just relaxing and letting time slip away. Especially after the hectic cities of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur it was nice to be in a place with hardly any traffic.
It didn't bother us much that the town is vegetarian. In fact, we'd been eating mostly vegetarian anyway, because of the increased risk of food-poisoning involved with eating meat in India.
When the heat became too much we wandered back to our hotel to cool off in the pool. It was here that we found our biggest trump card Pushkar has to offer: sheesha! We had tried to find a sheesha bar in other places, but without much luck. We found one in Delhi, near the cinema, but only after closing time, while the one mentioned in the Lonely Planet in Jaipur, no longer existed. But here we found one at the swimming pool bar in our own hotel! (We would later find that sheesha is available in almost every bar or restaurant in Pushkar, most likely due to the fact that alcohol is banned)
So we ordered some more shakes and relaxed by the pool, while the setting sun painted the sky in bright hues of orange and pink. A perfect ending for a perfect day.