The holy city of Pushkar is a unique experience; quaint, spiritual and utterly mesmerising. It’s famous for Savitri Temple, Pushkar lake with the surrounding ghats and temples, the colourful bazaars and backstreets and the Camel Fair (we missed this one)… and not forgetting the Dargah Sharif of Ajmer.
All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.
Now for the next leg of the trip, off to Pushkar in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan; it takes about 3 hours to drive the 145km from Jaipur. We stopped off at the Savitri temple located on top of the Ratnagiri hill, a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus. We were pretty red-faced after climbing the 3,000 steps to reach the temple but we had the local kids to keep us company, they were obviously after money not our out-of-breath chat. The temple, built in 1867, is dedicated to Savitra, the wife of Lord Brahma and her statue is housed here. The panoramic view was immense, however, the sun was setting so we left the monkeys playing and headed down in the cable car (you can get this up there if you don’t fancy the ascent on foot).
Holy City of Pushkar
Pushkar Hotel Kanhaia was our luxury bed for the night after our meal by the lake. Pushkar is a holy city, alcohol and meat are strictly forbidden within the city limits, however, you can freely find bhang lassi on the menus of the small cafes, a yoghurt-based drink with spices and hashish. Johnny Vagabond says it tastes “like dirt and lawn clippings” and his account of the after-event had me in stitches.
There is nothing like experiencing the noises, the culture and the people at night but if I can make one recommendation, flips flops are not the best choice of footwear with big piles of holy cow dung in the streets… yep, you can imagine what happened next!
No alarm is required in Pushkar, the noisy buzz of the busy streets works just fine as a wake-up call. After breakfast it was time to get in the thick of it, the colours were shouting out, the street-sellers want you to buy, the cows striding towards you, snake-charmers looking for likely people to charm, and the temples are a place of calm (if that is possible). The preparations for Diwali are well under way as baskets of garlands for the Gods and deeyas (earthenware pots) to display light are being sold on every corner.
The holy lake in Pushkar is believed to be formed by the tears of Lord Shiva after his wife, Sati, died. The 52 ghats and over 1,000 temples in Pushkar make this one of the most sacred Hindu towns in India. Pilgrims come from all over to take sacred bath to wash away their sins.
Dargah Sharif of Ajmer
On the way back to Jaipur, we got out the bus in Ajmer and were transferred into rickshaws up the narrow streets, best to keep your limbs inside if you want to keep them attached. We landed on the main strip that led to the Dargah of Moinuddin Chishti, the Sufi saint who worked for the welfare of the poor and blessed them.
Outside the shrine there was piles and piles of shoes to enter the ‘complex’ where the marble tomb lays beneath, the amount of people was just staggering. Offerings are made with flowers, sweets and a ‘chadar’, there were separate groups of people praying, some wailing very loud. With hundreds of others, we were herded through the temple like cattle to be blessed, an orange thread was quickly ties around our wrist, the whole experience was intense yet calming.
>> Read about riding round Jaipur on motorbikes and the Diwali celebrations.
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>>Trip organised by Trekkup // Photos with Trekkup logo courtesy of Piotr
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