After our couple of hours in Ajmer we left for Pushkar - only 11 klms away on the other side of a small mountain. We were so fascinated by Ajmer that we had already decided to return to spend another morning shopping there. We had prearmed ourselves with our 'Pushkar Passport' - a red string tied around our arm which stops (hopefully) the pressure from religious priests. It worked - though not with the touts outside the shops! The taxi took us to our prebooked hotel - Inn Seventh Heaven - and what a great choice that turned out to be. Another haveli, beautifully restored with a big cool courtyard with fountain in the centre. There were heaps of big day beds on brass swings around the edges and our room was lined with pretty coloured glass fan shaped windows. Pushkar proved to be a very interesting little town. It surrounds a lake, which was dry whilst we were there. The monsoons haven't arrived as yet, and probably won't this year, so the local government is using the time to try and deepen the lake bed. They have filled the main bathing ghats with water though (they are like large cement
swimming pools - there are 52 altogether) which edge the lake, because Pushkar is primarily a pilgrim town, though the tourism industry is now also highly developed here. Surrounding the lake are hundreds of tiny temples and the whole town is full of narrow streets thronged with people and lined with souvenir shops, catering both to foreign tourists and pilgrims.
There really wasn't a lot of sites (we are a little over temples!) to see around the town - it was more a place for people watching and that was a truly wonderful way to spend a few hours. The town was full of desert people heading to that festival at Jaisalmer - literally hundreds trudging through the town to visit one of the larger temples - The Brahma Temple, one of only a few in the world. Again it's all about a legend - as so much of India's religious idols are - It appears that Brahma wanted to worship at Pushkar lake and when his wife, Savitri, wouldn't go with him he married another woman there to spite her. Savitri was a little annoyed by this and declared that Brahma could not be worshiped anywhere else after that
but at Pushkar. So anybody who wants to worship to Brahma has to come to Pushkar to do it. His temple is quite large, and on opposite hills outside the town limits are small temples lit up gaily at night - one each for his wifes. I will never begin to understand the mythology behind the Hindu religion.
Anyway a lot of people wanted to worship at his temple and we were in Pushkar at the right time to see some very colourful characters doing just that. They camped on the edge of town each evening and made hurried trips into town each morning or evening before leaving. Most arrived on the outskirts of Pushkar crammed onto the back of trucks or tractor- pulled trailers. The man at the hotel said that the town would be much quieter in a week. Every morning - we spent 3 nights in Pushkar - we would visit the ghats and watch the people bathing and worshiping. The rest of the time it was great to just sit in a road side cafe and watch the world go by. It was full of cows - what Indian town isn't? - and there were a
lot of small shops with pretty insistent touts out the front of them which did spoil the browsing experience a bit. However we had our lovely hotel to escape to when it all got a bit too much. There were some great cafes there though and we were able to get more choice re food more suited to our western palates.
We did go into Ajmer for the morning and had a great time wandering around again though we didn't revisit the Mosque - it was too full on for us. We caught the local bus back and we were packed in like sardines. We felt like we had spent hours in a sauna by the time we arrived back in Pushkar. We had been in the bus for an hour - half an hour waiting for the bus driver to finish lunch, while the bus got progressively fuller, and the half hour drive back to Pushkar. The countryside around Pushkar was dry scrubby desert. We enjoyed Pushkar but couldn't have stayed much longer - 3 days there was plenty. We once again agreed to share a taxi to Jaipur with yet another Spanish couple. We crammed into the small
car with their backpacks on the roof. The trip to Jaipur took only 3 hours but it felt much longer as it was an unattractive main highway most of the way. We passed a few 'truck' towns which are very depressing - a main road strip lined with mechanic shops, streets covered in grease and lined with dozens of trucks. The only colour came from the trucks which are all gaily decorated with streamers, paintings and lights. These towns would be terrible places for children to grow up in. It also started to rain heavily enroute so we ended up with 2 large backpacks in the car with us a the driver had no plastic covers for his roof rack. It was a tight squeeze!
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