Pushkar


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Asia » India » Rajasthan » Pushkar
February 10th 2016
Published: February 13th 2016
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We left Bundi in the early morning and headed northwest towards the town of Ajmer. Dylan was a bit apprehensive to push his bike too fast after all the mechanical issues that happened. I didn't mind, considering that my skull was still the only thing protecting my brain while flying down the Indian highways. It took about three hours (minus a chai break) for us to reach the city of Ajmer. We then cut through some mountains and 14 km later found ourselves in Pushkar. Pushkar is more of a small town then a major Indian city, and I think that suited everyone just fine. Sitting in the middle of the Thar desert and surrounded by large hills, Pushkar is considered one of the oldest towns in the world, and is home to some of the only Brahma temples. This is the place that hosts the annual camel fair which draws thousands. Most of the time however, it is a town that seems to draw both foreigners (many hippie types) as well as religious pilgrims who have come to bathe in Pushkar lake. Cheap accommodation and food can be found everywhere. The enfields pulled up at the outskirts of town at the hostel known as zostel. Apparently these are a chain of hostels found in major tourist places throughout India, but this is the first time I've stayed in one. While checking in, the staff guy mentioned that there would be a hike to one of the hills a few kilometers outside of town. We were keen, as there was a big chunk of the day left. A few other backpackers were coming along and would be splitting a rickshaw, while the three of us would come along on the bikes. I jumped on with Dylan, who by now was teasing that I was his groupie, and we took off after the rickshaw. Suddenly the bike lost power and stalled. Terrified that the same problem had occurred, we jumped off and inspected. It turned out that Dylan had simply forgotten to unlock the gas tank. By the time we were back on the bike, we had lost the others and had no idea where to go. Dejectedly, we returned to the hostel in disappointment. We decided that we would just go and explore the town on our own instead. Pushkar seemed to be made up of really only one main street which passed by the small lake at the center. Plenty of shops were around, many of which seemed to sell similar items. I noticed many sadhu's were roaming the streets, and I was instantly fascinated. We walked the entire length of the main street and then continued up a tall hill to a nice sunset point. Gray langurs could be found all over the top. After the sun descended, we returned to the base and walked back to our hostel. We found Oli, and once we chilled out for a bit, went back out into the town to a Tibetan restaurant and had a Tibetan style thali.

The next morning we went into town and found a cheap breakfast place on the streetside, and ate while gazing at all the city life. We then walked along and checked out some shops. I don't often buy things unless absolutely necessary, but I ended up getting into some market style bargaining and picking up a book about sadhu's, a chillum, and a cool Rajasthani shawl. We were also hanging out with a Brit named Tomo, whom Oli had met in Udaipur. He was at the beginning of a multi year trip. By the early afternoon we decided that Tomo and myself would rent some motorbikes and that all of us would go explore the desert countryside. I got a 110cc bike with four gears. Not super powerful by any means but this thing could maneauver really well. I took some practice on the empty dirt street outside the hostel and then once I had got the hang of the manual transmission, we were off. Initially, I hit a nerve wracking section when we were on a narrow road full of trucks, but once we cleared this, we were on our way onto some open roads. We passed by camels and groups of squatter tents and then continued towards the hills. Oli brought us to the place he had been yesterday, with us first stopping at a temple and meeting the aloo (potato) baba. Tomo had some flashbacks of the day before when he had made the bad decision of taking some bhang lassi and then attempting to hike, only to begin throwing up and becoming really sick. I understood why that had been such a bad idea. We carried on down a dirt road and then parked the bikes and headed up a small hill. Unsatisfied, I proposed to Dylan that we attempt a much higher peak that was nearby. The other boys weren't interested and told us they'd meet us back at the hostel. So Dylan and myself powered up the hill and scrambled passed loose rock and spiky bushes. The way down was a lot worse. The ride back was amazing, with plenty of twists and turns. Once back at the hostel, we walked into town and got a cheap falafel wrap that tasted exquisite. Once back at the hostel we were lounging around the common area and I saw a familiar face at the entrance. My friend Bev from back home had arrived. She had wanted to visit India for many years, and after I mentioned I was on my way there, she decided to take the plunge and finally check it out. We decided to meet up and check some places out and as an added bonus, we were both quite interested in photography. She had been struggling to get to India for the last few days because she was dealing with standby tickets (long story...) She had flown into Delhi, then flew to Udaipur, and then had taken an arduous bus ride to Pushkar. We talked for a bit but she was exhausted. I went to sleep soon after as well.

Dylan, Oli, Tomo, Bev and myself all went to a close place to eat breakfast the next day. We then went and checked out of the zostel and into a nearby guesthouse that was cheaper. Tomo and me still had our rented motorbikes until the early afternoon, so we went out into the countryside together for one last ride. We took an interesting trip to a small lake and then went back into town, navigating through some tight market streets. My motorbike skills were now exponentially better. We returned the bikes and then I went out with Bev into the town. She hadn't yet seen much of Pushkar, so we walked around and took loads of photos (obviously). We walked along the washing ghats, sat and were blessed by a holy sadhu and drank some chai with him, and were accosted by various shopkeepers. By mid afternoon we had returned to our guesthouse. I found the boys all hanging out on beanbags on the roof. Tomo was taking off back to Delhi soon, but the rest of us decided to head out and walk up the sunset point hill to see the sunset. The walk felt tougher than it did the first time, but it felt nice to do once more. Many monkeys greeted us at the top. Once back down, we walked through the main street and found our tasty falafel place for a late dinner. Back at the guesthouse, one of the staff was able to get us some beer (this can be difficult as Pushkar is a dry town). We enjoyed the rest of the night.

On our final day in Pushkar, we woke up early and Dylan and Oli set out for the last journey on the Royal Enfields towards Jaipur to return their rented bikes. I decided that we would meet back up with them in Jaipur, but me and Bev would be finding our own way there. We packed up all our gear, and then walked towards the main street and easily found a public bus that would take us on the short journey to nearby Ajmer. The bus ride seemed to be longer than expected and was quite packed at points. Some confusion ensued when we were stopped at the main bus station for a while, but then the bus continued onto the rail station, where we wanted to go. As the bus pulled up, some crowding occurred and a young Indian guy who we had briefly spoke to on the ride, was behind Bev and had groped her. She was none too pleased with this and had to push his hand away. I only found out this happened when we were off the bus, but I could understand why many women are apprehensive of traveling alone due to some idiots who can't keep their hands to themselves. We decided that Bev would yell out the word "melons" if this was to happen again, so I could help her out. Now in Ajmer train station, we bought a cheap general class ticket and boarded the train onward.


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14th February 2016

Beautiful pics and great story
Hi Danny, thanks for sharing this story. The pictures are absolutely beautiful and colourful. Chapeau that you are travelling India by bike in the crazy Indian traffic. Look forward to the next post. Katha

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