The small houses of people with very big hearts, the farms, the rough hills, the ancient trees, the sand and the empty roads!
Well, well, well, Rajasthan, you beauty, I’ll be back…………………….
Pushkar is beautiful, small and cozy. I could easily spend months or even years there and not get bored! It is about 14 kms from Ajmer and multiple buses ply between these two every hour. Ajmer is a major city that is well connected to other parts of India through trains.
I stayed in the Milkman Guesthouse in Pushkar which was at a walking distance from the Marwar bus stand. The dorm bed here was just for 120 rupees a night! It was very basic and neat, nothing fancy. However, the view from the room was better than one could have expected. Every night, I could see the moon rising from behind the hills. It was one of the most beautiful sights! The guest house was pretty famous owing to its mention in the Lonely Planet guide. Travellers from all over the world stay there. It is one of the best places to meet other travellers and exchange travel stories.
THE DORMITORY ROOM AND THE ROOFTOP HANGOUT AREA OF THE MILKMAN DORMITORY, PUSHKAR
THE FIFTY TWO GHATS OF PUSHKAR:
I arrived late in the evening at Pushkar and spent the evening resting, sitting in the cafe and talking to other travellers in the guesthouse. The next day, I took to exploring the streets, the bazaar and the ghats on foot. First, I walked to the Ghats where I was surrounded by the Brahmins who pestered me to perform some ceremony by the waterside. I declined politely as I had been warned that some of them extort large amounts of money.
Honestly, keep your hands in your pocket while entering the ghats, you never know who might drop some flowers on them and ask for money to feed the Brahmins! I had to pay 40 rupees for some flowers. However, compared to what other travellers had to pay, I got out pretty cheap! Also, remove your shoes when you reach the steps that lead to the ghats and walk carefully, the ground is pretty slippery!
After the initial confusion, the ghats are a beautiful place to sit and spend some time thinking, writing or painting! It is worth taking a round of the 52 Ghats– the view is simply breath taking!
THERE ARE 52 GHATS AROUND THE PUSHKAR LAKE. IT IS CONSIDERED AUSPICIOUS TO TAKE AN ENTIRE AROUND OF ALL THE GHATS.
I spent the next few hours doing the same and then, I had a chat with a gypsy man who conducted camel safaris to his village. He told me about the life of the gypsies and then, showed me his camels.
THE “CRAZY GUY” INCIDENCE:
The entire day was pretty great until I bid goodbye to the gypsy man and went ahead to explore the bazaar. I had to take a turn and wasn’t sure if it was allowed to wear shoes on that way so, I asked a local person. Guess what? That person began following me around. He asked me if I liked him. I said no and told him leave me alone. However, he was pretty adamant on getting my number and did not stop. I was very annoyed (and, scared too at that point). I gathered courage and stopped to turn and face him. I told him to stop very strictly. The guy walked away shouting that he did not care and had many girlfriends from all over the world. I knew I would have punched him if he had continued after that.
AN IMPORTANT ISSUE FOR ALL TRAVELLERS!
Honestly, if it was my first solo trip, I would have freaked out and rushed back home that very day. But, by then I knew that such people exist in every place. One cannot stop living their life because of them(Even in Udaipur, the travellers were bothered by people like this guy. They follow people around, take their numbers and circulate it among their friends!).
Talking to other travellers has made me realize that when you travel, you encounter such people. Such incidences have happened to everyone. Even in Delhi these things happen. The trick is to be alert and smart. Do not let these people sense fear in you. Be strong and face them. Do not tolerate their behavior. Try to confront them in public areas and DO NOT give them your number at any cost! Inform your guesthouse/hotel about such an incident and always have their number on speed dial when you’re wandering around.
This is a very crucial issue for every traveller.
Have you had a similar experience? Do you have any tips for us? Feel free to suggest more ways to tackle such situations in the comments section below. Your views/experience are very valuable to other travellers and can help them if they ever find themselves in such a situation.
THE REST OF THE DAY:
I walked to the bazaar. The streets that looked so vibrant and colourful, now just irritated me. I was angry and wanted to punch everybody I saw on the street. How dare that guy spoil such an amazing place for me!? I wanted to get back to the guest house and sleep the anger away. But, I lost my way. I was going round and round in the bazaar! UGH! It took me a while to calm down, ask for the way and reach back.
Once back, I sat in the cafe. The cafe managers asked me how my day was. I told them about the crazy guy. They said that such an incidence was rare and assured to me that Pushkar was a safe place. Adding on to that, they told me to call the guest house immediately if I was ever bothered by anyone on the streets again. On talking to the other travellers, I realised that everyone has faced such a situation at some point. This helped me calm down.
I had tea and then learnt how to make a “wish-bracelet” from Sarah, a fellow traveller at the guest house. I talked to Haru, another traveller, about Indian mythology. At night, I saw the moon rise! Earlier, in the afternoon, the cafe guys had suggested me to rent a scooter with another traveller and explore the places around Pushkar. I did not consider it then, but after seeing the moon rise, I decided to go for it the next day.
DAY 2 & 3:
RENTING A SCOOTER:
I woke up early, got ready and went to the cafe. Kasha (a dorm mate) joined me to share a scooter and see the places around Pushkar. We spent half an hour surveying the market for the best deal. Finally, we found “Ganesh Taxi Services and Motorbike on Rent“. We got the best possible deal- 200 Rupees rent to keep a scooter for 24 hours, 30 Rupees per helmet, 80 Rupees per litre of petrol(all the places took us about 3 litres in total) and 2000 Rupees deposit that would be refunded once the scooter was returned (NOTE- They take a photocopy of your passport and visa). It was 12 noon and the best 24 hours of my trip had just begun. We got a map of Pushkar from the motorbike owner with all the temples and destinations marked.
We were thrilled to begin our journey! We crossed many villages and saw the real rural Rajasthan. The women carrying water in pots, the kids running behind the scooter to get a clap, the cattle lazily chewing the hay, the farms, the hills and the wide blue sky above our heads. People were super excited to see us riding the scooter!
These are the places we saw…………………….
1) BAIJNATH SHIVA TEMPLE
It is about 12-14 kms from Pushkar. We rode quite a while and then stopped for grabbing something to drink. The local shop owner was surprised that neither of us was married and that we were both travelling solo. We had a little chat with the locals and then got going. The Baijnath temple was a place worth visiting. It had peaceful and serene environment. There were hardly any people there. We explored the area a bit and looked around. One can feel the presence of Bholenath there!
2) SAVITRI TEMPLE
After Baijnath Temple, we headed back to the town to have some food. We found a place where we had an amazing thali for 50 Rupees. It was just opposite the place from where we had rented the scooter. Then, we headed to the Savitri Temple. We tried to climb the stairs but were too tired to complete them and we were out of cash so we could not go by the rope way either. Hence, we could never really see the top and visit the temple. However, people say that the view from the top is spectacular!
3) ALOO BABA ASHRAM:
Our next destination was pretty interesting. We were going to the “Aloo baba Ashram”. Aloo Baba, the person who owns the Ashram is a Sadhu who has been eating only aloo (potatoes) since years! The way to the place had some of the best views!
The Aloo Baba Ashram was a total chilled out place in the middle of nowhere! It was extremely peaceful. Inside, we were greeted by none other than the Aloo Baba himself! He invited us to join the other travellers who were seated around him in a circle. We talked for a while, saw the entire Ashram and met some kids who were playing on the slide.
4) OLD SHIVA TEMPLE
The “Old Shiva Temple” was a little further from the Aloo Baba Ashram. It is one of the most beautiful places. The roads as we approached it, the trees, the Kund, the temple itself and the surroundings-everything! Also, the chai we had there was amazing! We spent half an hour in the place just looking at it and marveling at its structure.
5) OLD PUSHKAR
Our last destination for the day was “Old Pushkar“. It was quite far from Pushkar and could be skipped. It had ghats and an almost dried up lake. There wasn’t much around there.
After this place, it got darker and cold. We returned back to the town and spent some time by the ghat. Then, we got back to the guest house and spent the evening in the cafe. We were very tired.
The next day was our last in Pushkar. We were very eager to cover the other two places that were left on the map. We woke up early and left by 10.30 A.M.
6) CHITRAKOOT DHAM
We went to Chitrakoot Dham. The wasn’t much to see there. We almost thought we had entered someone’s private property! It was a simple temple. A contemporary one.
7) PANCH KUND
Panchkund was worth visiting! It was quite close to Pushkar and beyond it we walked another half km on a path full of monkeys to reach another temple. Now, this other temple had no people. It was an amazing place to sit for a few hours and meditate. By then, I had noticed that almost every temple around Pushkar had a Kund.
We spent sometime exploring the Panchkund area and then rode back.
The scooter journey had come to an end! It was the best decision I had ever made. If you ever visit Pushkar, do rent a scooter and see all these places. We returned the scooter, got the deposit and then, ate a thali. This time at a different place. The thali had an amazing dal and palak paneer curry. We then, walked back to the guest house through the market. Kasha left for Jaipur and I sat at the cafe for a while.
EXPLORING THE BAZAAR:
I met Sarah and we went to explore the bazaar. I looked through many shops and finally, bought two notebooks.
THE PINK FLOYD CAFE:
Later, we went to the famous “Pink Floyd Cafe“. That place is very aptly named so. If you happen to come to a place where the Pink Floyd’s tracks are on play all the time and the rooms are named after their songs/albums, you’re at the right place! Their rooftop is pretty decent with rates similar to any other cafe. Their menu has some “Very Special” items that you must give a try! ;). We tried the “Very Special” coffee. It tasted like dirt but had a nice after effect! 😀 .
On our way back, we tried Pushkar’s Best momos– they were delicious. Do give them a try! The lady who sells the momos serves them really well with a round central momo! :)..
We spent a few more minutes in the market and then headed back to the guest house.
After resting for a while, I left to catch my bus back to Delhi. I reached the bus stop twenty five minutes before the departure time and waited an hour only to learn that the bus had left early!! I took a bus to Ajmer and complained at the enquiry office. They gave me a seat in the Express bus from Ajmer to Delhi to compensate for my reservation in the Semi-Delux bus. Hmph!
But, never mind, I slept throughout the bus journey as I was worn out by the day’s events. I reached Delhi with the same heart ache that I have everytime after I return from a trip.
Rajasthan, I’ll be back! :’)..
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