Angela and I were almost finished with Rajasthan, but we had one final destination left to see in this ancient realm of royalty and dust. Centred around a holy lake said to have appeared when Brahma dropped a lotus flower in the middle of the desert, Pushkar is a pilgrimage town that draws a colourful melange of characters: bearded babas and bathers, Hindu devotees, tourists and tribal musicians; all of them congregate along the bazaars and ghats that encircle the sparkling lake filled with holy water.
We didn't do a whole lot in Pushkar. It's less a place of sightseeing and more a place to wander and observe the water rituals, the chantings, the prayers, and other such spiritual scenes that seem so enchanting to our western eyes (well, not so enchanting when one of the lakeside "priests" scams the hell out of you, but more on that later). We'd be missing out on the famous camel fair that takes place here at the end of October, and which sees hundreds of camel merchants bring their livestock to the middle of town for bartering, bazaars, competitions and performances. We would, however, get to enjoy a unique camel experience of our own, which involved riding one just outside town for some beautiful views of the desert.
|We drove north from Udaipur to Pushkar via the nearby city of Ajmer.|
|Passing through the Aravalli Hills again.|
|Driving through the busy but otherwise unremarkable city of Ajmer.|
|Political campaign advertisements, including Mr. President himself.|
|Leaving Ajmer, we had to drive over Snake Mountain in order to reach Pushkar.|
|On the other side of the mountain, the landscape was dry and almost savannah-like with its spaced apart trees, as though we'd suddenly teleported to East Africa.|
|Our hotel was nestled in the heart of a pretty valley.|
|We mostly relaxed during our first afternoon and evening in town. The next morning we climbed up a hill to Savitri Temple, which provided some great views over Pushkar and the surrounding countryside.|
|We met these sweet girls who wanted to take photos with us.|
|Also met this goat who was more than happy to pose for a photo too.|
|Back down at ground level, we started exploring the busy bazaars of Pushkar.|
|At the temple we were given a bunch of flower petals and told to take them through the bazaar to the nearby lake.|
|Rampant scamming aside, the lake was a rather pretty place, and a great place to people-watch.|
|When we're not giving away our money, we're posing for photographs. Such is the general tourist experience in India.|
|Cows. Lots of 'em.|
|Taking a break with some vanilla lassi, a yoghurt-based drink.|
|We purchased some incense and perfumes from this guy.|
|Back at our hotel, Angela made a new friend.|
Click here to continue the adventure in Part 2, in which we ride a camel in the nearby desert.