The streets of the holy city of Pushkar are filled with colourful scenes, such as these
It began in a tranquil moment of contemplation when Lord Brahma let a lotus blossom fall from his hand, and water gushed from the stony earth where it fell, creating Pushkar’s little lake. Or so the story goes. Pushkar didn’t stay tranquil though. As one of the five sacred places of India, it attracts a perpetual river of Hindu pilgrims, wandering sadhus and plump Delhi tourists. Crowds splash in the holy water and jostle along streets hung with textiles and posters of blue-faced gods. Street vendors offer tea and roasted peanuts and sun-yellow curries.
This town 140 kilometres east of Jaipur has charm from a distance. White cubist buildings cram the lake’s edge and are framed by barren brown hills, a picturesque oasis in Rajasthan’s semi-desert. Hike up to Savriti or Gayatri temples on the summit of two hills outside town – which takes an hour or so – and you get a lovely view, especially at sunset.
Best Tour and Travels in Pushkar
Up close, the vibe is different. The town is ramshackle, roguish and dung-splattered. Cows and dogs wander, and peacocks screech from treetops. Visitors are accosted by mad naked mendicants, temple priests seeking donations and shop owners unrolling dusty goat-scented carpets and smooth patter.
The sights, smells and unfamiliar rituals of India can befuddle and sometimes alarm visitors. Even seasoned travellers can be overwhelmed. My solution is Abercrombie & Kent (A&K), whose well-organised private tours are a shield against the tumult. But getting up close to India is part of the experience, too, and my A&K guide, Govindra, is soon accompanying me down alleys where I might never otherwise have ventured.
There are pockets of beauty here. Old mansions sport wooden shutters and ornate plasterwork, and niches house Ganesh statues draped in fragrant marigold garlands. Unexpected camels lurch past, decorated with pink pompoms and silver tinsel. Pushkar scintillates with coloured saris trimmed with gold, and bangle shops, and pyramids of dried gulal powder, which Govindra explains is used in religious ceremonies, or mixed with coconut oil and applied to women’s foreheads as a sign of marriage.
Pushkar Fair Tour & Travels
We encounter a wedding procession later, meandering through town in a joyous explosion of noise and colour. Musicians bang drums, blow trumpets and sing in high-pitched ululations. The men sport orange turbans and handlebar moustaches, while women are lurid in silks. The bride is enveloped in red, showing only bangled ankles.
It’s this street life that’s the reason to come to Pushkar. Govindra shows me the Temple of Brahma, the most significant of Pushkar’s 400 temples, with a red spire atop a blue-and-green base housing a four-faced, silver-eyed statue of Brahma. But soon he divines that the street circus interests me more. Pushkar’s temples are relatively modern, their architecture bland and paintings cartoonish, but street life is the marvel of India.
“No worry, no hurry,” says Govindra every time I stop at the sight of another vendor stirring a bubbling tureen of goat’s head curry, or another naked sadhu puffing bhang under a tree. Pushkar is a whirligig of delights and strangeness. And then, when suddenly India’s anarchic vitality gets a bit too much, Govindra leads me away, and my A&K car awaits, and the hotel is a cool oasis in which to decompress.
Sight to see at Pushkar
Later, as evening falls, Pushkar becomes beautiful. Sunset flushes the sky orange, bats tumble in the darkening trees and cooking fires glow. Devotees chant from the ghats, reciting sacred texts, and send little oil lamps onto the lake surface. Cows shuffle in the darkness, and sari-clad women glimmer in gold and red in shadowy, night-draped alleys.
Abercrombie & Kent’s private journeys in India include a 12-day Royal Rajasthan itinerary taking in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Jodhpur and Udaipur. Prices from $8882 depending on arrangements and specific requirements, which could include a visit to Pushkar. In conclusion, Pushkar are an important aspect of Travellers.
The Rawla Resort sits in lush gardens in the tranquil countryside just outside Pushkar. It has an excellent restaurant serving Rajasthani dishes made with ingredients from its own greenhouses. We not fond of sights. However, I do like Honesty of services.