I have always visited Pushkar during the world famous Pushkar Fair, and have always fallen more in love with it. So it did feel quite exciting yet confusing to plan a trip to the holy town sans any kind of annual festival, just for a simple weekend getaway from Jaipur. I wondered what new I would do in Pushkar when there are no camels, no over-crowded streets and no sight of thousands of people trying to get the best photograph of their lives. Keeping all these thoughts at bay, my cousins and I left for Pushkar via road.
With music moods varying from R.D. Burman to Honey Singh, the journey was a potpourri of naps, leg-space fights, who’s-gonna-play-the-next-song battles and all that jazz. Highways have a special place in my heart. They all might look the same, but every highway has its own charm and something new to offer. We generally picture the tall hills accompanied by lush green trees in an ideal picturesque scenario, but as soon as you cross Ajmer, the topology changes. There are barren lands on both sides making the hills look more prodigious and this is the closest that Jaipur can feel to sand dunes. The vast stretches of fields & surreal Aravali hills on both sides of the highway made this drive wonderful but no matter how much of a beaver I boast of being, the truth is that what makes a drive amazing is the condition of the road. I remember how my most beautiful dreams on these roads are always shattered by the never ending bumps & broken roads, but this time the drive was smooth like silk!
We crossed the Pushkar Mela ground and I felt my stomach churn at the sight of this lonely lifeless land which was literally the most alive & blooming sight 6 months back.
Like the Google Map lady says ‘We reached our destination at 4:04’ i.e. in exactly 2 hours 30 minutes. There were boards on the left hand side of all the luxury resorts and hotels that are located at very short distances in Pushkar. We entered our resort ‘Dera Masuda’ and well, it was just the parking area, and I was already impressed. It was huge, it was green and it looked like one of those gigantic walking spaces outside hi-fi residential societies in metro cities, but of course this one was midst the high hills. We checked in and the resort was undeniably gorgeous with spacious rooms, clean bathrooms, terrific balcony view and our favorite mini bars 😉 Also, thanks to all the home made aloo paranthas, puris, theplas and aloo samosas that we as Indian travelers are always blessed with during journeys, we has our tummies full and hence wasted no time in ordering food and went to take a dip in the large swimming pool !
After taking a shower, we headed straight to the streets where we were greeted by none other than the holy cows. Brown, black, white, big horns, small horns and some even locking horns, you get to see all kind of cows and cow activities while in Pushkar 😉 Leaving behind the colorful looking cafes, the famous ‘Pink Floyd Cafe’, Rainbow Cafe and La Pizzeria, our yearning for some spicy street food took us to a street side open restaurant (meaning a setup with chairs on the road surrounding one small stool where all the food is kept) – Pawan Restaurant. My cousin, a frequent visitor of Pushkar, said he serves some delectable Falafels.
We ordered one after another and then spotted a guy who was selling Bhelpuri and rushed to have some of that too. It was the best experience ever. While relishing the falafels and wraps and rolls that came my way, I noticed how we were the only Indians on that street apart from the shopkeepers and restaurant owners. The streets were brimming with foreigners walking by in their casual demeanor, hence explaining the comparatively cleaner road. Also, we were told that there were no eggs on that street because of the Brahma temple (claimed to be the only Brahma temple in the whole world) located on the same road. We climaxed the meal with a Nutella Naan and were ready to leave with some food packed for night. On our way back to the car, we visited the Pushkar Lake, which is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats and which is a visual charisma to see on Kartik-Poornima (November) as that’s when pilgrims swarm in large numbers to take a sacred bath in the lake. However, that night it was the moon, stars, reflections and me.
After reaching the hotel, we danced, sang and I ate all the spicy biryani from the street. As the night grew closer and cooler, we went to the poolside and watched the clear sky while lying down comfortably in our poolside chairs. I suddenly saw a shooting light in the sky and blamed it instantly on my inebriated state, but my brother turned to me and asked ‘did you just see that’, it was the first shooting star I had ever seen in my life 😀 I know there are no shooting stars and they are actually dust and stuff, but those who grow up watching KJo films, don’t care about logic and science after a point.
Next day we checked out of the hotel post-afternoon and went back to the streets that looked a lot brighter now with indigo blue houses, bright orange cafes and more cheerful narrow streets with people riding on their Royal Enfields.
As soon as I stepped out of the car and entered the street, this tiny adorable girl ‘Khushi’ came running to me and asked me to sign her little red notebook with very pretty glass-work on it. May be wearing sunglasses makes everyone look glamorous. Later, while browsing through some lovely cushion covers later, I met a very interesting man wearing white kurta, dhoti and a white turban with his ears adorned in big golden jewellery. He insisted me to click him only if I send his printed photograph in an envelope to his house in Ajmer.
The street market of Pushkar is beaming with everything ranging from bangles, brown leather & elegant handmade fabric diaries, huge flamboyant jhola bags, flimsy slings, dream catchers, mojaris (traditional Rajasthani footwear) to the printed pyjamas, breezy summer shirts & tops, some really classy woolen pants, scarves, embroidered cushion covers & interesting jewellery – both oxidized & colorful !
For the first time I realized that all those shops and eateries I see every year do not actually exist. They are just set up during the Pushkar Fair to expand the options for visitors during that week. I also noticed how shopkeepers are not as clingy and pushy in Pushkar because their main target market comprises of non-Indians who would easily pay for their stuff and hence it’s quite a peaceful experience shopping there even on a Sunday evening 😉
I did some mandatory shopping (including cushion covers from the same shop) and bought the famous Rabdi ke Malpue (the Indian pancakes) of Pushkar from Radhe ji ki dukaan for everyone at home and work and bade this little hippie’s paradise goodbye till I visit it again soon.
Postcards from Pushkar –