As the city wakes up to the chirping of birds at the various Ghats and Vedic Mantras, the little town in the mountains, Pushkar definitely is getting popular with years for a hippie living & a holistic experience of yoga.
I alighted at 2 AM at the nearest Ajmer Railway Station. It was dingy & dark, I was scared as hell and wondering would it be safe. Pushkar was still a 12 KM drive from Ajmer. Ola & Uber were available. I didn’t want to take the risk of travelling with an unknown driver. So, with the help of a local friend I had booked a cab from Ajmer Station to Zostel Puskar. We bargained and he narrowed down to INR 500 for merely 12 KM drive.
Following the instructions, I reached the main gate of the railway station and was waiting for the driver. To my surprise, he was a tippler, with bloody red eyes & foul smell. I was constantly chanting to my Lord and striking a healthy conversation with the driver to keep him engaged, though haunted by million alarming thoughts. Luckily, he was sober otherwise. Lol! We reached Zostel around 3 AM after around half an hour drive.
Back in Ground
Separated by Nag Pahar (Snake Mountain), the late night uphill drive from the Ajmer Station to the captivating Puskhar town was a blinking heavenly affair with a surreal view of Ajmer and it’s Anasagar Lake.
Located in the Ajmer District of Indian State of Rajasthan, Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of the country; planned across the popular Pushkar Lake. As per the mythological facts, Brahma (the creator of the world- Hindu God) narrowed down on Pushkar as the ideal place for his Mahayagna. Few locals informed us that there is only one temple of Jagatpita Brahma in the world. But of course, there are a few more Brahma Hindu Temple in India and Indonesia. Pushkar is felt for its 52 Ghats and 1000 Marble and Skyblue Temples.
In Savasana Pose
All you see in this little hippie hideout are guest houses, temples, ghats, local shops. Moving travellers, of course. I stayed at Zostel. It was my second experience at Zostel after Jodhpur. It was one of the highlights of my visit to Pushkar as I was in the completely Savasana mode. For 02 nights, it cost INR 700 for a mixed 8 bedded dorm. I reached late at night and found the dorm lousy with heavy snore. It was full moon night and I ended up sleeping on the rooftop lounge.
‘Would you like to join for a smoke?’ while I was still struggling in my little bed and cosy duvet, a man from nowhere asked. I woke up to the mountains and chilled breeze. The dorms have an attached washroom and hot water facility. Zostel Pushkar is spacious with two lounges, board games facility, swimming pool & in-house restaurant. Wi-Fi is complimentary. A gateway to the hippie land, this Zostel is a free space.
Places To Visit
Pushkar was supposed to be a laidback experience. Visiting all those places Lonely Planet suggest wasn’t on my list. I took a hot water shower to toss my tiredness of the night travelling and had a delicious morning masala chai at Zostel. With the Zostel map, I headed out on the streets of Pushkar to know more about the hippie land and Brahma Temple.
Be careful. People at the local shops close to the temple chase you like anything to keep your camera and shoes with them for free, but they ask to purchase Prasada (offerings) in return. It can be annoying. Photography is prohibited. So, it is advisable to keep the shoes and camera in the daypack itself.
Built of marbles & stones in the 14th century, the temple holds the shrine of Lord Brahma and visited by the holy people and travellers after a ceremonial ablution in the Pushkar Lake.
Timing: 6.30 AM to 8.30 PM
Photography is prohibited.
Temples of Pushkar:
Why strolling on the streets of Pushkar, every nook & corner one shall find temples, temples and temples in every shape and size. Savitri Mandir is a small hike away in the hills of Ratnagiri. It would be ideal to experience a sunrise or sunset here. Savitri is the wife of Lord Brahma. Other significant temples are Old Rangji Temple, Shiva Temples, Saraswati Temple, Gayatri Mandir, etc.
The surreal ghats of Pushkar in the perfect setting of the mountains & old historic facades, simply enchanting. I loved those long strolls on the ghat barefoot in sheer tranquillity and meditation. As the stars beckons, while the sun still prise its crimson rays behind the horizon, I was sitting on the stairs of the ghat amused and filled with beautiful dreams.
Mini temples at the ghats are equally stunning and reminds of the omnipresence of the god & goodness around us.
At the ghats, some touts will chase to mint money in the name of Brahma’s blessings. Please avoid them. They make us offer flowers, coconut to the Brahma Ghat, home to some unique fishes while chanting some Vedic Mantras for the blessings of the family. The elaborate ceremony is a scam- confuse the tourists and make money. If you pay less or zilch, they will not let you go from the ghat or worst curse you. Please be aware on the ghats.
Where To Eat
The city is primarily vegetarian and yet, influenced by Israelis in flavours & cuisines.
Funky Monkey: The next day was the first anniversary of the resto. Setting is beautiful with wooden layout & hippie artwork and the most spacious of all the eating joints. Try their Tomato Cheese Sandwich & Lemonade. It is open till late and could be pretty much foreign at nights.
Laughing Buddha: It is located in the main market and can be either congested or too cozy with a small sitting area inside and in the balcony. Pretty much one man show, but serves great cuisines. Put your sweet tooth at work here.
Master Paradise: How I love Punjabi meals! No matter where I traverse, one meal has to be Punjabi style. Since I was too tired to go to the main market and look for some Punjabi cuisines, I narrowed down on Master Paradise probably just 100 meters from Zostel. Mouth watering Naan, Malai Koftaar, Chaas, oh man I wish to gobble it all now.
Things To Do
Shopping is definitely a great deal here in the narrow lanes with colourful little street shops. Everything is available in INR 50 to INR 500 from jewelry to block printed clothing.
Classes for Henna Designs, Yoga & Meditation Traditional Cooking or Local Dance are available in every nook and corner. Spurlge some time in traditional massages, reiki & palm reading.
Zostel offers everyday evening tours in the city and outskirts- small hikes, tuk tuk rides, Pushkar on bicycle & several other. They will be conducted only if there are 05 people or more to join. Price is around INR 300 to INR 500.
How To Reach
Only one evening bus goes to Jaipur in a day. Rajasthan Broadways & Haryana Broadways bus services are convenient, available from Ajmer to Jaipur. Haryana drive like Superman. Trust me! One can also take an early morning train from Ajmer.
How I was offered smoke frequently by strangers, to those stunning strolls on the ghat at dawn, goofing with the locals and a bliss at The Brahma Temple, I wish to go back to slumber on the rooftop of this carefree city absorbing the melting sun awaiting chilled starry nights. Ah ha!