After the comfortable ride to Jaipur I again chose to take the bus from Jaipur to Pushkar. Pushkar is a holy town known so because of its holy lake of which the Hindu community take very seriously, with a ‘no shoe’ zone clearly marked all round the waters edge.
Above: map courtesy of Madpackers Hostel, Pushkar.
So I arrived just outside of town and caught a tuk-tuk to my hostel about a mile away from the bus drop-off. As usual I agreed a price of R150 but the driver soon stopped and said that there were two hostels of a similar sounding name and mine was much further. Basically he came up with a crap transparent alternative of which I saw straight through and stopped the tuk increasing the price. He was mortified when I showed my fury at such a poor attempt at robbery and went to leave the vehicle — it’s surprising how all of a sudden the original price is ok again.
I arrived at my hostel and entered reception to witness a beautiful interior where every wall and ceiling surface was decorated with stories from Hinduism. I was blown away by the sheer beauty of it all and I couldn’t believe just how much there was!
Above: Madpackers Pushkar needs to be seen to be believed!
Apparently the hostel was previously a hotel and all the artwork took two years for the artist to complete.
Above: The view from the hostel rooftop.
The next day I took a walk into town to see what Pushkar had to offer. As usual there were the chai stalls, clothing and other stalls but there was a very different feel to the place. Everything seemed more relaxed than what I was used to and it wasn’t long before I found food and drink bars where there was a distinct ‘hippy traveller’ community hanging out and being … well … ‘coooool maaaan’. 😃
One of the bars was either packed with no seats or deathly empty when I arrived which I found irritating as I wanted to try more than one place to eat and hang out. Eventually I ended up going to the Funky Monkey where I could enjoy some good food, excellent iced coffee and some quite decent music to nod away to while I ate. In fact, I ended up going there all the time and befriended Vishel a good lad with a good sense of humour — nice fella!
THEY’LL NEVER GET ME!
OK… I’d read about all sorts of scams, prepared myself for the bullshit and promised myself I’d take no prisoners when it came to such! So far I’d done well, especially surviving Delhi unscathed.
Unfortunately I fell victim to a gentleman upon my approach to the ‘holy lake’ and I must say that he was very convincing regarding him being a ‘holy man’ — the only holy thing about him was the ass-holy he turned out to be!
I’ll be brief, he ‘helped’ me to float the flowers traditionally flung into the lake in prayer for goodwill and it cost me R1500 due to me not wanting to kick off in a religious place but also handing over the wrong notes in a furore… No more details required thank you as I was never there and it never happened … OK!
The following morning I woke early as I promised my miserable self that I’d have a new day with fresh eyes and a new attitude to the world around me. So I headed into town, grabbed a coffee en route meeting Valerie, an international tax accountant from Germany who was taking two years sabbatical, then into town to explore.
The day was going well so I paid another visit to the holy lake but this time I went to a different spot. Again some fool tried the same trick but this time I wasn’t falling for it but this time I was forced to be borderline aggressive with him to get off my back! No wonder I was warned off the imberciles by honest stall owners en route there.
I didn’t let the scammers bother me so I took a walk up to one of two temples on hills, the Savitri temple, a 15 minute walk out of town. The route took me all the way through the town market which soon turned from tourist trinkets to local market products which were far more interesting to see and investigate — items such as spices and saris of all colours.
Turning left at a junction, the road opened out after a bottle neck of people cueing to enter the Brahma temple which I didn’t enter as I had to leave my bag outside and take nothing in — ummmmm no chance! I followed the road along and soon met Dudi, a store owner who, as it turned out, only wanted to meet me and share a chai. I was invited to sit and talk for a while on the raised floor of his store. Not once did he try to sell me anything, he only taught me Hindi as we spoke as he learned about my home — top man, superb moustache.
I moved on along the way and headed further out. I noticed there were a lot more camels and the stores were changing with more meandering Berber, a nomadic tribal people of India thus more camels and encampments that were appearing. Apart from a larger amount of cows than I’d seen previously in other cities, there were now hogs snuffling among the rubbish at the side of the road and they’d often be frightened by closing traffic.
I’d been told that there was a cable car available up to the Savitri temple but I gave that a miss and took the steps. After 5 minutes of climbing in the heat and sweat becoming a torrent, I decided to take the lazy option, u-turned and took a car to the top.
There were lots of them at the temple and I ended up in a face off with three of them as they were trying to get into my bag while I put my shoes in before I entered the temple. It’s funny, one sort of double punches you, you turn and eyeball the shit then it bares it’s teeth when it realises you ain’t messin about.
Now I know this might be taken as offensive but I assure you it is not meant so and is only an honest description of my thoughts. When I entered the temple I was gob–smacked at how awful it all was! It was tiny for one and it had blatantly been built recently as there was bare concrete and steel rod showing. But that wasn’t the part that threw me! There were two deities (figurines) jammed into this tiny room at the end of a short walkway. I’d studied beforehand the do’s and don’t ‘s of what to do in a Hindu temple and I took great care in respecting them. One rule for sure was holding back words ‘what the fck are they?!’. I know, I know and I’m sorry but I was immensely unimpressed.
Overall, the day was splendid and it left me feeling good! Bar the scam I thoroughly enjoyed Pushkar and would recommend it to anybody in that area or passing by.
Above: another weirdly timed app notification.
It’s worth a mention that on the way back from the temple I met Sundeep at his One Pinch Base Camp, a side store where he sells his allegedly “…famous…” One Pinch Chai. He beckoned me in and he created 7 taste samples of his magic chai, one with jasmine flower (picked from a tree across the road), one with lemon juice, and others. I was blown away by the different bursting flavours and when I chose my favourite I was treated to a full mug as he showed me that his secret ‘One Pinch’ ingredient — called so because it only requires you guessed it, boiled in only water — which was famously on sale in … Margate, UK.
Above: 1. Me wondering about the safety of the cable car. 2/3. Sundeep and the Magic Pinch samples. 3. Sat with Dudi at his store. 4. Nature’s friends. 5. A view of Pushkar from the Savitri temple including the lake and one of the monkeys.
Cow and dog facing off over a japati
Wart hogs and cows in a field of trash as if it was a field of green.
The crappest deities I’ve ever seen — seriously I’ve seen better dolls in Coventry Market.
Stunning sunset over surrounding rolling hills.
Phenomenal hostel art.