Visiting Pushkar, a hippie paradise in a sacred place
Before visiting Pushkar you have to know that this place is one of the five most sacred places in India. It is located in the province of Rajasthan, 200 km from Jodhpur and 150 km from Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan.
The city sits on the shores of the sacred Pushkar Lake, where every year thousands of Hindus come on pilgrimage. The lake is surrounded by a total of 52 ghats. Hindu rituals such as offerings, purifying baths or cremations are performed there.
Pushkar is not only a place much visited by Hindus but also by tourists. One of the reasons why there is so much tourism is that it is very close to the Golden Triangle, a tourist route that connects New Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.
Visiting Pushkar: What to see in Pushkar?
The main street of Pushkar
Around the lake is the main street of the city. So many tourists come to the sacred city that the main street has become a huge bazaar where you can buy all kinds of cheap souvenirs (mostly of poor quality). The place has gained fame among western tourists for its hippie atmosphere and many take advantage visiting Pushkar to buy souvenirs both at the beginning and at the end of their trip through India. (Of course, some can also buy some substances as well to help you on your spiritual route through India).
It is supposed to be a spiritual place but it is hard to find spirituality with so many tents around the lake. And that’s not all. While some Hindus pray and purify themselves around the sacred lake, others pass themselves off as Brahmins and try to trick tourists by offering their help to donate to the lake or temples.
As I explained in my Haridwar post, had already been fooled once by this donation thing. I was thinking with the lesson learned, but soon I would realize that I hadn’t seen it all yet.
Early in the morning I set out alone to walk the ghats of the lake. I wanted to turn around quietly. There was almost no one, and only the rumor of the prayers of a few pilgrims purifying themselves in the sacred waters was heard. Suddenly, a man started yelling at me that I couldn’t wear flip-flops around this sacred place. I apologized for my carelessness and tried to follow my path, but it was too late.
With the face of a few friends he reiterated to me several times that I had the obligation to make an offering to the lake to make up for my lack of respect. At first I refused, but after so much insistence and since, after all, it is a sacred site and the last thing I wanted was to offend someone, in the end I gave in so that he would leave me alone.
Even so, I warned him that he was only carrying 100 rupees (1 euro) and he told me it was enough. Without further ado, he started doing a ritual in Hindi, very similar to what was done to me in Haridwar. He asked me for the names of my closest relatives and asked me to repeat with him a few unpronounceable phrases.
Beware of the donation scam
At the end of the blessing, he tied a cord to my wrist and asked me about the donation. I took the 100 rupees out of my pocket but he did not accept them. He reproached me that the blessing he had just done was for my whole family, so I had to donate for all of them, not just for myself.
At that moment, I didn’t know whether to laugh because of the stupid situation, cry or push him into the lake and go. I opted for the first one, the most sensible one, and I took it with humor. I reminded him that I had warned him in advance that he didn’t have anything else. The man, very persuasive and speaking as if he had the right to ask me for more money, began to insist that I take out the wallet I should have in my backpack and give him more.
Just then I got fed up, I showed him the bill and told him that either he take it or I would leave without giving him anything. The false Brahmin, just when he saw that he was taking me to the limit, took the ticket and walked away pronouncing a few words in Hindi. I assumed, this time, that they would not be good blessings. For my part, I continued my walk around the lake, this time barefoot, but no longer feeling an ounce of that supposed spirituality.
The Temple of Brahma
In Pushkar there are about 500 temples where the most important is the Temple of Brahma. Built in the XIV, is one of the few temples that exist dedicated to Brahma. In the Hindu religion, Brahma is the creator god of the universe.
Brahma is also a member of what is called the Trimurti (three forms); being Brahma the creator god, Vishnu, the preserving god and Shiva, the destroying god. The reason there are so few temples dedicated to these gods is because most Hindus worship the gods Rama, Krishna or Devi.
At the end of the walk by the lake I went to see the Brahma Temple. I didn’t choose a worse time. At the entrance two Indians came to me, with a lotus flower in hand, offering to accompany me to make a donation to the god Brahma. I told them politely that I did not want to make a donation and they replied that I was obligated if you wanted to visit the temple. Tired of so much donation, I turned around and went for a chai (Indian tea) to relax a bit.
Visiting Pushkar: What else to do in Pushkar?
Apart from taking a walk on Pushkar Lake, visiting any of the temples and fighting with the Brahmins so that they don’t deceive you with donations, one can do other things for the city.
For example, I recommend that you sit in the attic of a restaurant to enjoy the sunset while you have a chai. If you are one of those who likes to walk and be amazed by panoramic views, you can climb one of the mountains right next to the city. Specifically, there are two mountains with temples at the top:
In one of them is the Savitri Temple, which is ideal to see the sunrise although you have to get up early enough. And in another, to the north of the city, is the Gayatri Devi Temple, which is a perfect place to watch the sunset.
If you like shopping, although you won’t find the best quality in Pushkar Bazaar, you will find a lot of variety of things that can serve you whether you are starting your trip to India or if you are about to leave.
If you are visiting Pushkar, you can also try to coincide with the Holi Festival as it is a small village and full of foreigners, making it a good place to celebrate the Holi. Without a doubt, you will find a lot of atmosphere and a lot of partying.
How to get from Pushkar to New Delhi?
Finally, after two nights visiting Pushkar we said goodbye to the city to go to New Delhi by bus. A journey of 400 km awaited us. Just arriving at the capital had to fly to China and say goodbye to India. It had been three weeks of unique experiences, of endless journeys and of encounters and surprises that I will never forget.
Maybe that’s why, being our last Indian city, we left Puhskar with a bitter taste. To me personally, it seemed like the worst place we had visited in India. But maybe it was because after three weeks I was already a little tired, or because I had waited much longer, or because I had some bad experiences.
Now, recapitulating and looking at the photographs, I can understand that if you’ve just arrived in India seems like a special place. Pushkar is not on my list of places I will return to, but who knows, if you decide to visit Pushkar, maybe you can find what I didn’t find.
Watch your thoughts, because they will become your words, watch your words, they will become your acts and watch your acts, they will become your habits and your habits, they will become your destiny.
– Mahatma Gandhi –