A Travellerspoint blog

August 2013

Pushkar

We woke up real early to catch a 5 -6 hour train towards Pushkar.
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The train seats were really uncomfortable but the scenery was great.

Peter, Damion and Monica were sitting together across the isle opposite of us and made good friends with this local guy Avi. He was such a character but really genuinely nice guy. He wanted pictures of everyone was such a Happy guy.

Now we are actually traveling during the off season since it is technically monsoon so it has been kind of nice that we are almost always the only ones in the hotel/guest houses when wee check in. This hotel was ummm... quite... festive!
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Now Pushkar is a holy city and there is no alcohol and only vegetarian food. However, many of the holy men smoke ganga or marijuana and there are people pushing it everywhere. It is illegal to smoke it in India and you can spend serious time in jail for it but it is not illegal,to consume or eat it. All throughout Northern India you can get those yogurt drinks called a lassi but
If you get a "special" lassi it is laced with pot.

So no one will be partaking in any of this but it's worth mentioning because Puskar is a dichotomy of very holy Hindu place and then almost hippie markets catering to cheap clothes, goods and incense.

Now for some history:
Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower.[2] Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar. Pushkar word may be derived from word 'Pushkarni' means- lake.It may be derived from word Pushpa means flower and Kar means hand.
Sunset at Pushkar Lake:
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Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Lord Brahma with its creation.
According to legend, Brahma was in search of a place for Mahayagna and he found this place suitable. After a long time, Brahma came to known that a demon, Vajranash, was killing people here so the Lord intoned a mantra on a lotus flower and killed the demon. During this process the parts of flower fell on three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar. After this Brahma performed a yagna to protect this place from demons. Brahma had two wives, the first named Saraswati. She was needed to offer Ahuti for the yagna but she was not there that time so Gayatri, a Gurjar girl, was married to brahma and performned yagna. This act made first wife of Brahma, Saraswati, angry and she cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped in Pushkar only.

There are two mountains on either side of Pushkar, each with a small temple dedicated to each of Brahma's wives. Thom and Peter decided to hike up to the one dedicated to Saraswati, the first wife. Early the next morning.
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I on the other hand opted for giving shopping in India another go as this town was way more chill and not as pushy. So I had a fabulous Ice Mocha (Yay, the ice was safe and it was real coffee not fake nescafe!) and shopped with Megan and Monica. I got some awesome baggy genie pants one green one red each for only 200 rupees= about $3.50 at most.
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After shopping and hiking everyone met back at this AMAZING cafe but on the rooftop.
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This guy waited on us both times and we loved his traditional mustache so I asked if I could take his picture.
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He was a great guy. Or bill came to 420 rupees and he started laughing and talking to Monty and Monty asked if we knew what 420 meant in the US and we did, I was just surprised that they would or would find it funny enough to point out but hey it's Pushkar I guess.
After Lunch we started walking and who did we run into by chance? Avi from the train! We gave hugs and pictures!
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Monty had told Thom and I that this was a good place to buy plain silver jewelry too. So after lunch Thom and I set out to one or two shops to look for rings. You see we had decided before we left that we would leave our wedding rings home so that nothing would happen to them and would start a tradition of buying new rings each time we traveled to special places together. This was a cool idea since it was Peru/Bolivia that Thom proposed. The first two shops really didn't have anything really nice or what we liked but we did luck out at the third shop. The man even sized them for us.
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Now at Pushkar Lake you can ask a priest to perform a blessing for you and your family and for good karma. The problem is that ther are a lot of fake priests or people who will come up to you and try to put a flower in your hand and insist that you get a blessing and pay them ridiculous amounts of money. Monty warned us of these people early and said the best way to handle it is to place your hands together and give a namaste and say you are with a group and they should leave you alone. And ya know what they did surprisingly.
Monty also told us that he knew a real priest who would do a blessing for us and that real priest ask for a donation but never put a price on it and that people can give anything that they want. He said that when he does it he usually will just give 100 rupees but that you are free to give or not give anything that you want. When the priests get huge donations like when they perform at weddings they give the money back to help take care and feed the community. We decided to do the blessings here at Pushkar since it is a one in a lifetime thing for us.
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After our Blessing Monty arranged for us to have a home cooked meal at a nearby house. He knew the family and said he had brought his group there before. We were all about it!
We started in chairs on the rooftop with some yummy snacks.
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These are fried spinach, lentils and chiles mixed together I think, soooo good!

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But the best part is the green sauce. Coriander leaves, mint, lime, chiles and oil.

Then we sat on mats on the floor with small tables, I forget what this is called.
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The family came around and served us each a little of everything and then would keep coming around to give you more until you said no thank you. It was so good. The food here is so much better then what I have seen or tried at home and I am really starting to dig it.
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Chipati bread, Some kind of chickpea biscuit thing called Bati I think??? That tasted awesome dunked in the lentil soup. Some kind of pepper stuffed with potato or chickpea flour, awesome tomato, garlic chile chutney, potatoes with spices and okra.
It was all good stuff! Finally they offered chia Marsala of course and I forget the name but it is a little donut in sweet sugar and rose water. I have had it in the States and it is always too sweet or too perfume tasting as they always over do it with the rose water, but this one wasn't either. It was pretty sweet but not undeniable :-)

On the way home we stopped at a local shop to grab some biscuits or rather cookies as we call them for our bus ride the next day.
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That night just as I started to fall asleep I heard something rustling the trees right next to our window. Then all of a sudden BANG!!!! At first I didn't know what it was because it woke me from my sleep and scared the crap out of me! I woke Thom and we realized something had jumped onto the air conditioning unit that was sticking through the wall. We could here something jumping around in the trees and Thom used his head lamp to try to see what it was but
couldn't. The next morning we were up early packing and as I sat there while Thom was finishing I saw the trees start to shake again. I looked out the window and there was a huge monkey running down the tree! Ahhhhh!
Then another one came down and stopped and growled and bared its teeth at me and I ran from the window. Thom growled back and it ran away. Damn Monkeys!!!!

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Posted by Kelly Rose 04:53 Archived in India Comments (4)

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