Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pushkar - A Heavenly Haven

For five nights and six days Chris and I holed up in the small town of Pushkar. It is in Rajasthan, but more off the beaten path than other spots that we went to including Udaipur and Jaisalmer. It is known as a spiritual town and there are signs posted everywhere, on the road, at hotels, that warn against drinking, eating meat - including eggs, and public displays of affection - including holding hands.

We rolled into town, literally, at about 3 in the morning. Well, it actually wasn't Pushkar, as we were promised by the not so friendly bus person at the cardtable roadside stand, it was Ajmer, about 30 minutes away from Pushkar by car. "Luckily" there were autorickshaw drivers and cabbies waiting to take suckers like us to Pushkar. We arrived at the hotel we had arranged for at 4 am. With some actual luck, Chris charmed the sleeping doormen into letting us crash in a small room until our actual room was ready. We ended up staying in a beautiful white haveli (mansion in India) for the next five nights. It had a large, clean room, with a western style bathroom, lovely decorations and far from all the ruckus of the touristic area.

With Pushkar's main claim to fame being that it is a spiritual town, there wasn't a huge night life, but there was good shopping and good food. One of the main things to purchase in Pushkar is music. Chris and I picked up a few CDs. We were only able to listen to a bit of the music in the stores because we don't have CD players with
us, but here's what we got so others (YES YOU LAURA!!! :p) can check them out. Let us know what you think. Apparently, traditional Indian music iscreated to be played at certain times of the day to illicit moods and emotions, so I've included that as well.

Traditional Indian:
Hariprasad Chourasta, Flute, Evening
Nikhil Banerjee,
Sitar, Morning

New Age:
Shiva Moon

Actually, the first day we left our hotel in Pushkar we didn't hang around Pushkar, but actually took a day trip to Ajmer to find a new charger for my computer. With luck and help from the people at our guesthouse we found a new one so that I could charge my computer and blog for you all! While we were in Ajmer, we decided to check out a few of the local sights. This included a few mosques, one of which is very famous Muslim pilgrimage. We also saw another Jain temple that had an intricate and large golden replica of their beliefs on how the world was formed.

After the visit to Ajmer, we spent some more time in Pushkar, just relaxing and reading, so there isn't too much to write about. The one highlight was an evening camel ride to watch the sunset. Our one hump camels picked us up right at our hotel and took us out for a few hours. My camel was named Jimmy. Not sure if he was named after Carter, Page, Hendrix or someone else. My vote is for either Page or Hendrix because there are a ton of new age hippies in this town, for instance, there was a Pink Floyd restaurant and hotel.

Anyway, each camel was led by a camel jockey for lack of a better term. They would either lead the camel on foot by reins that were attached to the camel's nose or get on the camel with us and lead from up top. For some reason, my camel jockey decided that it was ok for
me to take the reins all alone and for him to walk behind the camel and I. I like to think that it was because he could tell that I was a veteran horse rider (thanks for those lessons in eighth grade, Mom!), but the realist inside of me tends to believe it was because he needed to prod my camel on from behind because the camel was a slacker. I was a little nervous about the whole thing because I realized that if this camel took off that I had no idea how to stop it! This was especially worrisome when the camel and I had to maneuver between a stopped bus and a huge carrier truck going the other way. I looked behind and my camel jockey was more than eight feet behind us! What was I going to do?!? Luckily, Duds, I mean Jimmy, never took off on me and we made it up to the top of a sand dune where we enjoyed a beautiful sunset and watched local children fly kites and play some version of dodge ball.


Tina,  January 24, 2010 at 2:06 PM  

Great descriptions from both of you. I'm glad you got a little rest and rejuvination! You both deserve it. I love the pictures!!

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