When was the last time when you haven't just traveled but made any place a close friend of yours? A place that not only gave you some of the best experiences of your life but has traveled with you, slept with you, shopped with you, and revealed its best-kept secrets to you. It's only possible when you're living up to the idea of celebrating life the way you want it to be or let's put it together by shuffling the words; the hippie way of life. A flower child with a rock and roll heart. And if you're in India then arguably the most peaceful and relaxed place for hippies is Pushkar; a magical combination of serene lakes, ornate temples, awesome hikes, bustling bazaars, colourful ghats with aartis and much more. The quaint town located in the royal state of Rajasthan is undoubtedly a place where traditional meets hippie. Still wondering if you should visit this hippies haven then here are the reasons why you shouldn’t think twice:
Sitting by the calm and poignant lake in the backdrop of a blissful sunset, listening to the faint distant chanting of mantras playing in the background, and getting stoned on Bhang Lassi. Just tell me what else does one need in Life? A visit to Puskar lake will undoubtedly place a full stop to all your desires. Pushkar lake is termed as tirthraj or the king of all pilgrimage spots across India. The holy lake has 52 ghats, and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims congregate for a sacred bath at the Pushkar Lake to wash out their misdeeds and show respect to the only Brahma Mandir on the globe. A dip in the lake on this day implies washing away the sins. The water of the lake is believed to have healing properties.
Legend behind the Sacred Land
Legend has it that the god Brahma, the creator, dropped a petal of lotus flower and there the lake appeared. Pushkar means lotus flower. But this is also where the only temple that venerates God Brahma exists, and that is what makes it such a prominent place for Hindus. The legend also tells that the Goddess Savitri, Brahma's wife, became angry with him because by doing a ritual on the lake in his absence, he married another woman to be able to complete it and scare away the demon. His anger was such that he cursed him sentencing that there would only be one temple to venerate him, and it would be in Pushkar.
Pushkar has temples which are likely to be 200 to 2000 year old. Isn't that fascinating? And among these masterpieces, the oldest ones are Brahma Temple, Old & New Rangji Temple, Savitri Temple (which is outside the city & on the top of a hill), and a historical Sikh Gurudwara where both Guru Nanak & Guru Gobind Singh visited.
Brahma Temple has the more significance than the others. It is the place where the faith of the people can be observed. Many people come in and out ceaselessly. And there they pray, they ring bells, they leave offerings. But the thing that'll click you the most is the altar with the God Brahma, which is surrounded by a wall that is inquisitively covered with red circles. Those little circles are the bindi that women put on their foreheads. They take it off and stick it on the wall. The women do so to leave something that is a cardinal part of their married life, for their deity.
You can also head for Savitri Temple, dedicated to the wife of Brahma, from where you can relish the beautiful view of Pushkar from the height.
Pushkar is a small town. I mean you can even walk the entire city under an hour, and it is highly suggested to visit its Sadar Bazaar market, which is just next to the lake. There are so many things here that it’s almost impossible not to buy something from here. There are hundreds of stalls around the main ring road selling local perfume, t-shirts with Hindu & Hollywood characters(quite unique), brass handicrafts, colourful clothes, cushions, strange bed sheets, etc. at dirt cheap rates. Just pick your bags, wander in the streets and shop till you drop in Pushkar.
In the tourist season, the markets are usually full of foreigners. Just sit down to eat a falafel on the main street to see lots of foreigners with dreadlocks, dressed in some clothes and barefoot. Many seem to be around here a while ago. They greet each other, ride their bike or just meander, and give a very hippie air to the people.
Stay and Food
Pushkar doesn’t have many modern-day hotels. But nevertheless, Pushkar is worth visiting as its one of the oldest cities in India which doesn’t care where its travellers arrive from. If you move a little away from the main streets, Pushkar feels like a super quiet town. That is one of the reasons why foreigners stay here. It is very easy to get away from horns, motorcycles and rickshaw. Everything can be covered on foot.
On the main street, there are several restaurants with food for foreigners. To eat cheap and rich there are falafel stalls on the street that sell various combinations of falafel, vegetarian burgers and sandwiches. As the whole place is considered a holy site, alcohol and meat are banned in the town, but some restaurants will serve you beer at an inflated price as long as you are discreet drinking it, and the bottle will probably be wrapped in napkins as a weak attempt at disguise.
How To Reach
Near Pushkar, there is a train station called Ajmer. You can take a train from Jaipur to Ajmer in Sleeper Class for 170 INR which most probably will last for three hours. From there you can take a bus to the bus station that takes ten minutes. And there buses leave every half hour towards Pushkar. The cost of the ticket is 20 INR, and it takes between half an hour and 45 minutes.
What to see and do
. Walk through the Lake Ghat. If they plan to turn it over, carry a bag to store the shoes or a backpack.
. Contemplate the sunset in Indra Ghat.
. Visit the Brahmaji Temple, the only temple in India that venerates the deity of Brahma, the creator God. You cannot enter with a photo camera or backpacks.
. Enjoy a panoramic view of the lake from the mountain where the Temple of Savitri, wife of Brahma, is located. The monkeys and the view of the lake from the height are worth it. You can walk up, but it is an hour uphill by steps, not recommended with the heat that was made. You can take a cable car that will charge to go up and down.
Pushkar is a serious hippie trap! I am not sure if it is the strong religious pull of the holy lake or the soft humming of people performing their pujas that permeates the town that creates its allurement, but I'm sure that during your stay in Pushkar you'll definitely spend some quality time and feel a presence here.