Pushkar is noted in the guidebook as being the tourist hotspot of Rajasthan. It is a holy city set on a lake, surrounded by hills, with India’s only temple dedicated to the god Brahma. Hundreds of temples make up the city, a place of pilgrimage for Hindus and hippies, though the temples themselves may be hard to spot with only a doorway and a shrine. We got there, and the place was empty! It was wonderful. I think people are waiting for the up-coming camel fair to make a visit, this also coincides with a holy-day where people wash away their sins in the lake.

Even if it is not the camel-fair, pilgrims (and tourists) can still take part in a blessing by the water. The lake is in the middle of the town, and all around it are sets of steps, or ghats, and the town circles these. Walking in from the market (which only caters for tourists as this is a place of worship and not one of shopping for locals), you take off your shoes at the top of the steps and immediately get set upon by holy men! Here is the deal… you get handed some flower heads and get taken to sit on a step. The holy man does some chanting and cleanses you with holy water – let me tell you there is not much cleansing about that water, a murky gray/green sludge. More chanting, this time with audience participation, and you deposit your flowers in the lake and your money in the hands of the holy-man. The money part is normal, an offering to the temple, but where a local would donate maybe 30 rupees, the holy-man will pressure a tourist for $100 or more – don’t worry we’re not that stupid! After that, you get a red thread from a temple tied around your wrist as a bracelet. This is called the “Pushkar Passport”, wearing this is a sign for other holy-men (with 500+ temples there are a lot of them) to leave you alone.

While we had a really pleasant time, mostly unmolested by pushy sales people and beggars, but somebody failed to mention that that city is dry (in the worst sense, no alcohol is permitted), not only that meat, fish and eggs are also forbidden. There are only so many things you can do with a lentil, and all of the eateries share a similar menu, bizarrely consisting of Indian, Italian, and Chinese food – let me tell you something else, Indian chefs are not known for their vegetarian Chinese or Italian food, especially since India has only one kind of cheese, tasty in a curry but tasteless when on a pizza.

The sunset in this town, surrounded by desert was spectacular, and our hotel was a former palace, tastefully converted. We had a wonderful time, and I had a haircut!

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  • very nice pictures — what was the holy men chanting –( give me pounds or dollars )- you must be converted by now …

  • Holy men trading blessings for bucks….yeah…and they call America the land of hucksters! Of course those souvenirs did sound very impressive:-).

  • Guess you’ll just have to wait till you get home to get some real Indian food:).

  • P.S. They don’t call it Pushkar for nothing, hold on to those rupees and definitely don’t drink the water…..miss you at work!!

  • Hey Dad – You and Mom didn’t tell me you would be gone this long! Great-Grandma’s lap is a lot smaller than yours! But I am managing the best I can! You better bring me a present! Love, Your furry son (Mr. Kitty)

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