Party town near the Thar Desert

Pushkar, 28-30 September

We were happy to trade in Jodhpur for our next stop of Pushkar, a small town of 20.000 people near the desert. Situated in the Ajmer region, Pushkar is a pilgrimage site for both Hindus and Sikhs, as well as a meeting place for hundreds of Israeli tourist as it turns out, who are in town to smoke some dope and celebrate Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. Shana Tovah everyone!

Pushkar is built around a lake, which has loads of stone steps down to the water where pilgrims bathe. It’s considered a sacred city by Hindus which means it’s forbidden to consume meat, eggs or alcohol within the town limits.

At our local, the Funky Monkey Cafe, it takes about two seconds before we’re served beer, I mean cappuccino, in big mugs. The shop across the street sells all sorts of smoking paraphernalia and is run by the campest looking couple of older Indian dudes you will ever meet, wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts with chest hair poking out, bluejean hotpants and big coloured sunglasses. These guys are more than keen to let you examine their special stock too. Pushkar is a bit of a party town, we’re liking it.

Pushkar is also the home of the annual camel fair for trading livestock, happening over five days in November and attracting more than 200.000 visitors to the small town each year. We’re next to the Thar Desert, or Great Indian Desert which covers an area of 200.000 square km and forms a natural boundary between India and Pakistan. Right now the only camels in town are used for tourist safaris or occasionally as mode of transport by the locals.

Our accommodation, HosteLaVie, is great with a huge grass courtyard where it’s not hard for us to relax and get a few things prepared for our upcoming journey to China. In the afternoons we do a bit of sightseeing and at night play games with other travellers.

There’s hundreds of temples in Pushkar, but it’s one of the few places in the world which has a temple dedicated to Brahma, aka the naughty god. A bit further out of town we take a dodgy chairlift up to the Savriti Mata temple on top of a big hill overlooking the town, where they sell offerings to Hanuman, the monkey god, to feed to the resident langurs.

I’m not feeling brave enough to step inside the chairlift for a second time, so we’re taking the stone steps to get back down. Have you ever been told cows can’t walk down stairs? I certainly hope they can, because about halfway down one is quietly taking in the views.

With our train tickets to Delhi booked (thanks to the lovely hostel owners) and our trip to China prepared, we’re getting ready to watch Scotland play Samoa for the Rugby World Cup, ‘mon boys!

When we’re at our airport hotel tomorrow it’s time for some reflections on our time in India.

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