Pushkar is a holy city for Hindu people. It is one of 5 sacred pilgrimage sites in the world devout Hindu people aspire to visit at least once in their lifetime. The city surrounds Lake Pushkar, a lake that was believed to be created more than 60,000 years ago by the god Brahma when he dropped a lotus flower. Because of the holy nature of this body of water, Lake Pushkar has 52 bathing ghats (stairs) leading into the water.
As a holy city for Hindu people, Pushkar town, and most of the state of Rajasthan, strictly bans alcohol and meat. There are no bars or liquor stores and alcohol is not served at restaurants. Coming from South East Asia where beer was cheaper than water and every hostel had a bar, it is a change to spend evenings playing cards, engaging in alcohol-free conversation, listening to people make music, and watching campfires.
Because habits can be hard to break, our group made a special request to the Pushkar hostel owner for beer and he obliged. For 200 rupees per beer (that is expensive at about $3 USD a can) we each bought one or two cans. To drink our beer, we were asked to set up a separate campfire and wait until after 10:30pm. A friend of the owner purchased an Indian beer, King Fisher, and delivered the cans to the hostel in a flour sack. The empty cans left the hostel in the same flour sack for disposal outside the city limits.
While alcohol is difficult to source, India has no shortage of hash, a form of cannabis, and nicotine. Restaurants advertise bhang lassies or special lassies, a yogurt shake made with hash. Paan (when pronounced it sounds like bang) is sold in small packets at every kiosk and is freely chewed on the streets, most often by working class men. Smoking/consuming any of these substances is normal in this culture. Cheers!
Louie, Amy (green), Kelly (white) and Charlotte as we waited for our bus to Pushkar. It was a 4 to 5 hour bus ride from Jaipur to Pushkar, where we made certain to pick the only hostel with a pool for our 2-night stay.
Pushkar was the first city where I felt comfortable using my camera on the street so here are a few shots of the animals mixed into daily street life. In every city I see lambs, goats, donkeys and a lot of cows on the streets. Monkeys and dogs roam around as well. Cows, and animals in general, are sacred in the Hindu tradition.
There is a thriving mini-Israel in quiet, chill Pushkar! There is even a Chabad House in addition to the falafel stands and signs in Hebrew. Israelis, especially immediately after the army, have a tradition of traveling and often follow similar routes. I think this town is on that well-traveled route.
The holy ghats should not be photographed. This is an image taken from the street of the stairs leading to the water and the ghats.
Some daily life in Pushkar. I visited the Brahma Temple in this town, one of only a few such temples in the world. It was packed with people. Inside the temple are inscriptions to honor the dead including this plaque dedicated to King George’s memory during a visit from Queen Elizabeth.
With the ladies and Louie, we traveled via tuk-tuk to the Pushkar countryside for a tour. This tuk-tuk full of men worked hard to overtake our tuk-tuk. Then, they stopped and ran to us, our driver stopped, and these men took pictures with us.
Sunset in the Pushkar countryside and the view from the rooftop of our hostel.
A short scramble up the rocky hill was worth it for this view.
On the same tour we visited Aloo Baba, the potato Baba. Baba is the honorable term for a Sufi saint. This Baba eats only potatoes and spends his days praying and welcoming pilgrims. Other Babas are silent or stand all day to channel their holiness. Our group visited Aloo Baba’s grotto to drink chai and smoke hash in his presence. It was a bizarre experience!