As we were planning this India gig that includes a Grasshopper Adventure bike tour with fixed dates we had a couple extra days to deal with. So we decided to take a little side trip down to Pushkar, a Hindu holy city that is supposed to be visited at least once by devout Hindus. The town is built around Lake Pushkar, supposedly created with Brahma – the Hindu creator – dropped a lotus flower there. Today the city is a strange mix of Hindu mysticism and backpacker funk. One peculiarity of Pushkar is that, because of its religious importance, meat and eggs consumption is prohibited throughout the city. Fortunately we were staying outside the city proper, so we weren’t terribly affected except when we wanted to go into the city for lunch. That didn’t work so well.
Actually, our hotel was one of the weird things about our visit. We stayed at a Westin that opened just last year, about a 20-minute drive out of Pushkar. The strange thing was that for the life of us we couldn’t figure out why there was a resort way out there. Our experience is that when we’ve stayed at remote resorts they’re either on a beach or they focus on the remote, rural surroundings. Not this one. No beach within hundreds of miles and the comparatively small footprint was surrounded by walls with all the rooms facing inward toward an unimpressive pool. There was nothing wrong with the place, but there was nothing particularly good about it either. I don’t know what Westin was thinking…
The good news was that while it was a long walk into town – an hour and forty minutes or so, so definitely a long walk – parts of it were beautiful. This was true rural India and the first time in the two weeks we’ve been in India that we felt we were seeing more than just urban insanity. No spectacular scenery or anything, just quiet rural peace (or at least an Indian version of tranquility). The bad news was that the long walk was not injury-free. Just about half way into town I tripped on some broken pavement, went down with a crash and twisted my ankle. Ultimately nothing too bad; no sprain and certainly I didn’t break anything. I pretty much had to finish the walk in since, at the half-way mark, it was going to be as far either way and way out there were no tuktuks offering rides. But for the next few (several?) days I’m going to be lying low. After 103 consecutive days of surpassing my “Move” goal as set by AppleWatch my streak was broken. Sad!
As for the town itself, it was fun. We’re starting to get into the swing of this India thing, rolling with the intensity and chaos and squalor and all that and appreciating the parts that we like. Lake Pushkar was nothing like I’d been expecting. When I think “lake” I expect greenery, nice paths maybe, something approaching a park setting. Not here; it was remarkably small, really just a pond, and completely surrounded by cement sidewalks and mostly ugly buildings. It is holy, though, so there were lots of people around the edges bathing and otherwise partaking of the holiness. The surround area was definitely more bohemian backpacker than holy which adds a special flavor.
Enough of our side trip. It was a three-hour drive out to Pushkar and after our visit we had to get back to Jaipur to catch a flight to western Rajasthan. We scheduled a 6:30 AM departure which meant we left on Christmas Eve while it was still dark and thus got to enjoy a sky full of stars. That might have been my favorite part of the whole stay!