Things to Avoid in Pushkar, Rajasthan
- Getting cheated by the plethora of so called Holy Men on the ghats. They will push flowers into your hand and try to get you to perform a ceremony at the holy lake all for the sake of swindling a few thousand rupees off you. Unlike what they all tell you about bad karma for life, you will be better of staying away from these goons.
- The “special” lassis of Pushkar unless you have a hard core tummy. Many friends have drunk one and felt zonked for days plus complained about upset tummies.
- Going off for desert parties or visiting traditional homes of strange local Pushkar men. There will be a ton of guys who will say they will give you the real Rajasthan experience blah blah. Don’t listen to them and listen to your gut.
- Desert Safaris : There is not much of a real desert in Pushkar …it will just be a few hours on a poor old camel, some music and then trying to get as much money out of you.
There is a whole bunch of amazing fun stuff to do and see in Pushkar and one can have a really good stay in this pretty little town but since it has a become a busy busy touristic center , please be careful of getting ripped off…an unfortunate side effect of mass tourism
Enjoy your stay and there are enough local people out there who are genuinely very nice even if far and few in between.
Love from the road
I have been living in Pushkar, Rajasthan for the past three weeks. If you have read my prior posts about this place (http://nomadbuzz.tumblr.com/post/18379759798/pushkar-mania)…..its one place I love to hate and yet keep coming back to it. This is my forth time in Pushkar and I have been observing so much of the madness that happens in a so called Holy Tourist town in India.
Pushkar is a sacred Hindu town with a lake in the center and many temples around the periphery of the lake. Pilgrims from all over come to bathe in the lake and pray. The caste system is highly prevalent in the state of Rajasthan and the Brahmin caste who are the priests or known as pandits is on top of the caste heirarchy. The temples and ghats are managed by this caste.
But what the pandits are doing in the name of religion is shocking. Every year I notice the business of religion becoming worse and worse. I currently stay on the ghats in a Brahmin traditional house converted into a guesthouse. I have a window facing the lake and every morning at 6am sharp I have been listening to one of the pandits at this ghat yell the choicest of obscenities to people who forget to take their shoes off 40meters from the lake. There are instructions all over the places to do so but lets say you forget or even are 40meters away from the lake but the priest is in a bad mood which is almost everyday, you have had it. The past weeks I have heard this man yell and yell and say the nastiest of things to pilgrims and tourists alike and his favorite curse seems to be ‘You effin·$%/$(&%$ Muslim’ because I guess for a Hindu in India to be called a Muslim is worse than being called a motherfucker or bastard. This goes on till about 5pm in the evening. A few days ago, after being fed up of listening to this so called holy man rant and yell and say terrible things I decided to go have a little chat with him. I told him that my window was right above where he sat and yelled everyday and its very disturbing for me to listen to what he says to people especially him being a man of God. He immediately asked me what my caste was and when I said I didn´t belong to any he said to me you must be an effin Muslim and thats why you dont think its important that I tell people to take off their shoes. I said to him that he could tell people politely especially for a man with his stature and that yes I was an effin Muslim. He was so shell shocked that a Muslim girl had dared to talk to Brahmin Pandit that way that ofcourse the only thing this uneducated man could tell me is that I should go back to Pakistan which is where we all belong!
I could go on ranting about Pushkar and how ugly this place has become but i will just end by saying the biggest businessmen in this town are the holymen. Be careful.
Hugs from the road
Every time I go to Pushkar, Rajasthan I vow never to go back and then I end up going back again and again. There is something about this place. If you can look beyond the touts and all the assholes(excuse my language) you can find a place which is full of beautiful sights, sounds and people.
It is just that the city has become so commercial and touristic in the past few years that it has got very difficult to look away from the madness and enjoy the peace. One of the main reasons for this is because many tourists come here to get large quantities of clothes made to sell back home. So suddenly it has grown into this huge business hub for cheap production ,which in my opinion has changed the feel of the place. Even the religious ghats of Pushkar have become a business center with the biggest touts being the damn priests!
I always have a hard time dealing with most of the locals who treat me strangely since I am a single Indian girl backpacking around. Like everywhere else they are not used to me but unlike everywhere else I find the young local men in Pushkar extremely aggressive.Oh but it has gotten better the past years…I have now moved up the hierarchy from a prostitute to a guide!!! They love to put a tag on me since we all need to fit in some sort of box. And I am a hard one to put into a certain box….so for now guide it is.
But its not all so bad in Pushkar. You meet wonderful backpackers from all across the world most of whom stay here for long since they are all busy sourcing merchandise to sell back home or learning to play an instrument or classical dance. I just go there to hang out :)
And you can walk outside of the market area and find a world so far away from what Pushkar has become. Small villages and farms dot Pushkar, sand dunes and scrubby mountains.
Where To Stay :
I have typically stayed the other side of the lake past the bridge. Its peaceful and you tend to find a range and variety of rooms to suit all needs. So there are three guest houses once you walk past Sunset Point Cafe and past the bridge( dont cross the bridge) to find three guesthouses all with the name Moon in them. It used to be one big guest house but ever since the brothers had a fight it has been made into three. The first and last one are the most popular making them a tad busy, but the middle one is run by crazies and you can never eat in their restaurant ( I totally forbid it ). I normally stay in the middle one with the loonies because the rooms are cheap, big and clean and it is less noisy than the other two. And if I need noise or food I can just hop, skip, jump right across to the other two.
Lotus Guesthouse on the opposite side of the bridge is beautiful. It is right on the ghats with a beautiful view, incredible setting and beautiful quiet rooms. I have never stayed here but seen the place and it looks wonderful.
Bharatpur Palace/ Lake View Palace : two other places bang on the ghats so lots of charming scenery and sounds from the ghats. Rooms come in variety of shapes and sizes with lovely terraces to hang out in.
Where To Eat
Honeydew, Main Market: I can’t recommend this place enough. Run by the most amazing brothers Saleem and Nizam bhai, Honeydew is the place for reasonable and excellent food. It’s really a hole in the wall but that is what makes it the most warm and cosy place to sit and chill in Pushkar. I have sat here for hours, from morning to evening watching life pass by in the market and drank umpteen number of chais.
Most of the guesthouses have little restaurants attached to them just like in Hampi but I have not tried to many of these. For decent Italian food try Doctor Alone down the market close to Brahma temple.
In the evening the cake man comes out with his cart of goodies and is parked at the start of the main market street. Must try his special chocolate balls! Delicious and fun :)
If you are facing Varah Ghat , you will find yourself at crossroads with 4 streets and in the center of all this fruit and vegetable sellers. Instead of taking the street to the right of you which is the main market street otherwise known as Sardaar Bazaar, take the street towards the back left and walk into a tiny street with Shanti Palace guest house at the end of this street ( another nice place to stay). On this street there are a couple of good Italian restuarants on your right and then further down Shiva Cafe which serves great Rs.5/- chai. So if Honeydew is getting too crammed and crowded for your taste come to this roadside place. He also serves breakfast, juices and lassi. Open from 5 am to 10pm but there is no other meals other than breakfast.
Dear Pushkar : I love to hate you! I might be back ;)
Love from the road,