Pushkar: one of the five holiest cities for Hindus
by Maline Ribeiro
Pushkar is a small town bordering the Thar Desert, in the state of Rajasthan, in India. It’s is also one of the five holiest places for Hindus and, it’s said that every Hindu must visit the five places in a lifetime. The city is also known for its festival of the full moon, that attract millions of pilgrims and tourists every year, and it takes place on the months of October/November.
The city holds a magnetism and once you see the lake, which is the heart of the city, it can be felt to the bones. Thousands of people come to bathe in its water, which is believed to have healing powers and to wash our misdeeds and sins away. But watch out, only Hindus can wash in the holy water. I received an alert when I was trying to wash my hands, so remember to respect the culture, you’ll be dealing with people’s faith and tradition. But I’ll tell you this, even though as I tourist I felt the mystic vibration that emanates from every corner, every stone, and every pray.
How to Get In Pushkar
During my exchange program, I decided to make a trip through Rajasthan, to know the famous cities and because all of the families I stayed with told me it was a must. So who made my schedule was a relative of one of the families, which had a travel agency. It was me and a friend from Argentina and we made everything by car. We landed by air in Udaipur and from there a driver would take us to the places, from our hotels to the tourist attractions and in all of them we had a guide. It felt like a fancy and expensive trip, but honestly, it was pretty cheap considering all the comfort we had. But, if you’re going by yourself you have some options on the way from Udaipur to Pushkar:
You can rent a taxi at the airport and negotiate the price. It’s more expensive, but if you have someone to share the ride it might be a great option! It takes around 4 hours to get there.
You’ll have to take a taxi to Udaipur, then a bus (leaves hourly) that takes you to Ajmer and from there another taxi to Pushkar. It’s the cheapest way and if you’re traveling light it should not be a problem so many connections. The journey takes about 4 hours also.
You’ll have to do the same thing as the bus, take a taxi to the train station (Mavli Junction) in Udaipur and head by train (leaves 4 times a day) to Ajmer, from there you pick up a taxi to Pushkar. It takes around 5 hours and the price is near to the bus, so I wouldn’t indicate train unless you didn’t experience it yet! If you haven’t it’s nice to try!
When I was visiting the Pushkar Lake, my guide told me a story about the place that stuck into my memory and I like to tell everyone when I’m asked about my favorite places in India. It’s said that God Brahma, the god of creation, defeated a demon that was harassing people. His weapon was a lotus flower, and when the flower fell in the ground the lake was created. To protect the place, Brahma decided to perform a fire ritual and called all the Hindus gods and goddess. But to perform appropriately his wife should be present, but Savitri, Brahma’s wife, was getting ready and it took some time… Brahma impatiently decided that he could not wait and marriage Gayatri. During the ritual, Savitri comes to the Holy Lake and sees Gayatri in her place, furious she curses Brahma: Only in Pushkar he shall be worshiped.
On the top of a hill, that you can see from the lake, it was built a temple for Savitri, where she cried to fill the lake waters. And Pushkar holds the only temple where Hindus come to worship Brahma.
Things to do in Pushkar
The main street of Pushkar holds a bazaar full of the most various things, from Tibetan bowls (that’s where I bought mine) to clothes, food, and crafts. You can find everything and it’s one of the best places to get souvenirs, you can find things for a good price and remember when in Rajasthan negotiate! It’s part of the culture and if you don’t bargain you might end up paying much more than its real price.
To get to the temple you have to leave your shoes on the entrance, and climb the stairs on a clue. Once you get to the top you will see the time, which is a tiny one comparing to many others that we see in India. Although it’s a very sacred place and you will see many people praying and chanting mantras. On the surrounding, there’s also a temple for Gayatri, the second wife of Brahma. Always ask if you can take pictures when visiting temples, it comes back to the respect matter, remember that even though you are touring, temples are religious places.
This temple I didn’t have the time to visit, but If I hopefully come back one day, I’ll definitely go. It’s said it takes 15 minutes from the lake by foot and has a nice view to the Holy Lake. And after the story, Who wouldn’t be tented to see Savitri’s temple, right?
Sunset in the Pushkar Lake
Once I got to the lake it was near to sunset, the scene was marvelous and I was completely grateful to visit that amazing place, it wasn’t on my schedule, but one of the families I stayed with during my exchange program told me it was a must, and so right she was! I confess that even today, two years later when I see the pictures I took I feel touched by the moment. It was the most beautiful and meaningful sunset I’ve seen and lived so far. So if you can, please stay until the sun goes down and be amazed by its spectacle.
So, if you’re planning to visit India, include Pushkar on the schedule, it’s so worth it!