. We saw old, old hippies who haven’t washed since the Jim Morrison mystery started and lots of middle aged weirdo women who maybe spent a little too long at yoga camp. Quite the combination and I am sure there must be some kind of adequate supply chain of powerful hallucinogenic to keep those whackos in Pushkar. I was embarrassed by the weird westerners sullying such a holy place. The other odd thing I saw in Pushkar were Hasidic Jews – you know the ones in black Bowler hats and black coats and long ringlets at their temples? It has not been my experience, outside of Brooklyn, Manhattan, Amsterdam and Brussels – anywhere there are diamonds, to see them as tourists. I enquired about them and the unusually high number of kosher menu items advertised. I was told that there are only three places in India truly kosher Jews can visit. Pushkar, Agra and I think Amritsar in the Punjab. Seems Pushkar has some multifaith significance that I was sorry to say was lost on me. Maybe next time I will return a little smarter and hope to see the lake overflowing.
Physically the town/city is special. It sits in a little valley, surrounded by gentle mountains and the beauty of the ancient temples and old city is very cool. I got up at sunrise and headed to the lake. Although the water is gone in most of it, water is kept in a number of Ghats. At sunrise there were hundreds of people taking off their clothes – women stripping off their saris and men their pants and shirts and dipping themselves in the cold water
. Hundreds of birds circled overhead as seed sellers provided food for the birds. There was chanting and rituals and it was really special to see. I could tell many people had come a long way for this once in a lifetime experience. The hippies were still passed out form their special smoothies so the devoted had the place to themselves.
Pushkar is home to many many monkeys. They line the entrance road and I would have had some very cool photos of them but our driver was terrified that we would open our windows and let them attack us so he refused to slow down enough to capture the gangsters. He must have had a bad monkey experience in some other life. He delivered us to our Guesthouse – and we bid him farewell. We knew it wasn’t going to be as easy without a chauffeur.
Yikes, where has all the water gone???? Pushkar is a very holy place for Hindus – they make pilgrimage here to bathe in the Ghats (pools), to 'take' the waters and cleanse themselves. We had heard how beautiful the city was, surrounding a central lake with ancient buildings stepped down into the water….another floating city and…….yup…….dried up! Floating in a soccer field, a cow pasture, a mud hole. Using my best Hindi translation, this particular lake dilemma seems to be related to good/bad government of some kind. I am not quite sure but think the government scraped all the sand out of the bottom of the lake and it drained away. Or maybe nothing like that but more than one person told me something about draining, sand and government. More investigation required. Nonetheless, hundreds of beautifully dressed woman and men filled the streets buying religious souvenirs and you can tell it has been a very touristy place for thousands of years. The last decades have brought with them hundreds of dreadlocked westerners – the type who seem to have not only dropped out of society in their quest for spiritual enlightenment, but have been flung off the spinning earth in a time warp