Public bus to the Pushkar Ghats
Trip Start Feb 16, 2007
15Trip End Mar 18, 2007
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Where I stayed
public bus station and luckily for me the bus to Pushkar was just
A Italian couple had a bit altercation with a hotelier, they had
settled up their bill and he had decided later it wasn't enough and he
had missed something so he came to the bus to search them out, but
without any receipts or records of what they purchased in the hotel
they very correctly told him where to go
The bus was great, the conductor would not let on more people than
seats and we made a couple of chai stops on the 4.5 hour journey.
Saw a few of these really cool looking myna birds with orange eyes,
legs and black heads as we stopped at some of the chai places and
bus station en route. At each stop we would get an influx of vendors
entering the bus. Usually we'd have people selling chai, lassis, soda,
water, nuts and pakoras.
The journey was great
town, although I still look in amazement when I see 4 people crammed
onto a 125cc motorbike! Just the other day in Jodhpur 3 guys had
offered me a place with them on their bike to get down from the fort! I
There were a few peacocks in the field along the route that was nice,
but most of the landscape along this route was still very parched.
There were a good number of trees in the fields.
I think I heard there is a law that has been passed in India forbidding
the chopping down of certain trees
branches and may of the trees just have a trunk left with no branches
remaining, not too sure how much longer those ones will survive!
India for me this time had been relatively hassle free compared to last
time, but I couldn't work out exactly why it was. Other travelers who
I'd chatted to had horrendous stories of rickshaw drivers, touts and
I actually had to change buses in a place called Ajmer, here a guy
approached me to tell me I needed to take a rickshaw to the train
station to take the bus to Pushkar, as I turned round to ask the bus
conductor if this was true the guy mysteriously disappeared. I wondered
down to the far end of the station and paid my 8 rupees for the 30
minute bus over a mountain pass to Pushkar. There were lots of monkeys
along the route playing on the rocks on the hillside
There was a guy on the bus who had opened a new hotel, it seemed cheap,
but I decided to go straight to the White House Hotel and pay a bit of
a premium rather than scout around all over town to save a few dollars,
I thought the hotel owner was going to start crying when I told him I
wasn't going to check his hotel out - looking is free he kept pleading
with me! It was a lovely place, spotlessly clean. My room had nice
balcony overlooking the road. There was a nice roof deck where you
could view the nearby Pap Mochani hilltop temple, the city and also the
Savitri hill and temple. On the deck I was given a complementary mango
tea and even a roll of toilet paper, very rare for cheap Indian hotels
I decided to stay here for 2 full days and have a bit of a rest and
booked for 2 nights here and booked another sleeper bus out of here in
3 nights time to Agra.
First I wanted to wonder down to the bathing ghats and check them out.
There weren't too many people there, but within 10 minutes a large
thunderstorm came through, followed 10 minutes later by another one. I
sheltered in a cave temple, but with the wind also whipping across
Pushkar Lake, even at the back of the cave I got wet as the driving
rain blew in. From the cave I saw a strange site, all these fish
jumping out of the water! Well I was in one of the holiest Hindu cities
after all, it must be some sort of sign! Apparently it has never really
rained in Pushkar at this time of the year before, together with rain
in Jodhpur and Jaisalmer and floods last year in the desert that killed
450 people in Jaisalmer and 500 more people in Balmer, I think Mr. bush
would be hard pressed to admit there is not some sort of global warming
going on. There were also a lot of nice wading birds around the lake
Once the rain stopped I had a walk around the whole of the ghats and
back onto the main drag through town. It was packed with souvenir shops
and small cafes. The place was also full of a mix of tourists, hippies
and pilgrims. All a very interesting mix of people and more westerners
by far than I'd seen at any of my other stops. The other funny thing
was I'd been warned I'd get a lot of hassle here, I'd had none! What
was the matter with me? Why did nobody want to hassle me on this trip?
The rain had flooded the streets in places and as I followed a couple
of rich tourist in their expensive clothes and high heals, I eves
dropped into their conversation while they both complained about how
dirty and disgusting India was. I wanted to tell them that maybe if
they had done a bit of research before they came any guide book could
have told them that! More money than sense as my dad would say.
We came to one particular large pool of water and they paid one of the
rickshaw drivers (here they just had carts that they sat you on top of)
to take them across. I heard them at the other side saying in disgust '
that was sewage water you know', I decided I didn't' want to hear any
more of what they were saying and decided to up my pace a bit to get
I did have another quick walk down to the ghats to watch the sunset. I
did see a dog wondering around with what looked like a 2lb fish in his
mouth. I wondered if he'd been able to catch one of those flying fish
as it jumped out of the water!
I'd heard this was a dry town although I didn't believe this. Back at
the hotel I decided to see if I could order a beer but was met with
blank stares! I explained that I'd seen people selling beer in town,
but it turns out this was non-alcoholic. I did find out later that
people would ship beer in from out of town and serve it in bottles in
paper bags, but this was getting a bit to close to the guys you see on
the streets of Boston with their brown paper bags. I felt it would be a
good idea for go for 3 days with out a beer as much as it pained me.
There were also no eggs to be had anywhere in this holy town.
I sat in the restaurant eating a fantastic aloo gobi with 2 buttered
nann. It turns out the chef was from a big hotel in Ajmer and he was
just working at this place for his holidays! A couple of circus
performers came in that evening and I spent the evening chatting with
them about their lifestyle. They lived in a caravan, but in England
there were laws that said you could not stay in one place in a caravan
for more than a month! They were constantly on the move, but seemed to
have a very interesting a varied life. After dinner that night I asked
what the special lassi was and my waiter nearly rushed off to make one
for me. Luckily I realized before it was too late that it was a bhang
lassi and I quickly changed my order to a mango version. Bhang is a
drug made from marijuana that is legal all over Rajasthan.
Got up just before 6am to climb up to the Pap Mochani temple that was
close to the hotel. I got lost a few times but there were plenty of
locals up at that time of day who were more than happy to help me out
and point me in the correct direction. Great views of Pushkar from up
there. I think I made a bit of a faux pas when I was wondering around
outside the temple in my shoes when the priest came up. I think I was
in an area where my shoes should have been off and I got reprimanded!
I had a quick walk down to the ghats where there was some great views
with reflections. I had a few priest trying to give me Puja, a type of
blessing but I swiftly dealt with them, pushing away the flowers they
were trying to thrust into my hand for money, it seemed to work pretty
well. There were signs up at the ghats saying no photos but every man
and his dog including the pilgrims were taking pictures. I decided to
take some pictures of the nice reflection before one of the so called
priests who had offered me Puja came and told me I couldn't take
photos. Time to go back to the hotel for some breakfast I though!
Booked a 1 hour all over body massage for the next day, lets hope they guy was a bit more gentle that those butchers in Jaipur!
Spent most of they day wondering the streets of the tourist bazaar. I
had a great lunch at a street vendor that sold falafel wraps. Let's
hope all this salad that we're told to stay away from is safe! I can't
say I've been eating the safest food for India but so far so good.
In the afternoon I climbed up the larger hill to the Savitri temple to
watch the sunset. The views back down onto Pushkar from here are
I met an English couple (Tim and ?Kam?) on the top from my hotel
together with a South African couple (Bruce and Taz). After giving some
help to a little old lady on the way down who could hardly get down the
steps we all went back to the South Africans hotel. The place was
superb and had a rooftop restaurant with excellent lake views, it was
half the price of mine! The food was also exceptional, some people got
gnocchi, I got a superb pizza. I was happy to swap some South Africa
stories with Bruce and Taz. It turns out they had been on the road for
a year and were heading home in the next 2 weeks. One place they had
been to that made me jealous was Pakistan and the Karakoram mountains!
town was loud in the mornings, things would normally start up about
5:30 am, with tunes blaring from the local temples and horns honking
from the local bus station. So I'd escaped all the noisy mosques
in this Hindu holy town but the Hindus proved equally capable of early
morning wake up calls!
10am next morning and it was time for my massage. It was excellent and
they used some sort of lemon smelling oils. I was told afterwards I'd
needs some lemon tea to finish off the process.
I took 'The master's' (this is what the hotel owner called the masseur)
advice and headed down to Babu's Rooftop Garden for my tea. An
interesting situation arose when a French guy entered with 2 henna
girls from the street. These girls are asking the tourist all the time
if they want painting in henna. The restaurant owner perked up saying
he didn't want them in his restaurant, this got another French lady all
riled up who then decided to have and outburst siding with the owner
saying 'they were dirty', she 'didn't want them close to her' and that
if she drank from the same cups they did 'she would get hepatitis'. I'm
not too sure where she got the last comment from! Anyhow funny thing
was as she was saying this she was looking at me as if for some strange
reason she thought I would back her up! Luckily I kept my thoughts to
myself and pretended I had no idea what she was talking about and gave
her a look of pity. Funny thing is in India money normally does the
talking, so as soon as the French guy offered to buy drinks for the 2
henna ladies they became more than welcome in this restaurant.
Went back to the same spot I'd stopped at the day before for lunch, and
had another falafel. Met one of the same French guys who I'd met
yesterday and trieone of the local cigars called bidees, apaerently
these things have all sorts of nasty chemicals in them so one would be
enough for the whole trip I was sure.
When I sat down that afternoon for my falafel I was chatting with anEnglish girl who was into the whole festival scene where she would sellclothes she'd had manufactured in India. Most of the people who were into the festival scene seemed to hang out in India for the winter. First it was Goa, but at this time of year they all came up to Pushkar. 2 guys turned up whom she knew as they were helping her find tailors and some looked like the scariest people you'd ever seen. Tattoos everywhere. The one guy had more tattoos showing down one arm than skin, it looked like he'd played around with some weighty earrings or disks in his ear as the holes where earrings go were about an inch wide. Even all the India's walking past on the street looked over with blatant long stares.
Pushkar like the larger cities had a large selection of bookstores. India is a really amazing place for the book lover, they have everything you could possible want, most of the time at a third of what you'd pay in the west!
My 2 morning here I'd had pancakes here, but there were no eggs allowed in town! I wondered what the substitute was they used? The pancakes had tasted ok but not brilliant!
I spent my final afternoon wondering the streets trying to take a few photos of the local colourful street vendors. The favourite question for people who I'd get talking to was 'Are you married?' and what is your age. Once you mentioned you were 36 and unmarried people would be surprised and you would normally be met with stories how they were 25 and married with 2 children. There is definitely a different attitude to marriage in India. Another favourite question that would be a faux pas in the west is 'how much do you earn?'
I went back to the hotel for Paneer Tika Masala, excellent food again. I have to say the food I've got on the road at the cheap hotels has been equal if not better to anything the expensive Park Plaza has had to offer.
My taxi arrived to take me to the bus station - finally I get to go in one of the old Ambassadors, nothing much worked in the instrument panel anymore, but the engine still worked to some extent, noisy with large grinding noises at the gear changed.
Our travel company managed to not get us to the bus stop in time, we had to take a small ride to Ajmer where we would get a connection sleeper bus. Me, 5 Israelis and a Japanese girl had a 30 minute wait for some alternative transport to take us to Ajmer. Not to worry, it turns out there was no need to get stresses out about this, once we arrived in Ajmer we had another 90 minutes to wait for our sleeper bus! The roads weren't as smooth as our last sleeper bus, but we were in Agra by 7am. In a relatively hassle free manner me and the 5 Israelis took a tuk tuk to the Idgah bus station and the bus to Fatepur Sikri. I was a bit worried about the Japanese girl who insisted in walking to her hotel, she though it was close but it was 5km away and even when we got her a price of 20R (40c) she still wouldn't take it. Also I'm sorry I'm not very good with names and didn't have a chance in hell of remembering any of the Israeli names!