The next stop on our Cultural Tour of India was the spiritual city of Pushkar. We left the beautiful city of Jaipur and took the dusty highways to the special town known for it's sacred lake and camel fair. We checked into a beautiful hotel, my room had a balcony over-looking the Pushkar sacred lake and town. After a quick refresh, we met our local guide, who took us through the streets, markets, and a few really cool temples.
One of the first things I noticed about Pushkar, was that there was a melting pot of culture walking the streets. I asked the local guide about why there were so many different nationalities in this city. He explained that not only does Pushkar accept all races and religions, but it holds one of the biggest Holi celebrations. Thousands of people flock to this famous city for the color festival. I looked around and could see remnants of the color powder in the corners of the street and stained on the marble.
Our first stop on the tour was the famous Brahma Temple. It's one of the very few temples dedicated to the God Brahma and has stones with names of people from all over the world. After checking my camera and taking off my shoes I wondered into this special Hindu pilgrim site.
After the temple, we walked through the markets. I marveled at the number of white hippies relaxing on cushions or getting their hair braided. I wasn't used to seeing so many white people!
We finally got to the infamous Pushkar Lake. The earliest mention of this lake was found on coins dating back to the 4th century BC. The lake is surrounded by steps so that people can descend into the bathing lake and wash away their sins. It's also thought to cure skin diseases. I decided to skip the bath, because I had heard rumors that a tourist sticking their foot in would be charged a hefty fee. I figured a shower at the hotel would suffice for me.
One of my favorite stops in Pushkar, was the Gurudwara Sikh Temple. Before entering, you have to wash your feet in the pool of water then cover your head with an orange cloth. I chose not to think about how many others had put this cloth on their heads and immersed myself in the experience.
After we climbed the steps and took in the magnificence of the temple, we went inside the dark, central room. Inside a Sikh priest was sitting with his legs crossed, slowly rocking back and forth and reading the Guru Granth Sahib, a holy book.
As we left the temple, I felt an immense feeling of calm and peace. I almost wished that I could have stayed the afternoon to absorb it all. But, there were camels in my future. We ended the day in Pushkar with a camel ride into the sunset. The next morning would be to the Ranthambore National Park for a tiger safari.