Pushkar, India – Land Of Camels and Nothing To Do, But Ride Them Of Course!

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Cameltown - Pushkar, India

Pushkar, India was a welcome retreat from Jaipur after we left Vrindravan and the Holi festivities. Let's just say Jaipur isn't a place we enjoyed. We felt it was a mini-Delhi. We were there for only a day or two and moved on to Pushkar on an early morning train getting us to Ajmer at around 1:30 or 2pm.  Pushkar however is quite a different thing.  Small, relaxed and simple.  We needed this after spending the last two weeks in utter chaos in some of the biggest cities and festivals of India.

 

 

Black Faced Monkeys

Pushkar, India

Arriving in Ajmer, India

We got off the train and pushed through the many hawkers trying to get us into their cab at the Ajmer station to get a smoke in the parking lot.  After relaxing and being "helped to find a taxi" by some drunk guy, we negotiated a good price of 300 rupees by taxi to Pushkar about 20 km away.  Over the mountain we went, on poorly maintained roads and we saw hundreds of black-faced monkeys with silvery white fur. Different than the Rhesus monkey we normally see in India. Their tails were much longer too and they seemed bigger and leaner. Frightening really! They run in huge packs many with babies attached to their under-belly.  What is it about packs of monkeys that freak me out? They were all over town and skittish which made me skittish.  We found out later that they are called Grey Langur Monkeys and are harmless.

 

 

Our Phoenix 125cc Motorbike Rental

Pushkar, India

Arriving in Pushkar

Anyhow, we made our way to our hotel and left to explore a little. We ended up renting a motorbike for 350 rupees a day (about $5.40 a day). A nice little 125cc Phoenix. We explored town and realized there really wasn't much to do in Pushkar. I mean...the only Brahma temple in the world is there, but other than more temples, ghats and markets... not much else.  And no, we didn't go to the temples or the ghats. We've seen enough of both in other cities to last a lifetime.  The town is dirty and dusty from the surrounding desert.   There were also some still playing Holi there and we had to watch out when riding the bike not to go in areas where people were throwing powder.  We had quite enough of that for the year.  

 

 

Pushkar Lake and Ghats

Pushkar, India

The Story of Pushkar, India

The story of Pushkar is interesting. Located in the state of Rajasthan, this place is home to the Camel Fair which is every 8th lunar something of the year, usually in November. Pushkar Lake in the center of town, is little more than a pond with stairs (ghats) going up the sides of the "lake". It is believed that Brahma, the all-powerful god in the Hindu faith of creation, dropped a flower into the desert and this "lake" appeared. I am a bit skeptical about this story, however I suppose anything is possible right?

I think Brahma should have put a bigger flower in the ground. All Hindus should visit Pushkar sometime in their life and the town is another pilgrimage town much like Varanasi. There are people all over town and at the ghats from all over India. To the locals Shelly and I weren't much of an oddity, however to some pilgrim; we might have had green skin and 8 arms by the looks some gave to us.

 

 

The Aravelli Desert of Pushkar

Pushkar, India

Ah, the Dry Desert Heat

Pushkar, India is in the Aravalli desert mountain range and has a hot arid environment much like Barstow, California or Las Vegas, Nevada. Near 100 degrees every day and 10% humidity. But believe it or not, when in the shade or on the motorbike zipping around town to multiple cafes, restaurants or hippie Israeli hang outs, it wasn't too bad. Plus our semi-clean pool at our family run guesthouse cooled us off daily. We spent just about everyday drinking coffee shakes in various places around town, eating falafel at our favorite stand in the main market area. There are 4 competing shops. Our shop "The Padawan" (I think that is what it was called) had really good falafel! We really did very little in the week we were there. However we did have a 3 hour camel safari.

 

 

Raj The Camel

Pushkar, India

Camels Galore

The Pushkar camel fair is the big event here in town. Apparently when it's here you can buy a camel for about 25,000 for a so-so camel up to 50,000 rupees for a good one like I rode. This is all according to my young 18-year-old, traditional, arranged-marriage-awaiting guide, who led our camels through the desert. (BTW he has also been doing this for 10 years) That's between $385 USD and $700 dollars. It was comforting to know I was running strong on my $700 camel. His name was Raj, the camel not the guide. Shelly's camel was named Ganesh and was a bit lazier and didn't drink from water taps and well taps like my camel did, he wouldn't drink from a cistern or trough. My guide said he has never seen a camel like Raj do this in his life.

 

 

Raj The Camel Chewing The Cud

Pushkar, India

More on Camels

They have a huge under-bite of flat teeth and what looked like 2 sets of fangs in the back of their mouth with no front teeth. They are constantly chewing. Anyhow, we sat down and without any instruction or warning they had them stand up. First the back legs go up thrusting you forward in a saddle without a horn to hold onto, and nothing more than two ropes tied at the end as stirrups. As you lean back, the front legs go up and you have slowly shift your weight forward again. It's strange to explain how weird this feels.

 

 

 

The Camel Ride

Pushkar, India

 

Our Ride in the Desert

We rode for 1.5 hour hours being led by our guides and then they hopped up with us in the two-person saddle for the remainder of the time. We passed a gypsy camp as well and various terrains in our tour including down the main busy road in town to and back from our hotel. It really was a unique experience and one we will never forget. The views were incredible and the ride was smooth unless they ran the camels, which our guides did in small teeth-chattering spurts.  We rode into the sunset like two Arab Cowboys (except we were on camels) being led by Indians (not American).  It was more fun than I had expected it would be. We had spoken with other travelers who said it was the worse 1-3 hours of their lives.  I guess to each his own. We were born to ride a camel baby!

 

 

Raj and I

Pushkar, India

Ganesh and Shelly

Pushkar, India

We were in Pushkar, India for a week and enjoyed relaxing and doing something we have always wanted to do... riding camels. From the dozens of peacocks we saw and heard daily in the hills above our guesthouse, to the beautiful sunsets, camel rides, chill hangouts, and eclectic people, Pushkar always has something to do for those that want to kick back and relax.

Change In Perspective

Traveling can be exhausting.  Very exhausting.  Sometimes you just need to sit and do nothing.  That is exactly what we did in Pushkar.  It was boring.  And we loved it.  Sometimes travel isn't all excitement and fun. Sometimes the best times are simply sitting around in cafes, people watching, or reading a book in a foreign place with foreign sounds.  Travel is about discovery.  You discover a lot about yourself.  We learned that we like camels.

Camel Riding Video

Pushkar Photo Gallery

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