Peaceful Pushkar

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013 in Featured, India | 2 comments

India can be described with a myriad of adjectives: colorful, exciting, impoverished, flavorful, decadent, I could go on.  One adjective that I never thought I would use, however, is peaceful.  On our trip through Rajasthan, the state in India that we explored, we hit the major city high lights: Delhi (the capital), Agra (for the Taj Mahal), Jaipur (the “Pink City”), Jodhpur (the “Blue City”), and Udaipur.  We even stopped at two more remote destinations in the countryside: Ranthambhore National Park for a tiger safari and Ranakpur to enjoy nature and a picturesque temple.  While each city was unique and surprising, none were peaceful.  I was thrilled when we arrived in the small town of Pushkar and I could finally catch my breath for 2 days of relaxation and cultural immersion.

We arrived in Pushkar in the afternoon and went straight to the Camel Safari office to pick up our camels (Romeo the slowpoke camel for me and Ali Baba for Mike) and guides.  Our driver, Anil, had arranged for us to ride camels into the desert and sleep under the stars. The hour and a half ride into the desert was surreal: we drove through the mountains and  past numerous rose gardens  into the sunset.  My guide had Indian music playing on his phone the whole time to add to the ambiance.  Upon arriving, we enjoyed the sunset (Indian sunsets are second to none..a symphony of colors, shadows, and quiet), ate a light dinner, and slept under the bright moon and glittering stars. (While all this sounds picture perfect, I should mention that a loud group of tourists and locals showed up right as we were relaxing and whooped it up for a few hours approximately 100 meters from our camp.  And, we woke up at 3 am to whipping desert winds.  But this is India, you cannot have the majestic, beautiful experience without the frustrating uncomfortable one.)

The next morning, we hopped back on our camels (I mean, come on, when else can I write that sentence?) and headed back into town to spend the day with Nando, a “priest man” who was to show us around and teach us about the Hindu religion.  Pushkar, while being a small town of only 20,000 people, is famous in India for two things: an annual Camel Festival that attracts 60,000 camels (not to mention people) and the only Brahman temple in all of India.  It was the latter that Nando was going to teach us about and the reason that Indians from all over visit this holy city.

I was delighted to learn that Nando would be taking us around town on the popular Indian form of transportation, the motor bike.  (Please pause to picture, me, Mike, and the priest on one motorbike zipping around India).  Nando was fabulous.  He spoke great English and took pride in teaching us about the Hindu religion.  In this deeply spiritual country, it was a treat to learn a little bit about the beliefs of India’s people.

While there are tens of thousands of temples dedicated to various gods across India, the creator god, Brahman, has only one and it is in the heart of Pushkar.  After cruising around various other temples, sights, and markets, Nando took us to the Brahman temple and lake and involved us in a traditional Hindu ceremony.  We washed our hands in the holy water, recited a few phrases, made a traditional offering of money and a coconut, and received a blessing from Nando.  To experience this kind of Indian tradition in such a holy city is a memory I will savor for a long time.  

Beyond these two unique activities in Pushkar, the city stood apart from all the rest in overall ambiance as well.  Meandering down the streets was actually quiet at times and I was able to enjoy the markets without being hawked at by overly aggressive vendors or worrying about getting clipped by a tuk tuk. Mike and I also enjoyed a hike up to a mountain top overlooking the city (and housing another temple) to take in the sunrise and watch the city below wake up.  Even though we were joined by other tourists, locals, Indian religious travelers, and about a dozen black faced monkeys, the serene atmosphere remained. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle of our trip across India, Pushkar enabled me to actually enjoy nature, partake in a local ritual, and allow for a little peace amidst the usual frantic pace of India’s cities.  


  1. I love the picture of Kat on Romeo the camel, priceless!

  2. Oh, Kat, these pictures are incredible and your story tells it all!

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