A visit to Ajmer is to be followed by one to Pushkar. They are like this customary sojourns part of a grand Indian pilgrimage circuit. Pushkar is one of this quaint town without any to-do list unless you are travelling for the extravagant annual camel fair. I was there for a respite from the wildness of my last destination. Leaving behind bare hills, scattered scrub bushes and settlements the local bus took me to a barren depot. What I could see was only earthy brown desert sand everywhere, for a moment it crossed my mind whether I ended up in an Arabian day (clearly not night) of Rajasthan sand dunes.
It didn’t take me long with my basic Hindi to reach a labyrinth of alleyways and passages, Pushkar. The pastel-hued pilgrimage town centred on its sacred ghats and enchanting lake welcome you incrementally. Little by little, it unfolds before you the true form and vigour. Before entering the bazaar which is indeed a riot of colours, you meet chador veiled women and turban clad men living in the neighbourhood making their pass into daily grinds. Passing pale blue local abodes, a bustling town slips in with full of narrow lanes heaving with shops, cafes and guesthouses. While you make your way through these lanes wondering how this little town is admired by folks coming for a pilgrimage to the ones on hippie trails, pass a smile to that darling from Israel enjoying his pie in a Floyd theme (Yes, Pink Floyd!) outdoor restaurant, but watch out for painted cows coming your way.
Towns like Pushkar breathes in life through ghats and the hundred of whitewashed temples in the bank. Any wonder it has 59 of them? Different ghats have different functions at different times of the day. If you take a walk along you can clearly see the transition from one use to another; from spiritual to civic; from pilgrims descending in the sacred water to dhobis at work; from lovers passing their lone time to sadhus seeking Hindu mysticism.
I retreated to be one among them. Sitting on the grey stones of ghats, next to a lady smoking pot, falling for the flights of pigeons making wheel and circle in the air, listening to the drums and chanting drifting across the water. Everyone’s on their own trip.