At 6:30 in the morning, we returned to the ghats of Pushkar Lake. The eastern horizon was about to turn yellow. We came to have a final stroll along the sacred water. We regret that we couldn’t spend more time in Pushkar, a place that is meant for slow indulgence for its spiritual qualities. We, however, were making a brief loop of Rajasthan in a rather limited time. Situated between Jaisalmer and Jaipur, Pushkar was a convenient stop in our itinerary. We didn’t come in time to attend the famous camel fair, nor did we hike up the nearby hills or visit the Brahma Temple (no cameras, shoes, leather). Just spending several hours strolling on the ghats turned out to be more than worthwhile for us. Among cities and sites that we visited in Rajasthan, Pushkar stood out as a charming and peaceful destination that truly touched our hearts.
At 6:30, some locals were already lingering at the ghats.
It was interesting to see how a local interacted with a cow.
The forever presence of pigeons at Pushkar Lake.
The sun rose beyond the hills while a dog rested on a ghat with marked 2018.
The adjacent temples had yet come to life. Scattered temple staff and pilgrims arrived at the ghats.
Once again the ghats were covered with a coat of orange glow.
The setting looked magnificent with the morning reflections.
Following the sunlight, we walked over to the west side of the lake.
Every moment could be captured as a peaceful painting of the old India.
Some worshipers were listening to the priest’s teaching at one of the ghats.
At the northwest corner of Pushkar Lake we bid farewell to the sacred water.
We stopped by a tiny cafe called Honey Dew for morning coffee.
Brahma Temple in Pushkar is one of the very few Hindu temple in the world dedicated to Brahma, the creator god in Hinduism.
Robin Jewels is a nice jewellery shop we found online. Before leaving Pushkar, we dropped by the shop and picked up a few pieces. Robin is specialized in silver, brass, gold and gemstones, with their own manufacturing workshop in town.
We took us a while to narrow down to a few pieces to bring home.
After Robin, we followed the main market street along the north side of Pushkar Lake back to Inn Seventh Heaven.
For a little less than 24 hours, we had a taste of the spiritual side of India in the sacred town of Pushkar.
We checked out the lovely Inn Seventh Heaven and get on a hired car to Ajmer Junction Railway Station.
In an hour or so we would arrived at the bustling city of Jaipur, the capital and largest city of Rajasthan.
We returned to Pushkar Lake just before sunset, hoping to witness any form of religious ceremonies that might be performed. If we arrived two weeks earlier during the Pushkar Camel Fair, we would probably see large scale aarti and deepdan ceremonies by the ghats. At the ghats, the air was peaceful and a little cooler than earlier. We sat down on the steps to enjoy the sunset over the sacred lake.
Sunset was a great time to absorb the peaceful atmosphere of the ghats in Pushkar.
Maybe the presence of fish signify the improvement of water quality?
Deity worshiping might happen anywhere around the lake shore.
Buildings were covered in an orange glow as the sun set.
Nag Pahar (Snake Mountain) and Ratnagiri Hill were highly visible from Pushkar Lake.
Watching the sunset over Pushkar Lake was one of the loveliest moment in our journey.
Given the beauty of the sunset, the number of tourists lingering at the ghats were surprisingly few.
In just a blink of eye the sun sank beyond the buildings on the horizon.
Even the cow enjoyed the beauty of the sunset.
A small group of pilgrims and temple staff performed evening prayers at Varaha Ghat.
Candles were lit and flower petals were scattered into the water during the ceremony.
Although short, the prayer ceremony generated a spiritual ambience no words could fully describe.
The last pilgrim prayed to the twilight as all other worshipers returned into the temple.
Pilgrims and temple priests finishing their last bit of prayers at the ghat.
As light faded, we decided to call it a day.
We left Pushkar Lake from the entrance of mVaraha Ghat.
The market streets behind the ghats were much more lively than the waterfront.
On our way back to Inn Seventh Heaven, we passed by the old Rangji Temple.
At the hotel, we once again headed up to Sixth Sense, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant for a vegetarian meal.
To finish the night, we ordered a Rajasthan vegetarian thali.
Beyond the vibrant streets of souvenir shops, cafes, and guesthouses, 52 bathing ghats follow the sloping topography, descending down to the sacred water of Pushkar Lake. Throughout centuries, Hindu pilgrims came to bathe in the sacred water to cleanse their sins and skin diseases, and worship in one of the 500 temples dotted around the lake. Earliest record of the lake’s existence dated back to the 2nd century BC. Site modifications over generations, including a dam built across the headwaters of the Luni River in the 12th century, had transformed Pushkar Lake into today’s artificial appearance. In the Mughal era, religious activities had came to a brief halt and temples were destroyed. Since then, pilgrims had returned, and temples and ghats had been restored by local rulers.
Today, the government is making effort to improve the water quality of the lake, after pollution and deforestation reduced the water level and killed off most of the fish. Pushkar is still attracting large numbers of pilgrims, and so as foreign tourists who either come here for the colourful camel fair, or take a break in their Indian tour as they got fatigue of the noises and bustling activities in the cities. Visitors come to this vegetarian-only and car-free town for its spiritual ambience, or a chance encounter with an insightful guru, or a peaceful rooftop to chill out during sunset, or a few days of yoga classes, or an evening aarti ceremony at a historical ghat, or to simply do nothing and sort out their inner souls while meditating by the water.
It was only a short walk from Inn Seventh Heaven to Varah Ghat. We took off our shoes compulsorily and walked down the ghat towards the sacred lake.
It was a magical experience to walk from one ghat to another.
Each ghat is unique despite all leading to the waterfront of Pushkar Lake.
Pushkar Camel Fair, one of the largest livestock fair and cultural event in India that attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors, was over just a week or two ago. After the year’s biggest event, Pushkar looked a little sleepy when we arrived.
Rajasthani pilgrims in their vivid sarees walked by the sacred lake in the afternoon sun.
We had a good time wandering from one ghat to another along the lake’s north shore
No shoes were allowed at the ghats. It took us a while to get used to walking in barefoot along with the free roaming cows, dogs and pigeons.
Layers of balustrades, stepped plazas, terraces, and bathing pools provide a rich palette of textures to the scenery.
We decided to do nothing for the rest of the day other than strolling along the lakefront.
The shrine on a raised platform at the northwest end of the lake was painted in vivid orange and was visible from all over the lake.
Pigeons and more pigeons. Bird or animal feeding is considered a good deed to improve a person’s karma according to Hindu beliefs.
The ghats were photogenic under the afternoon sun.
Reflections of passing people on the bathing pools were beautiful.
Especially with the vivid colours of the local sarees.
Local Indians are curious and friendly and love to take pictures with foreign tourists.
It was a delight to see the free roaming cows around Pushkar Lake.
Pigeons were everywhere.
And so as some larger water birds.
Hotel Pushkar Palace has one of the best view in town.
We ended our first ghat walk in mid afternoon and decided to return for the sunset.
Every day, the mail express train Ranikhet Express covers 1,263km from Jaisalmer in the Thar Desert to Kathgodam in the foothills of the Himalayas. The express train was also our most convenient way to go from the Golden City of Jaisalmer to Ajmer, where we would transfer to the sacred city of Pushkar. Worrying that sleeper seats would sold out days before we arrived in India, we purchased our train tickets and seat reservations days before we departed for our journey. Like many fellow travelers, we had a hard time trying to register at the official Indian Railways website. We had no choice but to buy the tickets through an online agent. We chose 12go.asia after some online research. The ride on Ranikhet Express was our first train experience in India. We weren’t sure about the validity of our reservations until half an hour before the train departed, when our seat assignments finally appeared on the official website.
The 12-hour train journey was rather smooth. We met a local couple from Bangalore. They had just finished touring Rajasthan and were heading to Jaipur for their return flight down south. We four shared a First Class compartment for 12 hours until we got off at Ajmer. In the compartment, we locked the door, took off the lights, and wrapped ourselves in our own cocoon liners beneath sheets provided by the train. Not sure if it was the rumbling noise or the steady movement of the train, we felt a little sleepy and soon fell asleep.
The manager 1st Gate Home Fusion Hotel arranged us free transport to the railway station. We arrived at the station about half an hour before departure.
Our online seat numbers finally came out when we arrived at the station. We were a little excited as it was our first time to take the train in India.
The train seemed infinite at both ends. But first we had to find our 1A car. We met a young local couple who were looking for the same car as ours (it turned out that they were sharing the same compartment with us). It took us a while to find the right car.
At about 12:30am, we finally settled at our compartment. It was a First Class 1A car, with four beds in each compartment. We took up the beds at one side, and the young local couple took up the opposite side.
The train car was neat and quiet. We were ready to get some rest during the 12-hour train ride.
The Ranikhet Express ran at an average speed of 42km/h. The journey was rather smooth and we arrived at our destination Ajmer Junction in approximately 12 hours since we left Jaisalmer.
We had some sleep during the night. In the morning, a young hawker came to our compartment to offer breakfast. We asked for two cups of chai tea to start our day.
We arrived at Ajmer Junction 15 minutes later than scheduled. Our “12-hour roommate” bid us farewell before heading back into the train, while we looked for the station exit.
Outside of Ajmer Station, we met the driver from our hotel in Pushkar. Soon we embarked on our half hour journey from Ajmer to Pushkar, the thousand-year-old sacred city for Hindu pilgrims.
13km separated Ajmer with the peaceful sacred city of Pushkar.
We left Ajmer and entered Pushkar Valley in the Aravalli Mountains. Before leaving Ajmer, our eyes were caught by a group of people carried religious or ceremonial tools heading uphill.
In early afternoon, we finally arrived at Inn Seventh Heaven.
Inn Seventh Heaven centers around a refreshing courtyard.
Our spacious room at Inn Seventh Heaven turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
Outside the window, a festive ceremony was taking place across the street.
After settling in, we walked up to the rooftop terrace of Inn Seventh Heaven.
Relaxing seating were provided all over the common areas of the hotel.
On the top floor, a spiral staircase led us to the rooftop restaurant.
A rooftop restaurant in the midst of the sacred Pushkar was the perfect place to chill out and do nothing.
As no meat was allowed in Pushkar, we had a hearty vegetarian lunch before heading out to the sacred lake.