Sunday, December 18, 2011
Pushkar, day 1; Savitri Temple, Pushkar Lake, and Pink Floyd Hotel
December 18th, 2007
The bus to Pushkar had sleeper compartments that looked almost like over-sized luggage racks above the regular seats. They're a bit tight, width wise, but a pretty comfy way to travel over all. Except for the cold! I woke up several times shivering. My thin cotton blanket wasn't going to hold up to the desert nights in Rajasthan. I shifted my body, keeping this part warm until I woke up again and rotated to another part would wake me. I felt the bus pull off the road and a hand grab my face to let me know it was time to get up. I smacked it away defensively before I realized it was his job. He could have been more careful, though!
Walking into Pushkar, we were all in agreement where to stay, the Pink Floyd Café & Hotel. We navigated through the alleyways of brightly colored and/or dilapidated walls, mostly stepped around or over piles of cow manure (but at least once in one), until we found the staircase up to the hotel. It's a really fun place, with all the rooms named after Pink Floyd albums, and a big open space from the lobby up to the top floor. The first thing we did was head up to the rooftop for breakfast and got a nice view of the small city.
Pushkar is a place that everyone falls in love with. It's famous for the yearly camel fair, when 50,000 camels are brought to the city for trading, but I was just as happy to be here without the chaos, though it would have been fun to witness. The name, Pushkar, means Blue Lotus Flower, and the city is wrapped along the north side of Pushkar Lake. It's a holy city, said to have been founded by Brahma, and has the only Brahma Temple in the world. There's just a special air about the place that obviously lead Brahma to choosing it. It's one of the oldest cities in India, which means it's older than anyone can say, and is one of the five important pilgrimage sites for Hindus.
From the rooftop, we could see the lake and the small Savitri Temple on top the pyramid-shaped peak behind the lake. We all agreed that would be a fun adventure, so we wondered back through the alleys, dodging an aggressive cow, wandered through the market place, and eventually made our way to the Ratnagiri Hill. From a distant straight angle, it looked like a pyramid, but it was actually a long, thin ridge, running away from the city. By now, the heat had returned to the desert and it was hot. I had become pretty well-adjusted to the constant heat of the south, but the undulating temperature was difficult.
I wouldn't say the temple, dedicated to Brahma's first wife, Savitri, was worth the climb up, but it was worth it for the climb itself. The statue of her sort of reminded me of a figure from Jane's Addiction's Ritual De Lo Habitual album cover, except it was covered, and other than it, it was just like a small house on the hill. We continued a little ways further along the ridge enjoying the view. I wondered if the tracks in the dry earth below were from the thousands of camels that had come and gone a few weeks earlier.
On the way down, we bought some chips, which caught the attention of a big, vicious macaque monkey. We thought we'd gotten far enough ahead of him not to worry anymore, but next thing we know, he's popping up behind some rocks making his way towards Carlos. He let out a shout and did a haphazard spin kicked in the direction of the monkey's head. I imagined the monkey grabbing his foot, and using it to flip up onto Carlos' head from, but it mid-air, he rolled to the side, avoiding the shoe by a couple of inches, then quickly regained his ground. Before he could do anything else, Carlos flung his chip bag at him, figuring it wasn't worth the hassle.
At night, we went down to the ghats along the lake, to hangout. Somehow, we met an Indian guy along the way who was really friendly. He came down to the ghats with us and asked if we wanted to smoke some ganja with him. I was a bit apprehensive, I'd left that behind when I came to Asia, it's just not worth the amount of trouble and ,honestly, I didn't miss it. He assured us there wouldn't be any trouble. He said that the rule was only for foreigners and he was the one who had it and the police weren't going to come down to where we were anyway. In the spirit of the moment, I joined in. I ended up with more of a cough than a buzz, but it was one of the more relieving pieces of the trip I'd assembled, so far.