Pushkar, a must see holy city

For its camel fair or « Pushkar Kartik Mela ».

For its temples

For its ghats

Just after spending a few unforgettable days with the families of weavers in the Thar Desert, decide one fine morning to set off for the famous Pushkar fair.

Pushkar is a small Indian town on the edge of the Thar Desert in Rajasthan, which has gained national and then world renown for what was originally a camel fair, « The camel fair » or « Kartik Mela », and is now a huge agricultural fair coupled with a religious pilgrimage. All this takes place during the « lunar » month, ten days after Diwali, the festival of lights, more precisely between Prabodini Ekadoshi and Kartik Poornima.

The day of the full moon of the lunar month in October or November according to our western calendars is the high point of the fair and a huge crowd invades the streets and plains of the city.

Just before arriving in Pushkar, stop for a few moments at the Sindhupati Daharsen Swaraket memorial to admire the view of Lake Anasagar. Look out over the town of Ajmer about ten kilometres below Pushkar and be totally dazzled by the view. A few kilometres further on, after many meanders through the surrounding hills, finally arrive in Pushkar.

Arriving in Pushkar during the month of kartik is like landing on another planet or disembarking in a space-time hitherto unknown and unimaginable to our Western minds.

Take time to relax in the charming open-air hotel, which was set up especially for the Pushkar Fair. These are giant ‘resorts’ with large tents equipped with every comfort. The gardens are beautifully laid out and the tents superbly decorated. Inside each tent you will find everything you need from a shower to a tea service.

After taking a good shower, go out to marvel at the special atmosphere of the big camel fair in Pushkar.

Crossing the railway, an unmissable crossing point, under the rays of the blazing sun, and a few metres away, you will meet the first Pushkar camel well dressed for this great festival. Just a few minutes later, you will discover another cart, also pulled by a camel decorated with multicoloured pompoms.

Realise that after having waited so long for it, the great Pushkar fair, finally reveals itself before your astonished eyes, like a kaleidoscope with thousands of facets. Pushkar Mela or Pushkar Camel Fair is the most colourful fair in the world with some 200,000 visitors from all over India and even from all over the world and with no less than 50,000 camels.

It’s time to dive into the colourful crowd and wander through the countless alleys to discover the many stands, snoop around, buy locally made kitchen utensils, such as those small aluminium ladles used to coat chapatis with ghee or the katoris in which the various dishes of the meal are served. The city is lively without interruption and the shops are open day and night. Enjoy the selfies in the company of the vendors at the John Deer tractor stand.

Endless ecstasy in front of the stalls filled with abundant and freshly prepared food, another of the many peculiarities of the Pushkar fair.

Finally penetrate into the heart of the fair, this famous sand plain, where the families of the camel drivers, horse breeders and other animals (goats, cows and sheep are also part of the party) camp. Have the sensation of suddenly finding yourself plunged in the heart of the Middle Ages in one of these sumptuous livestock fairs.

The only downside is that here motorbikes and 4x4s are close to the most beautiful species of animals. Men and animals live together during the twelve days of the fair and the walker here rubs shoulders with all sorts of characters. Life goes by to the rhythm of camel blatterings and the neighing of Marwari horses. The plain is dusty, but the men, women and children you come across are often dressed in their best attire. The magic of India that takes us in a few seconds from the most indescribable chaos to the most unspeakable beauty.

To exchange a few words with the owner of the magnificent horses that he intends to present at the competition tomorrow. He is very proud of his animals, the gentleman ! It must be said that they are splendid Marwari, these horses of the Maharadjas that you can recognize by their ears pointing inwards.

The plain is a real place of exchange and transaction around numerous and magnificent livestock.

Come across all kinds of people and enjoy the great variety of encounters that can be made on this great pilgrimage. Let yourself be seized by the incessant comings and goings, by the swarming and permanent life that never seems to stop. There is no dead time in Pushkar, perhaps that is why we feel so alive here.

In the distance you can see the large illuminated wheels of the modern fairgrounds contrasting with the plain of the campsites. Here, as everywhere else in the world, the fair with its rides and sensational stalls rubs shoulders with the cattle fair. There is enough to satisfy the consumption needs of passing pilgrims. Junk jewellery rubs shoulders with the most beautiful works of art, there is something for every budget.

Stop to taste some chapatis cooked on the fire by a charming young woman and savour the curry that accompanies them. Settle the meal of a passing family who cannot afford to pay for it as this is part of the local customs of the Pushkar Fair pilgrims, to make sure they have good karma afterwards.

Wander the aisles of the big fair again and get lost in the oversized and colourful crowd.

Admire some of the award-winning sand sculptures at the Pushkar Fair. Works of art that remind us at every turn of the ephemeral and fleeting aspect of everything.

The market has invaded all the streets, there are no landmarks except for the railway track and the big wheels that spin tirelessly against the backdrop of the full moon and the surrounding hills.

Admire the unique sunset of Pushkar and find yourself face to face with yourself, man or woman among the multitude and immensity of India and its unfathomable mysteries.

Nature plays with men and sends us back to our eternal questioning to the point where the sun sets between the two horns of a bull.

At the end of the evening, return to the tent and fall asleep under the canvas and its charming decorations, with a light heart, an exhausted body and a spirit filled with a thousand encounters.

In the early morning, be woken up by the unusual sounds around and go to the large catering tent. Discover with dazzled eyes the splendour of the elegantly served breakfast.

Once satiated, decide to go to the Pushkar-Fair to attend the presentation of the camels superbly adorned with colourful pompoms.

Be ecstatic in front of this spectacle with a thousand colours while discovering the know-how of the camel drivers of the Thar desert, this great Indian desert.

Begin to feel that our perception of the world is wavering because everything around us is so different from our habits.

In the stadium transformed for the occasion into a concert ground, the Mela Maiden welcomes all festival-goers.

This is where thousands of pilgrims and camel drivers gather every year. Discussions are going well on the plain and transactions are still going on.

Fall under the spell of the women of Rajasthan and their flamboyant ghunghat.

To rave again and again in front of the camels in luxurious tones, adorned with collars, made up, with teeth so brightly white that they could turn for a toothpaste advertisement, all this under the guidance of the desert men with shimmering turbans.

Take a moment to chat with a couple who are taking advantage of the fair to go for a camel ride and have their picture taken.

Stroll among the camels on the concert ground, then rest for a while under the shelter of the tents set up for the event.

Be enthusiastic about the multiple facilities that allow everyone to attend competitions of all kinds in the best conditions.

To melt once again into the heart of the crowd and immerse yourself in this painting of many colours. To let oneself be carried away by the human wave, to be simply happy to be part of the same and great humanity.

Take a tour to discover the holy city. Be amazed by the multitude of pilgrims dressed in saffron-coloured clothes.

Be astonished to see a small pharmacy along the way, so different from the temples of consumption that are the pharmacies in our regions.

A little further on in the course of the walk, distinguish a statue of Gandhi that invites us to take a time for meditation.

Choosing to plunge back into the narrow streets of the city of Pushkar and feeling carried along by the crowd that once again invites us to meet our humanity.

Enjoy the multitude of temples in Pushkar …

…and places of meditation. Symbols of spirituality present everywhere, at the heart of daily life, with or without artifice.

Approaching the sublime temple glimpsed on the horizon.

Be amazed by the splendour and majesty of the breathtaking Sikh temple of Gurudwara Sahib. To fall under the spell of places whose architecture introduces us to the spiritual dimension omnipresent in India.

Learn from talking to a few passers-by that there is only one large temple dedicated to Brahma in India and that it is located in Pushkar right in front of your eyes. Then catch a glimpse of the huge and patient crowd waiting at the entrance to go and pray there.

Set aside some time to also discover magnificent little temples that are well guarded and always well decorated.

Be amazed by the ever fascinating Dravidian architecture of the Jain Temple in Rangji. Estimate the work of men who, driven by their beliefs, have found the energy and talent to erect monuments whose finesse and attention to detail constantly challenge us.

Il sera malheureusement impossible de visiter les quelques 400 temples de la ville…

… and the surrounding hills. It will be an opportunity to come back next time to discover new ones…

…like the temples of Savitri and Pap Mochan which dominate the city at the top of the hills .

Approach quietly to the sacred heart of the town, which is beating wildly, letting some vibrations and scents float in the ambient air, which lead the pilgrim’s footsteps so far.

Finally reach the sacred lake of Pushkar surrounded by its 52 dazzling white ghats. 52 ghats for the 52 Maharadjas of India, as they say behind the scenes.

52 Ghats that allow pilgrims and families to immerse themselves in the sacred waters of the lake.

Each ghat would be said to have its own particularity – fertility, wealth, longevity… Would there be a ghat dedicated to successful selfies too?

There are the Brahma Ghat, the Varah Ghat, the Jodhpur Ghats…

The Gau Ghat, before your very eyes, has been renamed Gandhi Ghat since part of the Mahatma’s ashes were immersed in it.

In each of the ghats, one comes across many Hindu priests and a multitude of sadhu who live there all year round.

It is said that there are sometimes thousands of them on the occasion of the full moon in November for the famous pilgrimage which takes place at the same time as the Pushkar fair.

Eternal flamboyant mixture between the divine and the everyday, between life and death, between permanent movement and nothingness, between the feminine and the masculine…

Are there words to describe the infinity of India that we discover here? I’m not sure, as the experience is unspeakable. It is an experience that is lived first and foremost.

Legend has it that the lake was formed after Brahma dropped a blue lotus flower in it.

It is said that Pushkar means blue lotus.

It is true that the small town has all the charm of a lotus flower. Nestling in the middle of the gentle hills of the surrounding desert, it is home to a lake to which pilgrims descend and which takes our imaginations to the land of lotuses and serenity.

Now is the time to join the crowd praying on the edge of the ghats and the time to discover a little closer the magic of the place.

It is time to immerse oneself, not necessarily in the waters of the lake, but at least in the indescribable atmosphere that reigns in its surroundings.

Put down, next to the white dhotis drying on the steps on the way down, our Western mentalities and enter another almost surrealist dimension.

Each ghat is composed of stairs leading to the lakeside and basins dedicated to ablutions and ritual baths.

Symbols and offerings are omnipresent all around Pushkar Lake.

The pujas take place without interruption in broad daylight as well as at night.

All around, candles float on the lake in small bowls, incense sticks perfume the place, various and varied offerings are deposited in each ghat according to the benefits one wishes to obtain or as a sign of thanks.

The shores of the lake are lively and teeming with life. A fairy tale of colours springs up from everywhere, constantly reminding us how wonderful and abundant life is.

Admire the sadhus in saffron robes, the women draped in their brightly coloured ghoonghat who move so lightly that they seem to float above the waters of the lake.

To be astonished to see the generations that graze each other with the greatest respect.

Each person enters into a relationship with their beliefs, divinities, expectations, regrets and hopes in complete intimacy in the eyes and sight of all. This is also the alchemy of sacred India, mystery and seduction, fascination and questioning, illusions and reality mixed together in a bubbling whole.

Undertake a complete tour of the lake, accepting to let ourselves be jostled by what our minds discover about the place.

Then choose to get lost one last time in the crowd because you quickly get a taste for it and accept the gift – a « coup de coeur » – that will become an outfit for a day or an eternity, because to try it is to adopt it.

Wandering through the festive streets and finally decide to go and have a bite to eat at the Nirvana Café.

From its terrace, on the verge of touching the sky, contemplate the view…

…on the ghats …

…on the roofs…

… about the city …

… and on the temples.

Enjoy the monkeys that are everywhere on rooftops, in trees, in temples, in every nook and cranny…

…and still need to be hunted discreetly from time to time.

Appreciate the decor that relaxes and allows you to enter into a mode of relationships that becomes more and more enriching with each exchange.

Taste a curry accompanied by a spicy chai massala from the small kitchen and then savour the sweetness of a mango lassi.

Wondering if we have not managed to reach this Nivarna that we have heard about so often,

Suddenly feeling at home despite the change of scenery because you feel good and the vibrations are positive all around you.

Let yourself be carried away by this harmony of omnipresent and shimmering colours.

After so many discoveries, spend the evening in the outdoor lounge and appreciate the simplicity and charm of the place.

And then, one morning to tear ourselves away from Pushkar, this holy city where every minute was a mixture of loneliness and multitude, wealth and poverty, confusion and reason, splendour and decadence, silence and hubbub, colour and whiteness, stench and scent. To realise with emotion and happiness that it is all this that forms our humanity and that it is perhaps here in the middle of the Thar Desert, in the heart of Rajasthan, the largest Indian state, that we have been brought to meet it in all its magic, wonder, wonder, roughness, disturbance and intoxication. Turning around and telling ourselves that we will come back and never forget…

Par Nathalie

Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

Votre commentaire

Entrez vos coordonnées ci-dessous ou cliquez sur une icône pour vous connecter:

Logo WordPress.com

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte WordPress.com. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Google

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Google. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Image Twitter

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Twitter. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Photo Facebook

Vous commentez à l’aide de votre compte Facebook. Déconnexion /  Changer )

Connexion à %s