INDIA, 2009

=PUSHKAR=

Photos © Ruud Leeuw

In January we travelled through parts of India, our very first visit to India. At the airport of New Delhi we were met by a chauffeur and he drove us through Rajasthan. After a visit and one night in Jaipur, the next stop was Pushkar.

 

Pushkar

Pushkar is on the edge of the Rajasthan desert,10 km northwest of Ajmer, 400 km southwest of Ajmer, 400 km southwest of Delhi, and 145 km southwest of Jaipur.
We were pleasantly surprised when we checked in the Hotel Pushkar Palace.
Pushkar Lake is located in the town of Pushkar in Ajmer District of the Rajasthan state of western India. From our hotel we had a lovely view over this lake.
The drive from Jaipur had taken 4 hours and we enjoyed some tea and sandwiches before taking to the streets. We relished the quiet view over the lake. Voices came to us over the water in a low-keyed murmur of people bathing or going about their business.

Hotel
Hotel The gallery with comfortable seats, to enjoy the view over the lake. And the rooms were lovely too.

Maharaja's

Inside the rooms were portraits of various Maharaja's.

The word Maharaja (also spelled maharajah) is Sanskrit for "great king" or "high king".
Its use is primarily for Hindu potentates (ruler or sovereign). The female equivalent title Maharani (or Maharanee) denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right.
In 1971 (other sources claim 1972 - webmaster), the then government of Indira Gandhi abolished the titles and privy purses of all Indian rulers. [Wikipedia]
The trip through Rajasthan offered various visits to the royal courts, but reading a book written by Ann Morrow ("The Maharajahs of India") made me look with different eyes at these despotes, their luxury shopping trips to Europe, their decadent lifestyle and many entertained a total indifference to the people they governed.


Pushkar Lake is located in the town of Pushkar in Ajmer District of the Rajasthan state of western India.
The beautiful Pushkar Lake is a sanctified spot and considered as old as creation... It is been a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. It is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats, where devotees take a dip.
According to Padam Puran, the Hindu religious text, Lord Brahma was in search of suitable place for a Vedic yagna. While contemplating, a lotus fell down from his hand on the earth and water spurted from three places and one of them was Pushkar; Brahma decided to perform his yagna over here.
Pushkar has stood the test of time. It has been a mute witness to the procession of history, from the time of Rama, the hero of the earliest Hindu Epic Ramayana, to Fa-Hien's accounts of Pushkar in 4th century AD.. And also to the time of Muslim invasion.
Pushkar Lake is a natural water body, surrounded by hills and sand dunes. It presents a perfect site for religious celebrations. As we were to find out...








 

 


A lonely building, perhaps a monastery, sits atop a hill outside town. Should we have stayed longer than a mere afternoon and one night I am sure we would have visited it. Maybe next time.

 

Check in
We found that upon checkin at the hotels, they all used these large bookkeeping ledgers... Clearly computers here haven't found the speed and reliabilility yet to replace that kind of paperwork.
 
Streets of Pushkar

Pushkar is a small, mellow town with no vehicle traffic on the main street.
There are over 400 temples in Pushkar and we did not visit any one of them. Some of the important temples are dedicated to Brahma, Raghunath, Varaha, Savitri and Gayatri.
We did not feel like taking our shoes off and therefor were not allowed to descend to waterlevel of the lake and visit the ghats. Street hawkers tried to persuade us to bring flowers to the lake but we declined, not sure what they were after.
We were quite satisfied to explore the main street with its many small shops. We bought some sodas and cookies, even some souvenirs. I also started offering the occasional 'namasté', relinquishing some of my initial defensive posture.

 

Vibrant colours
Striking colours and a beautiful pose.

'The photographer as a loafer strolling through the world is himself a mask. The camera covers his face, the gaze through the lens prevents him from being seen. Much like any other mask, the photographer's mask provides protection and security - and, before he could even tell, this mask would become the photographer's true face.'
--Ulf Poschardt, in his Introduction, in Anton Corbijn's photobook "33 STILL LIVES"

 


I am not quite sure what this is, the photo was taken for those striking colours!
Maybe these are dyes, to colour clothing.

 

Kite flying
It was such a joy to see young and old enjoying kite flying!

The kite was first invented and popularized approximately 2,800 years ago in China, where materials ideal for kite building were readily available: silk fabric for sail material, fine, high-tensile-strength silk for flying line, and resilient bamboo for a strong, lightweight framework.
The earliest known Chinese kites were flat (not bowed) and often rectangular. Later, tailless kites incorporated a stabilizing bowline. Kites were decorated with mythological motifs and legendary figures; some were fitted with strings and whistles to make musical sounds while flying. After its appearance in China, the kite migrated to Japan, Korea, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), India, Arabia, and North Africa, then farther south into the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, and the islands of Oceania as far east as Easter Island. [Wikipedia]

 

Motorcycle
Indians love to decorate, anything, even motorcycles!

Please try!
Spices, nuts..
Shops offer Indian spices of all kinds, grounded or whole; they had sweets and nuts for sale, masalas and curry mixes, pickles, chutneys, rice, flower, grain... Lovely!

Our hotel
Hotel Pushkar Palace

Nothing wrong with this hotel, except... Around 20:00 (8 pm) a religious festival started nearby. We had seen the banners in the street, but had thought nothing of it at the time. Then the music started...
If you can call it music: I thought it was a god awful racket! Then it stopped, around 23:00. We sighed a breath of relief and turned in for a good night sleep, as we had a long drive ahead of us the following day, with an early start.
Fifteen minutes later the f*&@#% racket started all over again! I cannot describe the unbearable pandemonium which was produced. It must have had something to do with a masochistic ritual.
So I phoned the frontdesk and inquired how long this torture would last. And I was shocked to learn that it would last until 03:30 am !!! F*&@#%ng maniacs! I wished them an immediate departure into the next afterlife!
It was only after taking a high dose of sleeping pills, activate the airconditioning unit to the max ('hi fan', for the noise only, we actually did not need the cooling effect) and inserted our earplugs until they hurt, so at length we managed to fall asleep.
I hope my curse will linger for a long time over those maniacal, brainsick Sadu's in Pushkar...
Temple
The nearby temple which I think was responsible for the nightly rumpus, the tumult that provided for us a distinctly discomfortable night. I wasn't supposed to have taken this photo, but consider it my revenge...


The cow is a pampered animal in India for religious reasons.
It is quite funny to see how they roam the streets, their presence accepted like pets. But better not run into them with your car or motorcycle!
In Hinduism, the cow is revered as the source of food and symbol of life and may never be killed. Hindus do not worship the cow, however, and cows do not have especially charmed lives in India. It is more accurate to say the cow is taboo in Hinduism, rather than sacred. You will see them rummaging through filth and refuse.


Streetstalls are an unending inspiration for photography here.
 

A variety of snacks were offered in shops such as these, but I did not dare tasting them. If I would get 'the runs' it could seriously effect my itinerary. As it turned out, I did not become sick at all.

 


I don't think this woman had anything to do with money changing.
In situations such as these I could not help handing out some small change, discreetly, so as not to attract others as poverty in this country can swallow you whole!

 

 

Snake charmer

We stumbled upon a snake charmer! I would have thought this to be a common feature in India, but it was the only one we saw.
There was a pleasant light, the sun setting. I walked around, trying to be unobtrusive and inconspicuous. But I did not escape a financial contribution when the show was over!

Propping a photolens in someone's face is not my style of photography, but digital photography allows for cropping and as such it is an ideal tool to deliver results such as these. I am quite pleased with it.
Excuse my unashamed selfcongratulation...

 


Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Lord Brahma with its creation. It is mentioned that Brahma perfomed penance here for 60,000 years to have glimpse of Radha Krishna.
[Wikipedia]

 

Solar energy
Good to see India embracing solar energy!

Sunset
We enjoyed the quiet sunset, in blissful ignorance about the rumpus that would keep us from sleeping...

One of the few times we had dinner outside the hotel. We were quite charmed about walking the streets of Pushkar, with Jaisalmer it turned out to be our favourite town during this trip.
From the Lonely Planet guidebook we had learned about a rooftop restaurant that came heavily recommended: Baba's Rooftop Restaurant. We had a good pizza!
We were slowly getting a grip on the Indian feel, loosing the defensive attitude a bit, without too much relaxation because there is always that chance of becoming a victim of theft.
As it is, we did not get sick, we did not get robbed and we did not get hurt: how is that for a trip to India!

More info on this town on www.pushkartours.com





JAIPUR to PUSHKAR BACK  
NEXT PUSHKAR to UDAIPUR

 

Helpful links:
Indiaonline.nl (Dutch)
www.india-tourism.com
www.bharatonline.com
Lonely Planet
Wikipedia