Glimpses of sacred Pushkar!

My friend wanted to spend her new year outside Delhi and I wanted to spend it at some quaint place so that is how Pushkar happened. There wasn’t a much hassle in selecting a place to stay in Pushkar, as zostel is there in Pushkar. This was going to be my second stay in Pushkar Zostel. Staying at zostel or any such hostel can be learning in itself. It allows you to open up to strangers in a friendly way yet maintaining your own space. Sometimes, you get to meet interesting people and sometimes you’ll bump into really funny characters but you’ll surely enjoy if you have the guts to take in anything with not much tantrums.

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Sunrise at Anasagar Jheel, Ajmer

We started our journey on Friday night (best day to escape from the chaotic world of technological slaves: P). We were suppose to board bus from Bikaner House and upon reaching there I was excited to see famous Pandara road market just a few steps ahead to Bikaner House. Pandara road market is very famous among night riders in Delhi because some food joints (also the famous Gulati’s Restaurant) remain open late in night. The reason for my excitement was to hit the market unknowingly at night when lights were gleaming and people were in festive mood. We gulped in some hot badam milk to beat cold, located our bus and then finally boarded it. Journey from Delhi to Ajmer was a smooth ride in spite of the fact that there was dense fog on the way. We reached Ajmer with the break of dawn and waited for our friend who was supposed to pick us up from Ajmer and stay with us at Pushkar. On the way, he showed us various points which we would have missed otherwise like famous jogging point for Ajmeriites. There is nothing better than watching a rising sun and seeing the people breathing in fresh air and bucking up for their day. We too stopped for some time and soaked the freshness of it to revive our lost energy due to overnight journey.

 

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Books and Tau @ Zostel, Pushkar

Entering Zostel is entering into a fantasy world! The colorful common area assures a comfort stay; paintings on wall depict various stories related to Pushkar. I especially loved the one which says “something in Hebrew” because there are many places in Pushkar where it is written only in Hebrew and not in any other language. Room was to be allotted at 12:00 noon, so we got ready in the common bathroom (of course one at a time :P) and headed to calm our taste buds with scrumptious street food. With so many foreigners coming to this place, one can easily find cafes serving multi-cuisine food along with Rajasthani food. I was surprised to see roadside eating joints serving middle-eastern food like Falafel & Humus and even more astonished to see locals talk in Hebrew so fluently. I guess the settlement of lot of Israelis have made the influence on both tourism as well as locals here. Anyway, we were more interested in trying authentic Rajasthani food and since there are many things you can try road side, I’m listing it here for the convenience of writing as well as for reading: 🙂

  • Poha: We went to a famous cart in front of Varah ghat which serves Poha (a kind of flat rice). The man who serves Poha is Sonu and is very polite and sweet. He was happy to tell that some foreigner has already mentioned about his cart on google (internet). It was just for 10 bucks! We never had such tasty Poha at such a nominal price. The other food item that we tried at the same cart was Daal Pakwan. We named it as desi pizza! It was new and good in taste.
  • Jalebi: After having delicious breakfast one can have freshly prepared Jalebi with Rabri.
  • Lassi: It is prepared in a wooden whisk and served in earthen pots. Gulab lassi is also a hit among locals.
  • Malpua: This is strictly not-to-miss dish which unfortunately we missed and will have to go back to try it.
  • Mirchi Vada: Popular breakfast for Rajasthanis. Try it if you can handle the hotness of chilli that is filled with mashed potato, onion and spices.
  • Fresh Juices: Do not forget to quench your thirst with freshly prepared juices.
  • Falafel: Gorge on Falafel, Humus with Pita bread donned with garlic (to suit the Indian taste buds) at Ganga Restaurant. The owner here was fluent in Hebrew!
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Magnificient Sunset @ Pushkar

After having heavenly food and feeling content, one can take long stroll along 52 ghats around the holy lake. That is what we did to digest our food and take in the city vibes in the best possible way. In the daytime, ghats keep bustling with pilgrims taking a dip in holy water (which is unfit for health but religious fanatics don’t mind about dirty water). It is preferable to wear slipper/chappal that can be removed easily as while walking on the ghats you’ll have to remove footwear at certain places especially when walking near lake. We saw lots of foreigners performing pooja (prayers) near ghat. In the evening we went to the sunset point to immerse ourselves in the hues of sunset forming reflections on lake, musicians playing ektara and nagara, town reverberating with the chants of Aarti. For me it was a beautiful evening to end the year with and hope for a peaceful 2017. By the night, town was surrounded with loud music (please read it as bad speakers) playing various popular Hindi, English and Punjabi, Rajasthani songs. Songs like “tip tip barsa pani” which tickled our ribs; but it was quite safe to roam around. We then took time to call or message our loved ones and wish them ‘Happy New Year’s 🙂

First Sunrise of 2017!

First Sunrise of 2017!

Next day was planned to hike to Savitri Temple which is on a hill top and is a sunrise point. I couldn’t hike till the temple and we decided to rest somewhere in the middle from where we could get to see a perfect sunrise. The time just before sunrise is very sacred especially when it is going to be first sunrise of the year. We were drowning in the moment when sun was rising. It was beautiful!

In the afternoon, we took our seats in Laura’s café and lazed there till early evening. People there at Laura’s café are really nice and sweet. Don’t miss to go there if you are in Pushkar. My two close friends drove down to Pushkar from Udaipur to meet me. I was overwhelmed with their gesture. It is all together a different feeling of meeting friends at a place away from your home.

Pushkar is also a home for only Brahma Temple in the world and a historical Gurdwara which was visited by tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh Ji. It offers peaceful vibes to the otherwise wandering mind of city dwellers.

Time spent at Pushkar was enchanting with lots of shopping done in the colorful by lanes of the town with a good start to New Year. I wish that this year brings more peace in the world. Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year! (a little late though).

Here goes the sneak peek of two days at Pushkar:

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Rambling in the blue city!

Here I am, with yet another travelogue. This time writing about a quick escape to have a peek into the rich heritage of the royal family of Jodhpur. Jodhpur is the second largest city in Rajasthan after Jaipur. It is also called the blue city because of the houses in the city painted in indigo. Earlier, only Brahmins were allowed to paint their houses with indigo color that depicted their high class. As of now, not many houses are in blue color(as shown in the pictures on Google) but anyone can paint their house with indigo, shunning off the social barriers.

There are direct trains from Delhi to Jodhpur and takes around 10 hours to reach Jodhpur. It is also well connected to major cities like Jaipur via roads.Belonging to a class of  working professionals and always getting less leaves than required (story of every working person. Sigh!!), we prefer to travel during night so that we get whole day for wandering and exploring the city.

The journey started on Friday night on Mandore Express at 9:15 pm from old Delhi railway station. As per IST (Indian Standard Time), train ran late and we got little late to reach our destination. Finally, after around ten and a half hours of journey, we breathed into the city which greeted us with a unique scent. Crossing the narrow alleys of the city in auto (which the hotel owner had sent for pick up), we reached our hotel. Hem Heritage is a simple hotel with basic amenities. The streets around the city are not clean. After getting fresh and satisfying our empty tummy, we were ready for rambling around the city.

 

#Jawsant Thada
Jaswant thada is a mausoleum built by Maharaja Sardar Singh in his memory. It is made up of very finely carved sheets of white marble. The intricate jali work on the windows shows the prolific work done by sculptors. As per the locals, such a fine marble is used to build up this cenotaph that it glows when sun rays fall on it.

Jaswant Thada

Jaswant Thada

 

There is a also a a beautiful pond with lotus floating in it, surrounded by lush green garden.

Just outside it there was a man playing a long instrument. As of a curious nature, I went to him and asked about the instrument. It was Ravanhatha, “Ravan” used to play this instrument while worshiping. It was like Indian version of violin. We tried our hands on it and the music that came out was as bad as it can be. To all those who are reading this,  I would request that if ever anywhere you come across such musicians, acknowledge their talent by giving them some money. It won’t pinch our pocket but will be of some help to them.

 

#Mehrangarh Fort
It’s one of the largest forts in India built by Rao Jodha. It is built few meters above the city and is enclosed by thick walls. There are many palaces in it which are carved beautifully. On climbing the narrow stairs that lead to the top floor, one can see the view of city along with the huge cannons on display. Yes! you can get a picture clicked with cannons and boast about it on a social networking site 😛 :D. We spent few hours clicking pictures here and of course getting ourselves clicked :).  It’s a huge fort and you can surely get tired. But don’t worry!  there is a restaurant in the fort area, you can quickly grab a bite of Rajasthani delicacies and re energize yourselves. The fort also have treasures like armory, guns, swords, palanquins, musical instruments  from that era.10631148_10152394480213471_600199889968817592_o

Though it was only 5 in the evening, we decided to go back to Jaswant Thada and spend our time there. It’s at lesser height than Mehrangarh Fort but height is good enough to have a view of city. We relaxed, talked, danced, sang and desperately waited for sunset. Just after the sunset, the cool breeze started blowing and city was immersed in lights. The view was mesmerizing. We tried light trails and took some really nice shots and left the place with happy hearts.

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We then headed to gypsy restaurant for a Rajasthani Thali. They have a fixed price and menu for thali that serves unlimited food. The food was good enough to satiate hungry evil in us. We then walked towards our hotel singing some really cheesy Bollywood numbers. We were drunk without even drinking ;). After hatching a plan for next day, we went to catch some Z’s.

The day started early for me and one of my friend, as we wanted to witness the sunrise. Walking on the steep road, huffed and puffed, we managed to reach Mehrangarh Fort. The cool breeze,  fort lit under moon light, moon playing hide and seek with clouds, the stars, the view was majestic and is unforgettable.

Sunrise View

Sunrise View

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Ready for Zip Lining

It took me to a different world. The feeling is unexplainable. It is something that can only be felt. Anyways, as the sun rose, we heard roaster crowing, we saw people waking up from their sleep on their terrace and getting busy with their day’s activities. One thing we noticed was that almost every terrace had a design made by marble on the floor. I don’t know whether it carries some significance or it is just for decoration, we just noticed it. In some time, day started getting hot and we headed back towards our hotel where other friends were getting ready for zip-lining to get an adrenaline rush. Absorbed in the aura of sunrise, two of us decided to unlax.

We then went for breakfast to Jhankar restaurant. Food was awesomely bad but we had great time in consoling ourselves about the greatness and richness of food. Not satisfied with the food, we finally headed towards our last stoppage – Umaid Bhawan.

#Umaid Bhawan

Umaid Bhawan is a private property maintained by royal family of Jodhpur. It was built by Maharaja Umaid Singh to give employment to the people of Mewar. Only a very small area of it is open for public in which there are treasures on display that marks the testimony for richness of the royal family. The glassware from Belgium, the old fashioned clocks from Italy, Greece, Paris and paintings of His Highness will surely woo you. And if that is not enough! the vintage car collection which includes the car used in “Mard” movie of Amitabh Bachan will surely make you go gaga over the rich heritage of the royal family. It was now time for lunch and after having a heart breaking food in the morning we wanted to have something awesomely good to gratify gastronome in us. We headed towards the restaurant in Hanwant Mahal for experiencing the royalty. It was a really splendiferous meal

We then reached our hotel, packed our bags and started journey back to Delhi making plans for our next trip 🙂