The train station was clean with the exception – as always – of the toilet. It was also not too crowded. We easily found the track and a kind woman let us share a bench while we waited.
The journey from Jaipur to Pushkar would take around 2 hours – a trip short enough to get comfortable with the railway system in India and prepare us for longer journeys later on.
At least that’s what we thought.
When it was time to board, our car was filled with about 80% westerners. We all looked at each other with a sense of relief. Maybe it wasn’t the time to rehearse staying sane on a train.
It was great to have that time to catch up on writing. Now that we are on the road, we need to take advantage of opportunities like this to keep documenting! And keep you posted about what’s going on over here.
Next to us on the train, there was a nice couple, around our age, that – like us – quit their lives in London to go see the world for a little bit.
When the train arrived in Pushkar (more specifically in Ajmer Junction which is the last stop) we found ourselves looking for a way to get to our hotels. The four of us decided to share an Uber.
On arrival, we exchanged phone numbers and Matt and I went in to our hotel.
It was located on a narrow street. When the front door opened to let us in, a beautiful old haveli (mansion) was revealed in front of us.
“This is perhaps one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve stayed in” Matt said. We both smiled feeling it was going to be a night to remember.
The building had 5 floors but only 12 unique bedrooms, each of them decorated differently.
Our room was called “Bagheera”, like Rudyard Kipling’s black panther in the Jungle Book!
The property is filled with charming details like this one. Our favorite was the fact that guests are welcome to take a book from the room as long as they leave another one in return. This seems to be a constant in India. We’ve seen it in a few coffee shops and restaurants. What a great concept, isn’t it?
It was lunchtime, so we decided to go up to the hotel’s rooftop restaurant for convenience. The place was peaceful and had a nice view of the city.
“They have healthy washed salads!!!” I euphorically told Matt. And like that, we ordered a cucumber, peppers and tomato salad, a curry with cashews, rice and naan. I also ordered a pineapple, pomegranate and lemon juice.
This place was heaven.
Backpacks in hand, we left the hotel to go explore.
After a 10-minute walk we were in front of the one and only Pushkar Lake. This is the main site and an important one in India as it’s considered to be sacred. Hindus are supposed to visit it at least once in their lifetimes. There are 52 ghats surrounding the holy water. They say that Vishnu appeared here as a boar and Brahma bathed at what is now the “Brahma Ghat.” Gandhi’s ashes were also sprinkled here (at the “Gandhi Ghat”). One can understand the importance of this body of water with such fascinating history. Because of this, photography or wearing shoes around the lake is prohibited.
It was also interesting to see a town in India that’s quiet and slow! As Matt and I sat at the Sunset cafe to take in the view, everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.
The sunset arrived and with it some drum circles, one of them inviting visitors to join in. Ashley and Alan (the guys from London) were there. I joined in and we drummed together.
Still excited about how gorgeous our hotel was, Ashley, Alan, Matt and I decided to have dinner on the rooftop. If there were some fresh clean veggies somewhere, I was going to have it as much as I could!
I ordered some spaghetti with tomatoes, Parmesan and basil accompanied with a lemon and mint juice. Matt and the guys went for Indian – those thalis don’t get old! (Well, almost never).
While chatting with Ashley and Alan, we realized how much we had in common. One of the best things we are finding as we travel is we are getting to know like-minded people with similar ideas, desires and priorities as us.
Our day in Pushkar was over. Though it was only a pit stop on our way to the west, we were glad to have passed through to stay at that beautiful hotel, meet our English camarades and be in the presence of such important destination for pilgrims.
The next morning we would be taking a 12-hour train to Jaisalmer.