When I boarded the Howrah - New Delhi Rajdhani for admission to my Post Graduation School, I was unbelievably excited - not because a new course of study and a new degree was on my way but thinking that the huge treasure trove of Rajasthan, MP & UP was going to be within hours distance from me.
It did not take me many weekends to plan the first solo trip and I could not think of anything else but Jaisalmer. People who have grown up in Bengal knows very well about our craze of the legendary filmmaker - Satyajit Ray and his detective Feluda. I made a plan of making a trip at least once a month and started it with the city of 'Sonar Kella' (The Golden Fort)
Journey From Delhi to Ajmer
I had three days on hand so I decided to spend two days in Ajmer, Pushkar & Jodhpur. My American Tourister was packed (Read my Post on the essentials I carry in my backpack) and I started for Kashmiri Gate Bus Terminus on an auto. It was not difficult to get a bus for Ajmer as there were many. I always prefer Govt bus service over the private ones and found that getting an RSRTC bus is really easy there. I bought the tickets and loaded myself with snacks and water for the journey. Unsure of what I can get there I packed a little more for the entire trip. The bus departed at 9:30 with a promise to reach at 6:30 next day. I could not sleep much - I have nothing to blame but my excited mind.
I was amazed to see the efficiency of the bus service there and to my surprise, the bus reached Ajmer Terminus on 6:25 in the morning. I took some time to get refreshed and feed myself and started roaming around the bus stand just to have an idea of the place. I decided to go to Pushkar as early as possible so that I might come back before afternoon and boarded a bus for Pushkar.
Journey from Ajmer to Pushkar
Pushkar is a small only about 15 kilometres away from Ajmer and it takes little more than half an hour to reach by bus. I started at 8 and reached there by 8:40. The road that connects Pushkar and Ajmer is really impressive. It was still early morning and the sun was not deadly enough. The journey through the sand dunes of the Thar & the Aravalli Mountains is excellent. Though it is part of the great Thar Desert it is not completely vegetation less (I had a picture in my mind). The desert here does not have many big trees but spots of green cover the sand. After my first meeting with the Thar Desert, rather any desert, I reached Pushkar.
Pushkar, in my opinion, was an oasis before it became a settlement. The city, with a population of only about 20000 grew around the lake. The lake has many legends in its favour. As per Hindu mythology, the lake in Pushkar was created by the teardrops flowing from Shiva's eyes after the death of his wife Parvati. Another theory suggests that the lake was created by a petal dropped from the lotus on which Brahma sits. Whatever the mythology suggest it is certain that the lake was a life saviour to the travellers and residents of nearby places and quite obviously that made it a holy place.
The Brahma Temple & Lake
The lotus petal theory has more believers because of the Jagatpita Brahma Mandir, which is situated on the banks of Pushkar Lake. This temple is believed to be the oldest Brahma Temple in the world and for thousands of years, was the only Brahma Temple. As per the mythology, Brahma was deeply attracted by his own daughter Shatarupa and to look for her, he grew five heads - in five directions. Shiva, watching this unwanted lust in Brahma, beheaded him of one of his heads and cursed that nobody on earth will ever worship him. Thus, there was not a single Brahma Temple on earth other than the Pushkar Temple. Lately, some kings built Brahma Temples around the country.
The Brahma Temple has a unique colour combination with a bright red Shikhara on top and the entire bottom level painted with blue. The temple is really small considering the heavy footfall it receives. I had to stand in a long queue before I could actually enter the garbhagriha. I expected a much grand temple considering that this is the most important temple for the worshippers of Brahma but I was little demotivated by its actual get up. On my way to the temple from the bus stand - I walked the way - I took a holy dip in the Lake. The entire length of the bank of the Pushkar lake is concretised by creating uncountable ghats. This, I believe is a concern as the water of the lake looks dirty and the lake is also not maintained properly.
The other attraction which is worth a try is the Savitri Temple. The temple is situated at the highest peak of Pushkar and can be seen right behind the Brahma Temple. The temple can only be reached by doing a small trek for about an hour and the most attractive part of it is that you can have a magnificent aerial view of the entire city from the top. I had a few hours time in hand - so I decided to give it a try. The trek train starts from the Brahma Temple. The Savitri Mata Temple does not look fascinating enough but the view of the city was a worthy experience.
You may hear the local tourist guides speaking about 'Thakur Ki Haveli'. This is just another building but it came to fame after Bollywood movie was shot here. Avoid going to this. There are some other temples such as Varaha Temple, Paap Mochan Temple - you should visit these only if you have enough time for that.
I decided to have my lunch before boarding a return bus to Ajmer. There were plenty of eateries around the Temple and I was surprised to see the availability of continental food there. I never tasted pita bread with hummus before but heard a lot about it - so I ordered a plate of that. It did cost me some extra penny and the taste was also not very encouraging. Later I have tasted authentic pita bread in Delhi and could spot the difference. Anyways my visit to Pushkar was good enough because I could visit all the places on my Bucket List. I walked back to the Bus Stand to board a return bus for Ajmer. It was 1:30 then and I must be having at least 5-6 hours in Ajmer (Read the Story).
Special Attraction: If you can plan your trip around the Kartik Purnima (In falls in October/November) consulting an Indian calendar you will be able to experience the biggest cattle festival in the world. Thousands of cattle, a majority of which is the camel, are brought here and traded. A huge puja or worship in the Brahma Temple also takes place at the same time