After my wonderful first days in India, I remained in Pushkar for the rest of the week. The last few days were spent doing more off-the-beaten-path activities, enjoying the vibes in this holy town, and falling in love with Pushkar even more.
Day 4: Meeting Aloo Baba + “monkey” temple
Nick, Stefan, and I set off for a morning adventure. Nick told us about Aloo Baba, an elderly man and spiritual guru who has lived off of nothing but potatoes for the last 50 years. He sounded fascinating so we hopped on a scooter and paid him a visit.
We made it to Aloo Baba’s home on the outskirts of Pushkar. It was quite peaceful as he lived in a spacious but humble rock temple. We walked around his home, and I admired his minimalist lifestyle – no furniture and very basic amenities.
There was colorful art all over the walls painted by tourists.
Then we met Aloo Baba. He was a super sweet man! I was worried about being intrusive, but he seemed genuinely happy to meet us. In addition to his potato diet, he smokes hashish daily, which gave him a permanent smile that made me feel at home. We talked about how he left his family at age 16 to renounce his ties to the world and become closer with god. His potato diet was his way of showing his devotion and taking control over his life.
His follower/assistant was so welcoming as well. He made us chai in their simple kitchen setup, and he even taught me his recipe.
We sipped our chai and chatted away. He also shared his daily routine, starting with waking up at 4am to meditate. He also shared his tips on finding peace and living a long life. He exuded so much calmness and peace, and I certainly learned more about how to live a life of fewer worries. Such a positive and memorable experience!
After our visit, we drove a short distance to Ajaypal Temple, also known as the “monkey temple” as a huge community of langur monkeys lived there. We snapped a few pictures and then headed back to the hostel to beat the heat.
Day 5: day trip to Ajmer + Dargah Sharif Muslim mosque + Ajmer Fort + Kishangarh marble dumping yard
The next day was a fun one as events unfolded unexpectedly. I was planning on having a chill morning at the hostel, and before I knew it, I found myself saying yes to a spontaneous day trip with a new friend from the hostel, Rushi. Rushi was planning a day trip to Ajmer (a larger city ~30 minutes from Pushkar). Ajmer wasn’t on my radar as it didn’t show up in my trip research, but it seemed to be all the buzz among the other native Indians staying at the hostel. Rushi and I rented a scooter, and we were on our way!
The drive to Ajmer was an interesting one. The chill vibes from Pushkar transformed into the bustling Ajmer. It was certainly a busier city, but still felt manageable. Thank god I wasn’t the one driving. 😉
Our first stop was visiting Dargah Sarhif, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India and a popular site for devotees. We attended one of the ceremonies where we offered flowers to Allah and received blessings – it was a bit hectic and confusing, and they tried to charge us each step of the way as outsiders to the community. But I’m still glad I experienced it as it was my first Muslim religious experience.
Afterward, we visited Ajmer Fort. It was the complete opposite experience as it was a quiet, peaceful escape from the city. The golden fort was beautiful with well-maintained plants around it.
The fort also included a museum that housed a large collection of religious artifacts. I learned about all the different Hindu gods as Rushi was my personal tour guide. 🙂
Afterward, we did some shopping at the Ajmer markets. My shopping experience was very positive – Ajmer had more selection than Pushkar, but still felt manageable for a big city. It also helped that Rushi helped translate and negotiate – I don’t think I could have done it without him! I scored a traditional Indian lehenga for an Indian wedding next week. We also stopped for a lassi from a street vendor – best lassi I’ve had so far. 🙂
We felt complete with our day in Ajmer, so we decided to go on one more adventure. We heard about a dumping yard for marble companies in Kishangarh (~1 hour from Pushkar). It sounded insignificant, but from the pictures, it looked like something worth seeing. It was more a local word-of-mouth secret versus a tourist attraction, so I was down to try and find this elusive spot.
The drive through Kishangarh was an adventure. We were in an industrial area full of large marble export companies. I wasn’t sure what we were getting ourselves into! The gate to the dumping yard was guarded and closed. We drove around in circles, talking to locals to find an insider tip to get in. Finally, we were able to emotionally break-down the security guard and he let us in. A very “India” experience. 😉
What an amazing place!! I have never seen anything like it. The dumping yard was HUGE, and it felt like we were on a glacier in the middle of the desert.
We stayed around for sunset. It was one of the most unique, beautiful spots I’ve ever been to. One man’s garbage is truly another man’s treasure.
After a full day, we headed back to Pushkar, got dinner, and hung out with our other hostel-mates. The hostel was poppin’ with other Indian travelers visiting for the weekend. Loved this little kittie who stayed by my side under the table. 🙂
Day 6: Gurudwara Sahib (Sikh temple) + evening on Pushkar lake + Aarti ceremony
After last night’s party, the next day was a slow one. Rushi and I went out for a short visit to a Sikh temple called Gurudwara Sahib. The temple was a beautiful, white structure and very peaceful. I didn’t know much about the Sikh religion before, but seeing all the Sikh devotees in Pushkar got me interested in learning more.
I was lazy in the afternoon at the hostel – it was one of the hottest days so far! When it cooled down, I headed out to town again for some more shopping – preparing for this Indian wedding has been a never-ending project, but I finally found my last dress. 🙂 I also caught up on some practical things like getting my dresses tailored ($1.25 USD for two dresses), booking my next destination, and buying groceries from the vegetable vendor I visit daily. Pushkar is a small town, and in one week, I feel like I made a home here by getting to know the local businesses – I’m gonna miss these small-town vibes!
I strolled around the lake at sunset – such a beautiful sight. I remember feeling underwhelmed by the lake on my first day in Pushkar, but I felt a shift over the last few days after all my experiences and learning about Hindu culture – I now have so much more appreciation for this beautiful town. That’s what travel is all about. 🙂
At 7 pm, I attended the daily ceremony by the lake called Aarti, the Hindu ceremony of light. Rushi recommended it, and I’m SO glad I went! It was my first Hindu ceremony, and it was just beautiful. There was singing, praying, and body movements – the entire crowd chanted and moved in unison in one dance. I felt at peace the entire time. I appreciated the welcoming vibes as I wasn’t treated as an outsider. The entire ceremony took ~20 minutes through the remaining sunlight in the day.
After Aarti, I continued hanging around the lake. There was a big festival for the birthday of Hanuman (Hindu monkey god). The entire city was full of people – I strolled around and took in all the liveliness.
Day 7: chill day + Brahma temple
My last full day in Pushkar! I spent it mostly chilling, especially before a travel day tomorrow. Nick and I hung out at the hostel during the day, and I also worked on blog stuff.
In the evening, I went out for my final activity: Brahma Temple. The temple is the most prominent temple dedicated to Brahma, the Hindu creator-god. It’s THE temple to visit in Pushkar, so I’m glad I finally squeezed it in on my last day. Before India, I never experienced Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh temples – and now I have seen all three. 🙂
I’m leaving Pushkar feeling so grateful and whole. My first week in India was beyond what I imagined. As this blog knows, I was feeling anxious about traveling to India, but this first week gave me confidence for the next few weeks. Day by day, my love for Pushkar grew, and I will genuinely miss this place!
I quickly felt connected to India, and a big reason was my awesome hostel community. My hostel-mates were so helpful and made great company in sightseeing, grabbing a meal, or just chilling together. I felt less like a foreigner here than anywhere else on my Asia trip so far, which was a pleasant surprise.
Next up, I’m heading to Jaipur for the wedding!! I’m so excited to reunite with this friend group, dedicate a few days to partying, and get the cultural Indian wedding experience.