Pushkar is a small town but it has over 500 temples and attracts a lot of Hindu pilgrims. We expected a lot of Indian tourists, but the center of town is surprisingly full of foreigners, tourist restaurants, and gift shops.
As a holy town, meat, eggs, and alcohol are off limits in Pushkar, which makes it one of the most vegan friendly places in India. Tofu, falafel, and rare cheeses were very popular. We ate world class vegetarian at Cafe Nature’s Blessing and amazing Tibetan food at Tyagy’s. I could have stayed in Pushkar for a few more days just for the food.
The center of Pushkar is a small lake, believed to have been created by the Hindu creator god, Lord Brahma. It is surrounded by ghats (steps) where Hindus bathe to wash their bodies and souls. It also has the reputation for pushy priests asking tourists for donations. We never had any problems, but we only visited in the middle of the day when it was quiet and stayed away from the popular Brahma Ghat.
Other than eating, visiting temples, and a few hikes there wasn’t a lot to do in Pushkar. Emily found a yoga course offered in the old temple near our hotel by Swamiji Kapri. It was more than we ever expected. The yoga was traditional ashtanga with a lot of focus on breathing and concentration.
But the real highlight was our instructor and the sage advice he gave us during the theory and chanting classes. It was the first time we’ve really come to understand the full breadth of what yoga is about, including guidelines for how you treat others and maintain your mind body and soul. The ultimate goal is happiness (can’t argue with that), but it needs to be worked at with a plan. We’ve started laying out some things we want to do when we get home, like morning sun salutations and evening stretching and meditation. We also had a guest visit from a sadhu who is over 100 years old. He shared his secret to long life with us.
Swamiji is an amazing man. 70 years old and full of old-world wisdom mixed with new-world pragmatism, and always brimming with happiness and joy. Truly an inspiring man to just be around. He would quote ancient Sanskrit texts and then take out his cellphone to snap pictures of us. We have promised to keep in touch with email and Facebook.