… a continued chapter from Ranthambore
Ziyarat Express was running late by 5 hours and I was feeling restless in my hotel room at Sawai Madhopur. I had planned only half-a-day at Ajmer before starting for Pushkar. Stranded at the hotel, I knew my plans were going to be jeopardized. While I was supposed to reach Ajmer at 2.30PM, the train arrived at Sawai Madhopur only at 3pm, much to my dismay.
Reaching Ajmer took 5-and-a-half hours, and I knew I didn’t have any scope left to explore the city. I decided to keep my 80ltr backpack in the locker room. Though the keepers initially resisted as there was no lock on my backpack, I somehow managed to use my charm to convince them that majority of the backpacks don’t have locks and that I be allowed to keep it only for an hour so that I could visit the dargah.
I chose to take a brisk walk to the dargah. It was about a 20-minute walk through some dingy gullies, kind of reminding me of Old Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. Up on reaching the holy site, I had a new problem to sort! My other bag which had my laptop and camera was apparently not going to be allowed inside the dargah and I was repeatedly asked by local shopkeepers to keep it in their ‘safe’ custody. I was adamant and didn’t have any intention to trust anyone in a city which is not quite famous in terms of safety, especially when it came to my camera! I don’t mind getting lost, but losing my camera is more like a death knell to me! I was so paranoid that I didn’t take out the camera even once as long as I was in Ajmer.
Being a solo traveler and that too a girl can be a boon at times. I walked up to the cops who were patrolling the entry point and requested them, “Uncle, I am traveling alone from Mumbai and there is no way I can risk keeping this bag with any of the shopkeepers. It has items worth over a lakh. Kindly keep it with you till I come back.”
The cops were really sweet to me and immediately paid heed to my request. After the darshan (meeting the lord) I thanked them, spoke to them for a while as one of them happily chatted about his older days in Calcutta, and left for the station to pick up my luggage. The toto-rickshawallahs never leave a chance to mint money out of the tourists, especially when they know you are in a hurry. I fell into the trap as I was running late and was charged 90 bucks for 1-and-a-half kms. Nonetheless, I picked up my luggage, greeted the keepers and proceeded towards the exit to board a bus for Pushkar.
The bus stop was 2 kms away and I had to take a rickshaw to reach the boarding point. It was late and there was only one bus leaving for Pushkar. Here I met a gentleman who helped me out when I was extremely panic-stricken. It was the last bus and unexpectedly packed. It was so badly crowded that forget getting in with two big bags, I couldn’t even keep a foot on the bus steps. The gentleman was to board the same bus and insisted that I get in somehow. It was an impossible task for me, so I humbly told him, “I can’t choose to die or get stampeded just because it’s the last bus. You please proceed, I will make my way to Pushkar somehow.”
The man chose not to leave me, nor did the bus. The driver was a Sikh and we all know how helpful Sikh people can be in such critical situations. I was dumbfounded by the assistance I received from that man, the conductor of the bus and the driver. Just to have me in the bus, the driver threw open his door. Two people lifted me as I kept my legs on the tyre and the driver pulled me in. I flung myself over the steering wheel, stretching my legs as much as my yoga sessions had prepared me for, and found myself in the seat next to the driver. My luggage was pushed through the same door and the man chose to stand in that damned crowded space for the rest of the journey. Who says humanity doesn’t exist anymore? 🙂
I reached Pushkar at 11.30PM and the man ensured that I got a rickshaw to reach my hotel before bidding adieu. I had already phoned the hotel guys to keep my dinner, and I slept early knowing that I had to be prepared for a long tomorrow.
Pushkar had its own charm but I was not very comfortable with it. I got up a little late and after a brunch, set out to explore. I started from the market place where I was nearly stalked by a philanthropist tourist guide who was ready to offer his services for free. I entertained him for a while before telling him off. After visiting the Brahma temple, I decided to go for the camel safari. Boy! It was my first time on a camel and I simply loved it! There are gypsies all over and would ask for money if you click them; yeah! even kids and the men too! I ended up spending around 150 bucks just to click a few of them!
The camel man dropped me near the Savitri temple where I had planned my sunset. The ropeways didn’t interest me much as I had better previous experiences but just to avoid climbing thousand odd steps and save time, I got into one. The view of Pushkar from the temple premises is exquisite. I had all the time of the world to click photos and enjoy a beautiful sunset.
The next day I had to return to Ajmer to board my train to Jaisalmer. A very kind rickshawallah helped me explore a couple of more places quickly, including the lake, before I headed out. I had quite a poor experience with the people around the lake. They were extremely arrogant and rude, and lacked sense of basic courtesy. My love for photography turned out to be a sin as I ended up walking on the banks without reading the message that stated, “remove your shoes while walking around.” I was reprimanded by a woman as an ‘uneducated heroine who didn’t know how to read placards”! That’s all I have got to write about my experience at the Lake. The below slideshow will give you a better image of the lake which I’m sure interests you more! Adios! 🙂