Last time we wrote we were just about to leave Udaipur and head onto Pushkar - the holiest of cities in Rajasthan. After another bum numbing ride on a coach, then on local bus (the size of the locals eyes should have told us something was going on in Pushkar other than praying, but I will get to that later) We arrived in what appeared quite a deserted town and headed to our hotel - which again was very nice indeed. Our tour leader Sanjay suggested we all have a Puja performed on us as it would stop us being hassled by other so called priests who could bombared us if we walked round 'puja-less' so to speak! What is a Puja I hear you cry! Well we all traipsed down to the ghat and a local priest held out a plate of red and yellow powder, sugar, rice and flower petals - these in turn represented blood, family, fertility, prosperity, good luck and some other things which I can't remember now. We had the red dot placed on our forheads along with some grains of rice and had to make a wish while we tipped the contents of the plate into the lake. We then had a little red and yellow band tied around our right writs which would give us safe travel and good luck, so as we are on a 6 month trek and good travel and luck is what we need we still have ours on! The town itself was mental to put it mildly! Sellers were that little bit pushier and for the holiest of cities they sure did sell a lot of pashminas, bracelets and postcards - tourism has been a blessing and a curse on this town it would seem. A lot of sick and disabled people seeking solice in this place are alomst outnumbered by yoga seeking, big camerered up tourists (which we are fortunately/unfortunately part of) made us feel sad and mournful for the town this once was. At sunset everyone goes down to the ghats and instead of a peaceful reflection of the day gone and the ones to come, jugglers and dancers (with REALLY big eyes! hmmmm, as this is a dry city with no booze, why are they all looking out of their heads?! Well like on the bus earier there was a very funny aroma about that certainly wasn't tobacco if you catch my drift!hmmmm suspicious, very suspicious!) and the many many tourists come in their masses - all good fun and merriment had, but again - not expected in the holiest of cities?
Next day we headed out early to Bharatpur our last destination in Rajasthan. The hotel was AMAZING! Cricket, badminton, pool..... not sure we are definitely on the basic tour anymore, but we're not complaining! As we were only there one day, we had to head out quickly to Keoladeo bird park near by. We were told that a cycle rickshaw was best as the cyclists could point out the wildlife as we went by, which is all well and good but it does make you feel mighty guilty being cycled about by a man in his golden years for 3 hours while we lounge about in the back. The park though was beautiful full of wildlife and spectacular views. As there hasn't been much rain, the wetlands weren't so wet - water has to be bumped in to keep the wildlife there, people are praying for the monsoons this year.
The whistle stop tour contunies - next stop Agra and the Taj!
More when there's more!