Thursday, 21 February 2013

2013 Travel Update V - Jaipur, Ajmer and Pushkar


I'm writing today's update sat by a holy lake watching the sun go down over the Rajasthani hills whilst temple bells clang and Hindu drums beat an hypnotic rhythm. I'm in Pushkar, my penultimate Indian stop before flying back to the UAE and then home.

Pushkar is famous - or infamous - for two reasons. Firstly, it is one of the Seven Holy Cities of the Hindus, somewhere that every devout Hindu should try to visit at least once before they die. Best explained as a sort-of mini Varanasi, there are bathing ghats around a lake formed, or so the legends say, when Brahma dropped a lotus flower. More recently, it is where Mahatma Ghandi was cremated.

Pushkar's second claim to fame is as a big hippie hangout. The cool and groovy from across the globe come here to wear linen, smoke weed and spend the allowance that their parents provide them with. Wanna learn more? Read William Sutcliffe's hilarious 'Are You Experienced?' and you'll see what I mean.
Still, it must be said that despite never being provided with any kind of travelling fund by mumsie and papa, (although whenever you want to start mum, I can cope with one and am willing to accept back pay...), nor having any linen whatsoever in my wardrobe, conversely I have been known to a). wear very silly headgear, b). listen to Jefferson Airplane, the Doors and Bob Dylan, and c). I went on a meditation course once run by a bald-headed guy in Tibetan robes who said his name was Lapsang Darjeeling, (or something along those lines), but in fact later admitted to being christened Dave.

So, I'm not a hippie, I'm a spiritual seeker who wishes to counter the counter-culture by wearing a Stoke City top instead of linen, is too stingy to pay for piercings and strangely calls on Christ rather than Krishna whenever he wishes to pray.

Yep, I'm a freak.

But freak or not, town full of freaks or not, I really like it here. I mean like, I was like sat watching the sunset over the temples man, and the water was so tranquil and peaceful dude and I felt at one with the Eternal.

Don't believe me, check out this photo:


Like I said, nice.

But enough of Puskhar. Last time Uncle Travelling Matt spoke to you he was in the Pink City, Jaipur. Well, he stayed there another day, checked out all the pink palaces and pink shops, ate some incredible food and then moved onto Ajmer.

Now Ajmer is famous for one thing, being the home of arguably the biggest Sufi shrine in the Sub-Continent, the Dargah of Khwaja Mui-ud-din Chisti. Never heard of him? Well, he was the guy who Akbar petitioned on regular occasions and in whose honour my favourite song from Bollywood is dedicated, Khwaja Mere Khwaja. Here it is, you like I think:

Khwaja Mere Khwaja (from the film 'Jodhaa Akbar')

But what did I think of the shrine? Well, to be honest, it was way too busy and crowded for my tastes and I didn't find it as moving as the other Sufi sites that I've visited. Check out my V-log to see why:

Reflections on the Dargah of Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chisti

But there is more to Ajmer than just Muin-ud-din Chisti. I had a wander through her bazaars to the Jain Temple which has some fantastic golden models of famous places and events from Jain mythology and then had a chat with the verger at the old colonial cathedral. So, all good you might say.

 Ajmer's Jain Temple

Keep travelling!

Uncle Travelling Matt


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