Pushkar is a town built around a holy lake in the middle of Rajasthan. It has the only temple for the Hindu god Brahma in the world, with temples for Savitri and Gayitri on the hills either side. The legend goes something like this: Brahma was supposed to marry Savitri. The ceremony had to be performed at a specific astrologically auspicious moment, but Savitri was taking too long to get ready. So Brahma quickly found Gayitri to marry instead (she was quickly dragged through a cow to purify her for the purpose). Savitri was so pissed off, she cursed Brahma that he should only be revered in the middle of nowhere desert town of Pushkar. To appease her, they gave her a temple on the highest mountain nearby and Gayitri only got one on the second highest mountain. And pilgrims always visit Savitri’s temple first.
All this makes Pushkar one of the holiest places for Hindus. Every November at the Kartik Purnima full moon there is a big holy festival where people come from all over India to bathe in the lake and worship Brahma and many ceremonies are held. This is combined with the largest camel fair in Rajasthan. By this time farmers are pretty much finished bringing the harvest, so they converge around Pushkar to trade their camels, horses and cows. A huge camp ground of animals, people and traders of anything to do with camels is set up on the south side of the city.
Normally this is a peaceful quiet town, but during the festival its bustling with traders, tourists and pilgrims. So the streets are set up with shops and stalls selling anything from elaborately embroidered Rajasthani dresses, leather bags, flip-flops and pointy shoes, cheap jewellery and clothes to flower petals to throw in the lake as an offering and sugary sweets.
We spent a few awesome days holed up in the cosy little Shankar Palace guest house. From there we bumbled the streets, taking in the colourful atmosphere. The guys at the local dhaba were our biggest fans, exited like kids to have foreign tourists eat there.