8 Nov 2013
We are all dutifully in the lobby ready to go at 5.30am. 2 people plus their luggage into each of a fleet of waiting tuk-tuks. Minor panic as Eke & Sebastian didn’t arrive at the railway station. The rest of the tuk-tuk drivers set off to find them and return with bags in one and people in another – they had broken down.
Far from being first at the railway station we arrive to find that seemingly everyone else has spent the night there – the station floor is littered with people sleeping under blankets with their luggage – it doesn’t look comfortable! We are in a comfortable seating carriage for our 5 hour journey, sharing with a well behaved school group. We eat our varied snacks for breakfast (I have a last muesli bar) and Naveen comes back with chai for all of us.
We arrive at Amjer and climb into our waiting jeeps for a 45 min drive over the rocky mountains to Pushkar. Pushkar is a holy city with a central lake surrounded by Ghats. The usual population is about 14,500 but it is the start of the annual camel festival, so it will be very busy. Our rooms aren’t ready when we arrive but we are able to have lunch and then have a sleep before meeting at 3.30.
We walk into town for a brief orientation tour and then hop into tuk-tuks to our camel safari stop. We each have a camel and Naveen rides in a camel cart (in case of any emergencies). Mounting camels is always interesting as they are sitting down to start with, then you lean back as the back legs go up first and then settle back as the front legs go up – an interesting balancing act. I seem to have the lazy camel (called Muti) and my young camel driver (Dinesh) tires of having to try to drag or prod it along, so the reins are tied to the back of the cart.
We start by riding through the fairgrounds – we are somewhat disappointed because the fair proper doesn’t start until the day after we leave (so we won’t see any traditional games, or the camel dance competition, turban tying, moustache or wrestling competitions, or the women’s water pot race) but there is still a lot of activity. We pass through the horse fair area first and see some magnificent looking animals. We then head out to where there are lots of tents and hundreds (thousands?) of camels already. Men are sitting around having chai and important meetings.
We head out to the dunes where we are serenaded by 2 men playing Saringhi- their version of a cross between a guitar and violin. Chai and biscuits are served as we sit on a blanket watching the sun go down. Then it is back on to our trusty camels for the trek back to the fairgrounds. We say goodbye and walk back through town past the many temples (including a big Brahma temple) and through the markets that have really come alive in the evening. The streets are decorated and people and cows throng through them. We decide against a visit to the temple this evening and walk back to the hotel (the longest walk of the trip!).
Dinner is a buffet at the hotel – vegetarian and no alcohol – and they have run out of fresh lime soda much to our distress.
It is our last formal dinner so we collect our tips for Naveen together and Brian gives a lovely speech on our behalf.
Most of us opt for an early night – and the beds are very comfortable!
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
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