06 Mar Happy Holi in Pushkar
This would be my second experience of Holi. My first one was super chill, I had a few markings of colour and didnt participate in the celebration nor see much of it. This year it seemed like a lot of travellers I chatted with were either en route to Pushkar for the Holi holiday or Varanassi, usually there was some intention of where they wanted to be. Pushkar sounded lovely as I had been to Varanassi and couldn’t imagine going back so soon or going back for a Holi holiday in what was considered Indias holiest city. So I became another traveler excited and journeying up north. I am a rare breed of traveler and prefer to fly as the 31+ hours on an train in India I can’t quite justify for an hour or two flight without all the commotion for cheap. GOA to Delhi, not direct but much closer. I had heard fun and nightmare stories about the trains in India and while I am sure one day I will have my own experience this wouldn’t be that time. From Delhi to Pushkar was a 9 hour night, sleeper bus. These are the norm in India. Sleeper buses aren’t terrible and minimally they offer you the ability to lie down and hopefully sleep while you travel. There were people without a sleeper bed that were sleeping or sitting on the floor of the bus. The buses typically leave later at night and arrive early morning, in my case half past three in the morning would be early.
The Last 10 miles (16km) Getting to Pushkar
I was dropped off along the road where tuktuk’s were waiting regardless of the hour. The first one approached and wanted 2,000 rupees to go to Pushkar. My bus ticket from Delhi to almost Pushkar was 600 rupees so something immediately said this wasn’t right. It is normal to bargain but at three am I was hardly in the mood. I immediately said no and started to walk with my bags away from the small mob of drivers. They followed relentlessly asking a myriad of questions. To which my reply was no thank you repeatedly. One driver said that Pushkar was far 30kms away and the 2k was reasonable. I had phone service while I was in India and google would tell me that we were only 16km away. Ironically this didnt seem to affect the exorbitant price. There were other people milling about so I began to question who if anyone spoke English. Minimally I could perhaps split the cost with someone else who also may be journeying on to Pushkar. Out of a group of younger boys, one spoke English. I told him the tuktuk’s were trying to rip me off and to see how far away a bus station was or if there was another alternative. He went over and chatted with the drivers and came back with 1k. Lovely, so that was already better but still. Out of pure principle I wasn’t going to support that kind of extortion from the drivers. There was a bus station, it was super cheap, not far and would be open at seven. After some time the lovely young Indian guys asked if I wanted a ride and offered to take me into town. I gladly said I would happily pay them 500 rupees which seemed reasonable. Badda boom badda bing, just like that I was en route to my final destination and celebration of Holi. The ride itself was entertaining and fun, we smoked, we sang, new friends were made. They dropped me off and at this point it was nearing 5:30am. A few hours later I was checked into a hotel as the guest houses that had been recommended to me were full. In celebration for the holi festival the town was estimated to have 20,000 tourists visiting.
Holy Holi in Pushkar
Pushkar is a religious city and therefore observes many interesting rules:
**Drugs, Alcohol and Non Vegetarian Food is strictly prohibited.
**Footwear has to be removed 30ft from ghats
**Please respect Hindu culture
**Do not embrace in public & Dress respectfully
**Beware of cheaters/ crooks who can divert your attention by means of throwing dirt or rubbish
Happy Holi! The festival of colors and also known as the festival of love. This holiday is said to represent the victory of good over evil. It was a complete clusterfuck and shit show. In a land where personal space doesn’t exist enters a rainbow of bright colors in various forms. Anyone and everyone would come up and smear the powder on your face or throw it on/at you. Color was literally everywhere. Dry powder, with water in guns and water bottles. People get so creative. If you were shocked by color being put on you in oh so many ways (which I was) that prompted even more attention and thus color. It was a giant mess which turned into an even bigger party. Holi is the only day that children can drink with or in front of their parents as usually it is a sign of disrespect. ** travel stereotype** Indians CANNOT DRINK Alcohol. I asked many people throughout the day what they were celebrating and couldn’t believe that no one had an answer. One man was kind enough to enlighten me of the history and long story of how holi came to be over a bhang lassi. It was a wonderful story and he told it splendidly unfortunately I do not recall the many details. :/
Footnote: My radiant friend and fellow traveler Reane (from the states),found me after the madness. She was carrying a large staff (stick) and said it was to keep people from touching her face and after awhile just keep them away in general.
GENIUS!! Next year you will find me with a staff and a smile! 🙂