Enroute to Pushkar, we detoured via a small rural village called Chandelao to stay in a beautiful converted Heritage Hotel. Walking around the village I think all 2400 residents must have come out to gorp at our group and demand that we take their photos. They were very funny and just loved seeing the digital images of themselves, fighting each other to get in the frame. Here we visited on of only a few working stepped wells which was fed by the lake. The lake was pretty low, but only to be expected as monsoon is due any day (fingers crossed it'll stay a few days behind us!) There was also a second well which could only be used by the higher casts. In India there is a very predominant cast system which governs what everyone can and can't do e.g. who they can marry, what they can eat, what profession they will follow. There are 4 main levels within the cast system, but within each level there are numerous casts, all with different rules. If wearing traditional dress it is possible to identify which cast someone is from by the pattern of the fabric, jewelry etc...the cast system is very harsh, restricting those in lower casts from achieving their full potential. In the small village of Chandelao there were 15 different casts and our hotel was owned by the highest of them all.
We visited the school, and got mobbed by kids, watched weaving, embroidery and pot making. The rugs being weaved by hand for a local market take 12 days to make and sell for only 500 rupees (approx 7 GBP). They were more fascinated by us than we were of them, forming circles around us to take a look! Forgot - visited these places when on a "jeep" safari so only half the group which was much better and felt less intrusive.
Despite the hotel being beautiful and serving dinner on the rooftop, what I will remember of here is that the power cut at 0145 and didn't go back on until the morning. I woke totally soaked through with sweat - the fan had stopped and there was no way of getting a through-draught into the room. I slept a bit on the roof on a sofa far too small even for me then returned to a very restless night and not the best mood the next morning!
Pushkar is a small town on the edge of the desert, built around the lake. Surrounding this holy lake are 400 milky-coloured temples, and multiple ghats where locals bathe every day. Apparently the temples appeared when Brahma dropped the lotus flower. This is another Hindu town. The 3 main Gods in Hinduism are, Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. All other Gods are derived from these through reincarnation which is one of the Hindus' core belief and behind the reason they believe cows to be holy. Each Hindu can decide which God to worship depending on their personal beliefs. Hinduism is a religion that you must be born into and can not chose to enter - if parents are of different religion the child is to take the father's religion. Pushkar is home to one of the few Brahma Temples, said to be so few because Brahma wanted to perform a self-mortification at the lake and when his wife Savitri didn't attend he married another lady on a whim. Savitri, annoyed, vowed that Brahma would not be worshipped anywhere else. The temple was much similar to every other one that I've seen!!!
On the lake-side we had a Puja (Hindu prayer) performed by a Brahmin (a priest). Sitting facing the water we had to repeat after him, (very difficult as it was in Hindi) and try desperately not to laugh! We threw petals into the water and behind us, washed our heads, eyes and heart with sacred water, had a red spot put onto our forehead then rice added on top, threw some more coloured spices into the water and left some money under a coconut!! Oh, and we also got our "Pushkar Passport" - a red and yellow string tied around our right (for unmarried) wrist. And all this was to bring good luck and prosperity to the Kendrick family!
Pushkar also had a hill with the Savitri Temple on the top which we hiked up the steps to get a wonderful view of the town. Up here there was a much better breeze and for the first time in months I got sunburnt! Luckily the hotel had a pool to cool off in, complete with a couple of resident frogs and lots of beetles.
The town centre consisted of narrow streets lined with shop after shop where I spent much time haggling down the price of every item I bought - hard work, but worth it!