Rajasthan is home to more than thousand temples, sacred lakes and other curiosities to discover. In this article of our travel blog, we give you all our tips and tricks to live an unforgettable stay in this place in India bordering Pakistan.
Day 1 - Ranakpur Jain Temple
Today we got up early. It takes 6 hours from Udaipur to Pushkar by car. The truth is that I do not want to arrive very late, so the decision to leave soon from the resort is practically necessary. I have already got up thinking that this day will be similar to the one we had in Indonesia last year when we were going from Solo to Malang and it took us a day to arrive.
We have a hearty breakfast on a rooftop in Udaipur before heading to Ranakpur. We are served crepes called pancakes, croissants not bad at all and excellent fresh pineapple juice without water, ice, or sugar. You must know that they add a quantity of aberrant sugar, water or ice in the pressed fruit juice!
It is already 9.00. It's time we had to leave. We start towards Ranakpur to see the largest jain temple in India. The road crosses mountains where greenery abounds. It's like a Japanese landscape, a scene where only the pagodas are missing. We know we are in India when we see a motorcycle carrying two men and four goats. Then further, another man drive his bike with fifty chairs of all colors stacked behind him. At the same time, today is Independence Day in India.
The road is strewn with rivers in which families bathe and wash their clothes. There are monkeys and impossible crossings with buses on mountain side roads no wider than 2.50m. We spent most of the trip between dozing and reading the Rajasthan travel guide, trying to find and learn something that we have not seen yet.
In spite of everything, we arrive at the Ranakpur temple. It was built 50 years back on behalf of a rich opium seller. Here, some figures are 33 m high. There are 24 domes, 84 chapels, 1444 pillars, 20 priests, and only one material of marble. And with all that, we do not feel oppressed by all the sculpted details or the forest of pillars that supports the domes.
I'll even say it's like the palace of King Louie in The Jungle Book but you will find that there is repetition. It's beautiful, it's quiet and as we are barefoot it is almost good. I forgot to tell you that in Udaipur we started to get some sunshine, and that for two days (despite the small morning rain) there is real light and warmth.
We take the road to Pushkar, where we will stay only one night. We have to travel 5 hours ahead by car. We arrive at the Haveli around 5pm. So, after keeping the backpack, we start the visit the city of Pushkar. We eat a couple of sandwiches in the restaurant nearby.
There is no special Pushkar monument, but the atmosphere is very authentic. The truth is that at the moment it is the one that I like most of all we have seen together with Jaisalmer that we saw on the first days. Yes it is true that we have been a bit harassed at first by the flower sellers. We take a long walk through the ghats, barefoot, mixing with the people. The atmosphere is great. It makes me want to stay here for more days.
We do not know why, but we breathe something in the special atmosphere. The sacred lake of Pushkar is a balm for us after the stress we have felt in the rest of the places we have visited so far in Rajasthan. We see, as we have been told, that the city is the best place to buy hippie clothes.
It has many shops and the truth is that it looks good quality. We meet some tourists who are totally integrated with the spirit of Pushkar. At about 7 we go to the Jaipur Ghat to see the sunset and it is the best experience of this day in Pushkar. Anyone certainly deserves to travel the road just to see this.
There we are 1 hour watching how the sky and the city change color slowly. It is a very quiet place and we have an afternoon that is not very hot. So we're enjoying it a lot. I begin to be tired again. So we go to the restaurant, from where we have spectacular views of the ghats, to have a drink. After dinner we go again to rest in our room of the hotel.
Day 2 - Brahma Temple in Pushkar
This morning, we do not get up too late to avoid the peak temperatures. We go to the top of the small hill that is very close to the village and is within walking distance. After a climb of about fifteen minutes on a marked path, we reach the summit where a small Gayatri temple stands. We then enjoy an exceptional panoramic view of Pushkar, the desert and the flower gardens. We are alone, with tourists on the horizon.
After staying for an hour, we start walking. We leave for the 45 minute climb to the Saraswati temple. It is quite tiring especially due to the hot weather. The steps that must be climbed from beginning to end are steep and slippery.
But once at the top, we enjoy a panoramic aerial view of the whole region. It is even more beautiful than at the top of the first hill. The small Saraswati temple built at the top. The temple at the top of the big hill overlooking Pushkar is also a place of pilgrimage.
We wanted, on the afternoon of our second day, to walk to the gardens located near Pushkar. We go to the bridge that spans the canal that flows into the sacred lake. The canal is dry in this season but not the lake! We walk through random paths.
The atmosphere is bucolic. We soon find families of peasants happy and proud to show us their plantations. The children join us soon enough. They are adorable. The children then show us their animals like goats, and cows. The mother milk cow's in front of us.
This excursion is good especially after megacities visited in the previous days. While walking back, we come across the largest and best known Jagatpita Brahma Mandir or Brahma Temple. It is here that Brahma made one of his rare appearances. In front of the grand staircase leading to the temple of Brahma, the stalls offer to keep our shoes in lockers for a few rupees. The surroundings of the temple are very touristy and there are so many souvenir shops.
Day 3 - Sun Temple in Jaipur
Today we wake up at 7.30 in the morning. Our destination for the day is the Galtaji Sun Temple in Jaipur. Of course we want to be in another of the most famous cities in India. The journey is about 3 hours. Once on the road we see cows, goats, women, and men cross freely on the highway! There are times when the situation is surreal!
When we passed through villages, everything seems more incredible. In the end we arrived at the hotel in Jaipur at 11 o'clock in the morning. I eat sandwiches at noon! We leave at 3 o'clock in the afternoon to visit the Sun Temple or Monkey Temple.
It reminded me of last year in Bali, when a treacherous monkey stole our sunglasses and we had a hard time getting them back. The site is very quiet, although there are lots of local tourists and pilgrims and above all has a special charm. We gradually climb the 200 meters between the Temples and every step we discover new images that we like more.
After crossing the main access, not too promising, we ascend the hill and immediately we notice the beauty of the place. The pink walls crowned by terraces, are profusely decorated with beautiful vegetal and figurative motifs extracted from Indian mythology and religion.
Slowly, we are getting closer to our destination. As anticipated a groups of primates come to us to pull our trousers. As advised by our guide, we bought a couple of bananas for little more than 30 rupees in a local market to offer them to these sacred descendants of Hanuman, one of the most popular deities of India.
Dozens of pilgrims accompany us on the ascent. They come to present their respects and offerings to the god, but they also venerate a local saint named Galav, who is said to have lived here meditating as a sign of penance for some past sin.
The temple, truly magnificent and built in pink stone, is composed of a series of pavilions where the famous little monkeys roam at ease. Around the complex, there is a sacred spring with waterfalls that precipitate their waters on two large pools of superimposed levels and where the pilgrims perform their purifying baths.
But these pools are not for exclusive use, because the monkeys, real masters and lords of the place, also play to jump into the water performing improbable pirouettes. The locals tell us that these pools never dry out thanks to the prayers of Saint Galav Rishi.
On the way back to the Birla Mandir Temple, we met many peacocks. It is amazing to see how such a spectacular animal mixes with the people in the streets. It took us a while to get to Jaipur just over 15 minutes. We arrive at the temple and after taking off our shoes, we have a good time admiring the marble structure.
Here, as in the Monkey Temple, we meet many tourists, but all locals. Now, it's time for dinner. Although I'm a little hungry, I prefer not to eat in a roadside dhaba. So we go to the hotel to eat a thali with rice, dal baati churma, gatte ki sabzi, laal maans and papad. If everything continues as it is now I will be in top shape to see the Jaipur city tomorrow!