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  • Writer's pictureseimaistato

A day in the holy city

Pushkar, India - August 2023

Pushkar is the strangest city I have ever seen, a unique place in the world, a bit like our Venice. It is another of those places that, during my first trip to India, generated several mixed feelings, leaving me with a thousand questions.

It is one of the oldest and most sacred cities in India, with the particularity of being home to the only temple of the god Brahma, creator of the universe, the founder of the city itself. Legend has it that Brahma managed to defeat a demon with the help of a rather special weapon: a lotus flower. After the impact, when the flower touched the Earth, it formed the sacred lake, where every Hindu believer should go at least once in his life.

Pushkar in fact means lotus flower, a symbol of purity, peace and eternity.

We are in the middle of a market, super crowded, with lots of women wearing very colourful clothes. It is hot, it is full summer. Voices, sounds, horns and smells echo in the air and completely envelop you.

We visit the Brahma temple, a very simple and small architectural structure painted a bright orange and blue. We stand in a queue, along with all the pilgrims as we listen to some sacred chanting. We take off our shoes and go inside. I feel a little strange, I don't want to do anything that would be disrespectful to all the people around me. In the end I am just here to see and know. We arrive in front of the physical reproduction of Brahma, and like every time I see a Hindu god I am amazed. Obviously no photos can be taken.

We go in search of one of the 52 Ghats that can be found in this city.

A Ghat is a flight of steps that leads pilgrims directly to the sacred waters of the lake.

A place where various rituals take place, such as the Puja, with donations to the gods and the washing of the body.

We take off our shoes here too and begin to witness these ceremonies from afar.

Everywhere you can find little shacks selling flowers, coconuts, rice, everything to offer to the gods and lots of holy men performing rituals. You cannot take photographs. It is something mystical, a spirituality that is very difficult to describe. We listen to chants, sacred hymns, see believers meditating and immersing themselves in the lake to purify themselves.

We meet the owner of a bed and breakfast who offers to be our guide - and why not? - and begins to tell us all about the history of this town and the foundations of the Hindu religion.

With him we discover that Pushkar is a 100% vegan city: alcohol and meat are strictly forbidden. He, in 57 years, has never eaten meat, eggs or cheese.

He spends the whole afternoon with us in the streets and temples of the city,

 and accompanies us to the foot of Ratnagiri Hill where 650 steps leading to the Temple of Savitri, one of Brahma's wives, await us. With 100% humidity we begin our climb. The view of the sacred lake and the small town bring a fitting end to our day in the sacred city.

Brahma Temple, Pushkar
Towards the Brahma temple
Brahma Temple, Pushkar
Brahma Temple
Gifts for the gods
the market
Ghat, Pushkar
Towards the ghat
Ghat, Pushkar
a Ghat
Ghat, Pushkar
To the gods

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