The dark mood of the sky was hinting on possible rainfalls that day. Though, the sun, well hidden behind the dense clouds, was prevented from heating up the place in such an extreme degree I had been experiencing since the time of my arrival in Rajasthan. It was, indeed, an ideal day to venture up those mountains I was staring at encircling the town of Pushkar while drinking my coffee at the rooftop of my guesthouse.
I wasn’t really expecting the guesthouse-keeper to be able to give me any substantial information about the mountains, but, furthermore, I found out that he could not even tell me what I was kinda expecting of him to know: the name of the nearest, at least, mountains. The only thing he had to tell me was a fable of a tiger couple roaming around the mountains, occasionally feeding on livestock and humans, which thing I did not feel any inclined to take for a truth. After I pondered for a while all the different, enticing possibilities, I ended up choosing the one mountain right northeast of the city, parallel to that great, long ridge on the southeast. There is a road passing in between of the two mountains, and thither I asked the guesthouse-keeper to drive me with his motorbike.
Making a stop along the way to buy water and snacks, it did not take more than 20 minutes to reach my desired spot, near the western verge of that mountain. I hopped off, farewelled that guy, and started on my way upwards. There was a bare irrigation-moat right on the side of the road. I passed that one and started ascending the gentle slope straight up to the ridge. I soon encountered some herder-children, boys and girls, sitting under a tree. I stopped by their shade, after their invitation, and stayed for a while endeavoring to figure out some of what they were saying. I did not have much success on that, apart that they asked me for a pen, which thing I did not carry with me.
I let them there be and continued upwards. I did not manage to locate anything as a defined trail, besides some animal tracks here and there. However, the terrain was generally open, and even though the ascent became a bit steeper, I found no issue getting rapidly to the top of the ridge. A relieving breeze blew against my face as soon as as I stepped on the top. The view down to the valley was already amazing. I found the remnants of a bonfire up there, which while I was examining I heard a noise of motion that made me turn. There was that malicious-looking monkey standing some 8 meters in front of me. He made an angry grimace and demonstrated his teeth aggressively to me in the very instance our gazes met each other. I was swift to pluck up a thick stick I saw on the ground and sway it threateningly through the air, upon which sight the monkey blenched ashamed into the bush.
I then continued my way to the southwest peak. There was still nothing as a trail to follow. At points it was more open, while at others a bit of scrambling and pushing against thorny bush was required. As for the monkey, I did not get any further notice of him. Apparently he shit his pants – or he would have if he was wearing any. I rather got to see several curious birds, snakes and lizards, as well as glimpses of some robust hares, running away in terror upon noticing my presence.
Got up the middle peak, down the col, up again, and there I was at my goal-peak, staring at the colorful town of Pushkar, the houses and the lofty temples and its tranquil lake in the middle, down in the valley. After I received all the apt satisfaction of wondering at the surroundings, it was time to descend. There were various approaches to reach the valley from there. I chose the one which seemed to be the most difficult, which, of course, would make the best fun.
I came down in a pretty much straight northwest line, right through the steepest face . The inclination was ranging from steep to very steep all the way to the foot. For some part the ground is soil with lots of frustrating, thorny plants. For the rest, it’s rather rock, at times steep and featureless enough to make it quite necessary to utilize fingertips in order to climb down. Anyhow, at times it can be a bit tricky, nothing too technical though.
As I, after all, reached the base, I fancied to take some short rest and enjoy the serenity of my solitude. However, in no time, I got besieged by those evil, almost invisible, white-stripped, black gnats. My chances in that confrontation were not quite equal, so, this time, it was me fleeing away ashamed and itchy.
I set my direction straight west, whither Pushkar lied, along some sandy trails I traced through the picturesque pastures of the valley, till I reached the road. It would only be some 3-4 km to the town from there. And, indeed, to the town I was originally intending to return. Until, realizing that it’s still only a bit past noon, and lured from the calls of that other mountain on the west of the road, I took the decision to make a short detour.
I just crossed the road straight into more graze-land, and headed straight up for the ridge. Along the way I stopped by a cordial company of some elderly shepherds. I sat for a while to smoke a beedi with them, while trying to communicate with a few words and gestures. It was funny when I showed them a picture I had just taken of them. They were glancing at it full of amazement and merry humor. They gave me an impression – not far from certainty – that it was the first time they ever got to behold themselves on a photograph – which is quite incredible, isn’t it…? For how long more will the possibility to witness such a thing remain on this planet?
I nodded to them goodbye and resumed my way up. The terrain on that ascent was chiefly scree and friable rock, occupied by yet more thorny desert bush. It was though not far at all. I was standing on the ridge in no time, and got to traverse towards that pink temple situated at the southmost verge of the ridge, whence a stepped path led me straight into the center of the town.