My mamma tells me “Lil’ Missy, you ain’t a home-girl if you haven’t seen your world properly”
I say to her “Mamma, I’ll put on my boots right now and don’t bother looking for me, I’ll be where the gypsies at!”
A little less conversation with my mother, I write these dialogues for her where I’m a southern cowgirl parlaying with her mom. Makes sense? Abso-***king-lutely!
We have been invited by Westin resorts, Pushkar to enjoy a stay at their newly opened property 20 mins drive from the main town. Imagine a hilly drive, lush lands and rose shrubs all over/either side of your road in a desert. Who knew, Pushkar is one of the biggest producers of rose and its multiple products (Gulkand, rose water, perfumes).
Let’s start with the hotel-
Mostly Villas spread around with the subliminal views of the Aravalli hills. The resort speaks of understated luxury, boasting confidence in the desert heat. Westin, as a brand has not spoken of its true belief of health and wellness as its priority. This resort with complete resources of not wanting to be a full throttle spa is balancing on a rope with luxury and indulgence on one side and mindfulness, nurture on the other.
What can you do-
Cycling around the property, if you’re more adventurous- go out and explore the picturesque town. The swimming pool cannot be missed and is if you haven’t got one in your room, that’s where you are going to be. Yes, we had an indoor pool, which we seldom used but was great to be waking up to and having our breakfast served in it. See for yourself.
Yoga– A practice of healing, connecting and being one. they have an in-house instructor who can teach and assist as per your requirement. For those who can’t live without a gym-based cardio- they have special rooms built with a treadmill inside- so you don’t have to leave your room at all! If you aren’t spoilt enough, this is where you’re going to be!
Hammocks, badminton and board games can be put up where you like. A healthy menu is curated for those who eat light and clean. Their own gardens grow some fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit, for a cleaner dining experience. Sheesha/Nargileh for those who like the arabesque smoking experience. Their bar- MIX stays true to its etymology and creating the finest yet fun mixes ever. Though neither of us is big on drinking and mixers- the bartender (on special request) made a Gulkand (sweet rose preserve) mocktail which had us ordering 2 each by the end of the night. You can also go behind the bar and shake all you want- a D-I-Y drink.
Excursions from the hotel-
- Savitri Temple-The ropeway can get you up there in minutes with stunning views of the Pushkar town. It’s at a height of 510m and is a hard climb but definitely worth the activity. Best time to go- the sunset is grand and its cooler in the evening.
- Brahma Temple– Savitri’s husband, Lord Bhrama on commencing a religious ceremony without his wife, taking in another woman as his second wife; landed him a curse of being worshiped from only from one temple in the world. You hear me, men!?! Watch out before you go upsetting your wife :p
- The Ghats– Unlike Varanasi’s grandeur, Pushkar’s modest ghats have the most simplistic yet beautiful ceremonies going on all day.
- Local Bazaar– Marketplace where local goods are sold. You can buy beautiful jewelry like I did for my shoot. Many foreigners have their suppliers based in one of the many shops.
The holy town of gods is saintly situated half an hour away from Ajmer. It’s meaning- blue lotus flower in Sanskrit is due to its 52 ghats which have blue colored temples around it. One of the top 5 pilgrim sites for Hindus all over its popularity and accessibility has made it a crowded destination for tourists from around the world.
The Pushkar Mela– The fair which lasts for 5 days, ten days after Diwali celebrates the full moon amidst the trading of camels and livestock; the Bhrama pilgrims too. The camel safari is very popular there, you can rent a camel for a full day and explore the town. Every hotel is booked in advance and it’s a cultural chaos with turbans and Ghaghra (Rajasthani skirts) settling for the best price or barter for their stock.
Malpua- The traditional sweet made from flour, eggs, cows milk and sugar is Pushkar’s must try dish. Can be found at Halwai (a person who makes and sells confectionery/sweets) street which is known for all the little shops selling the most exquisite sweetmeats.
Outfit to wear in the desert-
- Fabrics- linen, cotton, organza and other light ones.
- Color blocking, prints- stripes, polkas and solid tones.
- Season-Winter- Blazers, pants, scarves and a jacquard silk coat.
- Summer- Wrap dresses, sets, shirts and salwar kameez (traditional Indian staple of long shirt and pants).
How to reach Pushkar-
- 6.30-7 hr drive
- One hr flight to Jaipur (Delhi) + hrs drive.
- Train Distance- roughly 7 hours.
Pool Side- Tommy Hilfiger’s all-American bodysuit with their classic denim jacket completed our plunge to lounge look.
Masaba Gupta’s 3- piece resort wear was so comfortable and stylish for the desert. You can also wear them as separates and dress it in creative ways. I felt like a part girl scout part safari girl.
These head-turning, conversation starters were last minute pick-ups as we wanted to do a little culture course. Poochki- a new upcoming brand is started by a duo who has named their brand after their pet cat. Dreamy silhouettes, drama and design; You can see Zoya breezing through the day from Train to Camels in the ensemble. Nicobar by GoodEarth’s polka dot dress seemed appropriate for the temperature and travel. It completed the gypsy-urban vibe we wanted to exude.
A little secret- A lot of people think we traveled to Pushkar by train. (WE DROVE) The Station Master was kind enough to let us shoot and we got lucky with these landscapes.
The minimal Indian-
Rajesh Pratap Singh’s modern-luxe outfits which relayed the story of an understated traveler who enjoys quality and tailoring as ways of being. Zoya in her gold skirt shot at the ghats. I, on the other hand, chose the earthy exteriors of The Westin Pushkar.
Kusafiri- A noun which means “to travel” in Swahili. For lack of a better word and to make the title interesting, I settled for this word which in its own way has a sense of culture.
Also, please go find the 120 yr old barber shop whose owner is a fairly young and an energetic person who calls himself Baba-the cosmic healer who has his own YouTube channel and is frequently covered by the Korean TV.
I don’t know how many people to thank for this venture, but to begin with; it would be my Parents; Who have helped us nurture our love for travel, people, and culture. Mr. Pratyush Mohapatra- the head of marketing at Westin resorts, Pushkar for being very accommodating, inviting and helping us feel at home.
All the designers- Sapna at Rajesh Pratap Singh, Madhulika Dhir at Nicobar, Anirudh at Poochki, Team at House of Masaba, Tommy Hilfiger India.
Nupur Agarwal for shooting us yet again and delivering your very best in patience, flexibility and editing.
Our driver without whom, we wouldn’t have made it so fast and about on time.
Devayani Chandra, Our intern at that time for helping us create this little dream.
Ah! I travel enough and often to feel like a gypsy. These photos were photographed within 6 hrs of hard work, 3 weeks of planning and 3 days of travel. We had crossed our budgets already so we did the make up ourselves. Posing and looking good is the easiest part, it’s the backlog, planning and consistently wracking your creative minds to push yourselves takes eons and every atom in you to deliver.
Now, I’m tired but planning new ventures.
See you at the Mela?
Zina Singh for Terrible Twos