Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat June 25 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | June 25, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    Holi Happenings in Pushkar

    Holi Happenings in Pushkar

    PHOTO: Holi Festival in Pushkar was more like a psy-trance party in India. (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    A few years ago, I saw a photograph that struck me — streaks of vibrant hues shot across the sky in all directions, like a battle of colors, showering the multitudes of people below. I promptly saved the photograph in my “Bucket List” computer folder, and discovered that it had been taken in India during the “Festival of Colors,” or “Festival of Love” (also referred to as “Holi”), one of the oldest festivals in India.

    Little did I know at the time, that in 2016 that bucket list item would be crossed off. A few days after arriving in Hampi, Holi festival chatter spread like wildfire and the best place to experience it was reportedly in the North. I had two options: keep it simple and stay in Hampi, or embark on a last-minute mission to Pushkar and endure a horrendous 48 hour journey on multiple tuk-tuks, buses, boats and trains to attend the Holi festival. Guess which one I chose?

    READ MORE: An India Transportation Primer

    I’ve never been one to take the easy route, so I raced against the clock to Pushkar. We nearly missed our first bus to Mumbai but got on just in time, cramped in our cubicles with our backpacks. The following 20-plus hours were endless and included the traveler’s foulest nightmare: The worst bout of food poisoning I had ever experienced, which lasted the entire 48 hour journey.

    Getting to Pushkar was a blur of toilets, trains and buses, but somehow I made it. Luckily, after two days of recovery and finally being able to stomach a bottle of water and half a falafel, I was feeling more my normal self, and it was time for Holi. At 9 a.m. we awoke and headed down to the festival, unsure what to expect but with bags of colored powder readied to throw.

    The streets were already covered in a powdery haze while the loudspeakers shook the purple ground as we approached the center of the colorful chaos. “THIS IS CRAZY!” I screamed as hundreds of purple people danced around us screaming “Happy Holi!” over the deafening sounds of trance music. They coated our faces with different colored powders from all directions and we danced in the center of it all, trying not to get groped by pervy men while men’s shirts were being ripped off and thrown atop of a telephone wire.

    Holi in Pushkar was equally beautiful and crazy, and not at all what I had envisioned, but a rich experience I will never, ever forget.

    PHOTO: Every night we all congregated to watch the sunset overlooking the holy lake.

    Best Accommodation: Shanti Shanti Guesthouse

    This guesthouse is smack dab in the middle of it all. Rates will vary but you must barter the inflated price. During Holi, a rooftop mattress costs 200 Rupees a night, while a private room is 400 Rupees a night. Rooms and bathrooms were clean, with ice-cold showers that relieve the intense heat.

    Top Eats

    Shiva Juice and Restaurant: Cheap and delicious food regardless of what you order. Be sure to try Aloo Chana, lemon-mint juice, the coffee ice-cream shake and fruit with muesli, curd and honey.

    Street Food: Pushkar street food is outstanding, cheap and plentiful. Be sure to try the momos.

    READ MORE: Experiencing an Indian Ashram

    Things to do

    Watch nightly sunsets over the holy lake with live music performances; camp overnight in the desert; Shop for silver, textiles and leather goods — you can easily spend a month’s wage because you’ll want it all; climb the mountaintop for scenic town views, or visit the 14th century Brahma Mandir Temple.

    PHOTO: One of the many wonderful and colorful clothing shops in Pushkar costing next to nothing.

More India


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
Finding Your Transportation at the Cancun Airport

Vacation Packages