The Camel Fair makes the city famous, but Pushkar is a treasured city in itself. Not only is Pushkar one of the oldest in India, but it is also one of the most sacred thanks to Pushkar Brahma Temple. But what makes Pushkar indeed a beloved city for us what that the ancient town is quite small and easily walkable. Of all the main towns in Rajasthan, Pushkar is by far one of our preferred destinations, together with Jaisalmer.
Many of the streets are pedestrians only, which means you can visit at leisure without the cumbersome and noisy traffic of the more significant cities. Old buildings are featuring detailed architecture and high in colors line narrow alleys where you may encounter wandering cows, wedding parties, or funeral processions.
The charming city is not lacking monuments worth seeing so check our list of top Pushkar tourist attractions.
If you are interested in temples, check the Golden Temple in Amritsar!
Where is Pushkar in India
Pushkar is a small town in Rajasthan, about 180 miles (290 km) west of Jaipur. Nestled between the Thar Desert, the Aravali hills and the lake of the same name, Indeed, according to Hindu beliefs, the God of Creation, Lord Brahma, created the holy city when he let a lotus flower drop to the earth, and one of the three petals became Pushkar Lake. What makes Pushkar also unique is the Brahma Temple is the only one still standing in the world today.
What to Do in Pushkar
Most of the top things to see in Pushkar are around the Pushkar Lake and the numerous temples. A walk in the old town is also a must-do in Pushkar, but there are more Pushkar India points of interest worth visiting.
Pushkar Brahma Temple
Among the 500 or so temples in the city, Pushkar Brahma Temple is one of the few temples still standing from ancient times. Legend said that Brahma’s Consort, Saraswati, created the temple as a curse, and market the temple by a red spire. There are only 6 Brahma Temples in India, but Pushkar Brahma Temple is the most important one.
[Learn more about the Brahma Temple on a spiritual walking tour]
Beside the Pushkar Brahma Temple, other temples worth visiting include Hindu and Sikh temples, such as the Savitri Temple, Old Rangji Temple, Paap Mochini Temple, Atmeshwar Temple, Mahadeva Temple, Apteshwar Temple, Gurudwara temple, and Raghunath Temple.
If temples are what interest you in India, make sure to check the Golden Temple in Amritsar!
According to the Hindu mythology, Pushkar Lake history says that the location of the lake is where Brahma and his consort Savitri offered prayers. Hindu believers bath in the Pushkar Lake as part of Moksha, the end of the death and rebirth cycle. The holy lake sees a constant flow of worshippers offering prayers, taking baths in the designed ghats.
With over 52 ghats, the sacred waters of the Pushkar Lake are where believers and pilgrims can bath and worship. Among these, the two most famous ghats are the Brahma Ghat and the Varaha Ghat. However, nine other ghats are of importance are Dadhich, Gangaur, Saptarishi, Kota, Gwalior, Yag, Jaipur, Karni, and Gau.
Note that no shoes are allowed at any Pushkar ghat. Priests most likely will reach out to you to “put” a red ribbon around your wrist. Many are true priests; many others are simple beggers or scammers that will ask for a hefty “donation.”
Tip to take your Pushkar Lake Photos: Go at sunrise or sunset for the best lights.
Pushkar Camel Fair
Usually set in October or November, the Pushkar Camel Fair is famous, one of the largest in the world, and the major camel fair in India. During the event, it is common to see thousands of camels and people, participants and visitors alike, gathering for the Pushkar Fair, locally known as Kartik Mela or Pushkar Mela.
High in colors, sounds, smells, and actions, Pushkar boats of activities both for the benefits of the locals, visiting Indian nationals, and travelers alike. The event takes place during Kartika, the eighth lunar month according to the Hindu calendar. The heights of the fair are on Kartik Purnima, the full moon. This is also the time when Hindu believers enter Lake Pushkar to bath in its holy waters. During that last night, the lake becomes alight with candles floating. Start planning your trip to the Pushkar Camel Fair today.
[Read about our 3-day camel trek through the Thar Desert]
Even if you are not attending the Pushkar Camel Fair, camels are present all year around Pushkar. You can see them in town, and in the nearby villages.
Pushkar Historical Architecture
As you walk the streets of Pushkar, make sure to look up and check the buildings lining up. From bright colors ranging from deep purple, bright yellow, or pastel pink, the varied hues keep on brightening the city. Many buildings also reflect polished stone and woodwork, delicate arches over carved balconies. Leave the main shopping streets and wander further in the little hallways. You might stumble upon an old Hindu temple, a bright guesthouse, or a lovely courtyard.
Amazing Architecture in Pushkar
Traditional Indian Life
The walkable town means you are up and close to Indian families going through their daily routine. Here a woman washing clothes. There, kids playing with a ball. You may even come across a Hindu wedding with women beautifully dressed in bright colored saris, with hands painted in henna and circled with thick jewelry. Or you might witness a Hindu funeral with the widow dancing in a trance while the family follows the procession down to the temple.
A Day in Pushkar Photos
Outdoor Activities in Pushkar
If you are looking for active things to do in Pushkar, the city offers plenty exciting activities.
Hike the Ratnagiri Hill
Other worthy temples include the Savitri Mata Temple one hour up the hill, and the Pap Mochani Temple.
You can reach the Savitri Temple either by hiking up about 2 hours the 1 mile (1.5 km) up the hill, over hundreds of steps leading to the top of the mountain, or take one of the cable cars, also called ropeway. Enjoy the sweeping views from the Thar desert and the whole of Pushkar, especially in the evening where you can watch a stunning sunset over the from the hill.
Another shorter 1-hour hike north of Pushkar leads to the Gayatri Devi temple, with great views at sunrise.
Fly High on a Hot Air Balloon
Only available during the Pushkar Camel Fair, enjoy a bird’s view of Pushkar, the holy lake, the dunes, the sacred temples on a hot air balloon flight. A hot air balloon ride in Pushkar is one of the top things to do while in town.
Camel Trek in the Thar Desert
Even you are not visiting Pushkar during the Camel fair, make sure to go on a camel ride. Indeed, the best way to explore the dunes of the desert is via a camel trek. Riding a camel is a fantastic experience, as you slowly traverse the desert, passing by local villages. It allows you to enjoy the silence of the arid environment, rocking you at every step, and experience the traditional way of traveling. Chat with the camel guides to learn about desert life. Make sure to check that the camel trek company is reputable and treats both its animals and employees properly.
[See what camel trek tours are available in Pushkar]
If you are short on time, just go for a day camel trek. But if time allows, plan for a multi-day trek which will include camping in the desert. We went on a 3-day camel trek from Jaisalmer, where camping in dunes and exploring remote desert areas are one of our best Rajasthan experiences.
Go on a Jeep Safari
If you feel a camel is too high a ride, go for a jeep safari to experience the desert. The 4-wheel drive vehicle will take you off-the-beaten-path through villages and dunes as well.
Rent a Motorbike
For more flexibility, rent a motorbike and explore Pushkar surroundings. Not only you can stop whenever you want; you can time your itinerary to include sunrise or sunset visits, wander to temples further out the city, and stay for a cup of hot chai in villages. We had rented our motorbike in Jaipur as we explored Rajasthan over five days. We did a similar trip in Kerala, where we went on a motorbike road trip from Kochi to Munnar and back to Kumarakom Backwaters.
[See our motorbike itinerary around Kerala]
Traditional Art & Cuisine
Sample Rajasthan Food
Enjoy the food from the many food stalls and side restaurants, where you can sample Namkeen, Rajasthani sweets, pakoras, and masala tea. Make sure to go to one of the several rooftop cafés in Pushkar for a sweeping view of the Pushkar Lake at sunset, all while sipping a fresh mango lassi. With so many places to eat in Pushkar, you are in for a treat – literally!
Take a Cooking Class
Learn to cook Rajasthan and Pushkar specialties during a cooking class. Find out which ingredients to use, how to combine them and prepare tasty curries! Mrs. Shivani cooking class at her Pushkar Cooking Art center comes highly recommended.
Move during an Indian Dance Class
If you have itchy feet, you might want to give a try at a Bollywood dance and feel like a star. Learn the Kathak dance, which is one of the ten major classical Indian dances, and originated from the traveling bards from the northern part of India. Listen to the drums, and discover new techniques and practice millennia-old dances.
Shop for Traditional Handicrafts
India in general but Rajasthan, in particular, has a rich handcrafted tradition. The streets of Pushkar is shopping galore. Wander the bazaar to find Rajasthani jewelry, camel-leather hats and belts, printed textiles and decorated dresses, colorful turbans, paint powders, and other Rajasthani souvenirs like potteries and wall decorations.
[Read about Delhi slums]
Besides a couple of bars, things to do in Pushkar at night tend to be quiet evenings.
Witness an Evening Aarti at the Varaha ghat
Aarti is a great experience as Hindu believers gather by the Varaha Ghat. Chants, incense sticks, ringing bells, candles fill the evening as the ceremony unfolds under the last rays of the sunset. Even if you are a non-believer, the ambiance will feel eerie, give you a different appreciation of Hinduism.
Watch a Kalbelia dance
Kalbelia is a traditional dance from the Kalbelia tribe in Rajasthan, known in the past for its snake-charmers. The rhythms of the dance, the outfit, and the movements make the Kalbelia dance one of the most languorous dances in India.
Day Trips from Pushkar
Ajaypal Ji Temple
The Ajaypal Ji Temple was founded in the 11th-century by Raja Ajay Pal, who also founded Ajmer City. The temple is about 6 miles (10 km) from Pushkar, a perfect day trip. Rent a scooter or a motorbike and drive through scenic landscape: desert dunes, forests, and villages. The area is quite remote and therefore quiet. There is a small shop where you can buy tea and snacks. Leave your scooter there during your visit as the nearby monkeys might do some damages to the seat cover. They are somewhat aggressive and will grab anything sticking from your bag.
For a change of pace, head to Ajmer. Rajasthan’s fifth largest city is a busy city and a center for Islamic and Jain cultures. Things to do in Ajmer include visiting the Dargah Sharif of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, the Taragarh Fort, Digambara Jain Temple and Lake Foy Sagara.
There is no shortage of Pushkar accommodations, and Pushkar tourism is well developed. You can find all lodging in Pushkar, from budget hostels, luxury resorts and everything in-between. We stayed at the Hotel Moon Light, a budget hostel in a quiet part of Pushkar. The rooms are lovely and spotless. The sunroof terrace gives you a great view of the town, where you can watch Pushkar residents in their daily life. The hotel offers an excellent range of Western and Indian food, good portion at reasonable prices. We highly recommend this hotel, but click here for the latest deals on Pushkar lodging.
A few resorts are in the hills around Pushkar. Read the latest reviews and save up to 25% on your winter vacations.
Pushkar Travel Tips
- Be prepared to walk through the city the entire day.
- Pack your bag tight as monkeys wander the streets and the various temples. They can be aggressive and will try to grab things.
- Rent a motorbike for more travel flexibility.
- Bring earplugs as the several temples mean celebrations are always happening. These ceremonies tend to be loud and last late into the night.
- Due to its divine status, the city has strict restrictions inside its walls: no alcohol, meat, eggs, or signs of affection between couples are permitted.
- We recommend staying 2 or 3 days in the city, just to let the atmosphere sink in and relax.
Interested in more Rajasthan travel adventures? Check out our camel safari trek in Jaisalmer, or things to do in Jodhpur. Explore other parts of India, and head to Kerala. Stay tuned for new blog posts on Rajasthan, and India.
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