Pushkar is one of the holiest cities in entire India and definitely worth a stop during your Rajasthan itinerary!
From visiting a Bhrama temple, sipping a mango lassi while overlooking Pushkar lake to doing a sunrise hike to the Savitri Mata Temple. There are so many awesome and unique things to do in Pushkar!
In this guide I will share my personal experience and also what to look out for. While I visited Pushkar on my road trip through India this was the first and only place I ever got scammed. I will tell you exactly what not to do and what to look out for!
Unique Things To Do In Pushkar, India
Pushkar is one of the most ancient cities in India and located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan. There are several temples in Pushkar and the most famous temple is the Brahma temple, which is one of the few temples dedicated to Brahma in the world.
Pushkar is consiedered one of the holiest cities in India and the comsumption of meat and eggs is forbidden. You can find the city of the shores of the holy Pushkar Lake. Every year thousands of pelgrims visit this holy place and bathe in the lake to wash off all of their sins.
How to reach Pushkar
During my 2 weeks in India I mostly traveled by private transfer but I’ll give you an overview of all the options possible so you can decide what works best for you!
Pushkar doesn’t have an airport but can be reached by air through the Sanganer airport.
I traveled to Pushkar from Jaipur and you can reach the holy city either by car or train!
From Jaipur it’s about 3 hours driving to reach Pushkar and most of the drive is on National Highway 48.
A lot of people actually visit Pushkar as part of a day trip from Jaipur or Jodhpur.
You can take the Red Bus from Polo Victory in Jaipur and in a little less than 4 hours you’ll be dropped of in the centre of Pushkar.
Why you should visit Pushkar
The holy city of Pushkar is known for being home to one of the only exisi-ting temples dedicated to Brahma in the entire world. But it’s also a very nice place to go hiking to one of the nearby viewpoints and experience some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets from above.
Another annual phenomenon is the Pushkar Camel Fair which is held over seven days during Autumn. Every year over 200.000 people come here to experience this and in 2021 the Camel Fair will be from November 11 to 19.
When is the best time to visit Pushkar
The best time to visit Pushkar is from October to March. During this time the weather is pleasant and it doesn’t get too hot during the day.
Pushkar is located next to the Thar desert so if you also want to experience an overnight in the desert you’ll have to visit between those months.
What to look out for when visiting Pushkar
Pushkar is not just known for being a holy city, it’s also known for trying ti scam a lot of tourists as soon as they arrive unfortunately. The following is an exact retelling of what happened to my friend and I so you know how to avoid it.
As soon as we arrived at our hotel in Pushkar we went to their rooftop terrace for lunch and overheard two other ladies talking. We asked what all the fuss was about and they explained how their friend was scammed for more than €1000! They told us that whatever you do, don’t accept a flower!
After lunch we walked towards the city and oh yes, as soon as we arrived men tried to hand us a flower. At times they even followed us and kept insisting cause it would bring us good fortune and good luck. We kept on being persistent and told them no where then sometimes we got angry responses back at how disrespectful we were of their holy city. It’s not an easy situation to be in, us being two women and surrounded by more than 10 local men all trying to put a flower in our hand or pretty much insulting us.
We found a little refuge at a local rooftop cafe and it felt nice to not be followed anymore.
The day after we wanted to visit the Brahma temple but because of my camera they wouldn’t let me in and a local guy said he would take care of my camera and keep it safe for me. Now this camera is my baby so I politely refused and he said that because of the fact that we couldn’t visit he would give us a flower that we could simply drop in the lake and would have good fortune… Before we knew it both of us had this small flower in our hand. We turned away from the temple and every single person we passed pointed us into the direction of the lake. Everyone kept an eye on us so throwing away the flower wasn’t an option.
We were pretty much escorted to the lake and as soon as we arrived they showed us where we had to go. Both of us were separated and had to sit in front of a priest who then began blessing me and my family. “This isn’t all so bad” i thought to myself. “I actually get to experience a true local custom”…
As soon as the chanting was over the priest said these exact words to me: “Because of my job as a priest I can’t work for my family. I have 8 family members and you have to pay INR 10.000 for each family members.”
I was in complete and utter shock… I didn’t know what to do. For starters I didn’t have that kind of money on me let alone that I would hand it to some stranger. I knew I had a couple of INR left in my wallet so I handed him these to be done with it. He wasn’t happy with me though and started shouting at an angry tone. By this point me and my friend were still separated and I was being watched by more than 20 other men…
One of them even said that they also accept credit card! Can you believe it?
After this “ceremony” both of us got a small rope bracelet and from that moment we were left alone.
Refusing the flower is the only thing you can do to avoid this situation.
Where to stay in Pushkar
- Ananta Spa & Resorts – It’s one of the finest hotels in Pushkar and offers a bespoke luxury.
- Pratap Mahal Pushkar IHCL SeleQtion – An upscale resort flanked by the Aravalli mountain range and in an opulent, Mughal-style with ornate accents.
- The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa – A haven of wellness and renewal next to the Aravalli mountains.
- Inn Seventh Heaven – A hundred year old haveli (mansion) which has been restored from disrepair and converted into a small hotel.
- Kanhaia Haveli – Located in the centre of Pushkar and guests rave about the clean rooms and rooftop terrace.
- Shannu’s Ranch Inn – Offers ranch-style cosy brick bungalows with high ceilings. All rooms are facing a huge garden that creates a majestic environment.
10 Awesome Things To Do in Pushkar
1. Pushkar Lake
Pushkar Lake is one of the holiest places in the entire city so when visiting there are a couple of things you have to keep in mind.
As soon as you enter the area around the lake and down the stairs you have to take off your shoes. You can only walk around the lake barefoot but you may keep your shoes in your hand. You just have to make sure they don’t touch the ground. If you forget to do so you’ll definitely be “gently” reminded by a couple of locals who start shouting at you.
Even that the combination of tons of pigeon poop on the ground and walking barefoot is an experience on its own it’s definitely worth taking a stroll around the lake.
Another important factor is that if you’re taking photos of the lake you can only do so if there are no people bathing in it! It’s prohibited to take photos where people are bathing!
But besides all of these customs and rules it’s an incredible place to visit in Pushkar, pigeon poop included!
2. Rangji Temple
The Rangji Temple is one of the 400 ancient temples in Pushkar and it’s devoted to Lord Rangji who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Visiting the Rangji Temple was one of my favourite things to do in Pushkar!
The temple is guarded by priests 24/7 and before entering the holy premises you’ll have to take off your shoes. But as a tourist it’s also possible to worship the incarnation of Lord Rangji. The priest will chant the holy mantra after which you repeat everything. After the proceedings the priest will shower you with holy water from Pushkar Lake and you’ll receive a ’tilak’ on your forehead as a blessing.
Compared to our experience with the flower this temple made us feel a lot safer and the entire experience felt so genuine and was absolutely lovely.
- Opening hours – The temple is open every day from 6am to 7pm. Between 1pm and 4pm the temple remains closed to visitors due to lunch hour.
- Entrance fee – Free. There’s a donation box at the entrance if you wish to make one. Since we were taking a lot of photos we put some money in it.
- How to get there – The Rangji Temple is only 300 meters from Pushkar Lake so you can easily get there on foot.
3. Sunrise hike to Savitri Mata Temple
One early morning we rolled out of bed when the sky outside was still pitch black! It was time to go on a little adventure right outside of Pushkar and hike up to the Savitri Mata Temple.
In my personal opinion this is one of the best things to do when you’re visiting Pushkar!
The Savitri Mata temple is located on the Ratnagiri hill which is a popular pilgrimage site for the Hindus. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Savitri, the estranged wife of Brahma.
Ratnagiri hill is located on the outskirts of Pushkar and from the lake it’s about 15 minutes walking to reach the base. After that it’s a steep climb up the stairway’s but after about 30 minutes you’ll reach the top.
It’s a pretty brutal climb up at times, especially for me and my short legs, but the panoramic view that you get at the finish line definitely makes up for it!
After that you can simply sit here and relax, grab something to drink for the local shop and wait until the sun rises behind the mountains.
The Savitri Mata temple hike is also a favourite to do during sunset!
- Opening hours – The Savitri Mata temple is open every single day from 5am until 12pm and from 4pm until 9pm.
- Entrance fee – The temple is free to visit but you can always drop a little donation.
- How to get there – Like I said before the best way to go up is by use of the staircases. There is also the Savitri Mata ropeway wich is open every day from 6am until 7.30pm and which costs around INR 127 per person.
4. Sipping Lassi on a rooftop bar
There are a lot of rooftop bars and restaurants in the centre of Pushkar but the one from U-turn Hotel is my absolute favourite.
After all of the hectic encounters in the city and the entire flower scam it was so nice to just sit here and watch all of the commotion and rituals below.
5. Stroll through the colorful streets of Pushkar
One of the best things to do in Pushkar is simply get lost in the many tiny alleys of this city.
The streets are lined with over 400 temples, each covered in more splendid colours than the other!
Just be careful you don’t bump into a cow cause they are also roaming free through the city. This is often the case in India cause the cows pretty much rule the road. Cows in India are a sacred animal but they are also pretty harmless so just enjoy the change of scenery and respect their presence.
6. Gurudwara Sahib
Gurudwara Sahib, also known as Gurudwara Singh Sabha, is a famous Sikh pilgrimage site in Pushkar.
This beautiful two story white temple is another wonderful places to visit in Pushkar and weirdly overlooked by a lot of tourists!
When visiting this temple you do have to cover your hair. They offer scarfs at the entrance but you can also choose to wear your own turban or headpiece, as long as it covers the top of your head you’re good!
- Opening hours – The temple is open from 6am until 7pm
- Entrance fee – Free
- How to get there – Gurudwara Sahib is only a 30 minute walk from Pushkar Lake!
7. Hot Air Balloon Safari over Pushkar
Is there honestly anything better and more fun than going on a hot air balloon flight during sunrise?
You can see the sky change color from the sky and you’ll have an amazing view over the rolling hills surrounding Pushkar and its lake.
Depending on the season there is both a morning flights as an evening flight, except for the months April through June, then there’s only a morning flight available.
8. Hike to Pap Mochani Temple
Hiking to the Pap Mochani temple, also known as the Gayatri Temple, is one of the most fun and rewarding things to do in Pushkar.
From the base the hike up only takes around 20 minutes and you’ll be greeted by a spectacular view over the city of Pushkar! From the centre you absolutely can’t miss this temple cause it’s high up on a hill and it’s bright pink.
This is the perfect place to visit in Pushkar to watch the sunset and chances are high you’ll be joined by a couple of locals as well!
- Opening hours – 24/7
- Entrance fee – Free
9. Brahma Temple
Lord Brahma is seen as the creator of the universe and is one of the most important gods in Hinduism. One of the top things to do in Pushkar is visit the temple of Lord Brahma since it’s the only Brahma temple in the entire North of India!
If you’re visiting this temple make sure to leave your camera at the hotel! You’re not allowed to bring yours inside of the temple and you’ll have to leave it at the front which I really don’t recommend.
- Opening times – From 6am to 8pm
- Entrance fee – Free for both locals as tourists
10. Go on a camel safari in the desert
Pushkar is located next to the Thar desert so it makes sense that one of the most popular things to do is to go on a camel safari. Camels were once the best and only way of transportation through the desert.
During these safari’s you’ll have an authentic experience and you’ll also have a wonderful view over the Aravalli mountain range.
If you’re going on one of these tours it’s important to bring the following items: a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, your camera, a water bottle and comfortable sandals.
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Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
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