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Pushkar is a holy town in the state of Rajasthan famous for the Pushkar lake, various ghats and temples spread all around the lake.
The word 'Pushkar' means lotus flower, which is said to be the seat of Brahma, one of the Hindu holy trinity, who is worshipped as the creator of this world. The legend has it that the demon Vajra Nabha killed Brahma's children, he in turn struck him with his weapon, a lotus flower. Vajra Nabha died with the impact, and the petals of the lotus fell at three places. One of them is Pushkar, where it gave birth to a lake. Brahma is supposed to have performed sacrifice at this lake on Kartik Purnima (the full moon day of the Kartik month [which generally falls in November]), hallowing the place.
Though Brahma is considered to be the creator of the world, Pushkar is the only temple of this important deity in the whole world. This is also considered as Adi Teerth or Teertharaj meaning ancient holy place or the most important of holy places respectively.
The nearest airport is in Jaipur, 3 hours away.
Due to its mountainous location, trains to Pushkar are very infrequent and slow. However, the train station in nearby Ajmer provides great connections to most major cities in India. From the Ajmer train station, you can either take a taxi to Pushkar (30 minutes, ₹500-600) or you take a rickshaw or tuk-tuk to the Ajmer Bus Station and take a bus from there to Pushkar (₹20).
Pushkar is not so big and can easily be navigated on foot. Several companies offer spiritual walking tours, which can be an excellent way to see the many temples efficiently.
By cycle or motorbike
It is easy to rent cycles or motorbikes to explore the areas surrounding the town.
Camel safaris are a very popular activity in Pushkar. See listings below.
- Pushkar Lake. Pushkar Lake is a beautiful, sanctified spot in the center of Pushkar. It is said to have been created by Lord Brahma and is therefore a place of pilgrimage for the Hindus. The lake is surrounded by 52 different ghats, or series of steps, which Hindus use to descend to the lake for ritual bathing, especially in the month of karthik.
Note that while there are many temples in Pushkar, the majority do not allow foreigners/non-Hindus to enter. You will have to take off your shoes to enter the temples. If you only have the desire/time to visit 2 temples, the one-of-a-kind Brahma Temple and the Savitri Temple, with a beautiful view of Pushkar Lake, are must-sees.
- Aptaeshwar Temple. A temple dedicated to Lord Shiva with an underground component.
- Atmeshwar Temple. A beautiful Shiva Temple.
- Bramha Temple. One of the very few temples in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma. Read up on Hinduism to learn why this temple is such a rarity! No matter where you stay in Pushkar, you will hear the daily chanting ceremonies or aartis conducted here: One begins two hours before sunrise, one 40 minutes after sunset, and one 5 hours after sunset.
- Pap Mochini Temple. A beautiful temple on a hill dedicated to Gayatri, one of the 2 consorts of Lord Brahma. A 30 minute walk north of Pushkar.
- Rangji Temple. A Vishnu temple built in south Indian style that is very different from other temples in North India. Poojas are perfomed here by Iyengars of Tamilnadu.
- Savitri Temple. Dedicated to Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma, this temple is the second-most important temple in Pushkar. It requires a climb of 650 steps to reach it, but the view at the top of Pushkar and the lake is worth the climb. Do it at sunrise!
- Sri Panchkund Shiva Temple. The shiva temple is said to have been built by Pancha pandavas. Located on the eastern edge of the town, 2-3 kms from the lake.
- Varaha Temple. The oldest temple in Pushkar. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Not well maintained, but impressive due to its age and spiritual importance.
- Man Mahal / Hotel Pushkar Palace, On Pushkar Lake. This beautiful palace was built as the guest house for Raja Man Singh I and has since been converted into the Hotel Pushkar Palace.
- Bathe in Pushkar Lake as it is much cleaner than the Ganges, but note that it does not meet water quality standards.
- Watch the evening prayers at Varah Ghat, a mesmerizing ceremony involving bells and lamps.
- Watch the aarti ceremonies at the Brahma Temple. The Hare Krishna chanting will likely wake you up anyhow, so go watch! See listing above regarding the Brahma Temple.
- Parikarma is the circumnavigation of a religious object - in this case Lake Pushkar. Join other pilgrims.
Camel safaris are a popular tourist activity and can last from an hour to several days. The beautiful desert area around the city is inhabited by nomadic tribes and a camel safari can also be a cultural experience to remember. Depending on the desires of the group, the guides can keep the camels going at a comfortable walking pace, can increase the speed to a less comfortable, but faster trot, or even have the camel gallop!
- Pushkar Camel Safari Tours, Vinayak Nagar-c, Near Petrol Pump, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The top-rated camel safari operator in Pushkar. Highly recommended. ₹350 for 1 hour, ₹550 for a 2-hour sunrise or sunset safari, ₹725 for a 3.5 hour safari, ₹1,000 for a 6-hour safari, ₹2,100 for an overnight safari.
- Pushkar Yoga Garden, Vamdev Road (Next to Sikh Gurudawara and Green Park Resort), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Runs 4 classes per day, each 90 minutes in length. Courses deal with all aspects of yoga from stretching, workout, and philosophy. Highly recommended. Students can stay with the family that runs the center and take classes every day. 90 minute class: ₹400.
- Pushkar Camel Fair (November, during the full moon) - A 14-day fair visited by 400,000 people per year. Features over 11,000 camels, horses, and cattle. Many companies offer packages that include luxury tented accommodation. It is held during a holy time in the Hindu calendar and pilgrims will come not just for the fair, but to bathe in Pushkar Lake.
Pushkar is known to be the best place to shop in Northern India. The prices are great, although the quality is subpar. You will find shops selling jewelry, clothes, cushion covers, showpieces, books, bags, handicrafts, shoes, etc.. If it is convenient for you and you need to buy gifts, plan to do your shopping in Pushkar.
Note that all restaurants within the city limits may only serve vegetarian food.
- A Blue Star, Jamni Kund Road (in the Southwest of the city). This restaurant has a nice garden with a hammock.
- Aroma Royal Pushkar (Near Brahma Temple), ☎ . Ourdoor eating in a garden. Good food, although the service can be slow.
- Cafe Nature's Blessing, Panch Kund Road (in the Southwest of the city). Half of the menu is vegan. Very clean. High quality ingredients including quinoa, sprouts, and fresh tofu.
- Everest Cafe, Panch Kund Road (in the Southwest of the city). Located on the rooftop of a hotel, has great views and pet turtles.
- Funky Monkey Cafe (Just northeast of the lake, off Main Market Road). Great coffee also the food menu is minimal.
- Laughing Buddha Cafe, Panch Kund Road (in the Southwest of the city). A wide variety of food options, including Western dishes.
- Out Of The Blue, Main Market Road (above Suresh Handicrafts), ☎ . Popular with tourists as a place to chill out. The view, 4 floors up, is better than the food.
- Om Shiva Buffet (On the eastern shore of Lake Pushkar). Rooftop restaurant known for its great pizza and great view. mains ₹70-170; buffet: ₹80.
- Wild Roses Restaurant (Just northeast of the lake, off Main Market Road). Great curries!
- Yummy Flavors Ice Cream Parlor, Gurudwara Road. 120 flavors of ice cream!
Alcohol is forbidden within the city limits, although drinking coffee in one of the many cafes is a popular activity.
Many hotels/guesthouses around Pushkar Lake have rooftop restaurants with views of the lake.
- Akash (Near Brahma Temple, Northwest of the lake), ☎ . Includes chill-out café. Managed by two brothers. ₹500.
- Aroma (Near Brahma Temple), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooms are completely spotless, owners are very friendly, helpful and honest. Has a restaurant and grassy rooftop to chill out or practice yoga. ₹750.
- Everest (Near Main Gau Ghat, a few blocks northwest of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: , firstname.lastname@example.org. 15 double rooms. ₹700.
- Green Park, Vaam Dev Road (Southeast of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Large swimming pool. ₹1,000.
- Honeydew, ☎ , e-mail: , firstname.lastname@example.org. Includes swimming pool and large courtyard. Single: ₹1,100-1,500; Double: ₹1,800-2,000.
- Kishan Palace, Panchkund Road (Southeast of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Lavishly decorated with wall murals. Highly recommended. ₹1,600.
- Mamaluna (Just northwest of Pushkar Lake), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 14 rooms. Rooftop restaurant, central location. Single: ₹700; Double: ₹1,000.
- Milkman, e-mail: email@example.com. Rooms are very colorful and have really cool murals on the walls! Dorm bed: ₹130; Double: ₹250-850.
- Moonlight, Brahma Temple Road (Near Ganga Mandir), ☎ . Family atmosphere. Great value. ₹300-800.
- Rising Star, Mall Mohalla. The family that runs this hotel makes you feel a part of the family.
- Prem Villas, Panch Kund Road (Southeast of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. New hotel. ₹1,000.
- Sun n Moon, Brahma Temple Road (Just west of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooftop restaurant.
- Third Eye, Jamni Kund Road (Southeast of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Beautiful grounds and great Israeli food. ₹1,100.
- White House (Near Marwar Bus Stand), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Rooftop restaurant. ₹1,100.
- Foothills Camp Resort (4 Kms from Brahma Temple Towards Foy Sagar Road), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Jungle camp in the mountains. Includes archery range, shooting range, bonfire facilities, telescopes. Tents are luxurious. Recommended. ₹2,500-₹3,500.
- Pushkar Royal Safari Camp (In the desert, 1km from Pushkar), ☎ . , Check-in: 12PM, check-out: 12PM. Luxury tents. Nightly cultural performances including music and dance. Camel safaris available. ₹2,500.
- Sewara Pushkar Resort, Motisar Road, e-mail: email@example.com. Pushkar’s foremost luxury resort, sprawling over 15 acres. 40 cottages, an expansive orchard and an animal farm. Very secluded and far from everything else. Wifi at reception only. ₹3,600.
- Orchid Tents & Tranquility, Chawandia Road (Northwest of the lake), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 12PM, check-out: 11AM. Luxury tents with heating if needed. Very friendly staff. Wild peacocks. ₹4,800.
- Pushkar Adventure Desert Camp, Motisar Road (Southeast of the lake), e-mail: email@example.com. Luxury camp in a beautiful setting. ="₹4,000, including dinner and camel safari.
- Pushkar Bagh, Motisar Link Road, Village Ghanehera (North of the lake, not in walking distance), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Excellent views but the mattresses are very thin. ₹4,500.
- The whole of town is considered to be sacred, so whatever rules generally apply to place of worship in India, apply to the whole of town.
- Smoking in public is prohibited by law though the rule is never enforced enthusiastically.
- Consumption of liquor or meat is not allowed in the city, therefore it is advised to respect the rule and not carry any liquor/ meat with you while travelling to Pushkar.
- It is advised that the men wear full length pants and t-shirt/ shirt and women wear full length clothes. Do not wear off-shoulder tops or shorts while roaming within the city.
- Take off your shoes at stairs if you are going near the lake.
- Be polite, but do not be pressured into making any offering at the ghats. It is not mandatory.
For female tourists:
- If you want to hire a local travel guide, do not go with him alone.
- Find safe accommodation. If you are a solo female tourist, safety is more important than price.
- Avoid wearing western-style casual clothes such as a mini-skirt, shorts, tanktop, camisole, or tight-fitting t-shirts.