Tucked away within the Aravali ranges in Rajasthan and seamlessly connected with the neighbouring town of Ajmer, lies one of the Hindu religion’s most spiritually significant places. The township of Pushkar is built marvellously around the Pushkar Lake and temple both of which are major religious destinations. Pushkar is one of the few places in the world where the Creator, Lord Brahma is worshipped. Tourists from all parts of the world are known to flock here by the hundreds each month, thus making for a colourful melting pot of cultures, along with being a spiritual and religious experience.
Pushkar is best visited during the winters between the months of November and February. The place is flocked by tourists, especially in November, because this is when the prestigious Pushkar Fair takes place. Having a climate similar to that of the rest of Rajasthan, it is best avoided during peak summer when the heat rises to unpleasant degrees.
Pushkar prefers to remain discreet, and is thus only available by road. Half an hour from Ajmer through hilly roads, it is also connected to Ajmer, which is consequently connected to all major cities, by the railways. The nearest airport is in the state capital of Jaipur.
1. Camel Safari
The Camel Safari is an organised safari through and around Pushkar. One can explore the desert and sand dunes and relax by a bonfire in the evenings with family and friends under the starry sky. One can also meet and interact with locals and have some breathtaking views of the surroundings that can only be seen from the remotest areas.
2. Shopping At Pushkar Market
The religious town has been built around the tourists that flock here all year old. As such, the market is a jumble of various clothes, jewellery, gems, art, sculptures as well as many other artefacts made by locals, including tourists who have settled here. These items are often inspired by everything, from the Hindu religion and deities as well as of the day-to-day life of people. Affordable and unique, it is a wonder to see the skill and craftsmanship of the common people of Pushkar. This market stretches all around the lake but is can be navigated on foot. An evening walk combined with a shopping spree is definitely recommended.
3. Restaurants and Cafes
Pushkar, as a strictly religious town, has a peculiar culture in their foods. Although a variety of international as well as Indian cuisines are available here, such as Israeli, French and German, it is all strictly based on healthy foods. Foods are wholesome and delicious and leave one feeling cleansed. Most of the cafes have a friendly ambience, with soft music and informal, open air seating, with a picturesque view of the lake and its surroundings.
Perhaps the most memorable one out of these is the Sunset Cafe, on the banks of the lake, directly opposite from the temple. Not only does this quaint cafe have all the above criterion, it also serves perhaps the most delicious cheesecakes and confections in Pushkar.
4. Spiritual Enhancement
The Brahma Temple, along with the Shiva Temple within it, is built on an elevated ground. Walking up to and praying at the only temple dedicated to The Creator and to the mysterious underground temple of Shiva, one is blessed as a devout Hindu.
Various guides who reside around the lake are willing to tell you about the fascinating legends revolving around the lake before you. At this time, one can request to pray individually near the lake. A priest will chant hymns and perform a ceremony to bless you and your loved ones. This is an experience worth having since the Pushkar Lake is said to be pure and even to have healing powers.
5. Pushkar Fair
In mid-November each year for five days, Pushkar turns into a celebratory city as it gears up for the Pushkar Fair. Attendees are in the thousands and it is a colourful celebration not only of the legend of Pushkar but also of the Rajasthani culture. Various interesting competitions are held, such as matka phod, longest moustache and bridal competition, amongst other attractions. Forms of Rajasthani art, theatre, music and dance are showcased, including the famous Rajasthani puppetry. The fair also becomes a trade fair where locals buy and sell clothes, jewellery, gems, art and even livestock.
Pushkar has remained grounded in its religious roots despite all the attention it has been given. A must visit as a spiritual pilgrimage or just as a vacation spot with family and friends.