Pushkar is a town found in the desert part of north eastern Rajasthan and it borders the Thar desert. It is a sacred pilgrimage site for devout Hindus and its the home to Lake Pushkar that is right in the middle . Legend has it that Lake pushkar was consecrated to Lord Brahma the creator of the universe when a lotus was dropped from his hand and a lake emerged in that place.
Pushkar has many temples and the most famous of them all is the Brahma Temple obviously.Many religious hindus make it a point in their lifetime to visit pushkar and take a dip in the holy lake in the many ghats that are found there and some will meditate for hours along the lake. Pushkar is also very famous for its camel fair which is one of the biggest fairs in the country.
Being a religious town , its strictly vegetarian and Alcohol has also been banned. Pushkar from Jaipur can be accessed easily via road and its only a 3-4 hr drive. You can take a shared taxi which will cost between 1500-2500 rupees . I had planned to stay in pushkar for only 3 days but ended up staying for a week which you will totally understand after reading :).
When you get to pushkar the very first thing you will notice if you are coming from Jaipur is how small the town is.There are narrow streets which have stalls and shops selling different wares, carts selling fruits and grocery’s, cows walking on the streets, people on bikes e.t.c and as a first timer it might seem a little bit confusing but you will get the hang of it.
Being a home to many temples you are bound to notice the very many religious pilgrims who usually don orange robes and can be seen walking along the streets. They will be carrying on their backs their belongings and a tiny metal like flask which I found out later they carry food with,given by well wishers mostly.
One scam am going to warn you about is that, as a tourist as you walk around you will be offered flowers to throw on the holy lake for good luck by strangers.You can take the flowers, which in most cases you will end up doing as they put them in your palm. Then you can say thank you and walk off but be sure another 50 meters there will be someone else offering them again to you.
If by any chance you act interested then be certain you will be taken to the lake where you will be introduced to a `priest` who will proceed to carry out a ritual which is supposed to cleanse you and bring good luck to you and your family. At the end of the said ritual they will ask you to donate some money for `orphans and the temple` , which is definitely a lie.
Do not be surprised if you are asked to donate 5000 rupees!! lol then they will tie a string thing on your wrist and tell you that nobody else will disturb you or try to get you to donate more money which just confirms that its a scam. Its okay if you refuse to give them money at all as they cannot do anything to harm you, or you can just part with 200 rupees for all the trouble they went through. This happened to me and as you can probably geuss by now I ended up parting with 200 rupees as that was the most I was willing to. Lol I found out from other travelers that the same thing had also happened to them, well I hope you will not fall for it.
Oh but the lake is so very breathtakingly beautiful, It is right in the middle and its surrounded by the many temples with the ghats attached where people take a dip. Be warned that you are not allowed to take pictures of the people taking a dip and offenders can be arrested.
Sit by the lake and you are bound to see some actual real religious rituals taking place. I saw this family who had come with the ashes of their dead family carry out a ritual and throw the ashes on the lake. You might also see this old badass guy who was dancing near the lake.
There are various things in pushkar to see including the very famous camel fair which is very beautiful and I was lucky enough to see it. During the camel fair there is over 50,000 camels, they are washed and adorned with lots of jewellery including silver bells and bangles around their ankles which jangle as they walk. There are also special stands set up selling camel jewellery. The camels interestingly have pierced noses and they spot some nice jewellery on their noses.
You can also take a desert safari and go out to the desert for a night of camping. I met people who had done it and they seemed to really like it or like me you can rent a bike and drive off to the desert and you will might be lucky enough to meet people from a tribe that lives in the desert. This people are known all over India for their snake charming skills and also for their exotic dancing skills.
We met such a family who were so nice and they agreed to put up a show for us which was really nice. Take the unbeaten paths and drive off with your bike out of the town and go exploring. It is so beautiful and you will enjoy being out in the desert and the wild. Go to the savtri temple which is up the hill and from there you can see all of pushkar and get to take this cab thingy which is pretty awesome.
While in pushkar, make sure you seat by one of the many Chai places by the streets for a steaming cup of masala chai, pay 10 rupees for some grass outside a temple and feed a cow, enjoy some freshly made juice by the streets, walk into one of the bookshops and browse through books and find one that calls to you, buy some beautiful leather handmade items like sandals, wallets, attend a yoga class or get yourself a full body massage, learn how to make a dreamcatcher by the streets, walk into an antiques shop and buy something really unique.
As a backpacker though, most of the times you do not have the luxury of space and you cannot be able to buy everything you desire or want. Sometimes you will see a really nice handbag that you know your friend would love but you cannot buy it for them as it will not fit in your bag and you still have more places to go to.I bought myself some beautiful postcards which I fell in love with.
Just because meat is not allowed doesn’t mean that the food is not good, for the most amazing, hugest pizza ever visit La Pizzeria!!they have the best pizza!!. Its so good, big and impossible to finish on your own,visit Nirvana restaurant for great food and the beautiful sunset cafe by the lake which is exceptionally beautiful at night. In terms of accommodation there are different places you can stay at that are very budget friendly.
When I got to pushkar it was right around the Diwali festival and the streets were beautifully lighted up with shiny lights and crazy fireworks going off every second. The festivity mood was so contagious and made me fall so deeply in love with Pushkar. Even after the festival was over the fireworks kept going off every minute which sometimes drove me crazy.
I loved pushkar so much and I would definitely love to go back and I hope that when I do, pushkar will still be as beautiful and amazing as I remember it.
Yogie on the move. xx