Pushkar is a small town nestled in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, bordering on the Thar Desert, far away from the crowds and the chaos of other cities in Rajasthan. It’s an attractive destination for both, the religious pilgrims and the curious traveler.
Pushkar is home to one of the six temples and the primary temple that worships Lord Brahma (The Creator) of the Holy Trinity in Hinduism. The entire settlement of Pushkar is built around the Pushkar Lake, a magnetic lake that is sacred to Hindus and is surrounded by ghats, and temples
The town is extremely popular for hosting the Pushkar Fair that takes place in November, a fair that has grown in fame the world over and is a time for celebration for the locals and nearby villages. More than 200,000 people visit the Pushkar Camel Fair during the week full of festivities.
Pushkar in the last few decades has also come around to be a center for hippie travelers, due to the relatively low cost of living. The relaxed laws and the easy availability of bhang (a form of cannabis). It’s intriguing to see how the hippie and the religious facets of Pushkar have both come to co-exist.
History And Culture Of Pushkar
Pushkar has been around for ages; there have been mentions of Pushkar in coins engraved as early as the 4th century BCE. The stories of how Pushkar came to be are endless and often interconnected.
Some stories point to the city being formed after a manifestation of the mythical Saraswati River emerged at five streams at Pushkar. Lord Brahma dropped a lotus and where the petals fell came to be known as Pushkar (Sanskrit for Blue Lotus). Lord Brahma went on to perform a yagna on the ghats of the lake, he realized that his consort Goddess Savitri was missing for an important part of the ritual. To complete the yagna, he married Gayatri.
When Goddess Savitri arrived, she saw Gayatri sitting in her rightful place, in a fit of rage she cursed Lord Brahma that he would not be worshipped anywhere else except for Pushkar. This is why the most prominent Brahma temple and one of the only few Brahma temples in the country can be found in Pushkar.
Pushkar, primarily due to its religious relevance, has an interesting history. The Pushkar Lake which has been flocked by religious pilgrims since time immemorial, saw a dip in visitors during the Mughal rule due to a heavy tax on pilgrims and a ban on religious celebrations and processions.
The Mughal emperor Akbar rebuilt a lot of the temples and brought the town and the lake back to its former glory. He is also known to have commissioned the revival of the Ajmer Dargah dedicated to the Saint Moinuddin Chishti. Most temples in Pushkar have been rebuilt in the late 18th century after they were destroyed and desecrated again by Aurangzeb, one of the last Mughal emperors.
What most people may not know about Pushkar is that the city is also an important site in Sikhism. Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru, lived in Pushkar after he was forced out of Anandpur by the Mughals. Guru Gobind Singh is said to have read the Guru Granth Sahib and given a Hukumnama (a historical order for Sikhs) on the ghats of the Pushkar Lake.
While Pushkar attracts a large number of pilgrims, it is also popular among travelers for being a relaxed destination and a break from other hectic big cities. The Pushkar Fair that takes place in November is a massively attended festival that is frequented by both locals and tourists alike.
Animals, primarily cattle and camels, are brought from far off places and traded or sold at the fair. It is said that as many as 50,000 camels are sold during the five days of the fair. The festival has grown into a celebration over the years with Ferris wheels, magic shows, local dance shows and camel and horse races. A popular event of the fair is the moustache competition, where men show off their fancy whiskers!
Food In Pushkar
For a small religious town, Pushkar has some great options when it comes to continental cuisine. The middle-eastern food cuisine is on a different level in Pushkar. Street side falafel shops are a common sight while exploring the by lanes of Pushkar. While the consumption of eggs and meat are banned in Pushkar, the sheer variety of food options makes Pushkar a heaven for foodies!
How To Get To Pushkar
Getting To Pushkar By Air
Pushkar doesn’t have its own airport. Jaipur International Airport is the closest. So arriving here and taking a cab to Pushkar is a good option as most big cities are well connected to Jaipur by air. Pushkar is technically closest to Kishangarh Airport, which is soon to be the second busiest airport in Rajasthan after Jaipur. Until the connectivity improves, Jaipur is your best bet to get to Pushkar.
Getting To Pushkar By Train
Pushkar is about an hour away from Ajmer, and Ajmer Junction is one of the main railway stations in all of Rajasthan. Train connectivity with the rest of the state, Delhi, Agra and Mumbai is great. Take the train to Ajmer and take a local bus/cab to Pushkar.
Getting To Pushkar By Road
Pushkar is two hours away from Jaipur, five from Jodhpur and around eight from Delhi. The drive for most parts is pleasant and is definitely an option. Getting a day or an overnight bus to either Pushkar/Ajmer is definitely an option.
Best Time To Travel To Pushkar
The best time to visit Pushkar is definitely in the winter. The period between October and March is extremely pleasant. If you can time your trip to be in Pushkar for Holi, you’re sure to witness a lot of fervor and celebrations. The celebrations are insane and there’s a huge street party. If you’re a female traveler, we recommend being in groups for the street parties.
We recommend avoiding the months of May and June as they can be extremely hot since Pushkar is very close to the Thar Desert and the weather can be extremely hot and arid. July and August are only slightly better but can be visited.
Getting Around Pushkar
Pushkar is a tiny town and very easy to walk around. While there are a few rickshaws, the best way to explore the town is on foot. You could choose to hire a bike, but only if you’re good at navigating tiny alleyways full of people and perhaps even cows. If you plan to visit the dargah in Ajmer, we recommend renting a bike as the ride there is quite nice.
Breaking Stereotypes About Pushkar
“There’s Camel Safari in Pushkar”
Yes, Pushkar is also technically in the Thar Desert and there are camels too. It’s not really a safari experience here as there’s no sand dunes in, around or close to Pushkar. A more authentic experience is in the town of Jaisalmer.
Watch the sunset fall over Lake Pushkar from Sunset Cafe, one of the main sunset points of this little town. This is one of the best places to unwind at. The Sunset Cafe also has amazing enchiladas and you must try them when in Pushkar.
The Brahma Temple in Pushkar is the primary temple of Lord Brahma. Since his consort Goddess Savitri cursed him that he would only be worshipped in Pushkar, the city and the temple came into being. It is this temple primarily that made Pushkar the holy site of pilgrimage for thousands of devout Hindus.
Savitri Temple Trek
The Savitri Temple on the outskirts of the town offers a great panoramic view of the town, the Pushkar Lake and the rugged hills around. While it’s a great place to catch a sunset from, we strongly recommend you go all the way up to see the sunrise over Pushkar.
Just towards the outskirts of the town is this cute little Deer Park. Go around 4 pm to watch the caretaker call them to come eat and drink water. The Deer Park is very underrated and if you can find your way here, you’ll realize why it’s an absolute must visit!
Walk around the Town and Shop!
Nothing beats walking around Pushkar and we’d be lying if it isn’t one of the best places to shop in all of the country. Shopping wise, there’s so much to buy here some really cool ethnic accessories and collectibles are what you should ideally take back from Pushkar.
Is Pushkar Worth Visiting?
With its bustling life, religious sites, camel fairs and festivals, visiting Pushkar can be a unique experience that you shouldn’t miss. Just be mindful of the touts and ‘holy’ men looking to make a quick buck at your expense!
What Is The Best Time To Visit Pushkar?
The winter months of October to March are the best time to visit Pushkar. Being in the Thar Desert, this town is best avoided during the summer months.
Is Pushkar Safe?
Pushkar generally is a safe city, but you must stay clear of shady alleyways and streets. Also, beware of touts and scamsters.
Can You Drink Alcohol In Pushkar?
Being a holy city, consumption of alcohol is prohibited in Pushkar. But you can buy bhang from registered stores!
Why Do Foreigners Visit Pushkar?
Pushkar has a vibe about it that has remained largely unchanged over the years. The bustling cattle and camel fairs are sure to fascinate everyone, as would the temples of this holy city. There’s a lot to buy in Pushkar as souvenirs, and they’re exquisite. In addition to this, the foreigners are also encouraged to participate in the many activities in the city.
What Should I Buy From Pushkar?
Rose-based products – Pushkar is known as the Rose Garden of Rajasthan, so it’s a given that you buy rose perfumes, essential oils, and rose water from here.
Handicrafts – The handicraft scene in Pushkar is awesome. You can get souvenirs made out of wood, enamel and stone from here.
Silver Jewelry – You can get beautiful silver jewelry from Pushkar; it’s something of a specialty of this town.
Why Is Brahma Temple Only In Pushkar?
Legend has it that Lord Brahma was cursed by his consort, Goddess Savitri, when he married Gayatri to perform a yagna. The curse was that he would be worshipped only in Pushkar. However, there are a total of five Brahma temples in India.
Which Tribes Usually Participate In Pushkar Fair?
The camel-herding Raika tribe is among the most prominent tribes that participate in the Pushkar Fair.
Does Pushkar Have Desert?
Pushkar is located in the Thar Desert, and is more of a semi-desert area.
Is Ola Available In Pushkar?
Yes, cab services like Ola and Uber are available in Pushkar.
How Far Is Pushkar From Jaipur?
Pushkar is about 150 km away from Jaipur. There are train and cab/bus services that you can avail of, and the journey would take you about two hours.