9 AWESOME THINGS TO DO IN PUSHKAR, INDIA
Awesome hikes, festivals, hot air balloons, temples, camel rides, rooftop cafes and visiting the Pushkar Lake are some of the best things to do in Pushkar but when should you visit?
Where to stay in Pushkar
When you are in Pushkar, the main thing to look for in accommodation is located. You want to be near the ghat (the lake). This is where all of the action is and the feature of the city. The accommodation is very cheap in Pushkar and you can get a hostel for $5-10 or a private room for $10-20. I have recommended two places below. One is a hostel by the popular Zostel chain and the other is a value pick for a private room. Both have a pool, which is nice because it can get very hot and there is no beach or swimming lake nearby.
Budget recommendation: Zostel Hostel Pushkar – The Zostel Hostel Line has a great reputation in India and the hostel in Pushkar is no different with modern facilities, air-conditioning and of course a swimming pool.
Value recommendation (Private Room): The Country Side Resort – This resort has beautiful architecture and amazing facilities with a big swimming pool on the resort grounds for less than $20 per night for a private room.
Best time to visit Pushkar
The best time to visit Pushkar is dependent on the weather and festivals. On the 23rd of October til the 4th of November, the famous Pushkar Camel Fair is in full swing. It’s one of the most recommended things to do in Pushkar so if you can time your trip for this 10 day period, it’s the time of the year where the town is full of action and good vibes. Therefore to see the town at its finest the best to visit Pushkar is in late October.
Another awesome festival that is run in Pushkar is the Hot Air Ballooning Festival, which runs from 5th Nov to 14th Nov 2016.
If you are considering what the best time to visit Pushkar is and are worried about the weather here’s what you need to know:
Summer (March – June) Incredibly hot. You will melt in temperatures reaching up to 45 degrees. Nights and mornings will be enjoyable. (When I visited)
Winter (November – February) 15 degrees during the day and can get down to 5 degrees at night. Many festivals during this period.
Monsoon Season (July – September) Pushkar doesn’t attract too much rain so monsoon season won’t ruin your trip but you may get a little wet.
9Awesome things to do in Pushkar
Pushkar Lake or Pushkar Sarovar is the centerpiece of the quiet town. It’s a sacred lake of the Hindus and was mentioned in history as early as the 4th century BC. What I immediately noticed when I arrived in Pushkar is how peaceful the town was and it was due to the serenity of the lake. Rituals and offerings happen throughout the day at the lake although at night huge Aarti ceremonies take place.
The lake is considered a holy place and there are certain rules for foreigners who are visiting. Like the locals, no shoes are to be worn while walking near the lake or on the bridges that cross the water. I found this out after one local ran towards me asking me to remove my shoes. Of course, I obliged and continued to remove my shoes for the rest of my time in Pushkar. I did have to laugh at the inconvenient combination of the no-shoe rule and the endless piles of cow shit spread along the paths. No shoes and piles of poop make for interesting night walks back to the hotel!
Relaxing at my hotel restaurant, which overlooked the Pushkar Lake was one of my favorite things to do in Pushkar. I stayed at the Radhika Palace for only $9 USD per night. I had a private room and the hotel even had a swimming pool. But the hotel restaurant area, which overlooked the lake was why I loved this budget hotel so much.
Hike Savitri Temple
The Savitri Temple in Pushkar overlooks the entire town of Pushkar and all the surrounding valleys. The temple can be spotted while at the Pushkar Lake and the beauty is, the temple is only a fifteen-minute walk from the lake. It really is the most accessible and a great way to enjoy the view over the whole of Pushkar.
The walk up from the base takes about fifteen minutes, although you may need a few breaks it is quite a steep incline of stairs. There is also a ropeway which is carriages that take you up the mountain on a cable. I’m not sure how much it costs but unless you are afraid of a short workout and some sweat I suggest the stairs. Keep an eye out for monkeys they were quite aggressive and had me on edge, ready for battle.
Click Here to read the full blog post about hiking up the Savitri Temple in Pushkar for Sunset.
Watch the Evening Aarti
Aarti is a traditional Hindu worship ritual that is performed every night in Pushkar. You can watch similar rituals every night in Varanasi. It’s amazing to witness and many of the the locals seem to watch it every single night.
Hot Air Balloon over Pushkar
There is no better way to see the landscape and mountains of Pushkar than from a hot air balloon.
Hike to Pap Mochani Temple
The short hike to Pap Mochani Temple took only 15 minutes from the base and provided panoramic views of Pushkar and the holy lake. The temple is painted bright pink and you can spot it from just about anywhere in the town.
The priest was at the temple when I arrived about an hour before sunset. He was without a shirt and wearing loose baggy yellow pants and welcomed me with a hello and a smile. Several of his friends were also atop the hill, laying out a blanket on the pillbox. We all sat atop the hill as the sun slowly came down discussing Pushkar, how to hike over the hill to see Ajmer and what drugs Pushkar was famous for.
Several days later I hiked up the ridge from the far end, way out from the city center. There was no trail and it was very steep in parts. Cacti and thorny bushes made it a bit of a regrettable experience at times but I don’t call myself an adventure blogger because I sit on pretty beaches sipping cocktails. I made it to the top of the hill after about thirty minutes of scrambling and began walking along the spine of the mountain towards Pap Mochani. Definitely not one of the most recommended things to do in Pushkar but that’s not what you will ever find on my blog!
Click Here to read the full blog post about hiking to Pap Mochani Temple.
Try the local street food in the markets
I wandered through the many markets, only a block back from the lake. They can be found on most sides of the lake and if you make a lap you will find yourself surrounded by gem shops, souvenir stalls and street food vendors soon enough. If you’ve read my blog before you know I care only for smoothies not actual food for the most part. There were several awesome smoothie spots in Pushkar making fresh mango and banana shakes in a big glass mug for $1. They always give me a weird smile when I order two or three for lunch.
I sat down at a number of different cafes in the market area to try a local meal. One of my favorites was the Paneer Paratha on a street not far from Savitri Temple side of town. You can expect to get a meal at a street-side cafe for $2 depending on your order. Hanging out around the markets you will see some awesome characters, meet some cool vendors and it was one of the more chill things to do in Pushkar.
Visit the temples
Brahma Temple and Varaha Temple are the two most popular temples to visit in Pushkar. Both are close by the lake. The Brahma Temple is one of only a few temples dedicated to Brahma, the Hindu
The Brahma Temple is one of only a few temples dedicated to Brahma, the Hindu creator god. It’s considered to be more than 2,000 years old.
The Varaha Temple was built in the 12th century but was destroyed by Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. However, it was rebuilt in the 18th century by Raja Sawai Man Sing II. It’s a fortified temple and is considered to be the most ancient temple in the city.
There is a great walking tour for just $10 that guides you around to all of the significant temples in Pushkar.
Book the tour: Pushkar Temple walking tour
Visit the nearby town of Merta
Merta City has a population of 40,000 almost four times that of its famous neighbor Pushkar. That’s why it was so surprising to find no information or pictures of the town when I looked online. I decided I would rent a bike and head out on a journey to Merta City and see what the town was like and why hardly any tourists visited.
The drive was on a beautiful road almost the entire way until I reached the outskirts of Merta. The roads were now a rocky bumpy maze with different levels and obstacles laid out before me. As I reached the town it seemed as if everybody was staring at me. I later found out I was one of a few visitors to Merta City each month. So with my long hair, beard, and bright red bike the attention seemed justified.
Click Here to read the full blog post about my day in Merta City
Pushkar Camel Fair
The Pushkar Camel Fair begins on October 23rd and attracts a huge crowd. It’s one of the largest camel fairs in the world and involves the buying and selling of livestock. However, the fair has developed into a local celebration and a big tourist attraction. Competitions such as ‘longest mustache’ and ‘bridal competition’ have become mainstays at the fair. Thousands of tourists flock to Pushkar for the fair so be sure to book accommodation and transport in advance as this is a time of year that Pushkar is bursting at the seams.
Men are selling camels, sheep, goats, and cows while the women are selling textiles, jewelry, and handicrafts. The Pushkar Camel Fair begins with a camel race, music, and songs. If you are in the region at the right time this is one of the most popular things to do in Pushkar.