Pushkar, “the rose garden of Rajasthan” is where traditional meets hippie in the desert state. Spend some extra time here to soak in that easygoing Rishikesh vibe in this hot sandstone town. This little Pushkar travel guide will help you get a glimpse of what to expect here and see if you want to add it to your Rajasthan itinerary.
Pushkar Journey Guide
Engulfed by the Aravali hills, this is where I chose my week-long retreat from traveling. The lake in the middle is one of the 5 pilgrimages Hindu’s may take in their life.
rooftops are where it’s happening, from dinner to yoga
It was explained that a bird carrying immortality water flew around India and dropped five drops, one landing in the lake, and the others at the rest of the pilgrimage sites in India.
My driver here in Goa said it has to do with Brahma’s lotus petal flowers falling, but either way, the lake in Pushkar is a hidden little city behind a mountain range to the south and the desert to the west. It’s truly stunning and hikes here to high points will give you a big reward with the best views in the area.
Because Pushkar is a spiritual place for so many, you can’t help but feel it’s ambiance. It’s calming, colorful, tranquil, and timeless.
You can get lost in the winding alleyways and even bump into a stray camel or two.
If you want reflexology, palm reading, holistic healing, or reiki, you will have bountiful options here. If you’re more interested in learning: how to draw henna, cook Rajasthani meals, paint, or traditionally dance, this is a great place to take a backpacking breather and embrace the mystical side of India.
“we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”
Lots of places have these open roofs with plants and flowers
This vibrant town is best known to tourists for its annual camel fair, the biggest animal-trading fair in India. I left 3 days before the fair on purpose because all the locals said it’s just a dusty stinky mess.
I have met people who travel to Pushkar each year for this festival, so maybe I really missed out! The electricity was out most days until 5 PM, due to preparations for the fair- but I have an inkling that regardless of the fair there would be frequent outings just like the rest of rural India.
For Hindu people, Pushkar would be most well known for the only Brahma temple in the world. He’s the creator of earth… so it’s worth checking it out!
Rajasthan is spiritual and royal. If India’s chaos is stressing you out, you’ll feel so at peace here. See a temple, explore the lake, and you’ve already completed the tourist checklist; you can chill out and just enjoy!
Tips/Info on Pushkar
There are a handful of places in India where alcohol isn’t allowed and waiters will whisper, “I have beer” while hiding it under the table for you. Along with beer, in holy Pushkar, meat and even eggs aren’t allowed. Many waiters will whisper that they have a secret menu with eggs.
Similar to how Goa caters toward the many Russians, so does Pushkar with Israelis. Many locals speak bits of the language and menus and signs might be in Hebrew with restaurants offering lots of great Israeli dishes.
Consider taking the pre-sunrise hike to Savitri Temple. It was so pretty to watch the sun rise from behind the hills while the moon was still low and full. Beware of snakes! Cobras like to chill in the corners of the temple- and they aren’t the kind that have had their teeth or venom sac ripped out by mean Indian snake charmers.
the sun is just about to peak out
What should you buy in Pushkar? EVERYTHING! Just kidding, you should really try to hold back or your backpack will be bursting. This is where I bought my massive wall hanging. The pink and pearl hand-beaded three elephant masterpiece is now buried in my closet in the U.S. from when I moved back to India….
The prices are so reasonable and I got the rate from 40,000 (psh) to 3,500. If you are afraid of negotiating you’ve got to get over that. They are giving rates much higher than what they want or expect to get. It was off-season, but I have never seen one with such quality workmanship at such a low price. Here are some tips on negotiating in India.
The ones in Goa are fake crappy ones, so I’m so glad I got a proper one for the day I actually have a permanent home to decorate. I always get my dad something silly and almost got him a turban here- they are everywhere for 50 rupees- but I held out and got him a Kullu cap later. My backpack can only fit so much!
Like everywhere else in Rajasthan, there is colorful jewelry, purses, wooden carvings, silver anklets, ali baba pants, scarves, and trinkets. You can also get your nose pierced for 50 rupees with a nail on the street like my friend Ashley as I told you about in a previous post.
You could really amp up your shopping game: go to the camel fair, buy a camel.
Where to Stay
I stayed at Hotel Paramount Palace. The 200 rupee room in that hotel was a dump so I moved to the “view” room which was 500 rupees and really cute. A bight pink balcony was perfect for sunbathing and watching the sunset. When you go to a guesthouse in India, remember not all rooms are the same and usually the prices reflect that. These days, I will always spend more to get the suite like I did in Udaipur this year. The fanned room at Hotel Paramount Palace had hot water and an attached bath recommended by Lonely Planet’s Pushkar travel guide. Click here for rates and availability.
For more options, check out these guesthouses in Pushkar:
- Inn Seventh Heaven – This is the most popular guesthouses for travelers in Pushkar. It was booked when I came or I would have stayed here. It is a budget place. Check rates and availability here.
- Hotel Everest – Another budget place that is very popular with travelers. Book it here.
- Jagat Palace – If you are on a budget but are okay with giving a few extra rupees for a cuter more boutique style place to stay. Check rates here. There are not many luxe places in Pushkar so this might be your best bet.
- Up for glamping? Check out the Narayan which has the cutest tents on their resort. See rates for your dates here.
I got Henna for the millionth time, did rooftop sunrise yoga every morning, a dance class, and lots of shopping. I spent some time trembling after cobras sneaked out of their baskets. There were so. many. cobras. It was very uncool for people like me who are terrified of them.
As for the lake, while many pilgrims purify themselves in the water, you shouldn’t get in as a tourist. You definitely shouldn’t get naked like them and take a bath OR do your laundry in it. If you go near the lake take off your shoes!
Touts will try to bless your family and give you a red “entrance” band to the city. You don’t have to buy one. I avoided this area after I saw it once, but supposedly the scam is they put the red string on you, bless your family, do a gorgeous ceremony putting flowers in the water then ask for an outrageous amount of money… per family member. If you don’t pay it, they will curse your family! Yikes! Check out these other 20 scams to avoid in India.
Pushkar would be a great place to celebrate Holi with a bhang lassi. It’s already so colorful, I think it would be such a fun place to celebrate.
There were tons of mosquitos at night near the lake…. But there are also fireworks and great views. One great view is from Baba’s, who also serves a delicious wood fired pizza.
Don’t let the guy at Laughing Buddha read your palm, and “balance my energy and chakras”. He told me my throat chakra was blocked. I don’t think he meant harm, but seriously was just talking rubbish and wasting my time. I was too nice and just kept nodding but finally just had to bolt. He hadn’t asked for money so it was worth a shot.
Keep in mind, during the camel fair, prices are hiked up tenfold. It takes place near the end of October. Typical tourist season in Rajasthan is October to March.
Getting here from Jodhpur to Pushkar I took an overnight bus (8 hours) and arranged hotel pick up for my 3 A.M. arrival. Getting away to Jaipur was 220 rupees on a “private bus” that was 100% just a local bus. It was a quick 6-hour ride.
More tips for Rajasthan and India
- Visa: iVisa is the best to get a quick 60-day e-visa
- Longers than 60 days? These posts will help you with a visa: US Citizens and for UK Citizens
- health insurance: World Nomads is my jam! Read what exactly it covers and doesn’t
- For tours in India: G Adventures.
- Read more to get your trip planned: Step by step planning your trip to India from scratch
- 100 tips for India travel cover most of my top tips and organizes all my blog posts about India.
- How to spend less than $20/day in India (yes, it’s possible)
- The best India itinerary for 1 month, 2 months, and 3 months
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