September 9, 2019

Pushkar: Beyond Fairs and Festivities


The sun was about to set and it spread its golden glow all over the sky. There were people who soaked themselves in the surrounding serenity, couples who enjoyed their moments, kids ran everywhere, a juggler entertained the people, a dancer enjoyed the trance music, a few performed yoga, cows strolled around and there were photographers who captured each of these frames.  That’s how tranquil my evenings were in Pushkar. This small town in Rajastahan comes alive during the yearly Pushkar festival when people from all the surrounding towns and villages head here for the popular camel and livestock fair held in the months of October and November. The fair attracts numerous visitors from other parts of India and the world as it also has numerous competitions and attractions apart from the animal fair.

However, Pushkar has other attractions too and definitely offers more to the visitors beyond the fair. Located close to Ajmer, Pushkar is one of the prominent attractions in Rajasthan, and a must visit while exploring this beautiful state. It is surrounded by hillocks and has a lake at its centre. It is believed to be one of the oldest towns in the world and is a popular pilgrim centre. 

Pushkar is known for its numerous temples that are located across the town. There aren’t many Brahma temples in India, and the one in Pushkar is the most prominent one in the country which is frequented by numerous devotees through the day. The present structure was built in the 14th century, but the origin of the temple dates to more than 2000 years. Made of marble, the inner sanctum of the temple houses the shrines of Brahma and Gayatri.



Rangji temple is another popular temple in Pushkar, which has a blend of Rajasthani and South Indian temple architecture, and is run by Vaishnavites of Ramanujan clan. Built in 1844 CE, this temple houses the shrines of Krishna, Ranganath and Laxmi, and the rituals are performed by priests from South India. It was wonderful to walk around the temple which is adorned with beautiful sculptures and paintings of mythological characters. Varaha temple, another important temple here was built in the 12th  century, and is dedicated to Vishnu in the form of a boar, which was one of his incarnations. The temple was also destroyed to an extent by Aurangazeb during the Mughal rule.  I was quite impressed by its beautiful entrance foyer. Savitri temple on a hillock behind the Brahma temple is another must visit temple in Pushkar. Though the climb is a tiring one, the views from the top are spectacular. The 12th century Atmateshwar temple which has an underground shrine dedicated to Shiva is another prominent temple here.




The most popular place of interest in Pushkar is undoubtedly the beautiful Pushkar lake which is located in the middle of the town. This is a sacred lake and is believed to have been built by Brahma. The ideal time to visit the lake would be in the evening when the sun mellows down and the setting turns into a serene one. People sit here until it gets really dark and enjoy the surroundings and views. The old buildings that are lined along the lake apart from the numerous ghats form a beautiful frame. Jaipur ghat is where all foreign tourists and pilgrims enjoy their evenings.







The lake is surrounded by 52 ghats and all of them are at least 300 years old. Most of these ghats have small shrines dedicated to various gods, and a nice way to explore these would be to stroll across them, most of which are connected. Gau ghat, Varaha ghat, Jaipur ghat, Holkar ghat and Brahma ghat are some of the prominent ghats that surround the lake. The evening prayers at Varaha ghat is a delightful treat. Gau ghat with a nice entrance foyer is the main ghat in Pushkar where numerous rituals are held and has many small shrines adjoining it.






Behind the ghats runs the main road in Pushkar with numerous shops selling myriad items. From temple paraphernalia to souvenirs to fabrics, this long road from Jaipur ghat to Brahma temple sells everything. There are also cafes and small restaurants interspersed along this stretch. A stroll through this road is one of the ideal ways to experience Pushkar by gazing at the displays and taking in the aroma emanating from the nearby cafe. I nonchalantly walked multiple times through this street, which seemed more like a vibrant market with a quaint charm. Surprisingly I found more foreign hippies with tattoos and Rastafarian hairstyles here than Indian travellers. Another attraction on this street and its alleyways are the beautiful old structures in typical Rajasthani architecture emblazoned with lovely colours. Shops selling curios, jewellery, t-shirts, pyjamas etc. are everywhere, but make sure to haggle hard.








If you would like to get out of the bazaars and temples, head to the sand dunes in the outskirts of Pushkar and go on a desert safari. There are numerous agents who can take visitors on a desert ride.



Pushkar is where one can relax, stroll through bazaars, relish local chaats (quick bites), shop cheap, enjoy sunsets by the Pushkar lake, and take it slow instead of running around from one attraction to another.

Travel Tips:
  • Cameras aren’t allowed inside Brahma temple.
  • Make sure to haggle while shopping at the market.
  • If you would like to visit Pushkar fair, make sure to book your accommodation in advance as the place gets quite crowded during those days.


How to reach Pushkar:

Pushkar is 145 Kms from Jaipur, the nearest major city. The nearest airport is at Jaipur and the closest rail head is at Ajmer, 11 Kms away. There are frequent buses from Jaipur and Ajmer to Pushkar.

Food and Accommodation in Pushkar:

There are numerous food stalls in the market and near Brahma temple. The restaurants here mostly serve vegetarian fare. From budget hostels and home stays to luxury hotels, Pushkar caters to the requirements of all types of travellers. I stayed at Moonlight homestay, which is a nice colourful place, and well recommended.

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