Pushkar, meaning born from a flower, is one of the oldest cities in India with its history dating back to the legends associated with Lord Brahma. Situated 11 km North West of Ajmer, it is one of the five sacred dhams and is often called “Tirth Raj” – the king of pilgrimage sites.
In recent years, Pushkar has become a popular destination for foreign tourists because of the numerous temples it harbors. Lying on the shores of Pushkar Lake, it has five principal temples, many smaller ones, and 52 Ghats where pilgrims come to bathe in its sacred waters from across the subcontinent.
PUSHKAR | Places to visit
1. Pushkar Lake
A serene lake, glittering below the bright blue desert sky, Pushkar is one of the holiest pilgrimages in Hinduism. Said to be as old as the Vedic Purans, the lake is the center of this small holy town and draws thousands of visitors every year. The lake’s natural beauty is almost dramatic and enhanced by the 52 ghats and 400-odd temples, most painted a saintly white that surrounds it. The water of the lake is said to have healing powers and a dip in its holy waters is one of the five dhams of Hinduism.
2. Brahma Temple
Standing calm on the banks of the glittering Pushkar Lake is this ancient temple. Dedicated to the Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe and the town’s presiding deity, this 14th-century temple easily stands out from the four hundred other lakeside temples. It has the distinction of being the oldest Brahma temple in the world, as well as the only one dedicated exclusively to him. The temple’s white steps lead up from the lake, and past the majestic white gates, devotees enter the inner chamber decorated almost exclusively in silver. Locked on three sides by the Aravalli hills, a visit to the temple is de rigueur for all visitors to Pushkar, whether you are a pilgrim or a history buff.
3. Savitri Temple
Located atop the lonesome Ratnagiri Hill, the Savitri Temple at Pushkar dates back to 1687 CE. Dedicated to the wife of Lord Brahma, the temple houses a magnificent statue of the Goddess and is considered one of the five sacred dhams for Hindus. A short distance from the lake, a visit to the temple involves a steep 702-step climb. But the effort is well worth it. For once at the temple you can experience the serenity that is the bounty of the devoted. Or just sit back and savor gorgeous views of the holy town of Pushkar.
4. Varah Temple
One of the oldest, largest, and most visited temples in Pushkar, the Varah Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Preserver in the Holy Trinity of Hinduism. First built in the 12th century, the temple houses a beautiful statue of God in his Varah avatar. In this, his third incarnation Lord Vishnu took the form of a wild boar to protect the earth from the demon Hiranyaksha. The statue at Pushkar is anthropomorphic – a boar’s head on a man’s body. Built opulently by King Anaji Chauhan, a lot of the temple was destroyed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. Sometime in the 17th century, a massive restoration was undertaken by Raja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur.
5. Aptaeshwar Temple
Completing the Holy Trinity at Pushkar is the Aptaeshwar Temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva the Destroyer, the Aptaeshwar temple dates back to the 12th century, built around the same time as the Varah temple. A revered and historic site, the locals believe that the temple is sinking into the lake. And indeed, all evidence suggests that slowly but surely the Shivling at Aptaeshwar Temple is descending into the earth.
6. Pushkar Fair
The Pushkar Fair is the world’s largest camel and cattle fair. Held over five days between the Kartik Ekadashi to Kartik Poornima of the Hindu calendar, the fair is a vibrant display of local trade, culture, lifestyle, and history. During fair days, normally in mid-November, the small town is abuzz as traders and tourists mill about, some looking for the year’s best deal while the latter soak in the amazing atmosphere. Conservative estimates say around 50,000 camels alone are brought to the fair, along with traders who wish to sell local products like woolen blankets of Merta, bead necklaces of Nagaur, textiles printed in Ajmer and Jodhpur, and brassware of Jodhpur and Jaipur. Other notable events are a tug-of-war between the womenfolk and other traditional games such as Matka phod or mustache competitions.
7. Camel Safari at Pushkar
Camel Safari is one of the most interesting and exciting ways to explore Pushkar. The camel or the ship of the desert is a gentle animal, easy to maneuver, and thus ideal for taking tourists around. Covering the important tourist spots of Pushkar, the safari can be a day-long experience or start in the last evening to end with a dinner amid the resplendent sand dune setting. The easy pace of the animal provides ample opportunity to savor the picturesque views and admire the many temples and palaces. However, sitting on a camel is nothing less than a roller coaster ride. The tourists who master the camel can look forward to a never-before-experienced as the animal trots its way across the city and into the desert.
8. Walk through Pushkar Bazaar
Till a few years ago, the bazaar at Pushkar was just a cluster of shops selling items for puja. But now the main bazaar at Sarafa, Sadar Road, Baza Road, and Kedalganj Road is lined with an assortment of absorbing little shops that are stuffed with souvenirs. Shops selling prayer beads jostle for space with others that stock backpacker goodies. The ‘last-price’ quotes are safely negotiable. Walking down these narrow lanes can be a physical and sensory obstacle course that demands constant alertness.
9. Pushkar by Cycle
Another amazing way to explore Pushkar is to go for a cycle tour. It is as simple as it sounds: hire a bicycle and explore the town at your own pace. Instead of undertaking the task of cycling alone, tourists should move about in a group. For safety reasons, a tour should ideally have a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 tourists. That way you are enough people to look out for each other and not too many that you lose track of. Led by a local guide, these tours take you around the important temples and landmarks of the city. Cycle tours are not restricted to within Pushkar but are also organized to other nearby towns.
Foreign tourists have to be particularly careful while visiting a conservative religious site like Pushkar. Drugs, alcohol, and non –vegetarian food are strictly prohibited. Try not to embrace in public and always dress conservatively. The city has a number of cultural activities scheduled throughout the year, at these times be wary while watching/interacting with dancers, jugglers, tattoo makers, musicians, etc. Some of these may not be genuine artists. Moreover beware of cheats/crooks who divert attention by means of throwing dirt or rubbish, and avoid accepting eatables from strangers.
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Q – What is Pushkar famous for?
A – Pushkar is located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan and is famous around the country for the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. Other than that, the place has many temples, ghats and exotic cafes which one can explore.
Q – When is the best time to visit Pushkar?
A – The best time to visit Pushkar is between November and March. During this time, the weather is pleasant and perfect for day long desert safaris.
Q – What is the ideal duration to stay in Pushkar?
A – An ideal trip for a holiday in Pushkar is 2 days. There is no scarcity of tourist places in Pushkar. The place is sure to impress you with its charm.
Q – What are some of the amazing things to do in Pushkar?
A – Some of the amazing things to do in Pushkar are –
1. Camel and jeep safari
3. Food walk tour
Q – Can you drink alcohol in Pushkar?
A – Since Pushkar is a holy town, drinking alcohol within the town is not allowed. However, there are certain restaurants and cafes which offer alcoholic beverages and most of these are located on the outskirts of Pushkar.