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Pushkar is a small city in India known as a spiritual, holy hub for Indians and a hippie playground for travellers. As someone whose visited 3 times now, I’m here to tell you what to do in Pushkar and help you plan a fantastic trip.
If you’re still wondering if Pushkar is worth visiting, I can assure you it’s a great place for culture as well as taking a break from it. Pushkar isn’t half as hectic as some cities you’ll encounter during your Rajasthan itinerary, plus the many healthy cafes offer respite from heavy North Indian curries.
Finally, Pushkar is a fantastic place for solo travel in India with plenty of hostels and impressive crime stats, or lack thereof!
India Lonely Planet
Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld
Getting around: flight (Skyscanner) / bus / train (12Go)
Travel insurance: True Traveller (European travellers) / Hey Mundo (other nationalities) / Safety Wing (digital nomads)
Related read: Is Pushkar worth visiting?
How to get to Pushkar
Bus – it takes 4 hours to reach Pushkar from Jaipur, 150km away. This is one of the most common bus routes but you can arrive in Pushkar from other destinations, too. Use 12Go to find and book bus journies.
Train – you can arrive by train into Ajmer Junction, a 30-minute drive from Pushkar. It’s easy to get an affordable taxi the distance. Booking trains in India as a foreigner used to be a hassle but now you can reserve them easily on 12Go.
India itinerary suggestion: Many travellers incorporate Pushkar in their Rajasthan itinerary by travelling directly from Jaipur. This IS a good option although, if you’re a wildlife lover, it’s possible to incorporate tiger spotting in Ranthambore National Park between Jaipur and Pushkar.
I travelled by train from Jaipur to Sawai Madhopur for Ranthambore, then caught a train afterwards to Ajmer Junction station where I jumped in a taxi to Pushkar.
Things to do in Pushkar
There aren’t endless attractions in Pushkar; in fact, part of the city’s charm is its peaceful nature and the rare opportunity to relax during your busy India travels.
However, you won’t get bored. These are the Pushkar sightseeing essentials…
Explore Pushkar Lake
The beating heart of Pushkar is this serene manmade lake. Sacred to Hindus, locals travel from far afield to wash and worship in the holy waters. Legend says it’s where Hindu God of Creation, Lord Brahma, scattered sacred lotus petals.
With this in mind, it’s an area to act respectfully by removing your shoes to walk beside its banks and avoid taking photos of people as they remove garments of clothing to wash in the waters.
There are a few common scams that happen around the lake to be aware of. Keep reading for my general tips & tricks at the end of this post!
The best time to visit Pushkar Lake is sunset. The sky turning pink and orange, reflected in the water, is truly the best sight to see in Pushkar. Many travellers choose to have dinner at one of the lakeside restaurants, but if you’re travelling on a budget, you may wish to just have a drink. There are better and cheaper Pushkar restaurants elsewhere!
Another reason to visit Pushkar Lake after sunset is…
The evening aarti at the lake
An aarti is a Hindu celebration performed to honour a deity. Deriving from a Sanskrit word referring to a light that banishes darkness, the ceremonies are held shortly after sunset.
Having seen one beside the Ganges in holy Rishikesh, I was intrigued to watch another beside Pushkar Lake. Small flames are placed on the steps and held by those participating in the ceremony.
If you’re looking for cultural things to do in Pushkar, the evening aarti is a great way to immerse into India’s rich culture. The ceremony lasts around 20 minutes and begins at 7pm daily (5.30pm in winter) beside Jaipur ghat.
Hike (or ride the cable car) to Savitri Mata Temple
One of the most popular places to visit in Pushkar is Savitri Mata Temple, perched on Ratnagiri hilltop and visible from anywhere in the city. It’s a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus who visit Pushkar for religious purposes. The temple is dedicated to the goddess, Savitri, one of Lord Brahma’s two wives.
To reach the top, you have two options: ride the ‘ropeway’ (cable car) or climb a steep set of almost 1000 stairs. The ropeway (running ’til 7.30pm) costs 150 rupees return per person, but local visitors prefer to walk as it’s an important part of the pilgrimage.
Sunset is the best time to visit, especially since it’s cooler than the middle of the day. Just watch your step hiking back down in the dark. There are lots of langoor monkeys at the top but, luckily, they don’t bother you like they do in some places!
Getting there: from the city, it only takes around 10 minutes to walk to the base of the trail where the ropeway begins. You can also get a tuk-tuk to whiz you there cheaply.
Hike to Gayatri (Pap Mochani) Temple
The other hilltop temple is another notable Pushkar attraction. Dedicated to Lord Brahma’s other wife, Gayatri, this temple is less popular than Savitri but escaping the crowds may be exactly what you want.
It’s also a far easier hike than the one at Savitri, only taking 15 minutes. Rather than concrete steps, it’s more of a scramble up a stony hillside. You don’t need proper hiking boots but those prone to ankle sprains may want to go careful on the loose gravel.
The ideal time to visit Gayatri Temple is an hour before sunset so you can sit and soak up the chilled vibes beforehand.
Getting there: walking from the holy lake will take around 10 minutes, or you can jump in a local tuk-tuk. The hiking trail begins at Marwar Bus Stand.
Visit the world’s only Brahma temple
The temples dedicated to the wives of Brahma steal the show when it comes to views, but the Brahma Temple is the most culturally important place in Pushkar. It’s the only temple in India dedicated to the creator god, Lord Brahma. Although Hinduism recognises more than 30 million gods, he’s one of the key three alongside Vishu and Shiva.
Made from marble, stone and silver coins, the Brahma Temple dates back to the 14th century, however there’s been a temple of some sort on this spot for 2,000 years.
A local legend says that when Brahma betrayed his wife, Savitri, and married Gayatri, the former cursed him so he’d only have one temple in India dedicated to him. Sounds like a soap opera I want to watch!
Unfortunately, photos are prohibited at the Brahma Temple so I have none. You’ll have to go see it with your own eyes!
Tips for visiting: since you can’t bring cameras and other belongings inside, you can leave them in a locker at the front for a small donation. This is perfectly safe and they give you the key, so don’t worry about your valuables.
If you’re not all templed out, another thing to do in Pushkar is visit Rangji Temple located close to the holy lake. It’s dedicated to Lord Rangji, the resting form of Lord Vishnu (the god of preservation) who you’ll find countless temples in India named after.
In typical Rajasthani style, it’s a sublime temple known for its paintings and sculptures. Entry is free and the best time to visit is around 8am when morning prayers take place.
One thing worth noting is that foreigners cannot enter the main gopuram (entry tower) but it’s still worth a visit to admire the beautiful exterior.
Although Brahma Temple, Gayatri, Savitri and Rangji are the most popular tourist attractions in Pushkar, this little holy city is known for its dense array of temples: more than 500! If you have time, wander around the charming streets and see what you stumble upon.
Temples are free to visit. Some may not permit entry to foreigners, but you can simply ask if you’re unsure. If your legs and shoulders are not covered, bring a scarf or sarong to cover up accordingly.
You may want to increase your India budget to buy some souvenirs because Pushkar is shopping heaven! In my opinion, it’s one of the cheapest and best places to shop in India. Browsing the shops in touristic Goa afterwards was hard because everything was 2-3 times the price!
Pushkar is known for its silk with gorgeous tops, bags and other accessories on sale. These hair ties below were 30 rupees each (around 30p / 40 cents). I bought a gorgeous wrap-around top with long sleeves that said 100% silk on the label for 700 rupees. Later, I saw similar ones saying 50% silk for 350 rupees.
Pushkar is also a good place to buy leather bags from backpacks to small satchels and water bottle holders, some with embroidery. There’s also silver jewellery galore for ridiculously low prices. I brought three silver rings for 650 rupees.
Haggling is expected so have some fun doing it! But remember this is a livelihood for many locals so perhaps don’t barter too hard over that extra Euro/Dollar/Pound…
On the topic of clothes and packing, read my female India packing list if you are unsure what to bring
Try some street food
Pushkar is known for its lovely cafes but, depending how your stomach’s feeling, you may want to continue indulging in delicious, authentic North Indian food. There are lots of street food stands selling dishes including:
- Kachori – fried batter filled with chutney
- Dahi puri – crispy shells with chat and yoghurt
- Aloo tikki – potato patties with chickpeas and chutney
- Malpua – fried dough soaked in syrup
- Lassi – refreshing yoghurt-based drinks flavoured with everything from mango to rose
Note about bhang lassi – you’ll see special lassis all over the menus in Pushkar. Bhang is cannabis that’s been used in Indian celebrations for over 2,000 years. Just know what you’re getting in for: I’ve seen lots of tourists accidentally order special lassis unaware of what the secret ingredient is!
For a fun thing to do in Pushkar, take a street food tour with a local guide (€15)
Pushkar cafe culture is strong. It’s easy to while away the days from rooftop cafes soaking up views of the lake. Proper coffee snobs may not be impressed but I’d say that coffee culture is getting quite decent in parts of India, including Pushkar.
The cafes all serve a wide range of teas, lassis, juices and smoothies if coffee’s not your… cup of tea!
Some of the best cafes in Pushkar are Coffee Temple on top of U-Turn Hotel (coffee fans can’t go wrong with the French Press), Bunty’s with great lake views and Laura’s Café.
Find the perfect sunset spot
Sunset is the best time of the day in Pushkar so, if you’re not watching it from one of the lakeside ghats, consider the following sunset spots:
- Savitri Temple (mentioned above)
- Gayatri Temple (mentioned above)
- Rooftop cafes: Coffee Temple is lovely but too popular to easily grab an outward-facing table at sunset so try Bunty’s instead.
Take a cooking class
For foodies, one of the best things to do in Pushkar is take a cooking class and learn how to make North Indian dishes for yourself. I can personally vouch for Pushkar Cooking Art Homestay inside a local’s home within walking distance from the lake.
We had a great time at this cooking class, making paneer masala, lentil dahl, vegetable curry, chana masala (chickpea curry) and chapatis. These are fun to make, watching them puff up on an open flame, then quickly flipping them to cook the other side.
After preparing our dishes and learning about the colourful, flavoursome ingredients used in Indian cuisine, we sat down to sample our creations during a delicious feast. Such a fun evening!
Celebrate Holi in March
Attending Holi festival in India is a real bucket list experience, one I’m honoured I’ve now done twice! My experiences in Rishikesh (2019) and Pushkar (2023) were comparable although the small streets of Pushkar do create a more intense and potentially claustrophobic vibe.
Holi represents the changing season and forgetting hate and negativity associated with the past. It’s a day to forget your differences (as we all look the same covered in paint!) including the complicated Indian caste divides.
Read my guide to celebrating Holi safely as a woman visiting India
Pushkar is a popular place to celebrate Holi for Indians and foreigners. The Mela Ground holds cultural events during evenings around the festival, and there’s a special aarti at the lake the night before. The main colour play takes place in the streets from early morning to early afternoon.
Holi dates are often confirmed last minute but you can expect it to be between the 6th and 9th of March.
Try yoga or meditation
Known as the birthplace of yoga, it would be rude to visit India and not take a class or two! There are plenty of places to unleash your spiritual side once you’ve ticked off the main things to do in Pushkar.
The main places to do yoga in Pushkar are Pushkar Yoga and Meditation Temple (2-hour classes for 500 rupees and other packages available) and Pushkar Yoga Garden (90-minute drop-in sessions). Both have fantastic reviews so I don’t think you can go wrong with either.
Get an Ayurvedic massage
I’ve had many massages in India over my time, of varying quality. I’ve yet to have one in Pushkar but there are many available. If you’re not deeply into Ayurveda and just want a bit of pampering, you can pick any advertised around Pushkar.
However, my friend, Ellie, wrote this guide to yoga and Ayurveda in Pushkar and can recommend the quality massages at Deepak Ayurveda Massage Centre for around 2,000 rupees (£20). They’ll report on your body, mind and chakras based on the massage, and offer tailored advice accordingly.
Hot air balloon over Pushkar
For an exhilarating activity in Pushkar, consider a hot air balloon ride high above the holy lake, sand dunes and temples. For optimum conditions and sunset views, balloon rides generally depart twice daily at 5am and 4.30pm.
Balloon ride prices start from 12,000 rupees (£120) for an hour’s flight. It’s one of the more expensive things to do in Pushkar but, for a bucket list experience, potentially well worth it!
A word about Pushkar camel fair & camel riding activities
Pushkar is famous for the golden desert surrounding it. Countless touts will encourage you to book desert safari excursions, however these are usually aboard a camel. Personally, I wouldn’t vouch for this activity: the camels are notoriously poorly treated.
Of course, it’s for you to do your research and decide what you feel comfortable with.
The other thing that brings local travellers to Pushkar is the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. Held in November, it attracts 400,000 visitors and lasts 2 weeks. While I’m sure it’s an atmospheric occasion, it’s another type of animal tourism that doesn’t sit well with me.
Where to stay in Pushkar
Hotel – we loved staying at Hotel Moti Mahal with a swimming pool and relaxing grounds. Just the peace you need in busy India! It’s just a short walk from the holy lake. The breakfast buffet is great, served on the roof terrace with fantastic views of Pushkar. Book from £20 a night.
Hostel – on another trip, I stayed at Moustache Hostel in a beautiful courtyard with colourful murals and dorms from £3 a night. They’re great for organising activities such as food walking tours. I’ve also heard positive things about Madpackers Hostel with a rooftop cafe and yoga classes, and Zostel with a pool.
For more Pushkar accommodation, browse hotels on Booking.com and hostels on Hostelworld.
Tips for visiting Pushkar
- Act appropriately around the holy lake by removing your shoes and ensuring you don’t capture locals bathing in your photos. Signs at the lake say ‘no photography’ but you’ll notice many people taking photos. Use your judgement and be respectful.
- Pushkar is a vegetarian city with no meat or eggs served. However, you will still find dairy.
- There’s also no alcohol – officially. Some places in Pushkar will serve you on the sly.
- To easy to get around Pushkar on foot. For other popular places to visit near Pushkar like the sunset temples, hail a tuk-tuk.
Common scams to be aware of
- ‘Priests’ may approach you by offering a flower and encouraging you to join the traditions by releasing it into the lake. Things take a turn as they demand money and, if you don’t give it, get aggressive or even threaten to curse your loved ones which can be upsetting.
- Beggars will often ask you to buy them food products rather than give money, then lead you to shops charging higher prices than necessary and making a business from the sale. I’m not convinced the beggars get to keep the food products.
Thanks for reading!
I hope you have a better idea of what to do in Pushkar and enjoy your trip to the max! I know I’ve enjoyed three trips considerably.
Read more India blogs:
- The ultimate 2 week Rajasthan itinerary
- 3 day Jaipur itinerary
- Complete India budget break down
- Tips for a solo India trip
- Places to travel solo in India
- Top things to do in Amritsar
- Rishikesh travel guide: yoga, nature and the Beatles!
- Rishikesh cafe guide: 16 cute and hippie cafes
- Mcleod Ganj, Dharamsala travel guide: visiting Little Tibet!
- Guide to Pondicherry travel
- The best cafes in Pondicherry
- Auroville day trip from Pondicherry
These are my trusted resources:
Getting around by air – it’s easy to get between cities by flight. I use Skyscanner and search by whole month to find the best value dates.
Buses – buses are comfy and efficient. Use 12Go to book.
Trains – these are a good option for long journeys because you have a bed rather than a seat. Use 12Go to book.
For hotels, I use Booking.com – they also have self-catering apartments. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide. I also check Viator and Klook in case they have a better price.
For food experiences with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.
Pack the latest copy of India Lonely Planet.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!