Every day you deal with irritating stresses of every day life. Traffic, coworkers who chew gum too loud, the evil clown who lives in your basement. As the song says, “Wouldn’t you like to get awaaaaay? Sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your naaaaame! And you can stare at Pushkar Lake!” Then you need to know the best places to visit in Pushkar.
If this thought appeals to you, then 24 hours of the best places to visit in Pushkar is the itinerary for you. You’ll spend the day gently relaxing in one of the most gorgeous and sacred places in India. But sacred doesn’t mean boring! There will be amazing views, delicious treats to eat, camels, and a mysterious five-legged cow. Follow me!
Keep in mind that, unlike most of my 24 hour itineraries, I did this one on a group tour with Intrepid Travel’s Classic Rajasthan tour. I highly recommend it if you don’t feel like exploring a huge country like India solo. The Intrepid tour arranged most of our activities in this itinerary, but you could certainly experience the same places to visit in Pushkar on your own. I’ll give you all the tips you need!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that just because this itinerary is for 24 hours of the best places to visit in Pushkar, that doesn’t mean you should only spend 24 hours in Pushkar.
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24 Hours: Best Places to Visit in Pushkar
Morning: Explore Pushkar
Pushkar is a small town–the population is only about 20,000. And the main attraction is Pushkar Lake because it is a sacred site of pilgrimage for Hindus. You can easily see the best places to visit in Pushkar in one morning. But do not rush about madly, photographing everything you can get your little hands on. That’s no way to while away the hours by the lake, Internet Stranger!
Instead, take several healing breaths, set aside about four hours, mosey along and explore whatever strikes your fancy. I’ll help you get started with…
approximately top 5: Best places to visit in Pushkar
1) pushkar lake
So the first rule of Pushkar Lake is…you do not photograph Pushkar Lake. (My photographs are okay because I took them from a distance on a rooftop. You just can’t photograph the lake close up.) There are several reasons for this, but the first is that Pushkar Lake is deeply sacred to Hindus. The second is that people bathe naked in the lake, and it would be gross to take their picture.
The legend says that the creator god Brahma formed Pushkar Lake during a fight with a demon. That is way better than the origin story of Lake George in my home state, which was founded when an obnoxious kid named George wouldn’t stop playing with his Super Soaker. Pushkar is also home to what I’ve been told is the only temple dedicated to Brahma in the world. (Though that might be exaggerating.) Tourists can certainly see Pushkar Lake up close, just be respectful.
Because of Pushkar Lake, there are certain cultural traditions in Pushkar. One is that the town is dry (no booze). The other is that it is vegetarian. I like my steak and whiskey as much as the next Irish-American girl, but I recommend respecting the cultural practices of Pushkar while you are there. You can go meatless for one day.
Indians really know what they are doing when it comes to shopping. Even in a sacred city like Pushkar, you’ll have no trouble shopping until you drop. Regular readers of this blog know that I collect earrings in every destination I visit, so my first shop stop is usually a jewelry store. But in Pushkar I was especially impressed by the macrame.
The macrame artists in Pushkar paint over the string with a lacquer that makes the jewelry stay in shape even if it gets caught in the rain. I bought a small pair of earrings as well as a choker with a sparkling sunstone in the middle. (I guarantee that if you get a choker like this, you will never stop getting compliments on it.)
Because my fellow lady travelers and I bought so much jewelry, the shop owner gave us each a friendship macrame bracelet for free. Even the woman who didn’t buy anything got one! We took this photo to symbolize our new friendship and Lady Power! (I have never seen any of those women again after the trip.)
3) dine at out of the blue
At this point in your journey, you might be eager to take a break and have some brunch! I suggest heading to the rooftop of Out of the Blue. If you’re just all broken up with disappointment over not being able to take photos of Pushkar Lake, you’ll be able to take as many as you want here. (All of my photos of Pushkar Lake are from the roof of Out of the Blue.)
They were still serving breakfast when we arrived at Out of the Blue, and I do recommend their Indian-style breakfast special. But the house specialty are really their gimungo, stunningly-hued lassis. Lassis are yogurt drinks, and they can be sweet or not, so ask first. But all the lassis we saw at Out of the Blue were on the sweet side.
The fruit lassis were de rigueur for anyone who has a sweet tooth. But if you’re ready to take a walk on the wild lassi side, order the rose. It tastes a little like heaven, and a little like what I imagine Queen Elizabeth’s soaps smell like.
It is literally impossible to say you’ve seen the best places to visit in Pushkar without seeing temples. There are about 400 in the town. Given how small the town’s population is, that’s about one temple for every 50 people. You won’t be able to get to all the temples during your stay in Pushkar unless you have a time machine or a bunch of cocaine keeping you from sleeping. But we can try our best.
The vibrant blue and orange temple to Brahma is the most famous, but there are so many others you shouldn’t miss. Some of the best are located outside of the main part of the city on hills, so you might not be able to reach them during your 24 hours in Pushkar. Also some temples are free to all, while some charge admission to foreign tourists. Be sure to check the rules for trying to enter.
You also might be wondering why there is only one temple dedicated to Brahma, when he is the creator-god and that seems like a big deal. Apparently it was because of a curse, and I plan on staying far away from anything that’s powerful enough to curse a creator-god. However, there are plenty of shrines dedicated to Brahma’s lady friends. My favorite was the Gayatri Shakti Peeth because of the stunning colors.
24 hour tip
Some people make a living in Pushkar by letting you take their photo. My travel companions and I met a gentleman who was posing for photos with a five-legged cow. (The fifth leg may have been the result of some strategically placed cloth.) One of the ladies in my group took a picture from a distance so she wouldn’t have to pay him. Then she realized that was kind of a jerk store thing to do, and she gave him a tip.
If someone is making their living selling photos and you want a photo, just pay them a proper tip! Then everyone goes home happy, except maybe the five-legged cow.
24 Hours: Best Places to Visit in Pushkar
Afternoon: Camel Time
Most towns would be happy to be famous for just one thing, like a sacred lake. But Pushkar is not a place that would just rest on its laurels like that. Pushkar is also famous for camels! If you want to get into the local culture, I suggest hopping on a camel while you are in Pushkar.
(Riding camels isn’t like riding elephants. In desert cultures, it’s the same thing as riding a horse. I’ve seen some Westerners criticize people for riding camels, but unless they are also criticizing people for riding horses, I think it’s hypocritical.)
Some of you might be nervous about riding a camel, but I promise to walk you through it step by step! We’ll start with…
three fun facts: camels in pushkar
1) where can I get a camel?
You want to make sure that you’re riding a camel from a place that will treat the animals well. Don’t just stop anywhere by the side of the road and hop on a camel. That’s why I was glad we went on a camel safari led by our hotel Gulaab Niwaas Palace. (Even if you’re not into the camel rides, I’m sure you’ll love it here because it’s a freaking palace.)
The guides are very experienced at helping camel virgins get acclimated to their new steeds. (I felt somewhat smug, as I had already been on a camel in Morocco. But I kept my smug thoughts to myself.) I can’t promise the camels don’t bite because they definitely could bite you. But if you behave yourself, they absolutely won’t.
If you’re just too freaked out by the camels, the hotel will provide you with a carriage or some other form of transportation, so you can still see the desert! See! At Around the World of 24 Hours, we think of everything, even camel-phobia.
2) why are camels important in pushkar?
What a clever Internet Stranger you are to ask this question! Every fall, Pushkar is home to the Pushkar Camel Fair. (Usually this falls in late October to early November, but I’d do a quick Google search to check the exact dates in a specific year if you’re dying to get your Camel Fair on.)
They say the Camel race is a once in a lifetime experience, and I for one would love to watch a bunch of cranky, spitting camels race each other. It would be like watching a big race of four-legged grandpas.
The Pushkar Camel Fair used to be a real market event where people would buy and sell their water-logged beasts of burden. But nowadays there’s been a real decline in the camel market. So the Pushkar Camel Fair is now more of a cultural attraction than anything else. This is just like the decline of American manufacturing, except with camels. It’s the decline of camel-facturing!
3) where are these camels even taking us?
How about a lovely point in the desert where we can sit with a complimentary cookie and masala chai and watch the sunset? This spot is one of the most popular places in Pushkar for photos, especially for weddings. We watched a young couple taking their engagement photos nearby.
Unfortunately there was a disoriented gentleman who had obviously not been respecting Pushkar’s rules about drinking. He kept trying to take a nap in the middle of their engagement photos. I really respected the bride-to-be’s determination to keep smiling into the camera and ignoring this joker’s existence. That level of indifference to reality will serve her well in married life!
As stunning as the desert sands and sunset are, just be prepared for a depressing amount of plastic trash scattered about. So many Indians that I spoke to are alarmed at the increase in public garbage since plastic arrived in India. There must be a solution to this; India is too gorgeous a place to be covered in detritus like this.
24 Hours: Best Places to Visit in Pushkar
Evening: Dinner at Sunset Cafe
After washing up from the Camel Time, let’s head into town for dinner! Allow me to prove to you that we can have a delightful meal with neither flesh nor alcohol! We ended our 24 hours with Pushkar Lake at Sunset Cafe and learned to indulge in a different way.
The Rajasthani thali is kind of like a tasting menu, except all the tastes are served at once. (Rajasthan is the name of the state where Pushkar is located.)
At Sunset Cafe, the Rajasthani thali came with salad, lentil dal, a hard bread called baati, churma (wheat cooked with clarified butter and sugar), gatta curry (chickpeas in yogurt sauce), ker sangri (a bean dish), dahi chawal (yogurt rice), papadum (crispy flatbread), and lahsun chatney (garlic chutney. This thali was a fantastic way to sample many Rajasthani specialities. I didn’t even miss the beer!
That’s 24 Hours of the Best Places to Visit in Pushkar!
What would you do at Pushkar Lake? Have you ever been to a race of either camels or grandpas? And what exactly does Queen Elizabeth’s soap taste like? Please leave your thoughts below!