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10 things To Do in Pushkar - Best Weekend Itinerary

Updated: Apr 2

Pushkar is a holy town tucked away in the sandy bylanes of eastern Rajasthan and one of the only few places in India to have a temple dedicated to Lord Brahma. But as I recently discovered, it's also an architectural legacy of a bygone era, a shopping and food paradise and an emerging spirituality hub. Just 4 hours by road from Jaipur, Pushkar makes a great weekend trip for those live in Jaipur and around, but also by itself it's a worthy destination to add to your Rajasthan trip.


Those who've done the "hippie trail" in India (Rishikesh, Hampi, Goa, Varkala, etc.) will find their solace in the less crowded spiritual overtones in Pushkar. Others will find their kicks in its rich shopping, art, and cafe culture.


Here's a weekend itinerary for Pushkar according to my recent travels.

However, I strongly recommend spending a good week to truly soak in the culture and the unique ethos of the village-town.

1) Things to do in Pushkar: Hike to Gayatri Temple at sunrise



sunrise hike to gayatri temple pushkar


Some Hindu texts have it that Gayatri Devi was one of the wives of Lord Brahma and the only temple dedicated to her is perched atop a hill in Pushkar. Getting to the temple requires a fairly easy 30-minute trek and is best done at sunrise to enjoy the sun looming over the city of Pushkar.

Spend some time soaking in the panoramic views of Pushkar and the pyramid-shaped mountain in the distance.


2) Things to do in Pushkar: Hike To Savitri Temple at Sunset


Perched upon that pyramid shaped hill that forms a formidable background at the Pushkar lake and is visible from pretty much everywhere in the area is the demure Savitri Mandir or temple. The hill is diagonally opposite the Gayatri temple, and is hence is a great sunset spot. Its religious significance too is immense. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Savitri (or Saraswati) another wife of Lord Brahma. Even if you're not religious, getting to the temple offers a thrilling short trek and rewards you with amazing views making this a spectacular sunset hike. However be careful about the monkeys or langoors as Shannon a blogger seems to have experienced a hilarious showdown with them!


3) Things to do in Pushkar: Visit the only Brahma Temple in India


To those familiar with the vast world of Hindu gods and goddesses, Lord Brahma is one third of the Holy Trinity of Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Preserver), and Mahesh/Shiva (destroyer)

For reasons best explained by mythological folklore, apparently Lord Brahma was cursed by his wife Savitri that he would never be worshipped and hence there're almost no other temples dedicated to Lord Brahma. (For context, hundreds of millions of Shiva temples abound in India alone.) So a visit to Pushkar also checks off a spiritual box of having gone to one of the few Brahma temples in the world.


4) Things to do in Pushkar: Attend a yoga drop-in class



1) Things to do in Pushkar: Attend a drop-in yoga class


While it's no Rishikesh, Pushkar too has a budding Yoga and spiritual events scene. The main yoga schools are Sanatan Yoga and Pushkar Yoga Temple. Many other yoga drop-in classes (attend-and pay-per-class basis) happen around the area. Find a class that happens on the banks of the sacred Pushkar lake during a sunrise to introduce a heady sensory-spiritual experience to your trip.


5) Things to do in Pushkar: Watch the sunset over the Pushkar Lake


Most of Pushkar lies around its small eponymous lake. Legend has it that the lake was created where the lotus petals fell from the feet of Lord Brahma. Like the Ganga in the east of India, the Pushkar lake is considered holy and most of it is flanked by ghats or steps where sacred baths, artis and other rituals are performed. While a few cafes and havelis in Pushkar overlook the lake, watching the sunset over the lake is a special experience. Head to the aptly titled Sunset View cafe or simply walk around or sit on the ghats of the lake around sunset time to see the sun paint the Pushkar sky in hues of orange, pink and blue while the Savitri mandir hill forms an impressive black silhouette in the background. Folk musicians play live music and the vibe around the lake at sunset is truly happy and high.


1) Things to do in Pushkar : watch the sunset over Pushkar lake


6) Things to do in Pushkar: Go on a Haveli Hunt


Hundreds of Havelis (Indian styled mansions) as old as 100 to 500 year old mark its ancient and royal history. The Havelis may have seen better days, but against the backdrop of a backpacker vibe with several of them having turned into cafes and hotels, they're still standing, adding to, no, forming the unique character of Pushkar. Why, you could even consider staying in a haveli hotel and get a taste of the Indian royalty from back in the day. Feast your eyes on the intricate carvings, fresco paintings in rich organic colours that have survived the test of time and weather, and the ornate arches, windows, cupalas and gates of the havelis.


7) Things to do in Pushkar: Shop for exotic and boho clothes, jewelry and handicrafts


Having shopped all over India, I must say Pushkar has some of the best and sophisticated shopping experiences in India. The market is small but it's curated which means you get a good selection of Indian fabrics, handicrafts, and all sorts of boho stuff like macrame, saree-print clothes, bags, wooden stamps, handcrafted jewelry and more. One of my favourite hunts in Pushkar turned out to be a curb-side stall called "Kikasso Arts", a 50-year old father-son art legacy that draws inspiration from...you guessed it right, Picasso. The art pieces I bought from there now grace my walls back home in Jaipur. Pushkar is also one of the largest rose producers in India so get your hands on a natural incense and an "Ittar" bottle in rose fragrance from one of the legacy perfumeries.

The best part about shopping in Pushkar is that everything you buy comes packed in cute fabric pouches made from discarded sarees! Talk about boho meets sustainability.



8) Things to do in Pushkar: Go cafe hopping


There's no dearth of cafes in Pushkar spanning almost all cuisines and budgets. Catering to a phalange of western tourists, expect to find tons of pizzerias, falafel, and vegan food joints.

I've reviewed the 25 best cafes in Rishikesh and maybe I'll do one for Pushkar too but for now:

According to me, some of the best cafes in Pushkar are:


  • Dr Alone Cafe - A true-blue hippie style cafe with an expansive view of the Pushkar lake.


  • Bunty's Kitchen Vegan Cafe - For best vegan food and great views


Things to do in Pushkar - cafe hopping
Bunty's vegan cafe
  • Ganga Laffa - for tasty to-go laffas or roles filled with whatever your heart desires.(and unfortunately tons of oil.)

  • Cafe Out of the Blue: Great wood fired oven pizzas on top of a unique cobalt blue haveli.

  • Cafe UTurn: Freshly brewed coffee and healthy eats with a great view over the Brahma Ghat.

For a very cool offbeat cafe experience, head to Chotu French Bakery for sitting inside the - for lack of a better word for it -- security guard station of a haveli.



9) Things to do in Pushkar: Attend a "Kalbelia" performance

The Kalbellia is a traditional Rajasthani folk dance mainly featuring the local banjara or gypsy community. Women dressed up in bright, shimmery and colourful Rajasthani attire dance while menfolk play live music using instruments like the flute, cimbals, been etc. Kalbelia is to Rajasthan what the Opera is to Italy! (Both too are a dying art.)


10) Things to do in Pushkar: Go on a desert safari


Are you even in Rajasthan if you haven't gone on a desert safari? 1/3rd of Rajasthan is the majestic Thar - the 3rd largest desert in the world. While the desert parts around Pushkar ain't as grand as the ones in Jaisalmer, it's a good substitute for when you can't go to the latter. Enjoy a Kalbeliya performance, a night under the stars amidst endless sand plains, and camels for company.


Bonus


11) Things to do in Pushkar: Attend the famous Pushkar Camel Fair

The Pushkar Fair has been happening in Pushkar for over 50 years, and if you happen to be there at the right time, (last week of November), it's a must-see event. Coined the largest cattle fair in the world, the annual Pushkar fair is attended by hundreds of thousands of people and camels. While personally, I don't like the idea of any animals being bought and sold as commodities, locals tell me that the camels are mainly used for transport and safaris and mostly well taken care of. But other than the camel fair itself,  the Pushkar Fair is a uniquely spectacular event, and there's a lot more to experience and take part in. How about a friendly local vs foreigners football match? Or cheering for the men with the longest moustaches? Or simply soaking in the festive vibe, feasting on chaats and other snacks, shopping and meeting interesting people?


Hope this handy list of things to do in Pushkar can make your Pushkar itinerary more meaningful and fulfilling.


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 I (Monica) am a lifelong traveler, (40 countries), sustainability and veganism advocate, and a marketer by profession. I'm old school in that I still like to blog and document rather than shoot and post.

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