Push Coming to Shove… is Pushkar Worth Visiting?
One of the towns famous in Rajasthan, and let’s face it, there are many, is Pushkar. It’s a curious place, I visited it back in 1999 and again last month when I was back in India for the first time in fourteen years. And I’m not going to a whole article on the pros and cons, but sure, I would recommend you visit Pushkar should you be in the area.
The tourist numbers have ballooned – or at least to my eyes they have – since 1999. It’s absolutely flooded with tourists. Which means there is a bit of hassle there, but honestly it seemed less than say Jaipur and nothing at all compared to Delhi. But then it is small and a place for chilling and relaxing.
That’s if you’re a western tourist, but Pushkar does see a lot of domestic tourism too, for religious purposes. It’s a holy city for the Hindus, who make up around 80% of India’s population of just under 1.5 billion. The Pushkar Lake is the centre of the pilgrimage and there are also a number of temples as well.
For the non-Hindu visitors, Pushkar is a place to land yourself and chill out for a while. And there seemed to be three main groups visiting Pushkar from abroad. There are people like me doing a short stay. It’s pretty, there’s the bazaar, temples, a few interesting buildings and the lake. I was so quick I was there a few hours doing it as a day trip from Jaipur.
Then there are a large number of Israelis staying in Pushkar. India has long been a very popular tourist destination for Israelis, and you may find from time to time a number of Israelis who have just finished their military service (compulsory) escaping to India for a few weeks or months. India is welcoming to Israelis who can at times find travelling takes them to countries not so friendly. Of course, much of the Middle East is out, but I saw a few Israelis having to jump through incredible hoops to get into Bolivia back in 2016.
Then there are the long term travellers who just park themselves in Pushkar without the thought of leaving. Possibly ever. Weed is apparently easy to find, the hair is long and the beards are longer. And there is a sense of community there for those staying long term, and when you find people who did this and they’ve moved on, they love to reminisce about how awesome it was.
For the quick visitor, it’s kind of obvious about these groups. You are mostly likely to arrive by bus, probably from Ajmer as the train station in Pushkar receives few trains from anywhere it seems, so people often take the train to Ajmer and then take a 30 minute bus to Pushkar. It’s quite an impressive short ride once you’re out of Ajmer, you sort of descend on the valley Pushkar is in.
It’s an easy place to get around in. Auto-Rickshaws will offer you tours or transport, but really all you need is your two feet and you should be fine. The lake is beautiful, and it is surrounded by ghats. There is even a small pool lakeside as well. It’s built up a fair bit in 19 years around the lake, I remember it being more open and less ghats.
Be mindful when taking photos. I feel there were restrictions I wasn’t aware of when I went there (around the lake), especially try to avoid taking photos of people there to pray etc. And your shoes need to come off before you head to the ghats. But it is a really beautiful experience, well I found it so. There weren’t a lot of people there and it was, in places quite peaceful.
And that is the highlight really in my eyes of Pushkar and the reason for going. There is a long bazaar, selling mostly to foreigners. There are plenty of eateries, some trading on references from Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor. Those Trip Advisor stickers seem to be everywhere now. Watch life float past, visit a temple or two, there are some interesting buildings here and there and a number of cows in the street which always seems of interest to me! Lol.
The day I was there they said they hadn’t had power, I think in all of Pushkar, for hours. At least. It was really the only power failure I experienced in India this time, taking me back to the old days of going there where power failures were daily occurrences no matter where you were.
As long as you know what kind of traveller you are, you should be able to find a way to get something out of Pushkar. Thanks for reading, and May the Journey Never End!