Destination 2 on our Rajasthan adventure was Pushkar, a small lakeside town 40 minutes outside of Ajmer (somewhere in between Jaipur and Jodhpur). Most travelers I met in India raved of Pushkar and its laid back ways, with some people boasting they had stayed there for several weeks. While it certainly is worth a visit I’m not sure I loved it THAT much. Pushkar is tiny, like teeny tiny, you can walk around the entire town in about half an hour. Most of the town is just made up of guest houses, restaurants and tourist shops and although as a traveler a destination like this is super relaxing and easy to navigate (as everything you need is right in front of you) Ebbs and I got pretty bored on our third day.
Don't get me wrong, if you're in Rajasthan don't skip Pushkar just make sure you don't spend longer than a few days here. For someone on a super long trip through India (say 6 months) this place would be perfect to spend a week or 2 to recover from the rest of the country however those on a shorter trip (Ebbs and I had 5 weeks in the north) 3 days would be PLENTY.
What to do
The shopping in Pushkar is outrageous. I recommend grazing through all the shops and checking prices before you make a final decision on what you want to buy because a lot of the stalls sell similar things (no surprises there) and there was actually a great variation in price between shops. There was one shop in particular next to the laughing Buddha café which was an emporium of Indian fabrics and clothes. Ebbs and I spent a few hours in there sifting through everything and I walked away with the biggest bundle of beautiful Indian fabrics for $23!! The prices were at least half the price of what I'd paid in other shops.
There are several temples you can hike to in the surrounding hills of Pushkar. Ebbs and I both got bad food poisoning on our first day so we weren’t feeling up to any physical activity but most people we met said the views at sunset from the temples were incredible.
We walked out to where to camel fair is held each year on the outskirts of the town in the desert and looked at all the decked out camels. There are also camel safaris that leave from this section of town however we were going to do one in Jaisalmer so we didn’t do that here.
Yoga is massive in Pushkar with almost every guesthouse offering daily classes. Shop and ask around for the best places to go as the town is full of (intimidating) yogis who are more than happy to share their advice with you.
What to eat
EATING in Pushkar is an easy task made difficult due to TOO MUCH CHOICE!! There are cafes and food stalls squashed into every crevice of this town with everything from thali to pasta available and the prices are cheap too. After coming from Jaipur where we found it difficult to find an affordable meal we wanted to eat everything. You can't get any meat or eggs in Pushkar as it is a holy city so a lot of the dishes are vegan and vegetarian. A few recommendations are:
Pushkar is a very small town so no matter where you're staying as long as its near the main street will be well located. We stayed at the Akash Hostel for the first 2 nights which was $12 a night for a private room with a shared bathroom. There was an attached restaurant that was slow but cheap (and made great porridge). Our room was painted bright pink and green which was pretty funky. On our last night in Pushkar we stayed at Inn Seventh Heaven which was on the other side of town and was one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever stayed in. I initially wanted to stay here the whole time but at $35 a night it wasn't worth it (after all it is just a bed). I had to book our night here about 3 months in advance because of how popular it is so if you want to stay here make sure you remember to book early!
There is so much accommodation in Pushkar that unless you are there during the annual camel fair it is probably best to just show up and find your accommodation when you arrive. Most places will offer you a room for 300-400 rupees a night (which is about $6-$8).
We caught a general class train from Jaipur to Amjer for $2 each that left at 2pm and arrived at 4pm. You can buy general class tickets at the train station. Once in Amjer we had to get a taxi or public bus to Pushkar which is a 40 minute drive. The bus tickets are 25 rupees and they leave every 15 minutes from under the clock tower opposite the station. We shared a taxi with a few other people and it cost us 100 rupees each ($2) which was worth it for the convenience. Pushkar doesn't allow cars on its main road so you'll have to walk from the outskirts of town to your accommodation.
We got an overnight bus from Pushkar to Jaipur for 500 rupees each. The drive wasn’t too bad although it was absolutely freezing so make sure you have a blanket or sleeping bag. The buses are known to arrive at about 4am so its wise to have accommodation pre-booked so you have somewhere to go on the other end.