I was drawn to visit Pushkar as it’s known for its spiritual associations. The legend has it that the Hindu god Brahma laid a lotus flower which created the lake. The city centres around this beautiful lake and a temple dedicated to Brahma means that Pushkar is a holy pilgrimage for many. Daily prayers are projected at sunrise and sunset with blessings and offerings carried out at the 13 ghats that surround the lake.
THINGS TO DO
Wander the Markets
Wrapped around the lake are market stalls selling a variety of artisan products such as leather and suede bags, jewellery, scarves and pashminas, handmade notebooks and spices. It’s easy to spend a whole day meandering the lanes, only stopping for cafes and a bite to eat. Be prepared to witness cows popping their heads into shops also as they’re free to roam the city.
Walk the 200 steps to the Savitri Mata Temple
The story goes that Brahma was to marry the river goddess, Savitri but on the day of the ceremony Savitri was late. The special wedding ritual had to be performed at the right moment so Brahma was told he had to quickly find another wife! The only unmarried woman at the wedding was a shepherdess called Gayitri. Needless to say when Savitri arrived, she was furious and cursed Brahma then flew off to the highest hill above Pushkar. To placate her, it was agreed that Savitri could have her temple on that hilltop and Gayitri, afraid of the wrath of Savitri, would have her temple on a lower hill on the opposite side of the lake. To this day, pilgrims worship Sivitri first at her temple before visiting Gayitri’s temple also known as Pap Mochani Temple.
Taking the steps is well worth the challenge but for those who prefer, a cable car option is available that transports you to the hilltop in 6 minutes. The hike takes about an hour give or take your fitness.
Hike to Pap Mochani Temple to see the Sunrise
The best time to experience Pap Mochani is at sunrise when the city is still. It only takes about 15 minutes to climb the track and you’re rewarded with panoramic views of Pushkar with the sun creeping over the mountains to the East.
Visit the Annual Cattle Fair
I’m gutted I didn’t visit at this time of year as it attractrs millions of visitors with a whole spectrum of things to see and do. You’ll witness one of the most important rituals of the fair – the nose piercing of camels – and competitions such camel beauty contests and the longest moustache competition. I mean, who doesn’t want to see that!
The fair begins during October or November but make sure you check as it varies from year to year.
EAT & DRINK
Honey Dew Café for the best coffee I tasted in India. Tea or Chai is the nation’s drink so coming across a good coffee is few and far between. Try the mixed fruit porridge too if you go for breakfast. With 3 weeks in India, it was a welcome change to the curries served for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
Om Shiva Garden Restaurant for the paneer cashew curry. Walk through the restaurant and you enter an outdoor oasis where you can even take your shoes off and feel the sand between your toes!
Sunset Café for the majestic sunset over the lake and a pot of Masala Chai.
The religious nature of Pushkar means that meat, eggs and alcohol are banned. It’s worth noting that weed is not!
If you are after a sly tipple, some restaurants and hotels do serve alcohol off the menu. I’d recommend sticking to bottled beer as I experienced some rather questionable home brewed wine once! Try Out of the Blue Restaurant which serves good Indian food aswell as pizzas and bottled beer. The rooftop views of the lake make it a nice chill out spot and it’s opposite Honey Dew Café. Sixth Sense Restaurant located in Seventh Heaven Inn is slightly more upmarket.
After our hike in the Himalayas we were after some much needed relaxation…and a pool! Hotel Brahma Horizon didn’t disappoint. The hotel staff were attentive and made our stay blissful. Buffet breakfast consisted of Indian choices as well as fresh fruit, cereal and pastries. The pool and manicured gardens were a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of Delhi. Jumping in the pool, I did get the shock of my life though as it’s totally unheated. In the midst of the Summer months this shouldn’t be a problem but in December the sun wasn’t at it’s strongest and let’s just say it definitely wakes you up!
Pushkar Weather Report
|Warmest Months:||April, May and June reaching 40 C / 104 F|
|Coldest Months:||January. Average Temp 15 C / 59 F|
|Wettest Months:||July and August|
|Best Months to Visit:||November – February *dry and average temps of 2 C|