Introducing one of the holiest cities in India famous for the Camel Safari festival, handicrafts, & leather goods…
A lot of people raved about how great Pushkar is, that they stayed for days / weeks, did nothing but shopped, that we should probably stay 3-4 days, and that they’d highly encourage the visit. So we had high expectations and we were excited to spend maybe even 3 nights of our itinerary here and do lots of shopping at markets and bazaars! But we were pretty underwhelmed actually. What was everyone raving about Pushkar? Yeah it’s nice, but we didn’t see the big deal. Hampi was much more impressive! Alas, after a couple of days in Pushkar we got to see and experience quite a bit and even though we wouldn’t rave about the city, it’s still worth the visit for a number of reasons.
This is one of the first things we noticed. There’s still motorbikes and lots of beeping, but relative to Delhi and coming from Jaipur, Pushkar was quiet. It’s only a small city with few narrow roads and cows roaming about so it’s a very walkable place. You don’t get the big trucks and buses going by at all around the main market road and attractions so it’s a really nice change.
Shop keepers aren’t pushy
Gosh, it makes SUCH a difference when you’re not trying to be persuaded by someone to ‘see more colours’ and ’come inside’, or to ‘try it on’ and that they’ll give you the ‘best price’. Shop keepers in Pushkar mostly welcome you with a friendly ‘Namaste’ and leave you alone to browse. Some will ask if you need help but they’ll generally leave you alone and give you attention just when you ask. I personally get turned off immediately when someone tries to push me into buying, so this was an incredibly nice change. The bigger plus is that prices were much cheaper than Jaipur! (I finally found a nice patterned Indian pant I bargained for 150 rupees – yay!)
Sivatra temple is located on the top of a high narrow-pointed mountain, I presume the highest within walking distance of the city. We actually just kept walking along main market road and coincidentally reached a point that lead to the base of the mountain. From here, you can either do the 20-30min stairs hike up or take a ropeway for 92 rupees (we didn’t expect a ropeway here!). Closing in on 6pm, the sun was already pretty low so we opted for the ropeway (we totally were not up for the hike anyhow!). From Sinatra Temple, you could see the entirety of Pushkar city, the little lake in the middle, the surrounding mountains, camel safaris below in the valleys, and the villages beyond. Cheeky monkeys also roamed around the temple stealing biscuits from the little tea stall, but it was good entertainment :P.
The main attraction for visitors I’d say is the main market road. It stretches for a good 500-600m I’d say, just lined with stalls selling jewellery, scarves, pashminas, leather bags, Indian bracelets and other souvenir goods. We weren’t THAT impressed by the shopping since we had high expectations but things still caught our eyes and we bagged a few bargains. It seems a lot of tourists did heaps of shopping here and got things shipped home or bought extra duffels to store their purchases in. We didn’t see much uniqueness in the items sold here since we’ve seen a lot of the same things in Vietnam or Cambodia, but there’s heaps to shop for if you’re looking for gifts and souvenirs for sure.
The falafel wraps
Falafel is one of the popular things to try in Pushkar and though many of the cafes/restaurants along the market road have it, there’s one popular falafel joint you’re bound to come by. The typical falafel everyone gets has hummus, yoghurt, falafel, onion, tomato, cabbage, and all the masala spices and chilli. So pretty much an Indian falafel wrap!
It’s one of the holiest cities in India
It’s hard to ignore the holy vibe in Pushkar – cows and goats are everywhere, there’s always the smell of incense in the air (which I love), there’s a constant carnival-like music being played in the street (not sure if this is because of a wedding or if it’s just what they do daily?), and the practice of taking your shoes off if you want to go down by the lake. We also learned that Pushkar is an entirely vegetarian city, but you can get an omelette here. It’s
I’m a huge fan of popcorn, so when the men with their popcorn push carts came out at night, my likability for Pushkar jumped three points. for just 10 rupees a bag, we got freshly popped popcorn three times. I normally eat literally ten times the amount but I needed to leave room for other food Pushkar has. The cuisines cafes/restaurants serve here are quite similar to hampi – you can get chinese, indian, israeli, and italian food. And there’s a fair few ‘German’ bakeries as well. It’s not really a bakery actually, they just have a cabinet with chocolate scrolls, croissants, cinnamon scrolls, coconut roughs and chocolate balls – hardly German. I think the Germans would agree. On the flip side we’ve had pretty good chai here in Pushkar!
The little city / communal feel
I always prefer a small and intimate city or village feel over a big city any day. Pushkar is like a little town where there’s a likely chance of running into someone you met the day before. There’s little streets and all but the main market road is where all the people are. It’s pretty hard to get lost in Pushkar too so it’s a good town for anyone who’s terrible at directions and getting geographically orientated. Oh and the people are quite friendly too (if you’re friendly with them too).