Meet Pushkar — one of India’s holiest and oldest cities. Pushkar is a small town situated on the border of the arid Thar Desert in Rajasthan a few hours east of Jaipur, Rajasthan’s capital. During our backpacking trip around Rajasthan, we decided we must see what all the fuss was about Pushkar. After all, we had heard so many things about Pushkar’s hippie vibe, holy lake, and eccentric festivals! But it seems like we weren’t the only ones with this idea.
Along with thousands of Hindus making the pilgrimage to the holy city, there are thousands of foreigners making the same trip, but rather to indulge in Pushkar’s laid-back hippie scene. From a tourist’s perspective, and because Pushkar is relatively small, there aren’t that many things to do. In fact, there’s just enough to fill a one or two day Pushkar itinerary!
We personally felt that 1-2 days in Pushkar was enough. The only foreigners who stayed longer were those who wanted to hang back and smoke weed and drink bhang lassis or stay for one of Pushkar’s festivals.
Here’s how to have an awesome time in Pushkar for a 1-day itinerary!
The Ultimate 1 Day Itinerary for Pushkar
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks so much for your support!
Where to Stay in Pushkar
First things first. No matter where you’re coming from (likely from Jaipur), you’ll want to stay overnight in Pushkar. If not, you’ll miss out on some sweet sunset hikes and evening ceremonies. Plus, Pushkar is the perfect small town to find some peace and quiet before journeying onward to visit Rajasthan’s bustling cities like Jodhpur or Jaisalmer.
Backpacker hotels in Pushkar $:
Elephant Pushkar – a budget hostel with a great location on Main Market Rd. It has a large garden and a backpacker-friendly vibe.
Moustache Pushkar – an awesome backpacker-style hostel with private rooms and an open-air shared lounge. It also has a superb location on Brahma Temple Rd!
For couples, Paul and I can recommend staying at the Tulsi Hostel. It’s just right off Main Market Road nearby the Pushkar Lake. We had our own private room for a good price (~$8) and felt safe staying there.
What to Do in Pushkar in 1 Day
With only one day in Pushkar, you don’t have that much time to splurge. We arrived early in the morning in Pushkar and I recommend you do the same to take advantage of a full day. If you have more time, definitely consider spreading out all the things to do in Pushkar across two days. If you time it well, here is what you can do for one day in Pushkar.
Wander Pushkar Lake
Get up at sunrise to stroll around the sacred Pushkar Lake. The views are beautiful and it’s the perfect time to do a little soul-searching or meditation while Pushkar still sleeps.
Pushkar Lake is a holy site for Hindus, who make the voyage here to bathe in its sacred cleaning waters at one of the 52 ghats surrounding the lake. Its historical appearance can be traced back all the way to the early 2-5th centuries. But if you’re fascinated by the Hindu religion, the legend of how Lord Brahma created Lake Pushkar from one of the petals of his lotus flower might pique your interest more.
As I said there are 52 ghats around the lake and a ghat simply means a flight of steps. So there are basically 52 areas around Pushkar Lake where locals and Hindus can access the lake to bathe in belief that the sacred waters cleanse the skin of impurities and disease. Waking up early to photograph Pushkar Lake at sunrise is a must!
Visit the Holy Temples
There are dozens of Hindu temples in Pushkar to explore in one day. The most impressive temple to visit in Pushkar, however, is none other than the famous Brahma Temple – the temple dedicated to Lord Brahma, the creator-god.
You won’t have time to visit all the temples in Pushkar in 1 day. So it’s best to pick and choose. Here are some other popular temples to see in Pushkar:
- Savitri Temple (see below for this awesome hike!)
- Gayatri Temple
- Apteshwar Temple
- Mahadeva Temple
- Old Ranji Temple
- Raghunath Temple
- Ramavaikunth Temple
- among others!
Temple Tips: When you enter into the temples, you will be asked to take off your shoes. Also, make sure to leave your valuables behind or store them in a paid locker outside of the temples. I have no photos of the temples we visited for this exact reason. We had to store our belongings in order to access the temple.
Eat at Lakeside Vegan/Vegetarian Cafes
Vegans and vegetarians are in for a treat in Pushkar! Dozens of chic vegetarian-friendly cafes line the streets and skirt the perimeter of the lake. Choose one and enjoy the views across the Pushkar Lake!
While you can find your typical Indian dishes in Pushkar like naan, stuffed parathas, cashew curry, dhal, etc., Pushkar surprisingly offers international cuisine. While there, we had a delicious fruit salad with raw honey, a few Indian snacks, and smoothies (that were not spiked!!).
Where to eat in Pushkar: Popular vegetarian/hippie cafes in Pushkar are the Cafe Lake View, The Laughing Buddha, Funky Monkey Cafe, Nirvana Cafe and Pizzeria, Out of The Blue, Pink Floyd Cafe and Ganga Laffa & Felafel Restaurant… To name a few! 🙂
Once you get a sense of these rooftop cafes and bohemian restaurants, it’s easier to understand the hippie culture that makes Pushkar such a tourist destination for backpackers and free spirits.
Travel Tip: As it’s a holy place, there is no meat consumption anywhere in Pushkar. Hence all the vegetarian and vegan cafes!
Hike Savitri Mata at Sunset
By far, one of the best things to do in Pushkar is to hike at sunset to the hilltop Hindu temple known as Savitri Mata. Savitri Mata is known as the primary wife of Lord Brahma, so many people make the trek to visit this temple.
To get there, follow the road leaving Pushkar downtown to Savitri Temple via Kharekhari Rd. You can’t miss it!
Hiking to Savitri means climbing up some 950 steps, so it’s not exactly a leisurely hike. If you’re strapped for time, you can also take a cablecar up to the top. The cablecar in Pushkar costs 75 RPS one-way and 140 for there and back.
Savitri Temple cablecar – shot this on our way back down the mountain
The view from the top affords a sweeping view of Pushkar and its surrounding valley and hills. You’ll also find a troop of monkeys at Savitri as well! Although they are used to seeing people, I wouldn’t wander too close. Don’t encourage them by prompting with food, drink, etc., or they can quickly become aggressive!
Make sure to stay for sunset if you can but don’t leave too late to get back. It took us around 45 minutes to one hour to climb it, and about 30 minutes to descend back down.
Alternative Hike: Pap Mochani Temple Hike — Another hike you can squeeze into your Pushkar itinerary is the Pap Mochani Temple Hike. This hike is best done during the day and takes half as much time than Savitri to climb.
Watch an Aarti Ceremony
An aarti ceremony is a religious Hindu ceremony in which worshippers offer light (fire lamps) to the Hindu gods and deities. Although the aarti ceremonies are most famous in Varanasi, Pushkar also boasts a lovely ceremony which you can watch live every evening at the Varah Ghat in Pushkar (7 pm in summer, 5:30 pm in winter).
Experience Pushkar Nightlife
Other than the evening aarti ceremony, what is there to do in Pushkar at night?
Pushkar’s nightlife can be lots of fun if you’re willing to stay curious and do a bit of exploring. The foodie scene at night in Pushkar is awesome, especially around the Main Market Square. I would only recommend eating street food in India if you’ve acclimated to the country, but if not, go slow to avoid traveler’s tummy.
If you’re shopping last-minute, the Safar Bazaar in Pushkar stays open in the evening and many of the shop owners are willing to ‘strike a deal’ for end-of-the-day sales before going home. In general, when I shop in India or Nepal I like to go early morning or later in the evening to get a good bargain.
So eating, shopping, exploring around, what else is there to do in Pushkar at night? Well, you can finish visiting the remainder of temples in Pushkar. Many of the temples and ghats around the lake stay open at night (up until around 9 pm). Visit Pushkar’s temples at night to get a new sense and atmosphere of each place. Going later is also a great way to avoid the day-time crowds and it’s often more “peaceful” like you would expect temples in India to generally be.
Reminder: Just like the no meant rule, alcohol is not allowed in Pushkar. Please be respectful of the local culture and don’t smuggle in alcohol like many foreigners attempt to do. Instead, Pushkar offers “special” drinks (bhang lassis, etc) that you can find at the bars and cafes.
Pushkar Camel Festival
Last but not least, if you’re visiting Pushkar in late November, don’t miss out on the Pushkar Camel Fair – one of the largest camel festivals in the world! It’s a time when Hindu pilgrims, camel connoisseurs, and locals come together to celebrate a two-day festival with camel races, competitions, dances, and more.
Check out this video of the Pushkar Camel Festival by The Vagabrothers. It really gives a birds-eye view into the camel fair and what Pushkar looks like during these festive times!
As you can see there are so many things to do and places to visit in Pushkar in 1 day!
If you’re backpacking Rajasthan, definitely add this one day Pushkar itinerary to your bucket list! I would love to get back to Pushkar one day to experience the camel fair and visit all the temples I didn’t have time to see.
More India travel inspiration:
- 9 Best Places to Visit in Jodhpur: India’s Blue City
- 3 Days in Jaisalmer, India + Camel Safari in The Thar Desert
- 2 Days in Jaipur, India: The Pink City of Rajasthan
- 2 Days in Agra, India: Guide to Taj Mahal + Agra Fort
Have you ever heard of Pushkar or have been there?
Drop me your questions or comments about Pushkar below!