The state of Rajasthan has always fascinated me; be it its history, culture, aristocracy or food. This unplanned travel to the spiritual headquarters of Rajasthan has set the tone right to explore it further in the upcoming year. My sail was set from Delhi, on a Rajasthan Roadways bus to Jaipur and then from Jaipur to Ajmer. The frequency and timing of buses are good while there are multiple trains connecting Ajmer to most parts of the country.
Day 1: Brahma Temple and Ajmer Sharif
Pushkar was a surprise in the entire travel package. The beautiful lake and ghats surrounding the lake along with temples enlighten your spiritual core. The city is known for the Brahma temple and the Cattle Fair which is held in November. In the morning I offered prayers at the Brahma temple and left for Ajmer. The spiritual colors of Sufism at Dargah Sharif left me spellbound. Do spend some time at the Qawwali gathering.
If you are a non-vegetarian, I am sure you won’t be able to resist yourself as you walk down the lanes beside the dargah. To try out Rajasthani Thali and Dal-Baati-Churma you can push off to Mahadev’s or Moti Mahal next to the Daulatbagh Park. Post lunch, I stopped at the Anna Sagar lake to capture the amazing view of the sunset.
Still if you have some energy left and a bike on rent, take a de-tour of the town, Mayo College etc. A late night movie show in Ajmer is also doable. The ride from Ajmer to Pushkar in the night might freeze your toes but the view of Ajmer you get from the hilltop is just out of the world.
Day 2: Savitri Temple and Pushkar
Well, if you love climbing and are in decent physical shape, set up a target and climb up the hill to offer prayers at the Savitri temple. For details, you can read about the legend of this temple. It gives you a magnificent view of Pushkar on one side and the desert on the other. After getting back, I visited the famous temples of Pushkar; old and new Rangji temple and the Gurudwara. For me, the second half of the day was reserved to chill out, so I spent my afternoon in the balcony of hotel U Turn overlooking the lake. The evening is the right time for shutter bugs to capture the sunset in the backdrop of the ghats. Do not miss the aarti (prayer) held at the ghats in the evenings, these prayers are offered to the lake as prayers are not offered to lord Brahma due to the curse. Late evening is the perfect time to shop around the town.
Things to do:
You can go for a Camel safari near the town or spend the night in the desert, everything is available to fit your interest, likes and dislikes. Hotel folks can arrange one for you. “Things to do” is incomplete without food, so do try Kachoris for breakfast. I had them at a small shop, Kumavat, that only served Kachoris, Samosas and Chili Pakoras. A perfect breakfast is accompanied by tea, and there are numerous tea shops in Pushkar selling Masala Chai (ingredients may vary but they add ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and black pepper). Most of the restaurants are roof top, serving Indian, Chinese, Israeli and yes, Italian. I did not try, but they have wood-fired pizzas on the menu, if you want you can give it a shot. Alcohol and non-vegetarian food is strictly prohibited in the town. No trip is complete without shopping, and the market can surprise you with the variety of stuff at affordable prices. You can look out for clothes, music, antiques, paintings, ceramic decor etc.
Where to stay:
Accommodation is available according to your budget. There is Hotel Sarovar run by tourism department and numerous private guest houses and hotels. You can find a decent room for 300-800 rupees. Some of the guest houses have shared baths, so do check that out before you reserve your place. I stayed at Hotel U Turn (at Bhola Guest House) facing the lake. You can spend your entire day on the rooftop over numerous rounds of tea and coffee under warm sunlight. The place offers decent and affordable accommodation.
Travel in and around:
Pushkar is a small town and you would love to walk down the market. But to visit the places around, it works out quite well if you get a bike on rent (around 250 Rs. For 24 hours and some security deposit + your Identity card), otherwise there is a bus service between Pushkar and Ajmer every 15-30 minutes.
So, whenever you have some time, visit Pushkar or Ajmer and get painted in the spiritual colors of Rajasthan and celebrate the idea of India and her communal harmony.