First – let me be honest and clear – we have barely started visiting the amazing places that exist around the world. Having said that, visiting Ajmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan, India was an incredible experience…. May be it was the time of the year or may be it was the state of mind, not sure, but, we went back home feeling awesome.
We visited the places over a weekend in May during the month of Ramzan. The atmosphere was clearly more subdued in nature… perhaps because of the time of the year. No one bothered us, the crowds were not too bad (had read so many horror stories prior) and the atmosphere was serene.
Transportation: We traveled by car to Pushkar. Having a car with experienced local drivers really helped us navigate through the narrow streets easily. We were also able to go back and forth between Ajmer and Pushkar easily.
Stay: Making it an exception again this time – want to mention that we stayed at a place called “Pushkar Resorts” right outside Pushkar. In the same area, there are some other nice options as well.
A couple of things made this place special: 1) cottage style rooms which really gave you privacy, 2) A clean pool that the kids were able to enjoy, 3) Fresh food prepared where most of the vegetables were grown on-site, 4) Lots of open space where the kids could run around freely, 5) responsive staff that helped us with packed lunch on the day we left.
One major con of course is that there is nothing outside the premises and you will need transportation to get around. But, if you already have your own taxi figured out, this is totally worth it — in my opinion of course.
So, what were we able to do in Ajmer and Pushkar? Here is the rundown 🙂
Day 1: Travel to Ajmer / Pushkar Area
We traveled by car and reached the area around 1 pm. We checked into the resort and had our lunch. After taking a short rest, we headed to Ajmer around 4pm and reached the Ajmer Sharif Dargah around 5 pm. There were a lot of people but not overwhelming. We did not carry any valuables with us (left them safely in the hotel). We did carry a small wallet and our phone with us.
The Dargah is a beautiful place. I think timing wise, we picked a sweet spot. We were able to go into the Dargah quickly and were able to spend time sitting right outside for quite some time absorbing the energy… incredible! We wanted to stick around to listen to qawwalis we had heard so much about, but, were disappointed to learn that the sessions do not take place during the holy month. Oh well – this means only one thing of course — need to go back again!
We left the Dargah around 6:30pm and went to a nearby place to have some tea and snacks. Afterwards, we stopped by the Ana Sagar lake and then stopped by the Prithviraj Smarak Monument where you can enjoy spectacular views of the lake and Ajmer during sunset. After spending some time, we headed back to the resort and called it a night after a nice dinner.
Day 2: Pushkar
The day started early. First (around 7am), we headed to the Pushkar Lake to take a dip in the holy waters. We spent some time here sitting and meditating. Around 8:30, we headed back to the resort to have our breakfast (the kids were really hungry). After breakfast and a quick shower, we headed to the Savitri Temple. There is a cable car that will take you to the top of the hill to visit the temple, which makes it a lot easier. The views are simply stunning. You can see Pushkar Lake at a distance, along with Aravali Hills on one side, desert on another, fields between the hill and the lake… too pretty.
It was around 1pm by the time we were done. Once again we headed back to the resort. Had our lunch and a nice nap (it was a very hot day!).
We headed out around 4:30pm and went to the famous Brahma Temple. Once again, we were very lucky and did not have to spend too much time waiting in lines. We spent about 1 1/2 hours at the temple. We then had a decision to make: go back to Ajmer or spend the evening enjoying the facilities at the resort — we split up. The kids and a few adults headed back to the resort to enjoy the pool while the rest of us went back to Ajmer.
Day 3: Ajmer/Pushkar and Travel home
A few of us love to take early morning walks. So, on our final day, we woke up early and headed to Ajmer. After spending some time, we decided to go back to the Savitri Temple and walk up the stairs. Since we had already walked for about 3 km prior to reaching the steps of the temple, we were not able to complete the climb… got about 2/3rds the way up (it was getting hot and we were running out of time). We headed back to the resort for breakfast and checking out.
We were not sure where we could stop for lunch on our way home, so we requested the restaurant at the resort to pack some lunch for us – which they did. We left around 11:30am and got back home in good time.
- We traveled in May and it was very hot the weekend we went. As a result, we did not wander too much in Ajmer and Pushkar during the afternoon. Please ensure you consider the weather conditions as well.
- Peak times vs. lean times – During this visit we learnt that there are indeed lean times that you can take advantage of while planning your visit to the Dargah or the temple. Make sure you speak to the locals to understand what time would work best for you.
- Use a local guide or not? This is a tough one, but, over and over again what we learnt is that a local guide can be a real asset and really help you cut down on the time wasted trying to figure out things on your own. However, instead of randomly choosing a guy, try to see if your driver or the hotel can help you. Sometimes you do find nice local guides when you reach the destination.
- Resort, hotel or any place? – Each type definitely have their own advantages. We were traveling to many places during the month of May – so, for us, food safety was a priority. Ajmer and Pushkar are small cities and suddenly you may feel limited by the food choices and the places where you can eat. That is one of the main reasons we enjoyed the resort so much…. food was a no-brainer. Carry a packed lunch whenever possible… it will be safe and a time saver. Downside – we were on the outskirts…. local transport could be tough.
- Ajmer – Has many other historically significant sites (including a fort). We were so “fortted out” (yep, just made that up – “someone who has visited too many forts in a short time”) that we decided to focus our energy purely on the religious aspects of Ajmer and Pushkar.
- Adding this note after reading recent incidents – please do not travel alone. The risk is just not worth it. But, also, please be wise about who you pick as your travel partner. All said and done, traveling in a group is the safest available option.
Bottomline – Many places in India are magical. If you have read my previous posts, you already know how much in love I am with the Himalayas. However, I was equally enamoured with Ajmer and Pushkar. These places are special and I am grateful I got a chance to visit with my family.
*Photo credits – The nicer pictures were taken by my son. He was kind enough to share them with me when we looked at how poor my phone camera pictures were! Thank you!