Psychedelic Pushkar

Where alcohol and meat are prohibited but apparently drugs are free game!

A secluded Bohemian town in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan, Pushkar is a place where time seems to have stood still since it’s psychedelic heyday. Where tie-dye t-shirts, bell bottom pants, dreadlocks and hookahs paint the vibrant shades of town. Where alcohol, meat and drugs are prohibited but clearly no strict regulation on the latter as it’s become a popular destination for tourists coming for “spiritual enlightenment”.

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Getting There

There are no direct trains to Pushkar. Instead, you’d have to train to Ajmer, tuk tuk to the bus station (50Rs) and then take the #1 bus to Pushkar. The bus ride should cost about 12Rs. Someone will walk around collecting the money once the bus is in motion. The ride should take approximately 30 minutes. Other than the fact that some kid threw up on G’s backpack, the bus ride was pleasant. :P

Stay

We stayed at Everest Hotel, a popular guesthouse in Pushkar written in the guidebooks. We splurged on a deluxe room with couch, fan and air-con which we never used. You can show up and try bargaining for a small double bedroom for approximately 400- 500Rs a night. The rooftop restaurant is so-so but the view is absolutely amazing.

See

If you’re itching for some sight seeing, there are ghats surrounding a holy lake, and apparently the only Brahma Temple in all of India. That’s pretty much it. My suggestion, weave through the windy narrow streets of town. You’ll pass pastel shade buildings, women in vibrant saris and hippies in dreadlocks. It’s rustic, charming and groovy all at the same time. Here are some of our favorite photos from Pushkar:

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Some guidebook suggest you should brave the wee hours of the morning to hike up a mountain and catch sunrise over town. We met some people who did it and said it wasn’t anything special. Personally, I think you can get a great view of town on virtually any guesthouse rooftop.

Eat

Pushkar is a vegan town with healthy cuisine options you probably can’t find anywhere else in India. It’s not your traditional Thali dinner that’s for sure. There are no shortage of Italian food and oven baked pizza along with I kid you not when I say, the best fruit salad muesli ever at Sonu Juice Shop! They also make mouth-watering fruit smoothies with ice from mineral water so it’s safe for us Westerners to drink.

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For a hearty meal, get a falafel wrap toasted to perfection from one of two rival shop in town. They’re right next to one another. Both are good but I prefer the one on the left (if you’re looking directing at the shops) because every now and then, they hand out free Chai. Get it stuffed with fries!

For a feel good meal, check out Honey and Spice. Delicious home made banana bread, tofu steaks, brown rice, yummy salad and the healthy Bowl of Joy (below). It’s definitely not your traditional Indian menu. They also make a fruit muesli but not as good as the one from Sonu in my opinion.

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Do

If you want to shop, this is the place for it. But be warn the power of theek hai isn’t as effective here like the rest of Rajasthan. I tried. Majority of the time I was turned away almost immediately without even a counter offer.

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Pushkar is different than any other city we’ve visited and quickly became my favorite place in all of Rajasthan. I welcome the slower pace, crave the healthy food and love the shopping even if I couldn’t bargain much. It’s the only place I wouldn’t mind spending more time in and a much needed break from India without actually having to leave the country. Truly a magical place.

It’s funny, we tend to think we’re big city folks when it comes to traveling. New York, Rome and Buenos Aires are some of our favorite big cities to visit. But on this particular trip to India, I realize more than anything, how much we enjoy and prefer (yearn) to be in a small town like that of Pushkar.

How about you? Are you a big city boy or a small town girl when it comes to traveling? Would you like to visit Pushkar?

 

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26 Responses to Psychedelic Pushkar

  1. Anonymous May 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Mmmm that fruit salad! Love that the whole town food options are vegan–how awesome! Looks like a neat place to visit.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

      We had fruit salad muesli virtually every morning. LOL. The vegan food here is top notch – very neat place to visit.

  2. paul | walkflypinoy May 17, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    hard-to-get-to hippie places are the best chill-out, hang-out-for-a-few-days spots, i noticed. never been to pushkar but thanks to this post, will consider it when i return to india. :)

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 17, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      Right?! It’s definitely worth the short journey to be in a place that isn’t like the rest of the country.

  3. Leah Travels May 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm #

    That G and his beautiful photos. They just keep getting better. The colors are so alive. How small of a town is this? Is it just small by Indian standards?

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 17, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      He’s still trying to work Europe in the fall somehow to photo bomb yours and Lola’s GWO trip. Haha. Pushkar is really small even by Indian standard. There’s one main road where all the shops and restaurants are along the lake. That’s pretty much it. :)

  4. Sal May 18, 2012 at 6:14 am #

    I am split between the big city and small town. In the past I was all about going to big cities and being only 7 hours of NYC I have been there many many times. However, I am now much more interested in visiting small towns. I am currently planning my trip to India, leaving this November, and I am trying to visit the smaller towns than larger cities (but not skipping those!). And staying in smaller towns for longer. The problem with India is that it is so dense and there is a lot of research to be done! (not a problem, it is just overwhelming at times to try and plan/research). Pushkar will be the first of many places I will visit in India (Rajasthan is the first state from Delhi) and I am delighted to see you covered it!

    Lovely photos, and as always great writing!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      NY is one of the few big cities I wouldn’t mind visiting over and over but definitely I thinking I’m slowly becoming a small town girl.

      India is just so big it’s hard to cover it all. Pick a state and explore more of that. We thoroughly enjoyed Rajasthan as our time in India was very short. (Only 3 weeks)

  5. Audrey Bergner May 18, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    The food looks positively delicious!! Mmm! And I like that shot of the little girl – she looks so bohemian!

  6. Ruth (Tanama Tales) May 18, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I am a big city person but I do love to visit small, charming towns. I thing I would like Pushkar. Interesting how you describe ther eis not a lot to do in this place but it became your favorite place in Rajasthan. Love th epicture of the little girls dressed as a hippie.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

      We did absolutely nothing! Almost didn’t even go to the Brahma Temple. Lol. But after being in bigger cities, I really enjoyed the smaller towns and down time to take it all in. My fave town to do nothing.. haha (but look cool with my hobo pants!) *wink*

  7. Andi Perullo May 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    These pictures are just incredible!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 19, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      Thank you. Very little editing required when you’re in Pushkar. ;)

  8. TammyOnTheMove May 18, 2012 at 9:31 pm #

    Amazing, no alcohol or meat, and yet tourists find their way there? Sounds intriguing and the food looks so yummy. Definitely on my travel list now.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 19, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Surprisingly, I saw more Westerners here than any where else in Rajasthan. I guess it’s that Pushkar psychedelic charm. I crave for that fruit salad every morning. LOL

  9. Laura @Travelocafe May 19, 2012 at 9:29 am #

    Pushkar seems a contradiction in itself, an intriguing place and great location. :)

  10. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 20, 2012 at 9:09 am #

    Compared to other places in India I’ve seen, Pushkar definitely seems laid back and almost even serene! And that food looks incredible. My husband and I are both omnivores, but I suspect that when we make it to India on our upcoming RTW trip, we’ll be able to really discover the joys of veggie cuisine.

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

      Oh we’re big meat eaters too but found ourselves going veg most the time. Also it’s hard to find meat in Rajasthan. Lol

      • Gaurav Gaur November 11, 2012 at 9:47 am #

        who told you that meet is not easily available in rajasthan???? i am a regular reader of this blog and i am from jaipur.rajasthan is famous for it’s vivid food and cultural inheritence in almost all aspects of life………

  11. Anonymous May 23, 2012 at 9:18 pm #

    Love love love the shots of the two women carrying things on their heads and the little girl! Definitely looks like a part of India I could get used to!

    • Kieu - GQ trippin May 24, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

      The women were my favorite but so hard to get a picture of them as they usually turn us away. Hence, the back shot. Lol

  12. Monique Agius July 24, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    hah I managed to bargain in Pushkar, got a few nice deals :P

    • Kieu - GQ trippin August 25, 2012 at 2:33 pm #

      Yay.. I did managed to bargain but it was nothing like the rest of India. Good to hear you can still get nice deals.. I’ll definitely try harder next time. :)

  13. Sanyam Hazare March 20, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

    Loved the pictures, each and every one of them. I home is just a 32miles away from this place. I would love to mention that i see Pushkar in exactly the same way you described it.

    Amazing Article!

    Kudos to You!

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