I have been to Ajmer and Pushkar on 4 occasions, every time with different friends or once with colleagues. Infect Ajmer and Pushkar was my first destination with friends, I still remember we were a bit scared and nervous when we went to sleep in our room. We double bolted the door, pushed a chair next to the door :-D. I laugh a lot when I remember what all we did on that first night in the hotel. Though on the second night we were confident and didn’t push the chair to block the door. Some memories are so funny and we smile whenever we remember the silly things we did. I am still a safe traveler and take all precautions.
Back to the present day, some of my friends and I was looking for a short trip but we were not able to finalize for a destination. We decided to go to Ajmer and Pushkar because none of my friends went there. Finally, our gang of 5 was ready to explore Ajmer and Pushkar. It is fun to travel with like-minded people. We decided to go to Ajmer and Pushkar for 3 nights & 3 days and planned to stop in Jaipur before returning to Delhi.
I looked for the different travel options and booked tickets through IRCTC’s website on an overnight train “Yoga Express”. This train takes 1.45 hours more than other trains but it didn’t matter when you are in a group and also know that most of the time in train will be spent sleeping while traveling. There are many trains but considering office leave we decided in this train though personally, like Delhi Ajmer Shatabdi because it starts in morning and reaches Ajmer by 12.45. Other than this there are RTDC Volvo & standard bus and they have regular service.
We played cards in train till the late night before going to sleep.
Next day morning we reached Ajmer around daybreak and from railway station we took autorickshaws for our hotel Khadim, which I have booked online through Rajasthan tourism’s website. Somehow I always stayed there during my different trips. It’s a basic but neat & clean hotel, I like the food they serve for lunch and dinner. I have booked RTDC’s hotels for Ajmer and Pushkar.
We reached early but the hotel has some free rooms so they allowed us an early check-in. We rested for a while and started our day around 10.00 AM after breakfast. We booked a cab for local sightseeing in Ajmer.
Our first stop was Nasiyan Jain Temple, this temple is also known as Soniji Ki Nasiyan and it’s an important place for worship for Jain people. The temple is made of Red & beige sandstone, the white marble stairs lead to the main temple of presiding deity. The temple is divided into two parts i.e. one is a place for worship and other is a museum. The museum is spread over two stories in dimensions of 40 x 80 feet and is the main attraction for tourists like us. The replica of “Ayodhya” and “Mount Sumeru” are covered with gold leaf and were made according to the descriptions contained in Holy Scripture Adi Purana. This golden chamber of the temple uses 1000 kg of gold to carve out depiction. To protect this replica from dust and other things, they have covered it with transparent glass. We saw this huge replica from the ground as well as from the first floor. It is a mesmerizing piece of art and made with lots of details. We spent close to 2 hours here before going to Prithviraj Smarak on the hill.
The Prithviraj Smarak Monument is situated on the way to Taragarh fort on the hilltop. When we reached the main gate was closed but a gentleman came and opened the door for us. In this monument compound nothing much to see. There was a big statue of Prithviraj on the horse and there was a big garden is around it. The best thing I liked about this place was the overview of Ajmer city from the edge of the monument. Even as there was nothing to do or see, we found a nice place to sit and enjoy as a group, the whole place was to ourselves as there were no one else. We spent some fun time here before coming back. It’s an interesting place for a picnic in Ajmer. We came back to our hotel to relax for a while and then we went to Ana Sagar Lake to watch the sunset. It is a popular place among local people for an evening walk or just to spend time with friends or family. The boating facility is also available on a paid basis, there is a well-maintained garden area around the lake. We saw some local fisherman on boats catching fishes in the lake, we watched their activities for some time. Sun was also setting behind lake and hills, it was a good place to watch the sunset in Ajmer. While we were enjoying our surroundings, I have noticed two hot air balloons coming from Pushkar across the hill. Usually, these balloons land before the lake and Ajmer city but due to the wind flow and direction, they were not able to land. They attempted 3 to 4 to land by coming down but somehow they could not land there so finally, balloons flew over our head. Next morning we read in the local newspaper that 2 hot air balloons landed in Ajmer prison compound and jail authorities allowed the tourists to go after brief questioning without any hassle. I don’t know how those people felt when they landed in jail but to be honest it was amusing for me as a reader.
After relaxing for some time at the lake, we went to Akbar’s Palace & Museum to watch the sound and light show. This place is nowhere close to any Rajasthan Palace in size. This Palace was built as a base for the advancing Mughal armies in this part of Rajasthan and later on, it was used as resting place for Akbar during his visits to Ajmer Shariff Dargah. The main hall of the palace is surrounded by a garden and rooms were built all around the corridors. The museum has some relics from 6-8th century, a statue of Goddess Kali and a library with original manuscripts of Koran.
We climbed a flight of stairs to reach the first floor, where the seating arrangement for light and sound show. The stairs leading to the first floor were High and narrow, a gentleman shined the torch for us, as there was no light in the staircase. The light and sound show was interesting (I am biased about these shows and almost love all shows of this kind), they explained the history of Ajmer and association of Akbar with the city. It was value for money because the ticket cost was only 50 INR.
After the show, we went to popular snacks shop near the palace and had some local snacks. A guy was making fresh things and there were lots of local people waiting for their turn. After having some spinach pakoda with kadi (yogurt based gravy), we had a glass full of sweet lassi from next-door shop. Both the things were tasty as well as fresh with very mild spices. We returned to our hotel as we were not hungry and we knew that our hotel has a restaurant in case if we feel hungry.
Next morning we started our day early and went to the Ajmer Sharif Dargah. This dargah belongs to the Sufi saint Moinuddin Chishti (Also known as Gharib Nawaz means Benefactor of the Poor). According to history Mughal emperor, Akbar and his wife came here on foot from Agra when they didn’t have a child for many years. It is believed that if a person wishes for something from his heart then the saint will fulfill his/her wish. People of all religion come here and prey. According to an estimate approx 150,000 people visit here every year. There are many shops outside the Dargah selling flowers, sweets, and chaddars (Big decorated fabric sheets) for the offering. I never buy all this stuff, sometimes I buy a couple of flowers.
One of the girls in our group knew a Khadim (Person associated with Dargah), she called him and arranged a visit for us under his guidance. The main domed tomb of the saint is in middle of the compound and it is the main place to pay respect. We paid our respect in dargah and the gentleman explained us about the monument. There are 2 big deghs (cauldron) inside the Dargah complex and pure vegetarian food Kesari bhat is cooked in these pots. Akbar presented the big degh and 4800 Kgs of food can be cooked in it. Emperor Jahangir presented small Degh and 2400 Kgs of food can be prepared in it. The food in these pots is usually cooked during the night and then distributed after morning prayers to people visiting dargah and also served to the poor people around Dargah compound. We spent some time observing the activities in Dargah and came out. There is only one gate for entry and exit.
From Dargah, we went to Adhai-din ka Jhonpra it is approx 300-400 meters from dargah’s gate. According to legends, this structure was constructed in 2&1/2 days so the name Adai din ka Jhopra. Historically the present day structure was built on the remains of Sanskrit college when Mohammad Gauri seized the control of Ajmer. He built seven arched walls with Islamic calligraphy in front of the already existing pillared hall. There was no entry fee and we went inside the monument. The seven arch wall was looking grand and pillars behind it were telling the story of its glorious past. I felt very disappointed with its decaying condition.
We didn’t spend much time here and came back to the main road to take an autorickshaw for our hotel.
We booked a cab and went to Mayo school before proceeding for Pushkar. They have a museum in Mayo school but on that day they were not allowing outsiders and asked for permission from higher authorities.
We decided to give it a miss and went to Pushkar. It took us 30 minutes to reach Pushkar through winding roads on the small hills.
Our rooms were already booked in hotel Sarovar through RTDC’s website. We quickly checked in and went to the market for lunch.
Pushkar is a holy city that’s why only vegetarian food is available everywhere. There are many restaurants and small food shops in Pushkar, where different types of Indian as well as international foods available. The best part is that food is nonspicy almost everywhere. We decided to have Falafel from a small shop, where we saw lots of tourists eating. The guy prepared fresh Falafel in front of us and it was very tasty.
After lunch, we went to Brahma Temple. This is the only temple of Lord Brahma in the world. As per Hindu mythology, his first wife cursed Brahma when he didn’t wait for her and married another woman for performing puja ceremonies. The temple is made on a very high plinth and we climbed the marble steps to reach the main temple. Inside of the temple is painted with bright blue, green and orange color. The presiding deity of Brahma is installed inside the small main sanctum.
We paid our respect and came down. Next, we went to the main Ghat of Pushkar Lake near the temple. It was very pleasant under the shade on the stairs of the ghat. We saw people performing puja, some women washing their clothes (Sad) and bathing, kids jumping in the water. We also saw a man who was going deep in water and collecting coins from the base of Lake near shore. People through coins when they pray and it were his source of income. There are 52 ghats around the Pushkar Lake.
While we were watching different things on ghats, my friends and I decided to do the camel ride. We walked few hundred meters and went to the Mela ground. There were many camels and we booked camels after negotiating the price. Those camel guys took us for 15 minutes ride on the sand road. By the time we finished, the sun was about to set. We walked back to the other side of Lake, which was behind our hotel.
We saw a beautiful sunset behind lake and buildings. There is a restaurant named sunset cafe next to the lake and we had our dinner there before coming back to the hotel.
Next day morning we went to the roof of our hotel and saw the beautiful view of the lake. Our hotel was next to the lake but they have kept the lake-facing door closed. The view from the top was beautiful. We had breakfast at the hotel before going to market.
On the way to the market, we saw the Rangji Temple. It’s popularly known as South Indian temple because of the design is similar to the temples in the south of India. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu. We quickly saw the temple and came out because the guards at the gate were somewhat rude and tried to boss around with us for no reason.
There was nothing as such to do so we explored the market area, which is mainly on one road. It is not difficult to understand, how time flies if 5 females are in the fashion market. We all shopped some stuff. We had famous Maalpua (Sweet) of Pushkar from a local sweet shop. For lunch, we went to a haveli for woodfire pizza. Later on, we returned to Ajmer and boarded our bus for Jaipur. It took us approx 2.5 hours to reach Jaipur.
Pushkar is a small town and there is nothing much to see as such. Pushkar is more about the feel and experience. The main market starts from RTDC’s Sarovar hotel and ends near Pushkar Fair ground close to Brahma temple. All the action happens in this stretch of 1.5 Km or in small lanes attached to this market road. The market has big and small shops selling clothes, artificial jewelry, decoration items, bags, utensils, and much more small things. Interestingly this market is a popular among local village people as well as with Indian & international tourist. In the market, I came across some people who were dressed as mythological characters. These people get money from tourist and if you try to click them without paying then they hide or turn their face.
All my trips to Ajmer and Pushkar have beautiful memories, every time I see and experience different things.