Ajmer and Pushkar in Rajasthan offer different environments for travellers and explorers. Both these cities are in close proximity to each other, yet they are so distinctly different and offer a completely different vibe. So when we decided to stay for few nights in Jaipur, we set aside a day to visit Ajmer and Pushkar.
Modes of transport: Jaipur to Ajmer and back by train | local bus from Ajmer to Pushkar and back | walked around Ajmer and Pushkar |
In the olden days, this place was called as Ajaymeru and is one of the oldest cities in India. Beautifully nestled within the Aravalli range, this city is about 130 km from Jaipur, Rajasthan. This place also serves as the centre for people who wish to visit Pushkar.
We took the early morning train from Jaipur to Ajmer. This journey is about two hours and you can reach the city even before it gets crowded. Once we reached Ajmer, we stepped out of the station and walked across to find a decent place to eat (veg) breakfast. Sadly, we found none, even after searching for more than half an hour. Ended up eating at a really small place and ate dosas, which hardly tasted like one.
We were, however, excited to explore this town in the little time that we had here and proceeded straight to the Dargah.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah
In no time, say by 9AM, this city goes from sleeping to bustling in no time, and as we started walking, we noticed the streets filling up with people. There is only one road, a small one, which leads to the Dargah of Moinuddin Chishti. This road is right opposite to the railway station and you can walk your way to the main gate of the Dargah. This gate is called the Nizam Gate, then there is another gate built by Shah Jahan called the Shahjahani Gate and then the Buland Darwaza. You will pass numerous small shops before you reach the shrine.
You are not allowed to carry your bags inside the Ajmer Sharif. The people around may direct you to give it in a shop in exchange for money, however, there is a locker facility available for ₹10 where you can keep all your belongings and footwear. You can carry your mobile phone with you.
We kept our backpacks in the cloakroom and proceeded to the side entrance which is right opposite to this place. Let me warn you about theft as we were warned and asked to be very careful – multiple times. Once we entered the dargah, it was so crowded that we straight went to the queue to walk our way to the tomb. You will notice souvenirs and flower shops, white marble structures and people singing heavenly qawwalis (devotional Sufi music) which draw you in and makes you feel good.
My biggest disappointment was that instead of letting one pray in peace once you are in the sanctum sanctorum, they pull you to bless you and ask for money in return. And because the crowd was maddening, it was total chaos. Nevertheless, we took a moment to pray at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah and walked out with happy faces.
Ana Sagar Lake
On our way back from Pushkar, we visited the Ana Sagar Lake. We wanted to be here for sunset and so we did this before taking our train back to Jaipur. The bus passes by this place, so you can ask the driver to stop nearby. We spent close to an hour here. Again, a lot of people, kids running around, families spending their quality time by the lake, vendors selling snacks and the entire lake glistening in gold. Was indeed a good experience.
The other places that you visit are Lake Foy Sagar, Adhai Din Ka Jhonpra (a very old Mosque), pan view of the city in the evening and laser show at night in Maharana Prithviraj & Chetak Smarak (pic on top).
From the dargah, we went to the bus stop to get to Pushkar. The bus stop is opposite to the Ajmer Railway Station and buses frequent to and from Ajmer and Pushkar. We took our bus, not knowing that we were about to fall in love with this cute town.
The drive to Pushkar is very scenic and you will cover other prominent places of Ajmer like the Ana Sagar Lake and Maharana Prithviraj & Chetak Smarak. The Aravallis add a lot of beauty to this short road trip of about one and half hours.
We spent more time in Pushkar than in Ajmer. This town hosts a lot of backpackers from across the world. Numerous cafes, many cuisines to choose from, again lots of people who come here to visit the temple and take a dip in the Pushkar lake. And yes, unique to this part of the word, so many pigeons 🙂
We sat on one of the ghats and in the evening visited the oldest Brahma Temple in the country. We roamed across the lanes of Pushkar which has so many shops and yes I was absolutely excited exploring. PSST – check out the gems shop.
The Pushkar lake is a view to behold and because it holds a lot of religious importance, so many people take a dip in here.
Before we took our return bus back to Ajmer, we quickly paid a visit to the Gurudwara which is very close to the bus station. We left at around 1700 from Pushkar to catch our 2000hrs train from Ajmer to Jaipur. Other places to visit are the Savitri Mata Temple in the hilltop – I’m sure the views are mind blowing, Old Rangji Temple which is at the beginning of the Pushkar shopping streets and if you are traveling between end October to early November – the Pushkar Camel Fair.
- Walking in Ajmer and Pushkar is the best mode of transport. To travel between places, you can find autos (tuk tuk) or buses.
- Food in Ajmer was a little difficult to find in the morning so be prepared just in case.
- Dress appropriately as both these towns carry religious importance.
- Be careful of your belongings as both these towns are crowded.
- Pushkar Lake is a holy lake where people dip themselves with little or no clothing. Photography is thereby prohibited.
- Good to have cash in hand.
- Friendly people but if you do not know Hindi, then language is a bit of a problem.
- We found cops everywhere and took their help as and when required.
If I have to sum this post up, stay for a day in Ajmer while Pushkar needs two days for sure. Happy travelling 🙂