If you are travelling across Rajasthan then a good day trip from Jaipur would be to Ajmer and Pushkar. With a distance of 150 Kilometres, it is a smooth ride on the well-paved highways that cut across the state. Check with your hotel travel desk for car rates or you can check with the many car rentals that you will find across Jaipur. It’s advisable to negotiate a fixed round trip rate so that you are well aware how much you will end up paying at the end of the trip.
I went to this day trip to Ajmer and Pushkar during my grand Rajasthan tour with my family. I had covered Jaipur -> Ajmer – Pushkar -> Jaisalmer -> Jodhpur during this trip. Considering my toddler daughter at that time it made sense to book a TATA Indigo rather than TATA Indica as the extra space would make sure a comfortable journey for all. If you are travelling during October to February then a non-air conditioned car will suffice but during rest of the season air conditioning is a must.
We started early at around nine in the morning and within minutes were out of the main city traffic driving down the expanded multiple lane highways towards Ajmer. With just a couple of short stops, we reached Ajmer city in a little less than four hours. Surprisingly Ajmer is quite a bustling town and multiplexes and shopping malls were all around to greet us.
Ajmer also has a good Christian population and the city is also dotted with quite a few significant churches in the state of Rajasthan. I and my wife have quite a few common friends from the local church circuits but could not manage to visit them as we had a real tight schedule this time.
The main attraction of Ajmer is the Shrine of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti which is commonly known as Ajmer Sharif Dargah, this is a very important pilgrimage spot for many religious communities and often you would be able to spot Bollywood film stars and politicians coming to this shrine for blessings.
If you are travelling by car then the car needs to park at a distance at designated parking slots. Be sure to ask your driver to park it as near as possible. Photography is prohibited inside the Dargah thus, it’s advisable not to carry your camera else you would have to return back. Men and women need to cover their head as per tradition while entering the Dargah thus carry a long handkerchief, women may use a scarf or dupatta.
As you approach the Dargah you will be plagued by shops trying to sell Chadar (flower sheets), if you do not wish to buy then proceed. Additionally, there will be beggars and a lot of them trying to convince you to pay for their lunch or buy them clothes to get blessings from Khwaja, avoid and keep walking even if they keep following you do not stop and keep walking.
Once inside it’s a complete automation of sorts since this place is crowded throughout the year thus move along with the crowd. Receive the blessings once you reach the main site and proceed. There are a lot of souvenir shops so if you would like to do some brisk shopping go ahead. I love music so if you have similar passion then do check out the Qawwali CDs and MP3’s.
The next stop on this day tour would be Pushkar, with a distance of just around fifteen kilometres this is a must if you are coming this way. The one thing that comes to anyone’s mind when they hear the word Pushkar is the famous Cattle Fair. But be sure to check the exact date for the cattle fair else you will be disappointed. The famous fair takes place around Navami (ninth day of fortnightly phases of the moon) and ends in Purnima (Full Moon) in the month of Kartika (October or November according to the lunar calendar). There is a large stadium like structure built to house this fair thus it’s easy to locate.
While driving from Ajmer towards Pushkar the landscape changed dramatically and you will be all along the Aravalli Ranges with a fantastic view of the town from different vantage points.
Unfortunately when I had visited there was no cattle fair but you will be sure to find some camels all around this place. The name Pushkar is derived from Sanskrit which means blue lotus and has a quite a large lake at its centre known as Pushkar Lake. The surrounded by many temples and around 52 Ghats.
The most famous temple here is the Bramha Temple, traditionally there are very few temples around the world dedicated to Bramha and it’s a must if you happen to be at Pushkar. The temple has a fixed opening and closing time thus make sure to be present and queue up to avoid disappointments. As like any other temple site, there will be lots of Pujaris who would flock towards you to perform puja at the temple, if you are not interested they will make sure to make you get interested so be firm and move on.
Coming back to Pushkar Lake it’s quite a sizeable lake with temples all around, no matter which direction you look you will find a temple and a ghat. You will also find many devotees taking a dip in the holy water of the lake before performing puja at the many temples that this place has to offer.
Pushkar is a hotbed for foreign tourist thus don’t be surprised if you see more of foreigners than locals. Due to this, there are many shops all around the main road connecting Bramha Temple with Pushkar Lake. If you want to do some quick shopping this is the best place to do them.
By now it was late afternoon and it was time for us to head back to Jaipur as we had a train to catch that will take us to Jaisalmer our next stop. We were also very hungry now thus decided to have some traditional Rajasthani Thali at one of the roadside Dhaba at Pushkar.
The return journey was smooth and our daughter slept all the way back and with the setting sun in the backdrop we reached Jaipur and packed up for our next destination Jaisalmer, the land of the Golden Fort (Sonar Kella).