Pushkar, India travel tips

Kids show off portraits Todd drew of them at Shri Vankatesh Restaurant - Pushkar, India
Kids show off portraits made of them by Todd Berman | Photo by Lauren Girardin”>

Where we ate:

  • Seventh Heaven Restaurant – A gorgeous, comfy, rooftop restaurant where you can – and should – spend hours recharging away from the festival chaos. They wash their produce in bottled water so you can actually get salad. Amazing. Oddly affordable too: YEH
  • Honey and Spice – A goofy, small place where you order “nourishment” not food. Though the dishes we had were healthy if a little blah, the non-alcoholic, nutritious drinks were the reason to visit. “Meh” for the food, drinks get a: YEH
  • Littel Tibet – One of the few excellent meals we had in Pushkar, a town who’s food is suffering from the affects of tourism. They have some super spicy Indian and Tibetan food, as well as the best chips (those are French fries for you non-Brits) Faye had in India: YEH
  • Raju – A small shop with few baked goods on sale each morning. The honey nut cake was tasty and more than enough for two for breakfast. The pastries were dry and margarine-y : YEH
  • Akash Hotel and Restaurant – Each dish of their really bad Indian/Tibetan food tasted exactly the same as the other. The naan was also awful. Go only if you want a cold drink and a seat in one of their two hammocks: NAH
  • Falafel Stand – There are two neighboring street food stands that tout their felafel sandwiches. The felafel seemed more like potato balls, but it was crazy cheap, fast, hot, and somehow the fresh tomato and lettuce didn’t make us run for the Cipro: YEH
  • Shri Vankatesh Restaurant – With the motto of “Meet me anywhere but eat me here,” this little restaurant-that-could is worth a visit if you are really adventurous. The cook stands in a hole, cooking fresh thali and Indian dishes on one wood-fueled burner for customers who gather close at well-used tables under bad lighting. Since there’s one burner, it can take a while, so the downstairs seats are best so you can pass the time watching the cook in action: YEH

Where we stayed:

  • Pushkar Villas Resort and Peacock Hotel – Having heard that rooms would be impossible to find during the festival, we booked ahead on the internet with Peacock Hotel. First, they moved us to down the road to Pushkar Villas Resort, which didn’t have the pool we wanted (well, it had a pool that had two feet of water in it) and tried to give us their worst room with a squat toilet, then when they moved us to Peacock the next day, we found Peacock’s pool was more of a mosquito-breeding pond anyway. Way too far out of town and down a really sketchy road at night too: NAH

What we saw:

Damodel on top of the Sunset Point deck - Pushkar Camel Festival, India
Damodel on top of the Sunset Point | Photo by Lauren Girardin
  • Sunset Point – Behind the Mela Grounds, walk down the sandy road through the camels until you see a small white one-story building on a low hill. Head off into the camels (they probably won’t bite) and you’ll get to the Sunset Point, run by Raju and his friendly boys. Cold soda, hot chai (no beer, Pushkar is dry), and an unbeatable view from their pillow-strewn, shaded roof: YEH
  • Pushkar’s Ghats – You can take a relaxing walk around the ghats of Pushkar’s lake for views of the opposite shore, of praying pilgrims, and at night during the festival, of hundreds of oil candles reflecting in the water. The mosquitoes are fierce and there are some aggressive flower-touts with strange intentions we never figured out: YEH
  • Camel Decoration Contest – This festival event seems designed more as a chance for tourists to take photos of camels up close, yelling at each other to get out of the way, rather than an interesting show. Fun if you don’t mind tourists who act like animals: YEH
  • Camel Dancing Contest – This was a sad contest, with unhappy, contorted, overly trained camels barely visible through the crowd. It also took forever for the festival management to get things going: MEH