Pushkar is a mystic haven of authentic bazaars and hundreds of temples in the northwestern Indian state of Rajasthan. Fusing ancient history with modern life, it sits on the sacred Pushkar Lake near the edge of the Thar Desert. The town is an important destination for Hindu pilgrims, and it's best known for the magnificent Camel Fair that showcases traditional music and dancing every autumn. At Pushkar's centre is a vibrant market where you can see a huge variety of colourful and exotic wares.
Practise your sun salutation at a Pushkar hostel with its own yoga terrace or warm up at one that hosts an evening bonfire. Or you could immerse yourself in the local vibe by staying at a place that puts on Qawwali (a type of Islamic music) concerts every day. If you're more concerned with practical matters, you can go for a hostel in Pushkar that serves unlimited free breakfast to set you up for a day exploring or somewhere that provides linen so you can travel light. There are also Pushkar hostels that offer free city tours.
Starting in central Pushkar will place you right at the heart of the action. You can watch local life on the steps leading down to the river (known as ghats), shop at a lively bazaar or climb to the top of a peaceful temple. For an authentic taste of the region, you could pay a visit to the nearby city of Merta, which is known for its ancient ruins and friendly locals.
Hiking up to the Savitri Temple may be at the top of your to-do list. It overlooks the entire town, so while it's a steep walk it's more than worthwhile for the spectacular views. When you're up there, you might spot some hot air balloons overhead – this is a majestic sight, and you might be tempted to hop in one yourself for an even better photo opportunity. For a taste of the local cuisine, head to the bazaar and try Paneer Paratha, a cheese-stuffed flat bread.
Sanganer Airport is the closest airport to Pushkar, and it's 3 hours away by car. You can also reach the town by rail – the closest train station is Ajmer, and a regular bus runs from there to Pushkar, taking about 40 minutes. Once you're there, it's easy to get around town in rickshaws and taxis or you can simply walk.