Dubbed the “rose garden of Rajasthan” for the prevalence of a sweet-scented commodity, the lakeside Indian town of Pushkar —a mirage-like tableau of milky blue houses on the edge of the Thar Desert—is a tantalizing blend of commerce and religious devotion. Pilgrims gravitate toward its 400 temples, though they can just as easily be found in the local bazaar stocked with rose syrup, all manner of vegetarian food, and handicrafts ranging from embroidered fabrics to glass and silverware. After dark, the town’s 52 ghats light up with ghee-soaked oil lamps for the evening aarti rituals, when the sound of tinkering bells and chanting echoes over the placid waters. For an even more festive experience, time your visit with the boisterous Pushkar Camel Fair, which falls on October 29–November 4 this year.
Where to Stay Located on a four-anda-half hectare property just outside town, The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa ( 91-145/2774400; starwoodhotels .com; doubles from US$105) opened in February with 98 rooms and suites that all feature a private pool. A Rajasthani rider and his decorated camel in the desert outskirts of Pushkar.