If I have to choose one place among the places I have visited so far, I would choose Pushkar (Rajasthan) without thinking twice.
The peaceful streets of Pushkar come to life in the evening. You would see backpackers catching up over a cup of hot Italian(!) coffee while listening to Hindustani classical trans. The whole town is alcohol and meat free which makes it a paradise for vegetarian foodies like me. The town has some really good eateries that serve continental, Lebanese and Italian food apart from the usual Indian delicacies.
The sacred Pushkar lake looks enchanting in twilight. After evening aarati you can sit around or take a stroll along the ghats peacefully.
The serene view of the distant ghats lit against a backdrop of hills mixed with sounds of chants and temple bells, strong smell of incense contribute towards the mystic vibes that Pushkar has. But it is not just this. This place has so much character in its people, havelis, restaurants and shops that it gets on you.
Visit this during the Pushkar Fair only if you wish to catch the fest. Else, visit this post fair in around November – Jan. The climate is pleasant (cold for most of the Indians) and you wont face maddening crowd.
Plan at least a couple of nights’ stay to feel and enjoy the charm of the town.
Foreigners especially Israelis and Americans love this place and they stay around for weeks. You can catch up with them in any small cafe/restaurant and take inspiration from the way they travel.
Try the ‘out of the blue’ soup at ‘out of the blue’ restaurant. You can try different kinds of wraps and burgers at street side eateries. Most of them are pretty good.
Pushkar is a religious place. But certainly not one of those chaotic, overtly crowded (at least most of the year when there is no festival). This place is sleepy but not boring. It is a romantic, peace seeking backpacker’s town.