11 kms from Ajmer (132 kms from Jaipur in the state of Rajasthan) on the edge of the desert lies the tiny tranquil town of Pushkar along the bank of the picturesque Pushkar Lake. About 400 temples and shrines are located at Pushkar around its holy lake, which finds a mention in the Padma Purana. Legend has it that Lord Brahma in search for a spot to hold his 'yagna' (religious ritual), dropped the lotus from his hand, the three spots touched by this flower were turned into lakes. These are today known as the 'Jyeshtha Pushkar' (main Pushkar), the 'Madhyam Pushkar' (medium Pushkar) and the 'Kanishtha Pushkar' (little Pushkar). A temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is located at Pushkar; the other important temples are those of Gayatri, Savitri, Shiv and Badri Narayan. Pushkar is said to have the only temple in the world dedicated to Hindu God Brahma (the creator of the world). Pushkar is known all over for its picturesque valley, mountainous regions, uncommon scenic spots, and several pilgrimage sites of importance.Pushkar hosts the annual Camel Trade Fair in November and the flow of tourists to Pushkar increases exceptionally during the time of the camel fair. The locals here are very hospitable and they dress up with their best during this much-awaited camel fair. There is a steady flow of pilgrims throughout the year to Pushkar, which is among the five principal places of Hindu pilgrimage. It is, however transformed into a bustling fair-ground in the month of Kartik (October-November) when the annual Pushkar Fair and a cattle fair are held simultaneously. The fair starts from Kartik Shukla Ekadashi and goes on for 12 days, till Kartik Purnima. Both the religious fair and the cattle fair are now internationally renowned tourist attractions. A small fair is held in the month of Baisakh, which is primarily a local event.
Some facts about Pushkar
- The Pushkar fair is amongst the largest cattle fairs in the world.
- Amongst the oldest cities in India, with references in mythology and the Mahabharat - Site of the only temple in the world dedicated to Brahma - the creator.
- The site of the holiest lake in the country.
- 52 bathing ghats, which are linked to the lunar calendar, enclose the lake. Each ghat has its own miraculous qualities and powers of healing.
- This city of temples has over 500 temples built over different eras with varied architectural styles.
- The rose garden of Rajasthan - the essence of the famous Pushkar rose is exported the world over.
- The most varied terrain in Rajasthan with sand, rock, hills, vegetation and lakes is ideal for adventure activities.
- Proximity to a number of heritage properties in the area.
- A number of fairs and festivals in Pushkar, especially on the new and full moon days.
- The Dargah of Khwaja Moin-Uddin-Chishti amongst the most sacred Muslims shrines is located at near by Ajmer.
- An opportunity to visit local villages still free from commercialization.
- The 'Nag pahar' or the Snake Mountain forms a natural boundary between Ajmer and Pushkar.
Places of Interest
Brahma Temple, the only temple where Lord Brahma is worshipped, is one of the main attractions of Pushkar. The temple holds special importance for the followers of Hinduism. The temple houses a life size four-armed idol of Lord Brahma-the creator-in the antralaya (vestibule). The temple is also characterised by its white marble floor and stairs. The walls of the temple are studded with silver coins. The coins are put by the devotees to mark the births or deaths of the loved ones of the devotees who came here to offer prayers. This place, full of natural beauty, holds a special place in the hearts of Indians for it is believed that Lord Brahma, together with all the gods and goddesses, performed a Yagya here.
The lake is situated on the edge of the desert and surrounded by hills on three sides, is separated from Ajmer by 'Nag Pahar'-the snake mountain. On this mountain the Panchkund and the cave of the saint Agastya are located. It is believed that Kalidas-the 4th century sanskrit poet and playright , chose the setting for his masterpiece Abhigyanam Shakuntalam in this forest heritage.
Legend has it that Lord Brahma in search for a spot to hold his 'yagna' (religious ritual), dropped the lotus from his hand, the three spots touched by this flower were turned into lakes. These are today known as the 'Jyeshtha Pushkar' (main Pushkar), the 'Madhyam Pushkar' (medium Pushkar) and the 'Kanishtha Pushkar' (little Pushkar). The Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 flights of steps, called 'ghats', many having special legendary importance. Lord Vishnu is said to have appeared at the Varah Ghat in the form of a boar. Brahma took a bath here and performed Yajna at the Brahma Ghat, accompanied by Vishnu and Mahadev. Guru Govind Singh chose this site for reciting the sacred Guru Granth Sahib. The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed at the Gandhi Ghat, which was previously called Gau Ghat. People consider the water of the Pushkar Lake to be very sacred and the ritual of taking dips in the holy water is believed to bestow salvation. The holy dip is most auspicious on Kartik Poornima. Even before sunrise, people descend the ghats, aided by the 'pandas' (Brahmin priests) to take the sacred bath. Offerings of coconut, flowers, and cash are made to the lake and the priests. After bathing at the lake, people proceed to pay homage to the creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma, at the Brahma Temple. Most pilgrims perform the oblations at the Jyeshtha Pushkar while some opt to visit all the three Pushkar and this is called the Panch-Kosi-Parikrama. Many pilgrims visit all the shrines at Pushkar in seven days and this is called the Chaubis-Kosi-Parikrama. It is customary to float lighted earthen lamps after placing them on 'pattals' (plates made of leaves) on the waters of the lake. This creates a spectacular view in the evening when the sacred lake takes on a mystical tint sprinkled with twinkling spots of light. 'Aarti' is offered at the lake in the morning and evening.
Pushkar is particularly famous for the many shopping options that it offers. The local markets display souvenirs, Rajasthani costumes, jewellery, embroidered fabrics, decorative pieces and groovy accessories. The bazaar becomes a hub of activity during the annual Pushkar Fair.
The Savitri Temple, located on the top of the Ratnagiri Hill, is dedicated to Goddess Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma. According to legend, Brahma had performed a yagna alongside Gayatri, a young milkmaid. This enraged the Goddess who cursed her husband that he would never be worshipped anywhere except in Pushkar and that too only once a year. After cursing the Lord, Savitri left for the Ratnagiri Hill and immolated herself. The present temple was built on the very site where Savitri is believed to have committed immolation. The temple houses a beautiful statue of Goddess Savitri inside it.
Built in the 19th century, the Mahadeva temple is characterised by its statue of Lord Mahadeva. Built of white marble depicting Mahadeva with five faces, the temple is remarkable for the elegance of its structure and the nature of its ornaments.
The Rangji Temple is dedicated to Vishnu, the Preserver of the Hindu Trinity. Built in the style of the South Indian temples, it houses two massive structures of dwarpalas (gatekeepers) in front of the main gate. The temple has an image of Garuda, the mount of lord Vishnu.
The local Varaha Temple of Pushkar was built in the 12th century. This temple is dedicated to Varaha, the boar incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here.
The Man Mahal was built by Raja Man Singh of Amber. It is presently functioning as the Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation's tourist bungalow.
Places of Interest around Pushkar
Ajmer was founded in the 11th century by Ajaydev, a local Rajput ruler. The city is famous for the dargah (tomb) of Sufi Saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti, whose Urs is celebrated every year in the seventh month of the Muslim lunar calendar.
Kishangarh town is barely 27 kms from Ajmer towards Jaipur. It is very famous for its miniature paintings known as bani thani, which is actually the depiction of Radha (Lord Krishna's consort) in typical style of sharp features. The main attractions of Kishangarh are its fort and Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), now converted into a hotel.
The Roopangarh Fort was constructed by King Roop Singh of Kishangarh in 1648 exclusively for defence. Originally a nine-turreted fort, new additions were continuously made to it in couse of time. The different styles of architecture can be distinctly observed in the fort. Kishangarh and Roopangarh are both situated at a distance of around 100 km from Jaipur
Kuchaman, near Pushkar, is famous for its fort. A visit to Kuchaman takes you to the magic of a bygone era. The Meera Mahal depicts the life of Meera Bai in miniature paintings; the Lok Dev temple, built by Ranjit Singh to honour the sacrifices of the masses, also houses beautiful paintings of Lok Devatas such as Sant Tejaji, Sant Gogaji, Sant Pabu Rathore, Baba Ram Dev, Sant Kesaria Kanwarji, Sant Jamboji, Sant Ravi Das, Sant Kabir, Guru Nanak and Khawaja Moinu-din-chisti. Some other sites worth visiting include the Meena Bazaar (where merchants, tradesmen and craftsmen used to put up their wares for sale to the royalty) and the China Pole (with its exceptional intricately painted interiors made by a Chinese traveller narrating his experiences during his travels in India).
Declared as a wetland of international importance, Sambhar Lake is a wonderful place to visit near Pushkar. Apart from being a place where horizons stretch to infinity, where water and sky merge in a shimmer of gauzy blue, the Sambhar Lake is also regarded as the bird watchers' paradise. The lake is home to about 140 species of birds, including land birds. Legend has it that Raja Yayati, a descendant of Lord Brahma, married Devyani, daughter of Shukracharya (the guru of demons) who lived by the lake.
A small village that has been very successful in its cooperative industry initiative of producing various leather handicrafts. A true example of people's participation in rural development.
A picturesque artificial lake named after the engineer for who created it under a famine relief project.