THE TOWN OF FAIRS AND FESTIVITIES
Pushkar is one of the oldest cities in India. Located to the northwest of Ajmer, the tranquil city of Pushkar is a favoured destination for thousands of tourists and devotees flocking to Rajasthan. Situated at a height of 510 metres, Pushkar is surrounded by hillocks on three sides. The ‘Nag Pahar’, literally meaning Snake Mountain forms a natural border between Ajmer and Pushkar. Known as ‘the rose garden of Rajasthan’, the essence of the famous Pushkar rose is exported all over the world. Along with an interesting mythological history, a legacy of timeless architectural heritage makes Pushkar a fascinating city.
According to legends, Lord Brahma, believed to be the creator of the Universe dropped a lotus to the ground leading to the immediate creation of a lake. He then decided to name the place after the flower, and thus the name, Pushkar. The city of Pushkar is home to the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in the whole world. Hindus consider a journey to Pushkar to be the ultimate pilgrimage that must be undertaken to attain salvation.
It is situated 14 km (8.7 mi) northwest of Ajmer at an average elevation of 510 m (1,670 ft) and is one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus. According to Hindu theology, the pond at the Katas Raj Temples near Choa Saidan Shah in Chakwal District of Pakistan has a theological association with Shiva; it was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva which he is believed to have shed after the death of his wife, Sati. The story goes that when Sati died, Shiva cried so much and for so long, that his tears created two holy ponds – one at Pushkara in Ajmer in India and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means raining eyes, in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Katas is derived. It is often called “Tirth Raj” – the king of pilgrimage sites – and has in recent years become a popular destination for foreign tourists.
Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. It lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake. The date of its actual origin is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation.
Pushkar has many temples. Most of the temples are not very old because many temples were destroyed during Muslim conquests in the area. Subsequently, the destroyed temples were rebuilt. The most famous among all is the Brahma Temple built during the 14th century CE. Very few temples to Lord Brahma exist anywhere in the world. Other temples of Brahma include Bithoor in Uttar Pradesh, India; Khedbrahma in Gujarat, India; village Asotra near Balotra city of Barmer district in Rajasthan; Uttamar Kovil (one of the Divya Desams) near Srirangam, Tamil Nadu; Carambolim near Valpoi in Goa, Mother Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia; and Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Pushkar lake has 52 ghats where pilgrims descend to the lake to bathe in the sacred waters.
Pushkar is also famous for its annual fair (Pushkar Camel Fair) held in October to November for a period of seven days .
What To See And Do
THE MOST SACRED OF ALL LAKES IN RAJASTHAN
Legend has it that a lotus fell from the hands of Lord Brahma, the god of creation, and Pushkar Lake was born, making it as old as creation itself. Hindu mythology speaks about Panch Sarovars (Five Lakes) – Man Sarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar, of which, Pushkar Lake is considered to be the most sacred. Devotees believe that bathing in the waters of the lake on Kartik Poornima (during the Pushkar Fair) will nullify sins and cure all skin diseases. This artificial lake has been created by building a dam and lies nestled in the folds of the Aravalli range, surrounded by a desert and hills on all sides. The lake has 52 bathing ghats (steps leading into the water) and the water around each ghat is believed to possess special medicinal powers. The Pushkar Lake is a popular destination for pilgrims, as evidenced by the over 500 temples that dot the banks of the lake.
ONE OF THE TEN MOST RELIGIOUS PLACES IN THE WORLD
Jagatpita Brahma Mandir is a temple dedicated to the Hindu God of Creation, Lord Brahma and is located close to the sacred Pushkar Lake. The ancient structure is about 2000 years old, although the current structure dates to the 14th century. Pushkar has over 500 temples, some very old, but the Brahma temple is the most important among them. Legend has it that Brahma came down upon earth to perform a yajna and chose this site for his temple. In the 8th century, Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara devoted himself to renovating the temple, but the current structure is credited to Maharaja Jawat Raj of Ratlam, who repaired and slightly modified it. The inner sanctum of the temple is dedicated to Lord Brahma and his second wife, Gayatri. The temple is made of marble and stone stabs. Its red pinnacle (shikhara) can be seen from a distance and the temple has a distinct hamsa (bird) motif. On Kartik Poornima during Pushkar Fair, the town celebrates a festival dedicated to Brahma. Devout pilgrims visit the temple after bathing and cleansing themselves in the sacred Pushkar Lake. The Brahma temple has been recognised as one of the ten most religious places in the world and is considered to be one of the five sacred pilgrimage destinations for Hindus.
GURUDWARA SINGH SABHA
Gurudwara Singh Sabha, situated in the eastern part of Pushkar, was built in the beginning of the 19th century to commemorate the visits of the first and the tenth gurus- Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Govind Singhji.
Varaha temple is the largest and the most ancient temple of Pushkar. Constructed by the 12th century ruler, King Anaji Chauhan, this temple is dedicated to the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a wild boar. Legend has it that Varaha rescued the earth from depth of the primeval water, where it was dragged down by a demon (Hirnayaksh). It is one of the most visited temples in Pushkar.
Dedicated to Lord Brahma’s first wife, Goddess Savitri, this temple is situated on a hillock right behind the Brahma temple. While climbing the long series of steps leading to the temple, one can catch a panoramic view of the lake, surrounding temples and sand dunes. The presence of the only Brahma Temple in Pushkar is the outcome of Savitri’s curse to Brahma for marrying another Goddess, Gayatri, while starting his yagna in Pushkar.
The gracious and conspicuous Rangji Temple is another popular shrine that witnesses thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rangji, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The influence of South Indian style, Rajput style and Mughal style in the temple’s architecture is highly noticeable. The high-rising ‘Gopuram’, prevalent mainly in the temples present in South India is another feature of the temple that attracts visitors.
PAP MOCHINI TEMPLE
Presided by the deity Ekadashi Mata, the Pap Mochini temple is believed to provide respite to followers from their cardinal sins. Located in the northern section of Pushkar, the temple is like a pearl in the crown of Pushkar. Having a great spiritual importance as well as boasting a splendid architecture, the Pap Mochini temple is one of the most popular temples in Rajasthan.
SRI PANCHKUND SHIVA TEMPLE
Sri Panchkund Shiva Temple is said to have been built by the five Pandavas. Located on the eastern edge of the town, this temple is around 2-3 kilometres from the lake.
This beautiful 12th century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has an underground component. The intricate Hemadpanti architectural style carvings give this temple a magnificent appearance. Thousands of devotees flock here to pay their respects during the auspicious time of Shivaratri, when Lord Shiva is ritually respected.
The Man Mahal is one of the greatest palaces of Pushkar. Built as a guest house of Raja Man Singh I, this palace is one of the most attractive spots to visit in Pushkar. It was built to serve as a royal guest house for Raja Man Singh I. The Rajasthani architecture from the royal era that adorns the palace makes it a visual treat. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel, called the RTDC Hotel Sarovar, and allows tourists to not only enjoy the beauty of the palace but also the breathtaking view of the lakes and temples around the lake.
Where To Stay
Many Hotels and Asharams are available in Pushkar.
How To Get Around
HOW TO REACH HERE
Sanganer Airport in Jaipur is the nearest at a distance of 146 kilometres.
Pushkar is well connected to the national highways of Rajasthan. Regular buses ply from Pushkar to the major cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer from the Ajmer bus stand.
Pushkar Terminus Railway station which is operational since 2012, is connected to Ajmer railway station located at a distance of 11 kilometres.