Pushkar, Rajasthan

Pushkar is a small town located in the Ajmer district of Rajasthan,India. It’s a prominent Hindu pilgrimage town, considered as one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus. Surrounded by hillocks on 3 sides, it’s built around the holy lake of Pushkar.

There are 2 stories revolving around the creation of this town. One says, that the lake was built by the tears of Lord Shiva when he cried after the death of his wife Sati. Whereas the other, which is more popular is that the lake was created when Lord Brahma dropped a lotus here which led to the immediate creation of a lake and then he decided to name it after the flower, Pushkar ( blue lotus flower in Sanskrit).

PUSHKAR LAKE

Ghat of the lake

The lake at Pushkar is considered to be a sacred by the Hindus and is described as ‘Tirtha Raj’, the king of all pilgrimage sites. No pilgrimage is considered to be complete without a dip in in the holy lake.

The lake is surrounded by around 500 temples and 52 Ghats with different religious significance. Taking a bath in the Lake during Kartik Poornima (Full Moon Day), in the month of Kartik (October-November) is considered very auspicious. The sacred water of the lake is said to be curative of many skin diseases  and the local belief is that water around each ghat has a special curative power. Taking a dip in the holy water is supposed to cleanse your sins.

Prayer petals drifting,making way for new offerings

None barred on the ghats-humans, animals, birds

A serene look overlooking the lake

BRAHMA TEMPLE

Steps leading upto the Brahma Temple

Pushkar is also home to the world’s only Brahma Temple. Although Wikipedia says there are a few handful Brahma temples in the world, but local people claim this to be the only one. The temple is approached through a number of marble steps leading to an entrance gate archway, decorated with pillared canopies The temple is built with marble and decorated with silver coins. A red spire and the image of a swan (considered sacred to Lord Brahma) being the distinct features. The chaturmukhi (four faced) idol of Lord Brahma is housed in the inner sanctum.

Pillared canopies of the temple

According to Padma Purana, Lord Brahma was cursed by Sati , his wife as he had married a Gurjar girl to complete his yagna . She cursed him saying he would never be worshiped, but then reduced the curse permitting his worship only in Pushkar.

According to Sarawati Purana, Lord Brahma married his own daughter , Sarasvati. He was overpowered by the ethereal beauty of Saraswati as she changed her forms to escape from Brahma’s sexual overtures. Finally she accepted him as a concern for all beings in the universe but cursed him that he would not be worshiped by anyone on Earth. Hence, Brahma is not worshiped in Hinduism in spite of being the Creator.

Another story says that there was an argument between Brahma & Vishnu on who was the most powerful. Shiva intervened, assumed the form of a gigantic lingam and asked them to find the enormity of the fiery lingam. Vishnu gave up, but Brahma requested Ketaki flower to testify before Shiva that he had reached the uppermost part of the lingam and seen the end. Ketaki agreed and falsely testified that Brahma had seen the end. Lord Shiva was angered by the lie and cursed Brahma that he will not be worshiped on earth and cursed the flower of never being used in any Hindu worshiping rituals.

Acts of sheer faith tied to trees

Courtyard inside the Brahma temple

Outside the Brahma temple is a busy street full of tourists and pilgrims. A long bazaar, selling anything to tickle a traveler’s fancy, from hippy-chic tie-dye , silver jewellery , embroidered clothes, leather goods , colorful puppets, miniature painting to rose products. A colorful and vibrant sight it is. The town often hums with chanting, drums, gongs, and devotional songs.

Vibrancy on the streets

Prayer offering baskets

Although, I was early for the Pushkar mela(fair), but it’s worth visiting the town during the 5 day fair. The calm and serene town of Pushkar comes alive during those days and hosts the largest camel and livestock fair. It is the biggest gathering of Rajasthan and tourist from all around the world come in huge numbers to experience its beauty.

If you haven’t been to this town, nestled amidst the Aravalli’s , then let this be your next destination.