Pushkar

Pushkar is a sacred town for the Hindus, situated 11 kms. to the North-West of Ajmer. The charm of this sleepy, lakeside settlement so captivated the great Indian poet, Kalidas,that it found a place in his classic, Abhigyan Sakuntalam. The Great Hindu epics of Mahabharat and Ramayana make references to this religious place regarded to be Adi Tiratha. Evidence points to its having existed during the fourth century B.C. lake in the inhospitable surroundings of a desert is no less than a miracle.

The legend about the Creator God, Bramha describes the creation of this lake. When the demon Vajra Nabha killed Brahma’s children, he in turn struck him with his weapon, a lotus flower. Vajra Nabha died with the impact, and the petals of the lotus fell at three places. One of them is Pushkar, where a lake sprung into being. Brahma is supposed to have performed sacrifice at this lake on Kartik Purnima (the full moon day of the Kartik month), hallowing the place. Sacred to Brahma, Pushkar boasts of its temple dedicated to him, which is the only one of its kind in the world. A dip in the waters of Pushkar and worship at his temple ensure salvation. So thousands flock to Pushkar to observe the ritual on kartik Purnima, or on any of the four days preceding it.

Pushkar boasts temples, though few are as ancient as you might expect at such an important pilgrimage site, since many were destroyed by Aurangzeb, a Mogul ruler and subsequently rebuilt. The most famous is the Brahma Temple, said to be the only temple in the world dedicated to this deity. It stands on a high plinth with the Marble steps leading up to it. A silver turtle is set on the floor facing the Sanctum-Sanctorum or Girbha-griha. Around the turtle the Marble floor is inset with hundreds of silver coins. Coins engraved with donors names are also embedded in the walls. Peacocks adorn the temple walls as they are supposed to be the vehicle of lord Brahma’s consort Saraswati. A small image of the milkmaid Gayatri, flanks the four-faced image of lord Brahma and is called Chaumurti The sanctuary has silver doors inside a carved marble gateway.

SAVITRI TEMPLE:
The one-hour trek up to the hilltop Savitri Temple overlooking the lake is best made early in the morning; the view is magical.

VARAH TEMPLE:
Originally built in the 12th century, Varah Temple was, like many others, destroyed by the bigoted Emperor Aurangzeb (who, it is said , was particularly upset by the huge idol here of Varah, the god with the body of a man and the head of the boar.) Reconstructed BY Raja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in 1727, the temple has an interesting and richly ornamented image house.

MAHADEVA TEMPLE:
A Beautiful temple built in the 19th century, it was described by a British traveler of the time as “by far the most remarkable, for the elegance of its structure and the nature of its ornaments, of all the temples Pushkar boasts of.” It is also noteworthy for its white marble Mahadeva image, with its five faces (and its traditional tufts of hair).

RAMAVAIKUNTH TEMPLE:
One of Pushkar’s largest and most intricate temples, the Ramavaikunth Temple was built in the 1920′s and has beautifully sculpted images of no less than 361 different deities. The ornate outer gopuram over the entrance is said to have been built by a team of masons specially brought here from south India.

Lake and its many Ghats:
Many Ghats run down to the Holy Lake where pilgrimsare constantly bathing in the holy waters. Joining people at the ghats has to be with some respect for their culture and privacy. And for this reason, removing shoes before approaching the ghats, no smoking and restraining from photographing bathing people is well avoided. The Pilgrims here are sensitive about comments by non-Hindus. The famed waters of the Pushkar lake wash away the sins of a lifetime.

The mystical water is also believed to cure skin diseases, making Pushkar the Lourdes of the East.

The well-known and marked with largest participation of all the festivals of Rajasthan, Pushkar is an important pilgrimage as well as the venue of a mammoth cattle fair. Bazaars, auctions, music and sports are highlight of this event. Recommended.

Pushkar History
Historically, Pushkar always had great strategic importance and was sacked by Mahumud of Ghazni on one of his periodic forays from Afghanistan. Later it became a favorite residence of the great Moghula. One of the first contacts between the Moghula and the British occurred in Pushkar when Sir Thomas Roe met with Jahangir here in 1616. The city was subsequently taken by the Scindias and, in 1818, it was handed over to the British, becoming one of the few places in Rajasthan controlled directly by British rather than being part of a princely state.

Reaching Pushkar
By Air
The nearest airport from Pushkar is Jaipur. Jaipur is well connected to all the major cities which includes Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Jodhpur, Udaipur. Recently, flights to Dubai has also started from Pushkar by Indian Airlines.

By Bus
Pushkar is 11 km from main Ajmer bus stand. Rajasthan Roadways run very comfortable deluxe buses from Jaipur. There are buses from Jaipur to Ajmer every 15 minutes, some nonstop. The roads are very good, and it takes around 3 hrs from Jaipur. You can also come by hire private cars.

By Train
The nearest railway station for Pushkar is Ajmer, which is on the Broad Gauge and hence connected to all the metro cities of India. There are daily trains from Delhi in morning (Shatabdhi Exp).

Getting Around
Pushkar is a relatively small town and easy enough to get around on foot There are no auto-rickshaws in the town center. A bicycle is best to get around.

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