Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pushkar - The Sacred Place

The Pushkar City



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. This is an important pilgrimage spot for the Hindus, which has the only temple of Lord Brahma in the country and the world. Lord Brahma is known as the creator of the world as per the Hindu mythology.

The pushkar lake also has a mythological significance associated with it. As per hindu mythology, Lord Brahma was on his way to search for a suitable place to perform a "Yagna' (a fire sacrifice), while contemplating a lotus fell from his hand on the warth and water sprouted from that place. One of them was Pushkar where Lord brahma performed "Yagna".



As indicated by Pushkar's position as the starting point of the grand pilgrimage, the worship of Brahma was considered highly important at the end of the first millenium BC. Pushkar is the only pilgrimage shrine dedicated to Brahma in the whole of India. The function of Brahma - creating the world - has been completed, while Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer) still have relevance to the continuing order of the universe. Brahma is also a god of the Aryan invaders and during Vedic times, his cult temporarily displaced the more ancient indigenous Shiva and Shakti cults. With the passing of the period of major Aryan influence, these deities reemerged more powerful than before.

The 'Nag pahar' or the Snake Mountain forms a natural boundary between Ajmer and Pushkar. Surrounded by hills on three sides, pushkar abounds in temples. Of these the most famous is the only Brahma temple in the world.

Then there is the holy lake, which has 52 ghats and pilgrim taking a ritual dip in the lake is a common sight specially during the festival.

A city of Pilgrimage from time immemorial with over 500 temples and ghats, Pushkar begets a legacy of timeless architectural heritage. Pushkar radiates an ambience of peace and spirituality that casts a lure to visit again and again.


Pushkar has an immense hidden potential as a tourist destination:


  • 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. 

Pushkar Fair 
Camel fair
Camel Fair in Pushkar Rajasthan
Rajasthan is at its colorful best during its fairs and festivals.

One of the most popular and colorful fairs of the Thar desert is the Pushkar fair, which begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi & goes on for five days till Kartik Purnima. The time of the fair coincides with the bright half of the moon during the months of October-November. The lake at Pushkar is one of the most sacred in India.



Special Attractions -

The picturesque lake of Pushkar is set in a valley just about 11 kilometres northwest of Ajmer, surrounded by hills on three sides and sand dunes on the fourth. Pushkar forms a fascinating location and a befitting backdrop for the annual religious and cattle fair. Turbaned heads of men, and colorful veils and skirts of the women, bring alive the arid desertscape. The village women dress in their best colourful clothes and finery for the five-day mela.

Like Varanasi, Pushkar is one of the sacred places for the Hindus, with 400 temples of which the most important is dedicated to Lord Brahma - the creator of the universe. Fifty-two ghats bind the lake. During the days of the mela, the otherwise tranquil lake is engulfed with religious fervor. Thousands of devotees collect to take a dip, sadhus descend from the Himalayas and people pray for salvation to the sound of verses from the Holy Scriptures, which fill the air.

In the afternoons, people crowd the stadium where camels, horses, and cows are paraded and raced. Camels are bought and sold during the Pushkar fair.

On the roadside, stalls of all kinds are set up to sell a cornucopia of items. Almost every household is engaged in setting them up as the locals try to capitalize on the massive influx of people. It is impossible to drive around because of the large crowds. Either you hire a camel or you walk. In this aspect, it is truly a rural bazaar.

An interesting part of the Pushkar Fair is the mass trading of camels. Of course, cattle and other livestock are also traded, but it's camels that hold center stage at Pushkar. Camel-traders and villagers from miles away converge to Pushkar with their humped beasts. Over 25,000 camels (on the conservative side) are traded; making this world's largest camel fair.

Since Pushkar is a religious place alcohol and non-vegetarian food is prohibited.

Pushkar Fair - Rituals and Traditions


These five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers, despite being the busiest for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, mainly camels, are brought from miles around. Trading is brisk as several thousand heads of cattle exchange hands. All the camels are cleaned, washed, adorned, some are interestingly shorn to form patterns, and special stalls are set up selling finery and jewelry for the camels. Camels at the Pushkar fair are decorated with great care. They wear jewelry of silver and beads. There are silver bells and bangles around their ankles that jingle-jangle when they walk. An interesting ritual is the piercing of a camel's nose.

Races and competitions are organized. Camels lope across the sands sometimes throwing their riders on to the vast sands, amidst cheers and jeers from thousands of spectators. An interesting event is the camel beauty contest, where they are adorned and paraded. The camels preen before the crowds, enjoying every moment of the attention they get.

It is believed that for five days every year, all the gods visit Pushkar and bless the devout. This accounts for the unbelievable number of devotees who flock to the lake to wash away their sins.

Pushkar Lake 

It is semicircular lake around which there are 52 "Ghats". The max depth of the lake is 10 mts. The lake is a holy place and is known as the king of the "Trithas". The bath at Pushkar is thought to be more important than at any other place. The holy dip in this lake on kartika Purnima is thought to be salvation giving.The man who BATHES in the Shukla Paksha of Karitha month and has the Darshan of varah will not take rebirth on this earth and enjoy the bliss of heaven. The people who have a holy dip at the lake on karitha Purinama, gain the fruit equal to do the Jap and Tap for one hundred years. There are many yajna spots which cannot be counted even by Vrihshpati, the teacher of the gods.

List of Important Ghats(bathing steps)
  • Bara
  • Gau
  • Bangla
  • Bharatpur
  • Kota
  • Sikar
  • Murli
  • Yegh
  • Brahma
  • Badri
  • Guru Govind Singh
  • Gangor
  • Cheer
  • Surya
  • Jaipur
  • Nursingh
  • Karni
  • Maharshi
  • Dadeechi
  • Gwalior
  • Chandra
  • Jodhpur 

Temples of Pushkar

Pushkar abounds in temples, the special attraction being, the temple of Lord Brahma, the only temple in India, dedicated to Brahma.This somewhat somnolent town, reverberates with hectic activity during the festivities.


Brahma Temple
The Brahma temple is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus. It is nestled in the Pushkar valley which lies beyond Nagaparvat and the Anasagar lake. This place, full of natural beauty, holds a special place in the hearts of Indian for it is believed that Lord Brahma, together with all the gods and goddesses, performed a Yagya here. Legends also has it that the ancient lake Sarovar had appeared miraculously, when a lotus fell from the hands of Lord Brahma and dropped into this valley.Brahma Temple The most famous temple in Pushkar, this is the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma (the creator of the universe according to Hindu mythology) in the entire country. You can identify it by its red spire and by the image of a hans(the goose considered sacred to Lord Brahma).This temple built with marble is decorated with silver coins and there is a silver turtle on the floor of the temple.

Savitri Temple
This is the temple dedicated to Lord Brahma's first wife. It is located on the hill behind the Brahma temple, and one has to climb a long series of steps to reach the destination. It gives a panoramic view of the lake and surrounding sand dunes.

Rangji Temple
The gracious temple is very conpicuous,due to its south Indian style of architecture. It has a high rising 'Gopuram' typical of southern India.

Warah Temple
The Warah temple houses an image of lord Vishnu in the incarnation of wild boar.The temples of Brahma and Warah are considered equally important. This ancient temple belived to be constructed by King Anaji Chauhan (1123-1150). Mythologically a very important temple temple and is believed that Vishnu came on the earth in the incarnation of Warah(wild boar) to kill the demon Hirnayaksh and liberate the land from his atrocities.

Apteshwar Temple
Another important temple of the town,the 12th century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. 

Accommodation in Pushkar

During the special occasion of the Pushkar Fair, accommodation is arranged in special tents in a tourist village, which is self-sufficient and specially designed to complement the natural beauty of the site. The village has a coffee shop and dining hall that can cater to 1,500 guests at a time. The village is arranged on blocks of tents, each with its own identity, named after the famous dances of Rajasthan. The village also has huts with attached western style toilets and running water.

Besides this village, Pushkar also has some hotels / resorts. However, it is sometimes difficult to find accommodation in Pushkar, especially if you arrive late in the day. Most hotels are nothing fancy, but they are generally clean and freshly white-washed.

Pushkar Resorts  ***
The Pushkar resort is set over 15 sprawling acres of land with an exotic fruit orchard. Offers air-conditioned rooms with international class amenities. Every room has a mini bar, television with satellite and telephone with STD/ISD facilities.

Pushkar Palace  Heritage
           
Partially Airconditioned, Mini - Bar, Refrigerator.

Tents in Pushkar  ***
 
On the outskirts of Pushkar, which is about 150 kms from Jaipur. It offers a majestic view of Pushkar, and particularly The Camel Fair


How to reach Pushkar

Pushkar is a sacred town for the Hindus, situated 11 kms. (7 miles) to the North-West of Ajmer.

Air
Jaipur, the nearest airport is 138 kms. (86 miles).

Rail
Ajmer is connected to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Abu Road and Jodhpur by regular trains. Two of the best trains of the Indian Railways, Pink City Express and Shatabdi Express connect Ajmer to Delhi and Jaipur.

Road
A dense network of bus service operates from Ajmer to key destinations around. Distances from important tourist centres are: -
- Jaipur: 138 kms. (86 miles).
- Delhi: 392 kms. (244 miles).
- Ahmedabad: 526 kms. (327 miles).
- Jaisalmer: 490 kms. (304 miles).
- Bikaner: 233 kms. (145 miles).

1 comment:

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