: 11km North-West of Ajmer, Rajasthan
Pushkar Lake, Brahma Temple, Cattle Fair
Pushkar, separated from Ajmer by Nag Pahar, the 'Snake Mountain' is right on the edge of the desert. The town clings to the small but beautiful Pushkar Lake with its many bathing ghats and temples.
A significant pilgrimage center for Hindus, it is internationally well-known for its huge Camel and Cattle Fair. During the fair, Rajasthani tribals, Indian pilgrims, filmmakers and tourists from all over the world converge here.
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.
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.
In conjunction with the religious fair, a cattle fair is also organised in the month of Kartik at Pushkar Cattle-breeders bring a large number of cattle of various popular breeds such as Nagauri, Haryanvi, Mewati, Kankrej etc. to the fair to be sold to the rural folk who appreciate well-bred animals. The cattle are decorated by their owners during Pushkar fair and also participate in the races and are paraded on the sand dunes.
A large number of traders meet at the Pushkar Fair and set up shops. They sell a host of products like bead necklaces of Nagaur, woollen blankets of Merta, textiles printed in Ajmer and Jodhpur, brassware of Jodhpur and Jaipur etc. Also on sale are saddles, ropes, and assorted household items.
During the fair, cultural shows and exhibitions are organized to enliven the event. Movies are shown and competitions are set. Bards and poets recite and sing tales of valour and heroism of bygone days. Animal races and other competitions add to the attraction.
THE HOLY DIPS (SNAN)
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.
VISITING THE TEMPLE
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.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air : Jaipur at 146-km is the nearest airport.
Rail : Ajmer at 11-km is the nearest railhead from Pushkar.
Road : Pushkar is well connected by road and is 11-km from Ajmer.