15 km northwest of Ajmer, the small town of Pushkar attracts thousands of visitors from all parts of the world for its famous camel fair. The occasion provides a great opportunity to have a deep insight into the life and traditions of Rajasthan. If you are planning your vacation tour to Pushkar, then it will be better if you do it during the time of the famous Pushkar Fair.
Pushkar is a place of antiquity, which finds mention in the ancient scriptures of the Hindus including Puranas. The Padma (Lotus) Purana, one of the 18 Puranas, deals with the origin of Pushkar. The town came into existence when Lord Brahma, the Creator of the famed Hindu Trinity, dropped his lotus flower (pushpa) to earth from his hand (kar) to destroy a demon. So there is left no scope for doubt that it is one of holiest places for the Hindus. The legendary color of the camel fair, combined with the wonderful scenic beauty and heady religious atmosphere of the temples and ghats have made Pushkar a prime tourist destination.
Pushkar Lake is renowned for its sacredness and holy water. People gather here throughout year to have a holy dip in its waters but the one on the day of Kartik Purnima (Full moon), falling in some time in the month November, is considered most auspicious. Pilgrims light clay lamps on leafy dishes; leave them to float over the sacred lake. To celebrate the Great Yagna, a five-day fair is organised when hundreds of thousands of people throng at Pushkar, take a holy dip on all the five days in the lake and worship at Brahma temple. An outstanding feature of this fair is that adherents of all religions attend this fair.
Pushkar abounds with 400 temples and the most important among them are dedicated to Brahma, Shiva, Badri Narayan, Rangjee, Savitri, Gayatri, and Varaha, the boar incarnation of Vishnu. The lake is surrounded by 52 ghats built over the years by several rulers and feudal chiefs. The important ghats are Brahma Ghat, Varaha Ghat, and Gau Ghat. Pushkar is also famous for being centers of Nimbarkacharya and Vallabhacharya sects. There are three Pushkars – Jyeshtha, Madhyama and Kanishtha. The last one is popularly known as ‘Boodha Pushkar’. People perform oblations at the three Pushkars on foot which is known as “Panch-kosi-Parikrama”. A distance of 16 Kms. has to be covered while performing it.
Vacation Tour to Pushkar and Attractions
A beautiful and certainly the most important temple in Pushkar is the Brahma temple and is one of the must to visit places while on your vacation tour to Pushkar. It is said to be the only temple in the world dedicated to Brahma, the Creator in the Hindu Trinity of Gods.
A four-armed life-sized statue of Brahma is enshrined inside the temple. Another interesting attraction are the coins studded in the floor of the temple, placed by devotees from all over India to commemorate the births and deaths of their loved ones.
This temple was built in the 19th century and is well-known for its white marble image of Shiva also known as Mahadeva with five faces. Also noteworthy is the structure and the marvelous ornaments which adorn the statue. Your vacation tour to Pushkar should be planned in such a way so as to visit all such major travel attractions of Pushkar.
Built with great taste and delicacy in 1920, this temple is one of the largest and most beautiful temples in Pushkar. The outer gopuram (arch) over the entrance was built by the South Indian artisans. Another stone gopuram bears beautiful sculpted images of not less than 360 different deities.
Built in the 12th century, the Varah Temple was one of the many temples, which fell victim to the iconoclastic vandalism perpetrated by Emperor Aurangzeb. It is said that he particularly detested the life-size image of Varah, the god with the head of a wild boar and the body of a man. Later in 1727, it was reconstructed by Raja Sawai Jai Singh of Jaipur. The temple has elegant carvings and sculptures, besides the richly ornamented image house.
Savitri Temple is located on the hill behind the Bramha Temple. You will have to take a long series of steps to reach it. It offers an excellent panoramic view of the Pushkar lake, and the surroundings of the Pushkar. The legend has it that when Bramha was about to perform a sacred ritual his wife Savitri was not present. Since the presence was essential for the ritual, Bramha hastily married a local maiden, Gayatri. When Savitri heard about this, she flew into a rage and cursed Bramha that he would not be worshipped anywhere accept Pushkar.
There are two Raghunath temples in Pushkar-the old and the new one. The Deities in the New Raghunath Temple are Vaikunthanath and Laksmi. The Deities in the Old Raghunath Temple, built in1823, are Venugopal, Narasimha, and Laksmi.
Nag (Yajna) Hill
It is said to be one of the oldest hills in the world. Its height is said to have been ten crores yojanas in Satya-yuga, ten lakhs yojanas in Treta-yuga, and ten thousand yojanas in Dwapura-yuga. In Kali-yuga its height is decreasing day by day because it is sinking into the earth. By the end of Kali Yuga it will almost disappear. It is said that if you visit this hill on your pilgrimages to Pushkar all your obstacles will be removed.
On this hill is Nag Kund. The story of this hill is that Rishi Chyavan cursed Vatu, the grandson of Brahma, to become a snake on the second day of the sacrifice performed by Brahma. Vatu was cursed because at the sacrifice he released a snake that coiled around Bhrigu Muni, the father of Rishi Chyavan. After vatu begged for forgiveness, Brahma blessed him to live near this natural kund (lake) on Nag Hill. Vatu did austerities here.
People who worship here on the 5th day in Krishna Paksha of Sravana (July/Aug) are said to get their desires fulfilled. Agastya Muni’s residence is said to be a cave on Nag Hill. It is about 2 km from Senior Pushkar. You cross Nag Hill to go from Ajmer to Pushkar.
How to Reach Pushkar
The closest airport is 131 km away in Jaipur and you need to take other means of transportation to reach Pushkar and make your vacation tour to Pushkar a memorable one.
The nearest railway station, in Ajmer (10 km), has trains to Jaipur, Delhi, Udaipur, and Ahmedabad. From Ahmedabad you can get a train to Bombay or Dwarka. You can have a travel agent in Pushkar arrange your train a day or two in advance. The best way to get to Delhi is to catch an overnight train from Ajmer. It is much better than taking an overnight bus, but it takes a little advance planning and makes your vacation tour to Pushkar more comfortable.
There are two bus stands in Pushkar-the Marwar bus stand, in the north of town by the post office, which services some long distance places, and the Ajmer bus stand, east of town by the Pushkar Hotel, which has buses to Ajmer and Jaipur. There are regular buses from Pushkar to Ajmer. The buses from Ajmer to Pushkar depart every hour from 6 am to 10 pm from near the Ajmer railway station.