Pushkar, one of India’s holiest sites is a delightful little village right on the edge of the Thar Desert. Just 11 kms from Ajmer, it is separated from its more populous twin by the ‘Nag Pahar’ or snake mountain. Although it is basically renowned for its association with Hinduism, it is also one of those travellers’ centres where people go for a little rest and recuperation. The colourful alleys, the emerald oasis, the limitless expanse of desert, the camel caravans, the friendly people and a cosmopolitan social structure nurtured by the influx of tourists from many countries (some of whom have settled here permanently) make it a sought-after holiday destination.
Pushkar is packed with temples; the most famous among these, is the Brahma Temple, which is said to be the only shrine dedicated to the Lord of Creation. The town also embraces a beautiful lake, which is said to possess miraculous properties for a few days during the full moon in November. At this time it is believed, Brahma visits the lake to sanctify it. During this period, this usually peaceful town draws thousands of pilgrims who throng to the lake to worship him. This holy phase also coincides with the Pushkar cattle fair, which is one of the largest in India.
The legend that the lake owes its sanctity to, is complicated: One day when Brahma surveyed his new creation ‘earth’, his thoughts were focussed on selecting the ideal site for his abode. As he orbited earth on his Swan mount; the bird and lotus (Brahma’s seat) plummeted mysteriously to earth and the impact created a crater that became the Pushkar Lake. Shiva suggested that the abode should be built at the spot where the lotus fell. The gods further implored Brahma to consecrate the lake by performing a Yagna. The Lord of Creation wanted his wife Savitri to be present during the rituals and the celestial messenger Narada was sent to fetch her. The auspicious hour drew close, but Savitri, took an unusually long time in her boudoir. The livid Brahma asked Indra to find him another wife for the occasion and married a milkmaid. Savitri finally arrived, and on seeing her mortal competitor, cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped anywhere on earth, except in Pushkar.
An amalgamation of commerce and devotion, the cattle fair that is held on the fairgrounds of Pushkar is so large, that it spills into the desert. Cattle owners from across the country congregate here and there are camels, horses, cows and goats, all decked up to be sold and purchased. Rajasthani women in colourful attire sell handicrafts, trinkets and household ware on the fringes of the fairground. You can choose to take in a bird’s eye view of the events from the bucket seat of a giant wheel or escape into the desert on a camel cart.
With a plethora of options and distractions to choose from, a visit to this holy land can be a lifetime experience.
Sunil Vaidyanathan/ Shayoni Mitra
Pushkar – Fact File
Fair Dates: November 18 - 21, 2010
Distance from Delhi: Approximately 400 Kms
Weather: The best time to visit Pushkar is between September and December.
Summer: 45 C (Max) - 25 C (Min)
Winter: 22 C (Max) - 8 C (Min)
By Air: The nearest airport is Jaipur, which is well connected to all the major cities.
By Road: Pushkar is 11 km from main Ajmer bus stand. (Buses are available every 15 minutes). Rajasthan Roadways have deluxe buses from Jaipur which takes a
round 3 hrs. Private taxis are also available.
By Train: The nearest railhead is Ajmer, which is well connected to all the metro cities of India. There are daily trains from Delhi in morning (Shatabdhi Exp).
Around Pushkar: Pushkar is a relatively small town and easy enough to get around on foot. There are no auto-rickshaws in the town center. You can also view Pushkar from the air in a hot air balloon, for details: http://www.pushkarcamelfair.com/hotairballooningindia_pushkar
For more details please refer to the RTDC website: http://www.rajasthantourism.gov.in/Home.aspx