Pushkar means blue lotus flower
- Pushkar is home to the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in the whole world
- Over the centuries, the lake and the ghats have been restored by the Maratha kings and the Royal families of Rajasthan
Pushkar is one of the oldest cities in India. Located to the northwest of Ajmer, the tranquil city of Pushkar is a favoured destination for thousands of tourists and devotees flocking to Rajasthan. Situated at a height of 510 metres, Pushkar is surrounded by hillocks on three sides. The ‘Nag Pahar’, literally meaning Snake Mountain forms a natural border between Ajmer and Pushkar. Known as ‘the rose garden of Rajasthan’, the essence of the famous Pushkar rose is exported all over the world. Along with an interesting mythological history, a legacy of timeless architectural heritage makes Pushkar a fascinating city. In Sanskrit, Pushkar means blue lotus flower. Pushkar has an interesting history. According to legends, Brahma found Purshkar to be ideal for his Mahayagna. Soon he found out about Vajranash, a demon, who was killing people of the town. Brahma killed the demon by chanting a mantra on a lotus flower. Few parts of the lotus fell on three sites in Pushkar and these places were later called Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanishtha Pushkar. To protect Pushkar from demons, a yagna was performed by Brahma. For performing the yagna, Brahma’s consort, Savitri, was required. However, she was not present there and Brahma married a girl called Gayatri from Gurjar community to complete his yagna. Enraged by the news of Brahma’s wedding, Savitri cursed that people would worship Brahma only in Pushkar. The Pushkar temple still has a Gurjar priests known as Bhopas. The town was under the Rajputana Agency in 1901 and had 3,831 residents.
Located in Pushkar, the Pushkar Lake is one of the most popular tourist attractions. According to the legends, the lake was created when Brahma dropped his lotus at this site. The sacred Pushkar Lake is believed to be holy by Hindus. It is called Tirtha Raj, which means the king of Pilgrimage place. The sacred water of this lake is believed to wash away the sins. The lake’s water is believed to have curative and medicinal properties. More than 500 temples are present around the lake.
The history of the lake dates back to the 4 th century BC. The lake has been mentioned in coins from that period. According to the inscription at Sanchi, the lake existed in the 2 nd century BC. Although, the lake was not on the trade route, it was a major pilgrim site. As per a story, Nahar Rao Parihar of Mandore, who was a Rajput king in the ninth century, followed a white boar, during a hunting expedition, to the lake. He was thirsty and as soon as he dipped his hand in the lake to drink the water, he noticed that the Leukoderma marks had been cured. Astonished by the healing power of the lake, the king restored the lake. People stared to throng to this lake after learning about its curative powers to take a dip and heal any skin ailment. It is said that the lake was created when a dam was constructed across the Luni River. Some believe that Guru Gobind Singh, the 10 th Sikh guru, read the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred book of Sikh, on the bank of the lake.
According to legends, Lord Brahma, believed to be the creator of the Universe dropped a lotus to the ground leading to the immediate creation of a lake. He then decided to name the place after the flower, and thus the name, Pushkar. The city of Pushkar is home to the only temple dedicated to Lord Brahma in the whole world. Hindus consider a journey to Pushkar to be the ultimate pilgrimage that must be undertaken to attain salvation.
The lake has 52 ghats, which are stone steps to descend to the edge of the lake. Devotees flock to these ghats for a holy dip during auspicious days like Kartik Poornima, during the Pushkar fair (October-November). Of the 52 ghats of the lake, ten ghats that are situated on the periphery are important. These ten ghats, which are the Gangaur Ghat, Karni Ghat, Jaipur Ghat, Yag Ghat, Gau ghat, Kota Ghat, Gwalior Ghat, Saptarishi Ghats, Dadhich Ghat and Varaha Ghat, have been categorized as ‘Monuments of National Importance’. Gau ghat is now called Mahatma Gandhi ghat, while the Brahma ghat was named so because it is said that Brahma bathed here. Varaha ghat is called so as it is believed that Vishnu appeared at this site in his boar (varah) incarnation. Near the Varaha ghat, there is Nart Singh ghat with stuffed crocodile. The lake has a rich aquatic life. Once there were man-eating crocodiles in the lake, but the British caught them and transferred them to a reservoir close by.
The lake is also a heritage monument. Over the centuries, the lake and the ghats have been restored by the Maratha kings and the Royal families of Rajasthan. You can visit the lake on any day of the week throughout the year from 9 am to 6 pm. You don’t have to pay any money to visit the lake and it will take you an hour to see the lake and the surrounding area.
ATTRACTIONS & PLACES TO VISIT AND EXPLORE IN PUSHKAR
Legend has it that a lotus fell from the hands of Lord Brahma, the god of creation, and Pushkar Lake was born, making it as old as creation itself. Hindu mythology speaks about Panch Sarovars (Five Lakes) – Man Sarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar, of which, Pushkar Lake is considered to be the most sacred. Devotees believe that bathing in the waters of the lake on Kartik Poornima (during the Pushkar Fair) will nullify sins and cure all skin diseases. This artificial lake has been created by building a dam and lies nestled in the folds of the Aravalli range, surrounded by a desert and hills on all sides. The lake has 52 bathing ghats (steps leading into the water) and the water around each ghat is believed to possess special medicinal powers. The Pushkar Lake is a popular destination for pilgrims, as evidenced by the over 500 temples that dot the banks of the lake.
Nestled in the picturesque Pushkar valley beyond the Nangaparvat and Anasagar Lake, the Brahma temple holds a special place in the hearts of Indians. It is the only temple in the world dedicated to Lord Brahma. Built with marble and decorated with silver coins, this temple can be identified by its red spire and the image of a swan (considered sacred to Lord Brahma). The chaturmukhi (four faced) idol of Lord Brahma is housed in the inner sanctum. A marble statue of the sun god stands sentinel at the temple. Interestingly, while all the gods are shown bare footed, Surya is shown wearing ancient warrior’s boots.
Gurudwara Singh Sabha
Gurudwara Singh Sabha, situated in the eastern part of Pushkar, was built in the beginning of the 19th century to commemorate the visits of the first and the tenth gurus- Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Govind Singhji.
Varaha temple is the largest and the most ancient temple of Pushkar. Constructed by the 12th century ruler, King Anaji Chauhan, this temple is dedicated to the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu as a wild boar. Legend has it that Varaha rescued the earth from depth of the primeval water, where it was dragged down by a demon (Hirnayaksh). It is one of the most visited temples in Pushkar.
Dedicated to Lord Brahma's first wife, Goddess Savitri, this temple is situated on a hillock right behind the Brahma temple. While climbing the long series of steps leading to the temple, one can catch a panoramic view of the lake, surrounding temples and sand dunes. The presence of the only Brahma Temple in Pushkar is the outcome of Savitri’s curse to Brahma for marrying another Goddess, Gayatri, while starting his yagna in Pushkar.
The gracious and conspicuous Rangji Temple is another popular shrine that witnesses thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rangji, believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The influence of South Indian style, Rajput style and Mughal style in the temple’s architecture is highly noticeable. The high-rising ‘Gopuram’, prevalent mainly in the temples present in South India is another feature of the temple that attracts visitors.
Pap Mochini Temple
Presided by the deity Ekadashi Mata, the Pap Mochini temple is believed to provide respite to followers from their cardinal sins. Located in the northern section of Pushkar, the temple is like a pearl in the crown of Pushkar. Having a great spiritual importance as well as boasting a splendid architecture, the Pap Mochini temple is one of the most popular temples in Rajasthan.
Sri Panchkund Shiva Temple
Sri Panchkund Shiva Temple is said to have been built by the five Pandavas. Located on the eastern edge of the town, this temple is around 2-3 kilometres from the lake.
This beautiful 12th century temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has an underground component. The intricate Hemadpanti architectural style carvings give this temple a magnificent appearance. Thousands of devotees flock here to pay their respects during the auspicious time of Shivaratri, when Lord Shiva is ritually respected.
The Man Mahal is one of the greatest palaces of Pushkar. Built as a guest house of Raja Man Singh I, this palace is one of the most attractive spots to visit in Pushkar. It was built to serve as a royal guest house for Raja Man Singh I. The Rajasthani architecture from the royal era that adorns the palace makes it a visual treat. It has now been converted into a heritage hotel, called the RTDC Hotel Sarovar, and allows tourists to not only enjoy the beauty of the palace but also the breathtaking view of the lakes and temples around the lake.