In Brahma’s abode
One of the oldest cities of India, Pushkar lies on the shores of the Pushkar lake. The date of its origin is not known, but according to a legend, it was created by Lord Brahma. The only temple dedicated to the deity in India is located here, writes Mukesh Khosla
RAJASTHAN offers glimpses of a bygone era of princes, palaces and medieval fortresses, together with the resplendent havelis, which are an architectural marvel. Vibrant colours, enchanting desert, lakes and fountains and dark green hills where spirituality and mythology abound in this desert state.
Pushkar may be known around the world for its annual camel fair, few are aware that it is also the fifth dham (abode of God) of the Hindus. One of India’s most ancient cities of the world, there is mention of it in the Ramayana, which states that Vishwamitra would often come here to pray. Mahabharata mentions Yudhishter making a pilgrimage here to take dip in the holy waters.
According to the Hindu mythology the city was created on the spot where a lotus dropped from beak of Lord Brahma’s swan. As the lotus touched the ground, the earth parted and water gushed out of the desert sand and a lake was formed where Brahma performed a yagna. Around this lake, came up Pushkar, which is today both a tourist and a spiritual destination.
One of the main attractions of Pushkar is its colourful market, which is a hub of activity where you can pick up a large variety of local handicraft items. The narrow streets are a walker’s dream — no traffic and no crowds. Just surrender to your instincts and you can cover the entire city on foot — and that is also the best way to do so.
For, it is only by walking that you can see the temples.
Visitors can also take a dip in the lake. According to a legend, those who bathe here can wash away all their sins. It is said the water not just cleanses the body and spirit but also the soul. The surest way to salvation is to take a dip on the Karthik purnima night with sages chanting hymns to Lord Brahma.
But Pushkar is more than just the lake. Brahma has given it a special spiritual significance. The only temple dedicated to the deity in the country is located at the spot where he is said to have performed the yagna. There is no other temple dedicated to Brahma in India. According to folklore, anyone who tries to construct a similar edifice will instantly meet his or her doom.
Besides the Brahma temple, Pushkar has more than 400 temples and 52 ghats (stairways descending into the lake). According to the spiritually driven tourists, no trip to India’s four dhams (Badrinath, Dwarka, Rameshwaram and Puri) is complete without a visit to Pushkar. That is why it is sometimes referred to as the fifth dham or Tirath Raj — the King of all pilgrimages.
However, there is plenty for the tourists to do besides visiting temples. One of the enduring delights of Pushkar is its street food. It can be found everywhere. In shanty little shops, on pushcarts and in fancy restaurants that all serve typical Rajasthani fare down to dal bati churma and lahsoon ki chutney.
Pushkar owes its global popularity to the camel fair. The massive and colourful fair takes place in November and an estimated 25,000 humped beasts are traded during the fair by turbaned locals, accompanied by their womenfolk in resplendent attire. But a word of caution — unless you are booked well in advance during the fair, don’t bother coming to Pushkar as it is chockfull with tourists from all corners of the world.
Though whenever you visit Pushkar, the camel safari should be a part of the itinerary. This is a safari that traverses over the sandy tracks, passing remote villages and the unforgettable experience of watching the sunset over the desert. The best season for a camel safari is from November to March, that is the period between the onset of winter to early spring. There are several packages available and prices vary according to the time you require the safari for.
However, the camel fair and the safari aside, most tourists come to experience spirituality in Pushkar. |Many leading tour agencies offer innovative packages like the temple circuit, the ultimate Brahma kund tour, and the top of the world tour wherein you not just travel to the char dhams but also to the fifth—that is, Pushkar.
In fact, the rising number of domestic travellers, who would rather take a holiday off the beaten track, is a proof of the soaring popularity of the Pushkar.
tourism is here to stay. — NF