Pushkar (Hindi: पुष्कर) is a town in the Ajmer district in the Indian stateof Rajasthan. It is situated 14 km (8.7 mi) northwest of Ajmer at an average elevation of 510 m (1,670 ft) and is one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus. According to Hindu theology, the pond at the Katas Raj temple Near Choa Saidan Shah in Chakwal District of Pakistan has a theological association with Shiva; it was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva which he is believed to have shed after the death of his wife, Sati. The story goes that when Sati died, Shiva cried so much and for so long, that his tears created two holy ponds – one at Pushkara in Ajmer in India and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means raining eyes, in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Katas is derived. It is often called “Tirth Raj” – the king of pilgrimage sites – and has in recent years become a popular destination for foreign tourists.
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Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. It lies on the shore ofPushkar Lake. The date of its actual origin is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation.
Pushkar seen from Saraswati temple, in summer
Pushkar seen after monsoons
Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower. Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar. Pushkar word may be derived from word ‘Pushkarni’means- lake. It may be derived from word Pushpa means flower and Kar means hand.
Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation.
According to legend, Brahma was in search of a place for Mahayagna and he found this place suitable. After a long time, Brahma came to known that a demon, Vajranash, was killing people here so the Lord intoned a mantra on a lotus flower and killed the demon. During this process the parts of flower fell on three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar. After this Brahma performed a yagna to protect this place from demons. The consort of Brahma,Saraswati, were needed to offer Ahuti for the yagna but she was not there that time so Gayatri, a Gurjar girl, was married to brahma and performned yagna. This act made first wife of Brahma, Saraswati, angry and she cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped in Pushkar only.
The Mahabharata says that while laying down a programme for MaharajaYudhishthara’s travel, “Maharaja after entering the Jungles of Sind and crossing the small rivers on the way should bathe in Pushkara”. And, as per Vaman Purana, Prahlada on his pilgrimage to holy places visited Pushkarayana.
A Gurjara Pratihara ruler of Mandore, Nahadarava, restored this tirtha in the seventh century. He got the place cleared and the lake restored by making an embankment on the side of the river Luni. He rebuilt old palaces and built twelve dharmashalas (resting places) and ghats on three sides of the lake.
According to Rajputana Gazetteer Pushkar was held by Chechi Gurjarsuntil about 700 years ago.Later Some shrines were occupied by Kanphati Jogis.
There are still priests from the Gurjar community in Pushkar temple, known as Bhopas.
The sage Parasara is said to have been born here. His descendants, called Parasara Brahamanas, are found in Pushkar and the surrounding area. The famous temple of Jeenmata has been cared for by Parasara Brahmans for the last 1,000 years.
Pushkar fair continues for five days and these five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers. This fair time is the most busy time for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, including over 50,000 camels, are brought from miles around to be traded and sold. Trading is brisk as several thousand heads of cattle exchange hands. All the camels are cleaned, washed, adorned, some are interestingly shorn to form patterns, and special stalls are set up selling finery and jewellery for the camels. Camels at the Pushkar fair are decorated with great care. They wear jewellery of silver and beads. There are silver bells and bangles around their ankles that jangle when they walk. An interesting ritual is the piercing of a camel’s nose. It has more than 400 temples including the only one temple in India dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe.
According to Hindu religion, after visiting all the Hindu pilgrim towns and temples (Four Dhams), if Pushkar is not visited for worship, then salvation is not achieved. According to the Hindu calendar Pushkar Fair commences in Nawami (ninth day of fortnightly phases of moon) and ends in Purnima (Full Moon) in the month of Kartika (October or November according to the lunar calendar). In Pushkar, one of the biggest Cattle Fair is also held for trading purposes and the best cattle in all categories are awarded. Countless people in their colourful attire gather to take a dip in the Holy Lake and pray to the deities. The whole town comes alive with vibrant folk music and dances, magic shows, horse and camel races and various other traditional entertainment competitions.Pushkar, with more than 12 local fairs and festivals of 10–15 days duration is a year round destination. It is a mellow town by the great lake of Pushkar amidst the perfume of jasmine and rose flowers. About 4,000 to 6,000 visitors from all over the world come to Pushkar everyday.
Tourists can explore the rugged terrain of the Great Indian Desert of Thar using camels. The Aravalli Range here is one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, and has sandy fields, small dunes, beautiful hills and mesmerizing sunrises and sunsets.
The camel safaris in Pushkar will take tourists to destinations where they will witnesses small villages along the way and during crop harvesting, the views are exceptionally enticing.
Pushkar fair is one of the world’s largest livestock and camel fairs every year.
A visit to Bhandarej, Bhangarh and Fort Madhopur from Jaipur via Dausa Town by an Indica or Ambassador taxi would cost about Rs 2,000. Expect rates to go up considerably in the high season.
Ajmer is the nearest tourist attraction that lies outside the city boundaries of Pushkar.
Located 27 kilometres away from Ajmer, there is Kishangarh, famous for its miniature paintings, more popularly known as Bani Thani.
Pushkar Lake – The prime attraction of Pushkar is the Pushkar Lake which is considered sacred like the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. Pushkar has become a place of Hindu pilgrimage because of this holy lake. Legend has it that this lake was consecrated to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe when a lotusdropped from his hand into the vale and a lake emerged in that place.
Brahma Temple – The most important temple in Pushkar is the Temple of Lord Brahma, one of the holy trinity of Hinduism. The temple enshrines a life-size idol of Lord Brahma.
Savitri Temple- This temple that is located at the top of the Ratnagiri Hill is dedicated to Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma. The temple houses a statue of Goddess Savitri.
Old Pushkar– Old Pushkar lake is rebuilt and is located around 5 km from Pushkar lake. According to the ancient texts, Old Pushkar has equal cultural and religious significance for the pilgrims.
As of 2001 India census, Pushkar had a population of 14,789. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Pushkar has an average literacy rate of 69%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 77%, and female literacy is 60%. In Pushkar, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.
The nearest airport from Pushkar isSanganer Airport at Jaipur at distance of 146 km (91 mi). Jaipur is well connected with all the major cities in India.
The Pushkar is connected with Ajmer byPushkar road which goes througharavalli range. The mountain portion road which separate Pushkar from Ajmer City is locally known as Pushkar Ghati. Pushkar is 11 km (6.8 mi) fromAjmer. The govt. transportation commonly controlled by Rajasthan Roadways, however the significant share of the transportation is controlled by private transportation services.
Pushkar railway station started operations in January 2012 and connects to the nearest large railway station, Ajmer. Ajmer railway junction is connected to almost all cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata,Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru,Ahmedabad, Indore, Kanpur, Lucknow,Patna, Bhopal, Trivandrum and Cochin.