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A visit to Pushkar

Pushkar is considered to be a very holy place and is regarded as the most sacred ‘Thirth’



Pilgrimage An aerial view of the Pushkar lake and town

A visit to Pushkar has been on my agenda for quite some time, but it actually came about during my recent professional visit to Jaipur. Accompanied by my friend Rajendra Kumar Singh, a finance executive of RINL, I packed my bags and set the tour rolling.

Pushkar is situated at about 13 kilometres from Ajmer and about 140 km. from Jaipur. It is considered to be a very holy place and is regarded as the most sacred ‘Thirth’ (place of pilgrimage). The only existing temple dedicated to Lord Brahma is located here. Situated at about 1580 ft. above sea level and surrounded by the Aravali Hill ranges on the three sides, this town is full of religious myths and faiths and is called as the ‘Guru’ of all ‘Thirths’.

The religious myth associated with this place, goes thus: Once Lord Brahma wanted to perform a Yajna and in order to demark a place on earth for the purpose and to create water for performing ablution (sacred rinsing or bath), threw a lotus flower with his hand. The flower is believed to have fallen at three places and thus three lakes known as the Jyestha, Madhya and Kanishta Pushkars have sprung up. The most sacred and pious place in Pushkar viz., Pushkar Lake was thus created. A holy dip in the lake on the Kartika Pournima day is believed to wash away all sins and is equivalent of performing Yajnas for several hundred years. The Pushkar Lake has 52 bathing ghats. Most important amongst them are the Gau Ghat, Brahma Ghat and Varaha Ghat.

The temple of Lord Brahma Temple is said to be a 14th century construction. It lies on a high plinth with a flight of steps to the entrance. The construction is simple and the temple is not very big. It has a front porch (Mandapam) and a sanctum sanctorum (Grabha Griha). In the Mandapam, a beautifully carved silver turtle sits on the floor facing the deity. A large number of silver coins are embedded in the floor of the Mandapam and the surrounding temple walls. On the sanctum walls, peacocks are engraved, as they are worshipped as the vehicle of Goddess Saraswati, the consort of Lord Brahma. Inside the sanctum is the ‘Chau murti’ – the four-headed idol of Lord Brahma. The deity is flanked by a small idol of Goddess Gayatri.

For Jains, Pushkar is known as ‘Padmavati Pilgrimage’. It is believed that many a Jain temple and the Jain city of Pattan lie buried in the sand dunes here. Till date the remains of many of these were found by excavation.

The Pushkar town has more than 400 temples dedicated to various Hindu deities. However, apart from the Brahma Temple, prominent among them are the temples of Vishnu Varaha, Atmateshwar Mahadev, Sri Venkateswara Temple of TTD that is locally known as Sri Rama Vaikuntha Temple and that of Savithri atop a hill.

The Varaha Temple is an important temple from the mythological point of view, as it is believed that Lord Vishnu came here in the incarnation of Varaha (wild boar) for vanquishing the demon Hirnayaksha. The Atmateshwar Mahadev temple is believed to have been constructed in 12th century and is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Behind the Brahma Temple, at a distance of about two kilometres, the temple of Goddess Savithri is located on a small hill, which is known as the Gayatri Hill. On has to climb a steep flight of steps to reach the temple. From the top, one can have a panoramic view of the entire Pushkar town and the beautiful lake. This temple also houses the idol of Goddess Saraswati. The temple is listed under the 52 Devi Shakti Peethams.

Travel Information

The nearest railhead is Ajmer (13 km) and can be reached via Jaipur or Mount Abu. The nearest airport is Jaipur (150 km). Regular buses and taxis are available from Ajmer, Jaipur and Udaipur. There are several economy hotels, tourist resorts, dharmashalas and ashrams for stay at Pushkar. A gurudwara also accommodates pilgrims. Alternatively, one can also stay at Ajmer, where budget and business class hotels are available. Predominantly authentic Rajasthani vegetarian cuisine is served. A few restaurants also serve south Indian, continental, Italian, Jewish and Chinese cuisines.

S. SRINIVAS BHARADWAJ

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