Pushkar is a small lakeside town (pop. 15,000) in the Indian state of Rajasthan. According to Hindu theology, Lake Pushkar was formed when a lotus blossom (pushkara) fell from the hand of Brahma. Pushkar's consequent status as a holy city makes it one of the five principal destinations of Hindu pilgrims. The lake boasts 52 holy ghats, many of which have special religious or historical significance — Vishnu is said to have appeared at the Varah Ghat in the form of a boar, and a portion of Mahatma Gandhi's ashes were submerged at Gau Ghat — and the city itself is home to hundreds of Hindu temples large and small. Most significantly, Pushkar is the site of the only temple in India sacred to Brahma, who despite his role as Creator of the Universe does not figure prominently in modern Hindu practice.

Pushkar is a sedate town for most of the year, but for 12 days in the month of Kartik (around the full moon closest to November 1st) the desert just outside Pushkar is transformed by the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. 50,000 camels and 200,000 pilgrims, livestock-traders, and tourists congregate to worship, make merry, and trade (or even race) camels and other livestock.

Visiting Pushkar

Pushkar is by no means off the beaten track, so backpackers disgusted by foreigners-only hotels, banana pancakes, and other tourist-targeted crap won't find much of interest here. That said, Pushkar is a quiet and hospitable town ideal for backpackers needing to recuperate from the bustle of nearby Jaipur but unwilling to do away with Western amenities.

Pushkar is a holy city, and smoking, drinking, and substance-ingestion are frowned upon. Boorish foreigners, as always, manage to get their own way in that regard, but one concession to local custom that you will be expected to make is to perform puja at Pushkar Lake. This is one of the few potential hassles of this otherwise laid-back burg; until you make puja, you are likely to be accosted constantly by Brahmin priests and their minions.

Making puja involves going down with the priest to the lake and making a series of sacred offerings. You will be expected to make a monetary donation. This is many priests' primary means of support, and some can be quite unscrupulous about milking you for money; the priest with whom I made puja even modified the ceremony so as to collect multiple installments of cash. Don't be snookered; you should make your donation at the beginning of the ceremony and make it clear, politely but firmly, that no more cash will be forthcoming. Most Indian pilgrims will give in the range of Rs. 11-101 (the extra rupee is for good luck), although as a comparatively wealthy foreigner you may feel obligated to give more. At the end of the ceremony you will be given a bracelet of red and yellow strings (in backpacker parlance, a Pushkar Passport) to tie around your wrist; once you have this, you can walk the streets of Pushkar unmolested.

Even if the priest that is administering the ceremony is especially mercenary, try to keep a sense of humor about it. Remember, unlike many things in India, this is not a scam to separate tourists from their wealth; puja is a bona fide sacred ceremony that has the unfortunate potential to be warped by greed. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of and give only what you feel comfortable with, but be respectful.

Geopolitical sidenote: the Indian government conducted an underground nuclear test of 12 kilotonnes at Pokhran in the Rajasthan desert in the 1970's. For what it's worth, while in Pushkar I saw both a five-legged cow and a woman with 12 fingers and 12 toes.

Pushkar Fanaticism

For the evil twins, Advait and Naina

Pushkar, a place in Rajasthan, India. An alcove for tourists and a remedy for the loveless, lifeless and restless. Such an interesting place to write about, I can get high talking about it. The numerous stories that can unfold to an unknown scandalized eye. Yes! The quotient of not having a transcendental experience is equivalent to the presumptions one makes about India.

For most of the year Pushkar is a quiet town, however in November more than 20,000 people storm it for the famous “Pushkar Cattle Fair”, from a pilgrim to a camel dealer, they all hub the same place, devotees congregate to take a dip in the holy lake, sadhus descend from the Himalayas and people pray for nirvana to the sound of verses from the Scriptures that fill the air. In the stealth of the night there are traditional festivities, colorful dancing, and loads of smoking the hukkah.


Mahabharata, an Indian Epic (500 B.C.), suggests that one should begin pilgrimage to the grand Indian Sub-Continent from here. The legend says Pushkar was created when Lord Brahma, the creator slayed the demon Vajra Nabh with a lotus flower (specifically the Brahma Kamal, the lotus adorning the creators image). The lotus petals floated down to earth, in and around Pushkar explaining the famous Pushkar Lake amidst Rajasthans Desert.

Once upon a time there existed over 500 temples and palaces here, but the later century invaders destroyed most of them. One that still remains today is the Brahma temple. This is by far the only Brahma temple in the world, surprisingly since Brahma belongs to the holy trinity of Hinduism. Another interesting story that immortalizes this place goes on to say, that Brahma had transcended earth to perform a yajna (A worship performed by a fire sacrifice for all the Hindu Gods for a specific cause e.g. drought, basically a big affair). Brahma’s wife Savitri (The goddess of divine knowledge) was however not with him, and the yajna would be unfinished without her. The creator to compensate the absence of his wife, married a local girl to complete the performance. When Savitri heard the news she landed on earth, on finding a new wife besides her husband, was intensely angered. She cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped anywhere else on Earth, but here. Strangely enough so it still is.

Pushkar –How it stands today

Pushkar is set out in a valley of roses (Indian strong smelling rose), but the streets reek of incense, cow dung, ritual flowers, cheap sandalwood and tourists with strongly perfumed bodies. Royal Enfield Bullet’s and Japanese 100’s with skimpily clad white skinned men and women are a familiar sight. Days go unnoticed, people act hip and the gods are only onlookers to this entire disregard for “Oh! So amusing” India congregation. This place made up of narrow alleys, small gutters is a maze of it’s own. Small trinket and craft shop surround all lanes. In addition to the electricity, some still live by the halogen lamp. Over the years the foreigners have been amused/stunned/shocked by the essence that this place spews up on everyone who comes in its vicinity. Today café’s like Pink Floyd Café, Third Eye Blind, Garden of Venus,Adonis have sprung up here. Rumors vouch this place to have been visited by Roger Water, Paul McCartney, Kate Winslett and a few others. The strange rule to this place allows no alcohol, with an exception to beer. The outlaws do not include pot, hashish, weed. Chemical drugs are considered distasteful and demeaning to the gods themselves.

My first encounter with Pushkar was when I were six, since then it hasn’t ceased to fascinate me. I’ve met a lot of people here, most of them weren’t Indians and some of them never left. The scenes of a lake surrounded by hillocks on an orange/red evening, sounds of the bazaar, bells, goat bleats and a shanty of an Israeli restra linger in my mind as an image from the past, present and future. It’s a memory, it’s an obsession and it’s my only calling.


http://www.sacredsites.com/asia/india/pushkar.html http://www.indianvisit.com/ivnew/destinationguides/spiritualandreligious/pushkar.htm http://www.viewsunplugged.com/VU/20020307/travel_pushkar.shtml

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