Pushkar, Rajasthan – A Peculiar Town in the Land of Kings
Rajasthan is mostly known for its vast desert landscapes and majestic forts, but there is one quaint little town which is unlike any other place in Rajasthan. An important place for devout Hindus, it is the pilgrimage town of Pushkar which is a unique blend of a strong Hindu culture with hippy refinements.
Pushkar is a town of Rajasthan visited by most backpacker who come to explore this vast Land of Kings and Hindus who seek the embrace of Lord Brahma. It is a town every religious Hindu should visit once in a lifetime. It is built around a holy lake which is said to have formed when Brahma dropped a lotus flower, it also has one of the world’s few Brahma temples.
The lake is made up of 52 bathing ghats where Hindus purify their souls with a dip in the water and some offerings to the gods. There are 400 blue temples surrounding the lake and the town is almost always engulfed with the chants and hums of the regular prayers (pujas) performed by the lake. In the evenings, devotional songs are more explicit, the chanting feels more auspicious and the sound of drums and the temple bells echoes throughout the lake creating a perfect scene for a beautiful sunset.
One of the oldest cities of India, Pushkar has an interesting story to tell. According to the legend, Lord Brahma found this place suitable for Mahayagna (a great ritual of giving) and later realized it has a presence of the demon – Vajranash, who killed the people of the town. Hence, Brahma intoned a mantra on a lotus flower and killed the demon, parts of the flower fell to three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar.
He then performed a Yagna to protect this place from demons. To perform this Yagna, Saraswati, the wife of Brahma was required and she was not there at that time. Hence, Gayatri was married to Brahma to continue with the Yagna. Sarawasti got furious and she cursed Brahma saying that he will only be worshiped in Pushkar.
The Gurjar is one of the oldest family in Pushkar and all the priests in the Brahma temple belong to the same community. It is a home to many Brahmins and it was a part of the Rajputana Agency for a long time.
Sights to Visit
Apart from the artificial lake at the center and the temples around it, Pushkar has some amazing sights to visit. Below I have listed some offbeat ones I have visited and few others which you might find in every guide book. I have never been there during its famous Camel Fair, but I have heard it is a spectacular fair.
- Brahma Temple
- Saraswati Temple
- Gayatri Temple
- Baba the Cosmic Barber
- Pach Kund
- Agustya Muni Cave
- Trekking through the Nag Pahar (I recommend a group)
- Fields around Pushkar
- A few temples and caves on the other side of the canal
Eating and Drinking
There is a vast variety of food available in Pushkar ranging from Indian, Continental, Israeli and a lot cuisines. Most eateries have a great view of the lake. It is all strictly vegetarian (even eggs are not allowed), but they do cook up some delicious meals. Alcohol is prohibited in Pushkar, but it seems that for a few extra rupees one can manage a few beers, a guest house staff can fix it for you.
- Funky Monkey Café
- Sunset Café
- Baba Rooftop Restaurant
- Honey & Spice
- Sixth Sense
- Sai Baba Restaurant
It is also a great place for those who like to shop on their travels. Most of it includes things one might find at every other backpacker destination throughout India, but some of it is really unique to Pushkar. There are many other street foods joints which serve good, quick and cheap meal for backpackers.
Accommodation in Pushkar is not very expensive one can easily find affordable rooms as well as luxurious alternatives, I choose to travel on a budget so I managed an awesome place somewhere out in the fields of Pushkar for which I paid about Rs. 5000 ($80 approximately) for a month.
If you decide to stay in Pushkar for a long time one important thing every backpacker (or traveler) should remember is the Pushkar password, a bunch of holy threads which go around your wrist and you can get one after you perform the puja at the lake. It helps avoid the many locals who keep pestering you about getting a puja done, I managed without the passport but with the help of some awesome friends.
I will talk about the sights, restaurants and others things one can do in Pushkar in much detail in a different post. If you do like the post share it with your friends and do let me know if you have any feedback.
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