All About Pushkar, Rajasthan

The Rajasthan Tourism Development Corporation, Hotel Sarovar at Pushkar, booked through their online reservation facility was a very basic accommodation. The best thing about that property was its location being just adjacent to Pushkar Lake. A swimming pool was available there but it was dirty and could not be used. The staff here was very genial and supportive but the service was leisurely. The food, however, was very tasty. Anyway, I can recommend it only to those who are in budget travel.

Morning at Pushkar was very pleasant and a good sleep had re-energized all of us for a tour to Pushkar Lake and the city. We started following the directions given by the receptionist about the way to the lake, and after walking about half a kilometer to the left of the hotel, my eyes fell on the little marble inscription on the top of the gate. It was the “Gwalior gate” through which we were going to enter. On the Gwalior gate, a piece of historical gems in the form of a public notice issued by the then British Commissioner of Ajmer and Marwar was seen. In a moment, an imaginary scene flashed in my mind. Peasants were washing clothes and bathing their cattle in the Pushkar Lake and King of Pushkar, who controlled the lake and the land, was pleading before a British officer for protection of his lake. The kingdom was for a namesake and the powers of the king were merely restricted to file a petition before a British court. What an era that would be!

Notification of a British Administrator

Notification of a British Administrator

The Gwalior gate was the opening for various Ghats viz. Banshi Ghat, Gwalior Ghat, Chandra Ghat etc. By following the way to the temple of Meera Bai, we arrived at the Banshi Ghat. At that hour in the morning, it was not crowded at all. Numerous buffaloes were roaming around and feeding themselves. Someone had spread rice in another corner of the Banshi Ghat where pigeons were competing amongst themselves for a rice seed. Suddenly the tranquility of the place was broken by a voice of a “Panda”, who came near us and introduced himself as “Yadav Panda”. His abrupt entry into my peaceful state had already miffed me. So I declined his offer of hiring his services for performing Puja. He went away chiding me for my losing a great opportunity. In the meantime, I was standing at the one of the Ghats of the world famous Pushkar Lake and admiring its beauty and grandeur. The golden sun-rays of a morning sun falling over the Ghats built around the lake were giving all the buildings a golden hue. The colour of the sky was matching with the colour of the water in the lake. It was an awesome sight. Let the Gods forgive me for turning down the proposal of Yadav Panda for I was bewitched by the lake in its morning glory.

Pushkar Lake in morning glory

Pushkar Lake in morning glory

Admiring and happy at heart, we started circumambulating around the lake. Suddenly, a deep desire to perform puja came to our mind. But the Yadav Panda was now gone and any other panda was not visible. Now the guilt of turning away a priest came to my mind. Suddenly I saw him talking to another set of people at a little distance. I went to him and requested him to conduct Puja for us. Since he was pre-occupied, he arranged another panda, who introduced himself as Shri Mukesh Rajguru, Son of Shri Pushkar Narayan. Rajguru was a simple family man. Unlike Yadav Panda, who was attired in Dhoti-Kurta, Rajguru was wearing shirt and pants. Initially, I took time to accept him as a priest because of his dress. But soon I realized that dress had nothing to do with the knowledge of the procedure and the ease with which he conducted the Puja.

At first, we had to purify ourselves by sprinkling of water from the Lake and then he conducted a sequence of rituals. While conducting the Puja, Rajguru always kept us informed about the importance of those activities. The stories of Pushkar lake, the yajna ceremony of Lord Brahma, curse of Goddess Savitri towards Lord Brahma were best amongst them. Towards the end of the Puja and the stories, I performed “tarpan” in the memory of my father, grandfather and other ancestors. Such an event always raises the emotional quotient within me. But what to do! No one can bring them back! Anyway, this place is filled with spiritual energy and it feels very nice to perform religious activities here.

Tarpan in memory of Ancestors

Tarpan in memory of Ancestors

We kept on walking around the circumference of the lake. At one side there was a bridge built by Aurangzeb. The bridge, however, connected two sides of the ghat. There was only one condition for crossing this bridge that no one should walk on this bridge wearing shoes or chappals. One should carry them in their hands while crossing the bridge. Another challenge was to stand still at the side rails of the bridge, in case a buffalo decided to cross the bridge that the same time. If there are more than one buffaloes, then count your luck! Through bridge, we came to the other side of the lake and went through various ghats and temples including temple dedicated to Saturn and Baba Gorakhnath. Lastly, we came to the Brahma Ghat, which is the main Ghat of the lake.

Bridge built by Aurangjeb

Bridge built by Aurangjeb

The reigning deity of the Brahma Temple is Lord Brahma, the creator. According to Rajguru, the less number of Brahma temples was because of the curse of Goddess Savitri, who was infuriated to know that Lord Brahma had started the yajna with some consort other than her. Later, the Goddess Savitri started living at the hill top on one of the Aravalli Hills. A temple dedicated to her still stands today.

Temple of Goddess Savitri over the hill top

Temple of Goddess Savitri over the hill top

According to that curse, Lord Brahma would not be worshipped by human kind anywhere on earth except at Pushkar. As per the customs, no worldly person could offer flowers or any other material on the deity. Only a Sadhu could offer Puja. For any person, who had not renounced the world, all the flowers etc. were to be handed over to the sadhu for offering them to the deity. Anyway, we respected the customs and dedicated our offering to Lord Brahma through a sadhu and then decided to walk around the Pushkar markets.

Entrance to the temple of Lord Brahma

Entrance to the temple of Lord Brahma

The entire city was entitled to be described as a heritage city. In the market of that great city, the first stall that we came across was selling small “Yantra” to cure any evil designs of the planets. They were available to all zodiac signs and in many sizes and with appropriate costs. Next shop was selling colourful turbans. Traditionally, each caste and class of people could be identified by the turban or cap they wore. Visitors often purchase those turbans as a memorabilia of their visit to Rajasthan. I met with a Bengali joint family at our hotel which had come all the way from Tripura and were on some 11-12 days package tour conducted by RTDC. One of them had purchased one of these turbans to show it to people back home.

Then, there were many shops selling incense sticks and aromatic oils etc. may be because of the high demand for those sticks both in Ajmer and in Pushkar. Another set of artists-cum-entrepreneurs were selling clothes depicting various Hindu mythological signs, which must be a rage amongst the foreigners. I guessed that some of such shops might be offering courses and arranging classes for tourists interested in learning those crafts.

Artists –cum – entrepreneurs

Artists –cum – entrepreneurs

A little ahead, we found one stall selling full-sized swords, daggers and knives. Utility of small knives and daggers was understood. But the use of swords was something different. I guessed that the local people would be purchasing those swords as a status symbol. But who knows! Those swords might be the only weapon in their hands to ward off enemies and harmful animals in the villages.

Shop selling swords

Shop selling swords

Subsequently, we walked upto the “Top tea stall” in Pushkar. We just had poha before and now needed a cup of hot tea. So, we sat down on the bench there for some time till we sipped the best tea of the city. The top tea in the Pushkar market was served on disposable cups. The tray was a luxury given to the families. Otherwise, you pick up your cup from the stall itself. We had settled down on the bench and were admiring the market. The market was gradually opening to a pleasant morning. The rush was also gradually increasing. People from all walks of life were coming to pay a visit to the temple of Lord Brahma.
Many foreigners, who had stayed long, had taken motorcycles to roam around the city and its outskirts. Enfield Bullet was a general favourite. In the hippy style, these foreigners were driving their bikes on the road as if the road belonged to them. Suddenly, a Rajasthani Milkman came to the Tea stall. He was a tall, lean and handsome man in his fifties wearing Kurta and Dhoti and leather Jutis. His turban was of the same type that was worn by herdsmen which we had seen on the highways. The golden ear-rings and Silver bracelet on his wrist were indicating his economic status. His confident gait and the personality were reflecting his social status that he must be commanding in his community. He sat silently and sipped his tea. After finishing his tea, he got up, paid the amount and left. I could neither click his picture nor hear his rags to riches story. But the picture of the brass containers, used for carrying milk, on the delivery-motorcycle was telling the story of his financial success.

The brass containers for carrying Milk

The brass containers for carrying Milk

Lastly, we came across a craftsman, who was selling the blocks used in block printing. As he could not afford his own thela-rickshaw, he was his products sitting on the ground. In his free time, he carved many more designs on fresh blocks. His blocks were affordable so we purchased a few of them. The craftsman was a very practical man in his late forties. He had kept many blocks that resembled as antiques. On my enquiries, he admitted that he had faked those “antiques” by colouring the wood for selling them to a naïve foreigner at a steep price. I just thought about our slogan of Incredible India.

Blocks used for block-printing

Blocks used for block-printing

The Pushkar market was a great place to roam around at a leisurely pace. It was colourful and full of activities. Then there were lots of temples. Yadav Panda had informed us earlier that Pushkar had more than 200 temples around 52 ghats of the lake. Even now, when I have come back from that place and was writing this story, I felt that I should have stayed there for some more time. But, back then, I had to leave the city early to go to “Bhangarh”, which is considered as the most haunted place in Asia. So, we checked out of the hotel after having a very sumptuous Indian breakfast and started our road journey towards ‘Bhangarh”.

  • Kaveri

    I am really glad that your travelogue has given me a chance to see the Lord Brahma temple. ( Thank you!)
    The artistry of local market in pushkar is worth admiration. My heart mellowed by seeing ancestoral worship through tarpan. We must never forget them.

    I loved the variety blocks of blocks used for paintwork & how can we forget that this part of the country shares good asthetic work.

    The notification by British administration makes us remind that we were once governed by them & now we are free , & must respect the freedom achieved.

    Overall, another great writeup on a memorable trip!

    • Uday Baxi

      Dear Kaveri

      Thank you very much for your nice comments.

  • It’s really great post. Thanks for shearing it.

    • Uday Baxi

      Thank you Sir for your encouraging words.

  • Another informative post with good photographs showing the enriched culture of Pushkar. Thanks for sharing Uday ji!

    • Uday Baxi

      Thank you Mr. Ajit for your compliments.

      • Uday Baxi

        Sorry for the typo. Thank you once again Amit.

  • silentsoul

    b’ful update… pushkar lake foto is eye catching.. but blog should have been longer with more photos :)

    • Uday Baxi

      Dear Sir

      Thanks for your nice comments.

      Yes! Pushkar is a place on which a longer version was always possible.

      Regards

  • Pushkar Lake is though famous, I always remember Pushkar for the Brahma Temple. Expected the Photo of the temple in your this Log, however, there may be reason for including it here. I had an abstract idea that the only Brahma Temple situate at Pushkar, however, a few days back our @P.S. Tewari Sir told me that there are more, two in Kerala, one in Tamilnadu, there is one in Andhra Pradesh and in Maharashtra also. So again I got confused. If there are so many Brahma temples, how come, Lord Brahm is not worshipped anywhere on earth except at Pushkar. If you can kindly explain.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Uday Baxi

      Dear Anupam,

      First of all, let me thank you for a detailed comment. Secondly, let us ask you about your next log for which we all are waiting.

      Thirdly, I must say that I did not take the inside photograph of Brahma Temple in order to respect the rules which prohibited taking picture inside the temple.

      Lastly, I agree with you about incidence of Brahma temples at many places other than Pushkar. Lord Brahma might be worshiped by some people or society in their respective homes also. But the fame of Pushkar, its temple of Lord Brahma and the story of the curse of Goddess Savitri are being passed from generations after generations. Somehow, in our lives we see that fame increasing day by day. Ironically, even Pushkar had the present lake and the Old Pushkar lake. So, how to say!

      Anyway, Thanks for that interesting question based on pure logic and challenging the faith.

  • I like the pace of your logs. It makes me go slow (and kind of therapeutic) and I get to enjoy the story more.

    That bridge must have seen a lot of Buffaloes (from both sides) in last 300 years unless the original bridge is no more and it is one of the recent developments. Pushkar has been a hippy city (on the lines of Kasol, Gokarna, Mcleod etc) and I was looking forward to some photographs :-)

    All in all, a great log.

  • Uday Baxi

    Dear Sir

    Unfortunately, I did not click any picture of those hippies.

    Your comments about those buffaloes and their impact on that bridge is quite practical and well-taken. Yes. 300 years are quite long time in history.

    Thanks for liking the post.

    Regards