Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture

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Pushkar is the rose garden of the desert state, which is now also a fabulous hippie meeting place. Engulfed by the Aravalli hills, with a holy lake in the middle, this small town leads you to spirituality with a spirit of a gipsy lifestyle. However, my travel was to retrieve my lost soul and connect to spirituality as I bid farewell to my father’s soul on the ghats of Pushkar. During my visit to Pushkar, a famous Hollywood movie Eat, Pray, and Love came to my head, where Elizabeth Gilbert ends her painful marriage and sets off on a vacation trip to reclaim her life. Interestingly, she looked for spirituality in India, and my visit was to Pushkar.

Desert state of Rose cultivation

Pushkar is a sedate, laid-back and relaxed city giving a feel of Kochi with the religious spirituality of Varanasi. The town is an easy drive of 3hrs from Jaipur, and you can opt for a cab or bus, both ply frequently. Since I was travelling from Gurgaon, I called for the Ajmer Shatabdi Express. It leaves at 6.54 am from Gurgaon railway station & arrives at Ajmer at 12.45 pm. You can book a cab or auto or call for local buses from the bus stand for Pushkar from the Ajmer railway station. Pushkar is 11km from Ajmer, so we chose an auto for our travel. The drive was about 40 min at the cost of Rs200. The route was beautiful, with Aravali on both sides, & a touch of greenery amidst them.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Drive to Pushkar

Upon arriving at Pushkar, we checked into our hotel New Park; a heritage has converted into a hotel. Fenced in by mountains, forest & a beautiful rose garden, it cost me Rs 1800 per night. Though an ideal stay in Pushkar starts at a charge of Rs 800 & goes up to Rs 8000 per night, all you get here is from a backpacker’s stay or luxury tent. I decided to stay for the afternoon after lunch and take a walk in the town in the evening. 

Hotel New Park

Around 4.30 pm, after a cup of tea, my mom and I set out to explore this small laid back town. We started with the Savitri temple that looks out on the entire city and the surrounding valley. My Hotel receptionist advised viewing the sunset and sunrise from the brow. Savitri temple can be made by trekking through steep 650 steps or taking the ropeway cabin.

Steps trek to Savitri Temple

The trek is about 30min to an hour, depending on the number of breaks you take while climbing the steep steps. Also, we need to keep an eye on the monkeys on the way who are very aggressive. To be safer, we decided on the ropeway cabin, at the price of Rs 100 both ways.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture

This temple is situated on Ratnagiri hills’ hilltop and is dedicated to goddess Savitri, the first wife of Lord Braham. It is conceived that the temple was built in 1687 CE. And it was afterwards rebuilt by the Bangar family in the 20th century. Upon arriving at the hilltop, I was amazed by the lake’s scenic view, town & picturesque villages. It was time for evening Aarti, so we entered the synagogue & saw the Idols of Savitri and Gayatri placed where the idols of Savitri date back to the 7th century. I saw the evening Aarti & offered my prayers, then sat down to absorb a calm and peaceful atmosphere.

Savitri Temple

As per the legend, the synagogue was built when Goddess Savitri cursed Lord Brahma out of anger- that he would be only worshipped in Pushkar and came to the hilltop. Why was he sworn? There is an interesting story behind it. Lord Brahma was to perform a Yagna in Pushkar, where his wife Savitri could not get on time. Hence, to deliver the Pooja without delay, Lord Brahma completed the ritual with the help of a local girl, Gayatri- who then became his second wife of Brahma.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Twilight View from Savitri Temple

Furious Savitri cursed him; hence Aarti is done first in Savitri Temple and later in Brahma Temple. That’s quite angry! Thus, before visiting Lord Brahma, I paid tribute to the goddess to save myself from folly. The night was cold in October month, had an early dinner & hit the bed.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Evening Aarti Time

The following day woke up early, threw a quick bath & left for Pushak Lake. On the ghats of Pushkar, a Sanskrit verse was prominent -” Om aryamā no tripytāma idaṁ tilōdakaṁ tasmai svadhā namaḥ.’ Om mr̥tyōrmā amr̥taṁ gamaya”, means paying respect to the fathers as well mothers along with their ancestors and thank Aryama, the god of father’s, who free them from death & take the soul towards Nectar or heaven. Our Hindu mythology has regarded Pushkar as Adi Tiratha, so it’s referred to Tirth-Raj. Hindus highly revere Pushkar since it is considered one of the sacred places. 

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Brahma Kund

There are 52 Ghats with a unique history that circles the lake. The scary lake resounds with the chant and hymns from 400 blue-coloured temples on its bank. The famous ghats are Varaha Ghat, where all rituals occur, along with the evening Aarti. Aside from this, Brahma Ghat, Gau Ghat, and Man Ghat, built by Maharaja Man Singh I, Jaipur, later renamed Jaipur Ghat, are other famous ghats. The ghats are assigned to respective Brahmin Pandits, and shoes are not permitted on Ghats. 

Varaha Ghat

So we reached the Bhramha ghat and met a young Pandit named Pawan, a warm and friendly guy. He led us to the Ghat, where I performed the Tarpan for my father and ancestor so that they attain ‘Mukti’-freedom from the wheel of birth and death. After the Tarpan and holy dip in the lake, I asked the Pandit about the importance of this lake, and if my soul would be released, so I attained peace since it was a personal ritual for me. The Pandit recited Srimad-Bhagavatam (12.12.61) states, “One who controls his mind, fasts at the holy places Puskar, Mathura, or Dvaraka, and studies this scripture will be freed from all fear.”

Way to Brahma Ghat

He mentioned this holy place as Adi Tirtha in Hindu Epics because Lord Brahma created the Pushkar lake. According to the Hindu scripture Padma Purana, a demon named Vajra Nabha, died with a lotus flower in retaliation by Lord Brahma. He was attempting to kill his children and harass people. And few lotus petals fell at three locations, one of which was the site of Pushkar Lake. Here the flower is called Pushp, and Kar means hand – the act of the lotus falling from Brahma’s hand caused the townsfolk to be named Pushkar (Push+Kar).

Roses In Brahma Kund

The yajna is believed to be performed on Kartik Poornima at this lake. Hence the devotees visit Pushkar for the holy dip in the lake on Kartik Poornima in November. I was also told that the lake cures skin disease’s mystical water cures skin disease; I’m not sure if this is true. Only since the element of worship here is water, this place is compared to Haridwar and Prayag.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Various Ghats

He led me to sit on the Ghat while discussing Pushkar’s spiritual references. There is a description of Pushkar in Ramanayan, as Rishi Vishwamitra carried his penance at the lake for a thousand years. But Meneka, an Apsara from heaven, came to get a dip in the holy lake of Pushkar, whose beauty enamoured Vishwamitra, and they decided to dwell together in pursuit of pleasure for ten years. Later, Vishwamitra realized that his main activity of penance was disturbed. He, thus, asked leave of Menaka and went away to the north to continue his meditation.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
Gau Ghat

Another reference to Ramayana states Lord Rama did the “Pind Daan” of his ancestors here during his exile in Pushkar. On the other hand, Mahabharata, while laying down a program for Maharaja Yudhishthira’s travel, “Maharaja, after entering the Jungles of Sind and crossing the small rivers along the way, should bathe in Pushkara”.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture

Damn Interesting! Even in the Vaman Purana, as per the Pandit, Prahlada, on his pilgrim’s journey to holy places, visited Pushkarayana. Besides, its believed Pushkar is the birthplace of sage Parasara. His successor Parasara Brahmanas can be seen in the city and has looked after the renowned temple of Jeenmata for the past ten centuries. Indian mythology and even an Islamic scholar, Alberuni, also depicted Pushkar at the Hindus’ pilgrimage site in the 11th century, along with Fa-Hien of the 4th century mentioning Pushkar in his chronicles.

Various Ghats

In the 12th century, a dam was built across the Luni river’s tributary by Nahadarava, Pratihara Monarch of Mandore. He even renovated Pushkar in the 7th century by cleaning & beautifying the lake. He then constructed ancient forts, ghats & 12 Dharamshala at the three corners of the lake. I sat on the Ghat, listening to the chants & watching people taking a dip in the holy water or doing the ritual for their ancestors; I experienced a connection towards these Vedic chants, & cold, calming water did render peace to some extent.

Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture
My Pind Daan

Strolling down Pushkar street was fun as there were no cars or autos on the main roads, apart from the moody cows that roam freely. I witnessed a mix of the old structures that had now adapted to the new construction. It’s hard to lose the vibrancy of the main street, which circumambulates the Ghats of Pushkar Lake. The roads here have a life with a distinct buzz around. 

Pushkar market

In recent years, the new crowd puller of Pushkar is the Pushkar Camel Fair, which is ideally a cattle fair. It is one of the oldest & famous fairs that is primarily celebrated to glorify the Kartik Purnima festival. But this fair is where you can see myriads of colours, tradition, culture, rural life & the dazzling lifestyle of the desert. However, I have yet to visit the fair, but I will attend it sometime soon.

Camel fair

It was time to say goodbye; I steered towards the Ghat to offer my final prayers. Along the way back from the Ghat, I packed some famous & mouth-watering Malupas of Pushkar from the Sarwadiya Misthan Bhandar. 


How to reach:

By Air : 

Jaipur is the nearest airport to Pushkar, 140 kilometres away. This airport is well connected to major metros. Upon reaching, you can hire a cab for Pushkar.

By Rail:

Ajmer railways station is the nearest to Pushkar, its 30min drive from Ajmer. The Ajmer railhead is well connected with major cities of the country. You can hire a Cab, Auto or Buse to reach Pushkar.

By Road:

Buses from Delhi & Jaipur to Ajmer and Pushkar are readily available. The Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation runs deluxe and semi-deluxe buses (air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned) connecting Ajmer to nearby cities and then transporting you to Pushkar for a nominal fare.


2 thoughts on “Pushkar: A Confluence of Spirituality and Culture

  1. I’m incredibly pleased to discover this website. I wanted to thank you for one’s time just for this fantastic read!

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