Pushkar (Hindi: पुष्कर) is a town in the Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is situated 14 km northwest of Ajmer at an average elevation of 510 m and is one of the five sacred dhams (pilgrimage site) for devout Hindus. According to Hindu theology, the pond at the Katas Raj temple Near Choa Saidan Shah in Chakwal District of Pakistan has a theological association with Shiva; it was formed by the tears of Lord Shiva which he is believed to have shed after the death of his wife, Sati. The story goes that when Sati died, Shiva cried so much and for so long, that his tears created two holy ponds – one at Pushkara in Ajmer in India and the other at Ketaksha, which literally means raining eyes, in Sanskrit. It is from this name that the word Katas is derived. It is often called "Tirth Raj" – the king of pilgrimage sites – and has in recent years become a popular destination for foreign tourists.
Pushkar is one of the oldest existing cities of India. It lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake. The date of its actual origin is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation.
Pushkar has many temples. Most of the temples are not very old because MANY TEMPLES WERE DESTROYED DURING MUSLIM CONQUESTS in the area. Subsequently, the destroyed temples were rebuilt. The most famous among all is the Brahma Temple built during the 14th century CE. Very few temples to Lord Brahma exist anywhere in the world. Other temples of Brahma include Bithoor in Uttar Pradesh, India; Khedbrahma in Gujarat, India; village Asotra near Balotra city of Barmer district in Rajasthan; Uttamar Kovil (one of the Divya Desams) near Srirangam, Tamil Nadu; Mother Temple of Besakih in Bali, Indonesia; and Prambanan in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Pushkar lake has 52 ghats where pilgrims descend to the lake to bathe in the sacred waters.
Pushkar is also famous for its annual fair (Pushkar Camel Fair) held in November.
Pushkar in Sanskrit means blue lotus flower. Hindus believe that the gods released a swan with a lotus in its beak and let it fall on earth where Brahma would perform a grand yagna. The place where the lotus fell was called Pushkar. Pushkar word may be derived from word ‘Pushkarni’means- lake. It may be derived from word Pushpa means flower and Kar means hand.
Pushkar is one of the oldest cities of India. The date of its actual founding is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation.
According to legend, Brahma was in search of a place for Mahayagna and he found this place suitable. After a long time, Brahma came to known that a demon, Vajranash, was killing people here so the Lord intoned a mantra on a lotus flower and killed the demon. During this process the parts of flower fell on three places which were later known as Jyaistha, Madhya and Kanistha Pushkar. After this Brahma performed a yagna to protect this place from demons. The consort of Brahma, Saraswati, were needed to offer Ahuti for the yagna but she was not there that time so Gayatri, a Gurjar girl, was married to brahma and performned yagna. This act made first wife of Brahma, Saraswati, angry and she cursed Brahma saying that he would be worshiped in Pushkar only.
The Mahabharata says that while laying down a programme for Maharaja Yudhishthara’s travel, “Maharaja after entering the Jungles of Sind and crossing the small rivers on the way should bathe in Pushkara". And, as per Vaman Purana, Prahlada on his pilgrimage to holy places visited Pushkarayana.
A Gurjara Pratihara ruler of Mandore, Nahadarava, restored this tirtha in the seventh century. He got the place cleared and the lake restored by making an embankment on the side of the river Luni. He rebuilt old palaces and built twelve dharmashalas (resting places) and ghats on three sides of the lake.
According to Rajputana Gazetteer Pushkar was held by Chechi Gurjars until about 700 years ago.Later Some shrines were occupied by Kanphati Jogis.
There are still priests from the Gurjar community in Pushkar temple, known as Bhopas.
The sage Parasara is said to have been born here. His descendants, called Parasara Brahamanas, are found in Pushkar and the surrounding area. The famous temple of Jeenmata has been cared for by Parasara Brahmans for the last 1,000 years.
It is also the venue of the annual Pushkar Camel Fair. In 1901, the town was part of the Rajputana Agency had a population of 3,831.
Pushkar fair continues for five days and these five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers. This fair time is the most busy time for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, including over 50,000 camels, are brought from miles around to be traded and sold. Trading is brisk as several thousand heads of cattle exchange hands. All the camels are cleaned, washed, adorned, some are interestingly shorn to form patterns, and special stalls are set up selling finery and jewellery for the camels. Camels at the Pushkar fair are decorated with great care. They wear jewellery of silver and beads. There are silver bells and bangles around their ankles that jangle when they walk. An interesting ritual is the piercing of a camel’s nose. It has more than 400 temples including the only one temple in India dedicated to the Hindu God Lord Brahma, the Creator of the Universe.
According to Indian mythology, after visiting all the Hindu pilgrim towns and temples (Four Dhams), if Pushkar is not visited for worship, then salvation is not achieved. According to the Hindu calendar Pushkar Fair commences in Nawami (ninth day of fortnightly phases of moon) and ends in Purnima (Full Moon) in the month of Kartika (October or November according to the lunar calendar). In Pushkar, one of the biggest Cattle Fair is also held for trading purposes and the best cattle in all categories are awarded. Countless people in their colourful attire gather to take a dip in the Holy Lake and pray to the deities. The whole town comes alive with vibrant folk music and dances, magic shows, horse and camel races and various other traditional entertainment competitions.Pushkar, with more than 12 local fairs and festivals of 10–15 days duration is a year round destination. It is a mellow town by the great lake of Pushkar amidst the perfume of jasmine and rose flowers. About 4,000 to 6,000 visitors from all over the world come to Pushkar everyday.
The prime attraction of Pushkar is the Pushkar Lake which is considered sacred like the Mansarovar Lake in Tibet. Pushkar has become a place of Hindu pilgrimage because of this holy lake. Legend has it that this lake was consecrated to Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe when a lotus dropped from his hand into the vale and a lake emerged in that place.
The most important temple in Pushkar is the Temple of Lord Brahma, one of the holy trinity of Hinduism. The temple enshrines a life-size idol of Lord Brahma.
This temple that is located at the top of the Ratnagiri Hill is dedicated to Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma. The temple houses a statue of Goddess Savitri.
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