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Marg and I visited Pushkar as part of a triangular trip we took around Agra, Jaipur and New Delhi back in 1995 when we came to India on holiday, prior to starting work here a year later. Pushkar was a side trip out of Jaipur, and we spent the night here before continuing our journey. A fascinating town, we were not here during the cattle and camel fair later in the year, but evertheless, still enjoyed our trip to this holy place. As we did not bathe in the lake either, not having much sway with any religion, I suppose we shall have to wait to achieve our salvation and freedom from this reoccurring life struggle!Anyway, well worth a visit and the scenery in driving through to Pushkar is quite amazing. I particularly noted the advertising painted on the rocks along the side of the highway, now remarked upon by the Government as a polluting eyesore, but quite attractive in their own way and I agree that they should be removed. Pushkar is s ituated in Rajasthan on the fringe of the desert 11 kilometers from Ajmer, and surrounded by hills on three sides with Nag Pahar or the Snake Mountain standing as a divider between the lake and the city of Ajmer. It is a laid back town with a lake, but a very important pilgrimage spot for Hindus and the only spot dedicated to Brahma in India. It has been an important spot as a pilgrimage for the kings and emperors of India for many centuries, and at one stage had over 500 temples and more than 50 palaces around the lake. Today there are only five principal temples in Pushkar and they are all of relatively recent construction as the Mugal emperor Aurangzeb destroyed the earlier buildings in the late 17 th century. Pushkar itself is a semicircular lake 10 meters deep on average and with 52 "Ghats" surrounding it today. The water around each ghat is supposed to have special powers with the Naga Kund considered to give fertility, Roop Tirth bestowing beauty and charm, the waters of Kapil Vyapi Kund have powers to cure leprosy and a dip in the Mrikand Muni Kund gives the blessing of wisdom. One of the most spectacular sights at the lake is by night for the deepdan (offering of lamps) to the lake, when hundreds and thousands of tiny earthen lamps are floated out onto the dark waters creating a breathtaking view.

There are two legends concerning the founding of Pushkar as a Holy lake and the first one is that Lord Brahma set out on a quest for a tranquil spot to perform a yagna or ceremonial sacrifice, when a lotus fell from his hand. A lake sprang forth from the ground at the spot where the lotus fell. The second legend also links Pushkar to Brahma, but in a slightly different manner. A demon Vajra Nabh had become quite a nuisance for the people on Earth, and the Creator of the Universe Brahma decided to put an end to him. Brahma floated down to terra firma on his lotus and slew Vajra Nabh with a lotus blossom. The petals landed on the ground and three beautiful lakes gushed out of the ground. Brahma then performed a yagna attended by all the gods and goddesses. However, there's a catch to this story. Brahma's wife Saraswati was busy elsewhere and couldn't make it to the yagna. Now since the presence of a wife was crucial for the ceremony, Brahma married a maiden called Gayatri. Saraswati, like most wives, couldn't stomach her husband being stolen by someone else and promptly flew into a rage, cursing Brahma that he would never be worshipped at any other place other than at Pushkar. As the curse took effect the moment it was uttered and couldn't be revoked, the Brahma temple in Pushkar is the only one in the world where Brahma is worshipped, although His statues do exist in various parts of India. Whichever one is correct, the blessings from the lake are that the man who bathes in the Shukla Paksha of Karitha month and has the Darshan of varah will not take rebirth on this earth and enjoy the bliss of heaven. Also, The people who have a holy dip at the lake on karitha Purinama, gain the fruit equal to do the Jap and Tap for one hundred years!!
The Pushkar Cattle Fair is a massive cattle fair occurring each October and November around the lake, which is also famous for its crocodiles something to think about if you want to go for a Holy dip! A full moon means its time to take a holy dip in the lake in places where the crocodiles aren't around. The Pushkar Fair attracts around 200,000 people with 50,000 camels and cattle accompanying them from all over the country, who come to trade and watch cart and camel races, polo games and all the trappings of a fair. For livestock traders, this is a pretty serious affair, and many travel hundreds of kilometers with the sole intention of getting a good price for their cattle.. The `loading of the camel is a very popular event in which a camel is made to sit down while as many riders as is possible plus a few more happily climb onto the poor animal and go for a ride. When the fair draws to a close and everyone leaves, a strange wailing sound fills the orange evening as camel mothers are separated from their young ones who have been sold off and leave in different directions.