Throughout history, Pushkar has been known as a pilgrimage for some and a hermitage for others. According to folklore, Pushkar stands for the Lotus flower which is said to be the seat of the Creator of the Universe, Lord Brahma, one of the holy trinity in the Hindu culture.
The whole town of Pushkar is settled around the holy Pushkar Lake where the society, economy and tourism thrive. Revered by Hindus as one of the “Tirth — Yatra” destination, Pushkar attracts a lot of domestic as well as international tourists and pilgrims. The sacred Sanskrit epic, Mahabharat suggests that in order to complete Hindu pilgrimage’s cycle in the Indian subcontinent, one must tour the entire country. The pilgrim sets Pushkar as the starting point for the same and ends in Prayag, Allahabad, in a clockwise direction. Having said that, the importance of Pushkar needs no further intervention.
There are five main temples in the city. All of these temples have undergone major reconstruction as the earlier buildings were demolished by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century. Apart from these, there are a number of other temples in Pushkar as well.
The Brahma Temple
The Brahma Temple is the focal point for pilgrims and tourists alike. One of the very few temples dedicated to Lord Brahma in the world, this one in Pushkar is at the epicentre of all of the temples! Throughout Pushkar, one can hear and imbibe the daily aartis conducted in the temple. The temple can be identified by the red spire and the image of the swan. The temple is constructed with marble and has a silver turtle on the floor. The sanctum sanctorum houses a four-faced or Chaturmukhi idol of Brahma.
The Savitri Temple
The Savitri Temple is situated on the Ratnagiri hills which is believed to be the abode of Goddess Savitri. According to the Indian mythology, Brahma performed yajna which Goddess Savitri was unable to attend on time. The ritual was attended by Gayatri who later became the second wife of Brahma. Upon this, Goddess Savitri felt annoyed and went atop the Ratnagiri hill. To please her, Brahma made an agreement that she will be worshipped first and then Gayatri will be worshipped which is continued till date. The Savitri Temple is the second most important temple in Pushkar. To reach the top, you need to cover 1.5km in around 650 steps. The view, however, makes up for the effort you put in. And the cool weather of December makes this ascent easy. The temple offers breath-taking views during sunrise.
The Rangnath Temple
The Rangnath Temple is the largest and one of the most imposing of the modern temples. It is also a symbol of the inclusiveness of Pushkar and The Sacred Festival. The Rangnath Temple constructed in the South Indian style is located at the entrance to Pushkar. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The holy rituals at the temple are performed by the Iyengars from Tamil Nadu.
The Varaha Temple
The Varaha Temple is the oldest temple in Pushkar and it is dedicated to Lord Vishnu’s third reincarnation, the Varaha or the Boar. According to the Hindu mythology, the Varaha incarnation of Lord Vishu rescued earth from the primeval waters where it was dragged by the Demon Hirnayaksh. The temple was demolished by the Ghaznavid army in 1123 and then by Aurangzeb. The early records about the temple state it to be 150 ft high and carved with master specimens. Even today after three centuries, despite being in a ramshackle condition, the temple oozes an impressive persona due to its age and holy importance.
The Atmeshwar Temple
The Atmeshwar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the principal Hindu deities. Shiva is worshipped as the destroyer and restorer of the world. The temple is beautifully sculptured and offers vivid photographic opportunities.
The Devi Shakti Peeth — The Chamunda Devi Temple
According to the Bhagwat Puran, the Chamunda Devi Temple is considered as the 27th Shakti Peeth. The Shakti Peeths are places of worship which are consecrated to Goddess Sati or Shakti, the female principle deity. According to the Hindu religion, the Shakti Peeths are the places where the various body parts of Sati fell after she sacrificed herself at a yajna performed by her father King Daksha. Temples were erected at the places where the body parts fell to commemorate different manifestations of the Goddess. At the Chamunda Devi in Pushkar, the wrists of Goddess Sati fell. The temple is considered ideal for Gayatri Sadhna.
For those of you who are looking forward to exploring the sanctity of Pushakar’s temples, the ideal point to start is the Brahma temple. Not far from this, is the Mahadeva temple which is followed by the Varaha temple, just a few blocks away. Other temples such as the Atmeshwar, Apteshwar are all in the vicinity and can be accessed via walking or guided tours. The one temple which needs that little bit extra is the Savitri Devi temple which is situated on a hill top. You can opt to either access it at the beginning of your trip or in the end.
The sanctity of Pushkar is brought to life with Teamwork Arts’ festival “The Sacred”. The festival intertwines a unique blend of yoga, music and meditation to celebrate the revered charm of Pushkar. The festival draws active participation from the visitors and offers memorable and unique activities to highlight the divine character of Pushkar.
– Shaambhavi Pathak