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Pushkar is a small Indian town in the Ajmer district of the state of Rajasthan. This small piece of land is famous for quite a few things associated with it, most notable being the religious associations with the place and of course, the first thing that springs to mind when Pushkar is mentioned: the largest cattle fair in world.Pushkar has significant history and is the centre of many religious myths and legends. This small town is regularly frequented by worshippers, devotees and tourists from all over the world. Visitors flock in large numbers especially during the world famous camel fair; a vibrant cornucopia of animals, handicrafts, and folk traditions. This glorious festival lasts for five days and it provides tourists and local visitors a rare opportunity to witness the traditional customs of the desert come alive in the form of unique competitions, music and dance programs and of course the buying and selling of livestock; particularly camels.

History

Pushkar, Rajasthan is said to be an ancient city with lots of religious myths explaining its origin. It is said that Brahma himself laid the foundation for the city when he dropped the leaf of a lotus flower onto earth. The legend goes that Brahma on finding that the demon Vajranash was killing people in the place Lord Brahma had chosen for his Mahayagna, recited a mantra on a lotus flower to kill the demon. It is believed that three leaves from this lotus flower fell on three places which would later become Jyaistha, Madhya and KanisthaPushkar

Tales from the Mahabharata also speak of Pushkar’s importance. A programme laid down for Maharaja Yudhishthara’s travel read that the king would bathe in Pushkara after crossing the jungles of Sind and the small rivers on the way. Another mention of Pushkar is in the VamanPurana, when Prahlada visited Pushkaryana during his pilgrimage to holy places.

Many of Pushkar’s old temples were destroyed during raids by Muslim conquests, but some have been restored. The Brahma temple built during the 14thcentury CE is one of the few Brahma temples in the world.

Pushkar Lake

One of the most popular attractions in Pushkar is the Pushkar Lake. It is said to have been formed by the tears of Lord Shiva crying after the death of his dearly departed wife Sati. The lake is located near the Katas Raj temple near the ChoaSaidan Shah in Chakwal district of Pakistan. Nahadarava, a GurjaraPratihara ruler from Mandore had an embankment built on the side of the river Luni thereby restoring the lake and built twelve dharamshalas and ghats that surround three sides of the lake.

It is believed that the lake is one of the five holy Dhams, which are sacred pilgrimage sites for Hindu devotees; and a pilgrimage to all the four Dhams is incomplete without a dip in the holy lake in Pushkar, especially at the time of KartikPoornima, when the famed Camel Fair takes place.

Pushkar Fair

The five day spectacle of merry making by the local villagers is also one of the busiest times in the year for them The Pushkar festival is held annually during November and an estimated 50,000 camels are brought in from all over the country to be sold or exchanged. The fair also boasts of stalls that are set up selling fine accessories and jewellery for decorating and esthetically modifying the camels. The camels are washed, cleaned and shorn to form interesting patterns and are decorated with great care and interest. The camels strut around in silver and bead jewelry, bells, bangles and piercings; the whole shebang. The main attractions include various events like:

  • Camel and horse races
  • MatkaPhod competition
  • Longest moustache competition
  • Bridal competition
  • Exhibition cricket match between a randomly selected group of foreign tourists and the local Pushkar club

The fair is held on the banks of the Pushkar Lake where shepherds buy and sell their livestock and women folk busy themselves among the shiny stalls selling necklaces, anklets, bracelets, fabrics and glittery assortments. The Pushkar fair is inaugurated with a customary camel race following which songs, dances and exhibitions are conducted. An interesting event that is awaited by many is the demonstration by men on groups of camels to test how the camel is able to fetch items.

The Pushkar camel festival is held from Kartikekadashi to KartikPoornima, the full moon day of Kartik in the Hindu calendar which usually falls during the months of October-November. The full moon day is an auspicious day on which the Lord Brahma is said to have created the Pushkar lake, and people after visiting the four Dhams, bathe in the lake to achieve salvation from their sins.

The Pushkar fair in India in 2017 is expected to be held between November 8 - November 15 this year and once the winter winds blow over the golden sand dunes of Pushkar, the glorious festival will once again capture visitor’s hearts with its heartwarming colors, bedecked camels showing off, vibrantly dressed men and women participating in traditional folk dances and entertaining competitions.

Pushkar Camel Safari

Another great activity for tourists to enjoy is a camel safari which lets them explore the raw, unaltered beauty of the Great Thar Desert using camels. The Aravalli Range is the prize attraction of this safari, as it is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world and boasts of stunning sand dunes, beautiful sandy fields, spectacular sunrises and even more delightful sunsets. It is a real treat for visitors to enjoy the desert riding camels in a way that allows them to peak into the mystique and allure of the desert in the old days.

Other Attractions

Pushkar is very near to some popular tourist spots like Bhandarej, Bhangarh and Fort Madhopur. The closest city of interest to Pushkar is the mystical Ajmer; home to the shrine of Sufi Saint KhwajaMoinuddin Chishti. Ajmer is also associated with fascinating historical events and has remained the base for people visiting Pushkar.

So if you’re looking for an entirely different experience, one that will captivate your heart and capture your soul with its uniqueness and awe-striking natural beauty, take a trip to Pushkar. You will not be disappointed.

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