3 MUST SEE POINTS OF INTEREST IN PUSHKAR FAIR: SOLO BUDGET TRIP IN RAJASTHAN, INCREDIBLE INDIA!
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. Check out all my blogs in the series which apart from many interesting aspects of Pushkar fair, lists down information like – Best time to go to Pushkar, Best things to eat in Pushkar Fair, How to reach Pushkar Fair, Offbeat things to do in Pushkar etc. This blog is about Top 3 points of interest in Pushkar fair. The places mentioned can also be visited even when the Pushkar fair is not going on.
BRAHMA TEMPLE, PUSHKAR
The road leading up to Brahma Temple in Pushkar is crowded and mostly thronged by shoppers. Shops selling handicrafts, spices, religious things, ethnic clothes etc. inundate the streets. Also on sale were the beautiful but incongruous posters of The Pink Floyd, Elvis etc priced obscenely at Rs.5,000/-, Rs.6,000/-. Obviously, it was targeted at the foreigners.
Brahma Temple of Pushkar is much revered amongst the pilgrims and it is of much importance as it is one of the few temples dedicated solely to the Lord Brahma, credited in the Hindu mythology with the creation of the world. The temple is believed to be 2000 years old though the present building dates back to 14th century.
International Business Times has identified Pushkar Lake and the Brahma temple as one of the ten most religious places in the world and one of the five sacred pilgrimage places for the Hindus, in India. Being an atheist and more of a believer of the Big Bang Story, I skipped visiting the temple. The overflowing crowd and a no camera, no bags policy were the other deterrents. But I strongly recommend a visit to this remarkable pilgrim site, important from both historical and mythological perspective. I just saw the outer façade of the temple and rushed to Ajmer for my overnight solo budget trip via bus to Udaipur.
PUSHKAR LAKE AKA PUSHKAR SAROVAR
Absorbed in the festival activities, I had almost forgotten that Pushkar is better known for being a pilgrim site. Being an atheist, I kept postponing exploring this aspect of Pushkar. So on the last day, I knew I had to do it. So I rushed to the famous Pushkar lake aka Pushkar sarovar. It is a very important site for Hindu pilgrims. Pushkar lake may remind you of the ghats of Varanasi. This lake has more than 50 ghats where believers congregate to have a holy dip, in the hope of rinsing themselves of all their sins.
During Pushkar fair,the lake sees maximum influx of people as it is considered auspicious in Hindu mythology to have a holy dip during Karthik Poornima, which generally falls in October-November.
Like Varanasi, the lake is dotted with temples on all the ghats. Pushkar fair falls around the same time when Dev Deepawali in Goa and Varanasi takes place with enthusiasm. It is a lesser known secret of Varanasi where the ghats magically come alive with thousands of lit ‘diyas’ (earthen lamps), chanting of hymns and mantras and a ‘Maha aarti’.
It was disturbing to know that once crocodiles roamed the lake and devoured the pilgrims. Before much damage the British captured them and rehabilitated the crocs. Today the only wildlife you get to see here is fish in the shallow water and a huge number of pigeons. Photography is strictly prohibited here because often some women go topless (mostly older) while bathing here. I got to learn this while I had already taken some pictures. A man with authoritative stance accosted me for using my camera on the ghats. It was only when I expressed ignorance and showed him the pictures I had clicked, was I and my expensive camera spared! Perhaps, since I was traveling solo, I was zeroed in on.
As I exited the Pushkar lake, I came across massage parlors. I remember one dubious looking ‘Chandra Massage’ The kitschy promotional banner outside had a sad looking white pigeon (or was it a duck? Or was it a cross between pigeon and a duck?) spreading its wings wide the way Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan spreads open his arms and claiming “Chandra Massage READY TO FLY ….COME ONCE…..MUST TRY……….” It looked dubious and I had one more opportunity to say, ‘No thanks’ in this city.
OLD RANGJI TEMPLE, PUSHKAR
I quickly moved to the last stop, Old Rangji Temple. Established in 1844, the temple indeed looked ancient. It has a huge campus with a temple in the center. I arrived at around 15:45 hrs. The temple still being closed, I took off my slippers outside the temple and started taking a round of the campus and admiring the temple from the outside. It has some beautiful paintings in the Rajpoot style depicting Lord Krishna, his consorts aka gopis and animal motifs such as peacock, cows, elephants, lions and otherwildlife of India.
Soon the temple opened its gate and I took out my camera and started adjusting the settings. I was still in the campus when a super angry pujari (priest) stood up , pointed fingers at me and screamed at me at the top of his voice, “NO CAMERAS…PUT THE CAMERA INSIDE…NOW!!!!!!!” He was shivering in rage. It was straight out of Indian epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana where holy men give ‘shraaps’ aka curses to the offenders and sinners at their whims and fancy. Upset at the way he shouted at me, and scared if he would turn me into one of the peacocks on the walls, I put my camera in my bag and walked towards the shoe rack. And where the hell are my slippers? Turned out my slippers were literally and unceremoniously thrown out of the temple (in spite of me keeping them at designated place, sigh!). One slipper in the north, the other in the south.
I almost laughed at the way I was humiliated at this ancient temple. Told you God and me were never meant to be on amiable terms. Angry, I left the temple without seeing it from the inside and headed to catch a bus to Ajmer, from where I had a train to Mumbai.
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