Built on the shores of a holy lake which, legend tells, was formed by a lotus leaf dropped to earth by Lord Brahma, Pushkar cultivates a delightful air of the mystical. As a popular Hindu place of pilgrimage it boasts over 400 temples and huge ghats on the lake for ritual bathing. In October/November the camels come to town for the world’s largest camel market - with over 150,000 traders plus camels it’s a one-of-a-kind encounter!
There are 52 bathing ghats (stone steps into the water) surrounding Pushkar Lake, used by Hindu pilgrims who come to bathe in the sacred waters. There are some ghats that are particularly important: Varah ghat, where Vishnu appeared in boar form, Brahma ghat, where Brahman bathed, and Gandhi Ghat, where Gandhi’s ashes were submerged; but bathing from any means that your sins are cleansed. Join pilgrims in performing a parikrama (circumambulation) of the lake and visit Varah ghat for the evening prayers, a beautiful display of lamps and bells.
Pushkar has over 500 temples. Many of them do not allow non-Hindus to enter but there are plenty that do. The most important is the Brahma temple, one of very few in the world dedicated to him – the current structure is from the 14th century but it is believed that the original was built 2000 years ago. Listen out for the daily chanting ceremonies. Within Pushkar you will also find two temples dedicated to Brahma’s consorts – Gayitri and Savitri. Savitri’s is perched on a hill top on the edge of town and takes an hour to walk up to. The views from here are excellent, looking down over Pushkar and the surrounding desert.
Thousands and thousands of camels, horses and camels start to roll into town about a week before the festival proper – five days of frivolity ensue concluding on the full moon of the Hindu lunar month of Kartika (25 Nov 2015, 14 Nov 2016, 3 Nov 2017). These days the majority of the trading is done before the fair officially starts so that the five days can be dedicated to festivities that include moustache competitions, camel races and dance competitions and a fun fair.
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The world’s largest and most populous continent, Asia is a vibrant and rambunctious fusion of ethnicities, cultures and customs; an incomparably rich and turbulent history showcased by mindboggling feats of architecture and engineering; a geography that encompasses towering peaks, unfathomable gorges and paradisiacal beaches; and a biodiversity that is so abundant that you’ll be reaching for your wildlife guide.