Twelve kilometers from the historical city of Ajmer, Rajasthan lies the holy Hindu lake of Pushkar.  According to legend, the Hindu creator god, Brahma, came down from the heavens to perform a yagna by the lake he’d created.  However, he could not complete the yagna without the presence of his wife, Sarasvati, and consequently Brahma chose the next-best option of getting another wife, Gayatri.  When an enraged Sarasvati found out, she placed a cursed on Brahma which stipulated that he could only be worshiped in Pushkar.  Hence, the only major temple devoted to Brahma in the world is situated in Pushkar and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock to Pushkar to worship their cursed creator.

The modern Pushkar is now a holy tourist area.  Being a holy lake, there is no meat and not a drop of alcohol to be found anywhere in Pushkar (although smoking seems to lack the sacrilegious edge and thus not banned).  Pushkar is not only popular with internal tourists on pilgrimage but also with international tourists.  To take advantage of the economic advantage of being in the tourist map, Pushkar has certainly adapted as many hotels, restaurants (many with disastrously Indianised western food as I came to discover) and souvenir stores have mushroomed throughout the periphery of the lake.  Although India is an intimidatingly large country, Pushkar is comfortably small.  All major sites can be comfortably reached on foot and one does not to depend on tempos and taxis as they are an unnecessary luxury.

The holy lake, whose peculiar green color seems to indicate that it is a victim of significant pollution that comes along with urbanization and tourist trade, is surrounded by 52 historical ghats (steps leading to the lake).  Each ghat is dedicated to the historical kingdom that built it (Jaipur, Kot, Gurjar etc) or even people like Mahatma Gandhi or Queen Elizabeth II.   The Hindu tradition that lies at the heart of the pilgrimage involves parikrama  (walking around the lake or any other holy Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Sikh place in a clockwise direction), bathing in the lake and pooja.

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