Pushkar Lake or Pushkar Sarovar is located in the town of Pushkar in Ajmer district of the Rajasthan state of western India. Pushkar Lake is a sacred lake of the Hindus. The Hindu scriptures describe as it as "Tirtha-Raj" – the king of pilgrimage sites related to a water-body and relate it to the mythology of the creator-god Brahma, whose most prominent temple stands in Pushkar. The Pushkar Lake finds mention on coins as early as the 4th century BC. Pushkar Lake is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake), where pilgrims throng in large numbers to take a sacred bath, especially around Kartik Poornima (October–November) when the Pushkar Fair is held.
A dip in the sacred lake is believed to cleanse sins and cure skin diseases. Over 500 Hindu temples are situated around the lake precincts. Tourism and deforestation in the surroundings have taken a heavy toll on the lake, adversely affecting its water quality, reducing the water levels and destroying the fish population. As part of conservation measures, the government is undertaking de-silting, de-weeding, water treatment, and afforestation as well as mass awareness programme.
Flora And Fauna:
Pushkar Lake, when full, is rich in fish and other aquatic life. Since the region where the lake and its valley is situated is arid, the flora and fauna recorded relate to desert plants, including cactus and thorny bushes, as well as desert animals like camels and cattle. Man-eating crocodiles used to be a menace in the Puskhar Lake, resulting in the deaths of people. Pilgrims were aware of this fact, yet many considered it as lucky to be eaten by crocodiles. The crocodiles were caught with nets by the British and shifted to a nearby reservoir.
Pushkar city, Pushkar city, with a population of 14,791 as of the 2001 census, is one of the oldest cities in India. The city lies on the shore of Pushkar Lake. The date of its actual origin is not known, but legend associates Brahma with its creation concurrent with the lake; Brahma is said to have performed penance here for a darshan (sight) of god Vishnu. Thus, its uniqueness lies in the fact of its historic-religious-cultural background, and as a result it attracts approximately 100,000 visitors every month, apart from the very large congregation that occurs during the annual Pushkar Fair. However, the Pushkar Lake is central to its sustenance as a religious centre. The tourist arrivals during 2005 were reported to be about 16.12 million (said to be the maximum among all tourist attractions in Rajasthan), out of which the foreign tourists were about 63,000.
Apart from the sacred Lake, Pushkar is said to have over 500 temples (80 are large and the rest are small); of these many old temples were destroyed or desecrated by Muslim depredations during Aurangzeb's rule (1658–1707) but were re-built subsequently. The most important of these is the Brahma Temple. Though the current structure dates to the 14th century, the original temple is believed to be 2000 years old. Although now the Pushkar temple does not remain the only Brahma temple, it is still one of very few existing temples dedicated to Brahma in India as well as the most prominent. Hindu pilgrims, including holy men and sages visit this temple after taking a ceremonial sacred bath in the Pushkar Lake.
Ghats (stone steps laid on a gradual bank slope to descend to the lake edge) at Pushkar are integral to the lake. Ghats are also used for sacred bathing and rites, such as ancestor worship. Out of 52 ghats used by pilgrims to take a holy bath in the lake, ten important ghats on the periphery of the lake, which have other contiguous ghats adjoining them, have also been declared as 'Monuments of National Importance'. These ghats are: the Varaha Ghat, the Dadhich Ghat, Saptarishi Ghats, Gwalior Ghat, Kota Ghat, Gau ghat, Yag Ghat, Jaipur Ghat, Karni Ghat and Gangaur Ghat.
Pushkar Lake and its precincts become very heavily populated during the annual Pushkar Fair or Pushkar mela, which has both a religious as well as an economic aspect. During the fair, a very large gathering of pilgrims takes a holy dip in the lake and the camel fair is an adjunct celebration. The Pushkar fair is also Asia's largest camel fair. The colourful and lively Camel Fair reportedly attracts 2 lakh people and 50,000 camels. In this fair held on the banks of the lake, camels are very colourfully decorated and paraded in the sand dunes on the southern part of the lake. Tribes from several neighbouring villages are seen in their traditional colourful costumes.