According to the folk story based on ancient Hinduism scriptures, the god Brahma saw a demon named Vajranabha (also known as Vajranash) trying to kill his children and harassing people. Brahma could not stand it so he killed the demon with his weapon, the lotus-flower. In the process three petals from the lotus-flower fell on the ground creating three lakes, there was Jyeshta Pushkar Lake (greatest or first Pushkar Lake not too far away from where I live), the Madya Pushkar Lake (the main Pushkar Lake) and Kanishta Pushkar Lake (lowest and youngest Pushkar Lake of the three.)
When Brahma came down to look at the lakes that were made he decided to name the place Pushkar and perform a Yagna (a fire sacrifice). He made the mountains around Pushkar to protect him while he was making the sacrifice, he name the mountains to the east Suryagiri, to the west Sanchoora, to the south Ratnagiri and to the north Nilgiri. In order to perform the Yagna his wife Savitri (also known as Sarasvati) had to be present, unfortunately Savitri was held up while waiting for her fellow goddesses Lakshmi, Parvati and Indrani.
Savitri was running so late that Brahma was forced to ask god Indra (the king of heaven) for a suitable girl to marry so he could complete the Yagna. Indra found a milkman’s daughter and passed her through a cow to purify her. After her second birth she was named Gayatri, by the gods. Brahma then had to marry her and performed the Yagna with her by his side, holding the pot of amrita (elixir of life) on her head and giving ahuti (offering to the sacrificial fire). When Savitri finally arrived at the venue she found Gayatri sitting in her rightful place. She was so furious that she cursed Brahma to never be praised. Then, out of mercy, she changed the curse that he would only be praised in Pushkar. She also cursed Indra to be easily defeated in battles, Vishnu to suffer losing his wife as a human. The fire-god Agni, who was offered the Yagna, was cursed to be all-devouring and the priests overseeing the Yagna, to be poor.
However since Gayatri performed the Yagna she was more powerful, so she softened all the curses. She blessed Pushkar to be the king of pilgrimages; Indra would always keep his heaven; Vishnu would be born as the human Rama and finally come together with his wife and the priests would become the highest cast and be looked up to. Therefore, the Pushkar temple is regarded to be the only temple dedicated to Brahma. Savitri then merged with the Ratnagiri Mountain as a stream; this stream is called Savitri Jharna and a temple now stands on Ratnagiri Mountain in her honor.
The Brahma temple was destroyed by Muslim Moguls’ during the rule of Aurangzeb (1658–1707); and then was rebuilt in the fourteenth century. Although, the Hindus believe the original structure dates back two thousand years. The temple is described to have been built by sage Vishwamitra after Brahma’s Yagna. It is also believed that Brahma himself chose the location for his temple. The Hindu philosopher Adi Shankara renovated this temple in the 8th century. Maharaja Jawat Raj of Ratlam, renovated the structure that now stands, whilst the interior design was kept the same. Pushkar is put down in the ancient scriptures to have the only Brahman temple in the world! 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 Hindus, in India.
Every year thousands of pilgrims come to take a holy bath in the Pushkar Lake. About four or five years ago I saw Pushkar Lake at its worst; the water was full of dead fish because the water level was too low, due to a built up of sediment over the years. The Indian government then provided the resources to drain the lake and dig up the sand so that there would be enough space for the water to come in.
Pilgrims come to Pushkar to bathe in the holy waters, followed by a Phooja at the Brahma Temple, and a little hike up the mountain to Gayatri Temple. The temple is open for worship between 6:30 am and 8:30 pm during winter and 6:00 am to 9:00 pm during summer, with an interval in afternoon between 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm when the temple is closed. Three Artis (offering ceremony) are held in the temple: Sandhya arati in the evening about 40 minutes after sunset, Ratri Shayan arati (night-sleep arati) about 5 hours past sunset and Mangala arati in the morning, about 2 hours before sunrise.
There is an inner and outer sanctum at the temple, and married men are not allowed in the inner space. Only Brahmin priests are allowed to perform the Phooja to Brahma. Offerings that are given by pilgrims are given in the outer sanctum.
Once a year, on Kartik Poornima, the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik (October – November), a religious festival is held in Brahma’s honor. Thousands of pilgrims come to bathe in the holy Pushkar Lake. Various ceremonies are also held at the temple during the fair. The day also marks the famous Pushkar Camel Fair. Special ceremonies are performed on all poornimas (full moon days) and amavasyas (new moon days).
There are lots of things to do in Pushkar including bathing in the lake, climbing or taking a cable cart up Savitri Mountain to make a puja at Savitri Temple and climb to the top of Gayatri Mountain where a temple exists here in Gayaties honor. In November 2016, I attended the camel fair. There were thousands of camels and horses, a fun fair with scary rides, musicians, a big market and hot air balloon rides. Pushkar is amazing and I love it. That is my story of Pushkar!