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Pushkar is a town bordering the Thar Desert, in the northeastern Indian state of Rajasthan. It’s set on Pushkar Lake, a sacred Hindu site with 52 ghats (stone staircases) where pilgrims bathe. The town has hundreds of temples, including 14th-century Jagatpita Brahma Mandir, dedicated to the god of creation, which has a distinctive red spire and walls inlaid with pilgrims’ silver coins.

Festivals and landmarks

Pushkar Fair

Pushkar fair continues for five days and these five days are a period of relaxation and merry-making for the villagers. This fair time is the busiest time for them, as this is one of the largest cattle fairs in the country. Animals, including over 50,000 camels, are brought from distant places around to be traded and sold. All the camels are washed and adorned, some are shorn to form artistic patterns. Some camels, horses, and cows are colorfully decorated.
In addition to the animal trading market, Pushkar in parallel holds a festival of folk music and dances, ferris wheels, magic shows, horse and camel races and various other traditional sports and team entertainment competitions. While the Pushkar fair is held around the Kartik Purnima that typically overlaps between late October and early November, other seasons feature other sports and festivals for pilgrims who visit the sacred lake.

Sikh Gurdwaras

Pushkar is a sacred pilgrimage site for the Sikhs as well, according to Gurmukh Singh, with Gurdwaras dedicated to Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. These have historic roots, with the Guru Nanak Gurdwara in the eastern part of the town called Guru Nanak Dharamsala, a name common for Sikh shrines before the 20th-century. The Sikh Dharamshala is a two-storeyed building consisting of a central room, surrounded by a verandah.
The second Sikh temple is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh marking his visit after he had been forced out of Anandpur by Aurangzeb. The place he stayed in and the lakefront next to it is now called the Gobind Ghat. It has a memorial inscription and this shrine was built with the sponsorship of the Maratha Empire, after the widespread Hindu-Muslim wars in the final decades of Aurangzeb rule and the collapse of the Mughal Empire. The shrine has an old hand written copy of the Sikh scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib and a hukumnama believed by Sikhs to have been written by Guru Gobind Singh. Both these have been preserved by a Pushkar Brahmin priest, a descendant of the priest whom the Guru met. Thehukumnama is on a bhoj patra, a method of recording letters in the 18th century.

Pushkar Holi

Holi takes place in March and it is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. It represents the triumph of good over evil and the coming of springtime. Holi celebrations happen all over India and involve huge jubilant street parties. During Holi, Bhang (ancient Indian cannabis edible) is served in Pushkar, which is known to have some of the best Bhang in India.

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