Rajasthan: Places to Explore

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Pushkar

With more than 500 temples, Pushkar is one of Hinduism's holiest sites and an interesting place to visit even when the famous camel fair (in October or November) isn't being held. In its narrow car-free main bazaar, sadhus, tribals, hippies, and five-legged cattle (such birth deformities are considered lucky) vie for space with shops selling everything from religious paraphernalia to water bongs. Although goods from all over Rajasthan find their way to the bazaar, because Pushkar is such a holy city, no alcohol or meat can be sold here—some restaurants get around the alcohol restriction by serving beer in coffee mugs to their regular customers, but by no means should you count on being able to get anything alcoholic—something to think about if you were planning to spend New Year's here.

Pushkar's religious significance derives from the Vedic text, Padma Purana, which describes how the town was created. Lord Brahma, Creator of the Universe, was looking for a place to perform the yajna—a holy ritual that involves placing offerings into a sacrificial fire for Agni, the fire god—that would signify the beginning of the human age. He dropped a lotus from his hand and Pushkar was where it struck the ground.

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