I love stories. I loved listening to stories as a kid. When I grew up, fiction figured predominantly in my reading lists. I also love the stories you hear when you visit a place. It adds to the beauty and mystique of that location.
Pushkar in Rajasthan is famous as the sole location for housing a temple to Brahma, the creator in the world. For the unfamiliar, Hindu mythology has considered God to be a trinity :
Generator – Brahma (or the Creator)
Operator – Vishnu (The preserver)
Destroyer – Shiva
Logically, most temples are dedicated to Vishnu or his forms or Shiva, or their consorts. Hence, the sole Brahma temple attracts quite a large crowd. Pushkar is also famous for its camel fair held for five days on Karthik Poornima, usually a few days after Diwali. Ajmer is the closest railway station to Pushkar. Ajmer is also home of the Dargah of Moinuddin Chisthi, an important pilgrimage centre. Apparently, after offering offering prayers to this dargah, ever year for a few years, Emperor Akbar of the Mughal dynasty was blessed with a son. Ajmer also houses a famous Jain temple.
The cities of Ajmer and Pushkar are separated by a small hillock called Nag Pahar, literally meaning Snake hill. And the story behind Nag Pahar is what fascinated me enough to write this blog.
According to legend, a pious and generous cowherd lived in this area many years back. An ardent devotee of Lord Siva, he did penance at the hill and earned the blessings of Lord Siva. In fact, Lord Siva was so pleased, he ended up giving him a heavy gold chain as a reward for his good karma. Pleased with this offering, he celebrated all night. His celebrations however, disturbed the penance of a Naga(Snake) King praying at the bottom of the hill. In fact, he was so angered by his raucous celebrations, that he cursed the cowherd to live for only 12 years. The curse broke the poor cowherd’s bubble, and he crash landed into ground reality. Terribly sorry for his actions, he used the gold from the chain to set up temples around the hill. The gold pieces from the chain are housed within the temple. As per the legend, on a new moon night on a Monday every year, a person who has the blessings of Lord Siva, can see the gold in all these temples for a fraction of a second by looking across the hill.
What is so beautiful about all these tales is the celebration of diversity and a rich heritage. Ajmer houses the famous Dargah and a Jain temple. About half an hour away is Pushkar which has the famous Brahma temple. And separating the two is a hillock which houses several temples in honour of Lord Siva. Hindu, Muslim, Jain – all found space to celebrate their distinct identity within these two small regions of a very vast India.
Have you come across any such interesting travel story ? Please comment below .. would love to hear..