The Brahma Temple in Pushkar is one of the very few temples in India dedicated to Brahma, the god of creation. Of all of the major Hindu deities, Brahma is arguably the most underrepresented. Because of this scarcity of places of worship, virtually any temple to Brahma is considered an important one, and this is arguably the most important center for his worship on the Subcontinent (devotees of Brahma consider it amng the five most important temples in India). Historically it is also one of the most important temples in Rajasthan.
The city of Pushkar is closely identified with some of Hinduism’s most ancient legends, and with the origin stories of some of its most important deities. The earliest stories tell of how Brahma slew a powerful demon here, and how Brahm’as lotus flower fell here in several pieces, forming the city’s lake. He subsequently decided to sanctify the lakes, summoning many other deities to assist him and protect the ceremony from the revenge of other demons.
The story goes on to tell of how Brahma’s wife Savitri was late to the ceremony, so he took another wife, Gayatri. Savitri’s late arrival resulted in quite a divine ruckus, with several of the deities hurling curses at one another. In the end, most of the curses canceled each other out, but Brahma suffered for his impatience. He was cursed so that he would only be worshipped in Pushkar.
Although Brahma is honored in other places, there is no doubt that Pushkar is his most important holy site, and the only place in the world where a major temple is dedicated to him. Apparently the tradition of the curse on Brahma has been strong enough to prevent (either by fear or by tradition) additional temples from being built.
The original temple was believed to have been built here over two thousand years ago. At least two other temples were constructed later during the Middle Ages, including one renovation by the reknowned Hindu teacher Adi Shankara. The temple was later sacked on several occasions by Muslim invaders. The current structure dates from the 14th century. It continues to remain, as it always has, the most important temple to Brahma in the world.
The Brahma Temple is large, but not one of the immense shrines that one might expect to find here considering the temple’s importance and rarity. Built of whitewashed brick and marble, architecturally it looks almost more like a mosque from the exterior than a Hindu Temple. The main Persianesque entranceway, crowned with a balcony, seems like it would be more at home in Iran. The building is also crowded in from all sides by the surrounding city (it is perhaps more impressive looking when viewed from across the lake).
The temple interior is more what visitors expect, and is crowded with statues and carvings of idols. The main one, of course, is Brahma, but there are also shrines to his wives as well as other deities. One interesting item of note concerning the décor is the extensive use of silver. Many pilgrims who come here leave silver cions imbedded in the walls inscribed with their names in order to have their prayers answered or otherwise have good fortune.
The Brahma Temple stands to the west of Pushkar Lake on the southwest side of the city, approximately 200 miles southwest of New Delhi. The temple is open every day from 6:30am to 8:30pm (longer hours in summer; daily break from 1:30pm to 3:00pm). There is no cost of admission. Some parts of the temple may be off limits to certain people at certain times. Web: N/A.
The small city of Pushkar is packed to the brim with over five hundred temples and a number of major ghats along the lake. However, the two most important after the Brahma Temple can be found on a pair of hills that stand opposite each other across the lake, and which are dedicated to Brahma’s two wives: the Savitri Temple and the Gayatri Temple.