Antiquity of Pushkar

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]ushkar is one of the oldest places in India. Its antiquity has not yet been properly investigated. It is difficult to say with any certainty when Pushkar came into existence. However in this article it has been tried, on the basis of available record to find out how old is legacy of Pushkar.

The antiquity of the region of Pushkar and its environs goes back to several millennial. Archaeological evidence shows that habitation in Pushkar is much older than Ajmer. Evidence to existence of habitation in Pushkar valley has been found of the upper Paleolithic (circa 20000 BC and later) and Mesolithic culture (8000-2000 BC). Pottery of Chalcolithic period (1st Millennium BC) has been discovered at several of these sites. One particular site has yielded a copper fish hook. A faceted pillar like stone has been excavated at Badli near Vijaynagar, Ajmer, and the find belongs to the 2nd century BC. It may be a pillar fragment, like the pillar of the near contemporary Mauryan emperor, Ashoka (273 – 232 BC). Probably the inscription is in Saurashtri from Prakrit language. The pillar along with the Pushkar inscription of Durgaraja from 925 AD is lying in the government museum of Ajmer housed in Akbar’s Daulat Khana fort Place. The famous Harsa templeis is inscription of 973 AD. In shekhawati (jaipur state), mention by the grant by chauhan King Sinharaja of four villages to the temple of Harsanath after a bath in Pushkar. Similarly one unique, amazing and one of the earliest shivalingas is found in the vicinity of Pushkar. The linga is as tall as human being; it has image of Krishana, Balrama, Devi, and Surya. This linga is contemporary with Lakulisha (Cira 200 AD) who is considered as for runner of present day Gorakhnathis.

The Literary and historical evidence further reveals; The Ramayana mentions that the sage Vishvamitra performed tapa (penance) at Pushkar (Sarga 62, Slloka 28). It refers again to Pushkar saying that the celestial enchantress, Menka comes to bath in its waters (Sarga 63, sholka 15). In the Mahabharata, Pushkar is not only taken as starting point for grand pilgrimage of the entire country, but it merit is again repeated at the end of dialogue on pilgrimage, where the 88 tirthas end with Prayag. It advises Yudhistra to bath in pushakar after entering in the jungles of sindh and crossing the small river. The earliest punch marked coin, anterior to the 4th century BC; have been found in Pushkar’s environs, along with Bactrian, Greek, Kshaptrapa, Gupta Mughal coin. Stone inscription dated to 2nd century BC from the Sanchi Stupa near Bhopal mention charitable donation made by Buddhist monks or bhikshuk Arhandia, Nagarakshita, Arya, buddharakshita, Himgiri, pusak and Isidata, all inhabitants of Pushkar. This evidence is sufficient to consider Pushkar as an important centre through ages.

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