Pushkar Lake, Rajasthan, India

Lake Locations:

India - West - Rajasthan -

Also known as:  Pushkar Sarovar

Pushkar Lake is one of the most sacred lakes in India. Located in the Rajasthan state of western India, Pushkar Lake has been declared a heritage monument by the Indian government and is the site of an annual holy pilgrimage dating back many hundreds of years. Also called Pushkar Sarovar, the origins of the partially-artificial lake are buried within a mythological and religious history. The lake can be dated back to 400 BC, based on evidence supplied in images of the lake on ancient coins. Legend holds that the Creator-God Brahma formed the lake through the act of killing the demon Vajranabha with his lotus-flower weapon. In the process, lotus petals fell to earth in three places, creating springs that began the Pushkar lakes of Jyeshta Pushkar (the main Pushkar Lake, Madya Pushkar and Kanishta Pushkar). Now the lesser Pushkar lakes appear to hold significance to only the most devout, and their location is not shown on most maps.

Pushkar Lake is usually identified as artificial, although it most certainly existed as a spring before a small dam was constructed in the 12th century. The dam is said to have been built across the headwaters of the Luni River, but it appears that it was the tributary Sarsuti which formed the lake. An oasis in the midst of sand dunes and near-desert conditions, Pushkar Lake gains most of its water during the short monsoon season and from ground water percolating through the dunes from upland sources in the surrounding Aravalli range of hills into the Pushkar Valley. Deforestation of the hills has resulted in siltation of the lakebed, much reducing its depth and water-holding capacity. After the 54-acre lake dried up almost completely in the early part of the 21st century, local officials dredged the lake and undertook geologic exploration to find and reopen the ancient water channels to bring in more ground water. After a couple of very dry years, the monsoons have recharged the ground water and the lake is again full, to the relief of the hundreds of thousands of devout worshipers who make the pilgrimage to the lake each year to bathe in its sacred waters.

The town of Pushkar has grown up on the banks of the lake and is nearly as old as the lake itself. Pushkar is a village based on religious pilgrimage and holds nearly 500 temples, including the only Indian temple devoted to the god, Brahma. The lake is surrounded by 52 bathing ghats (a series of steps leading to the lake for ritual bathing), particularly around Kartik Poornima during October and November. The ritual bathing is believed to cleanse sins and cure skin diseases. A series of temples form the entrances to the ghats, where religious protocol is strictly enforced. Some of the restrictions require no shoes to be worn in the temples, no non-vegetarian foods be consumed, and no photographs be taken of the bather-worshipers. Because the famous Pushkar Fair is held in conjunction with Kartik Poornima, Pushkar hosts hordes of visitors from all over the world who come to enjoy the colorful festival dress, the traditional shops, entertainment and food. A huge attraction is the simultaneous Camel Fair, the largest in Asia. Tens of thousands of visitors arrive in Pushkar in any given month, but during the weeks of the Pushkar Fair, visitors often number in the millions.

Ancient Pushkar is filled with historic temples and palaces which are usually open to visitors and gain much of their income from admission price and donations for blessings. Most of the temples are not the originals; most were destroyed during the occupation by Islamic rulers who objected to the likeness of Varaha, the boar incarnation of the god Vishnu. Some of the old temples were said to be over 2000 years old. Nearly all of the temples were rebuilt, starting in the 14th century and rededicated to their original gods after the invaders had gone. Three of the must-visit temples include Jagat Pita Shri Brahma Temple which contains a life-size idol of Lord Brahma; Savitri Temple, dedicated to Savitri, wife of Lord Brahma and housing a statue of the Goddess Savitri; and Varah Temple, dedicated to the boar-god incarnation of Vishnu and the most visited temple in Pushkar.

Visitors to Pushkar Lake can enjoy other fairs that occur throughout the year, such as the Nagaur Fair and the Tejaji Fair. Pushkar is always prepared for visitors and has many types of lodgings that westerners find comfortable. Some of the hotels overlook Pushkar Lake and offer excellent meals. Some guest house arrangements are possible. Others are less accommodating to western tastes and expectations, so reservations should be made through a reputable tourism agent who has experience with the area and its services. Lodgings are also available in the larger town of Ajmer, located less than ten miles away. Pushkar is also the perfect place to arrange for a camel safari into the surrounding dunes. Once visitors experience the vastness and lack of water in the nearby desert, they come to understand why local natives long considered small oasis springs sacred.

Pushkar Lake has suffered in recent history from degradation from several sources. One has been the increased use of irrigation from the water sources that have allowed less water to reach the lake. Another is the failure of inadequate sewer piping for the numerous temple visitors which can be overwhelmed during heavy monsoon rains. Because the lake is important both as a religious Tirtha-Raj (water-body site of religious pilgrimage) and as a source of tourism dollars which support city services, local governments take clean-up efforts seriously. Beginning with the removal of excess silt from the lakebed, continuous efforts are underway to make Pushkar Lake cleaner than it has been in centuries. This assures that not only Indian worshipers will continue to make the pilgrimage to Pushkar Lake, but that foreign visitors will make their own pilgrimage of exploration of Indian culture and religion here. Come and visit ancient Pushkar Lake and immerse yourself in traditional Indian culture, and in Pushkar Lake’s sacred waters.

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Surface Area: 54 acres

Shoreline Length: 1 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,740 feet

Average Depth: 26 feet

Maximum Depth: 33 feet

Water Volume: 531 acre-feet

Drainage Area: 8 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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