Dry-Cleaning the Pushkar lake

– Kriti Gupta

The once magnificent Pushkar Lake has dried up.

The Pushkar Lake is said to have appeared when Brahma dropped a lotus in the middle of the Thar Desert. His blessing on the land caused the Lake to form. This Lake is a place of pilgrimage for Hindus. It is said that a dip in the Lake cleanses human beings of sin and disease.


The dried up Pushkar Lake

The Pushkar mela of India is one of the largest fairs in the entire country. Over four lakh people visit this holy town every year during the fair. Held in the Indian month of Kartik, it spans a week, culminating on the day of the full moon. For centuries, people have visited this place in order to take a holy dip.

Unfortunately, this is not possible anymore. Even more unfortunate is the fact that the cause of the Lake drying up is man-made. The Indian government, in an effort to clean the Lake, has cleaned it dry.

The panorama of the Lake is now a dismal empty, dried up field. Visiting tourist Rajati Bakshi says, “I can imagine that it must have been pretty. But the state of the Lake right now is rather tragic.” The Lake was supplemented by ground water as well as surface water. There was a ban on extraction of ground water around the Lake area. Despite this, the extraction continued, thereby leaving the Lake to rely solely on monsoons. Rains have been scanty this year and that did not help the cause of the drying Pushkar Lake.

Then the government handed the project to the Urban Improvement Trust of Ajmer. The trust appointed Water and Power Consultancy Services of India (WAPCOS) to carry out the operations. WAPCOS decided to desilt the Lake by digging its bed despite warnings by experts that this may be dangerous. R.K. Nahar, a scientist with the state groundwater department said, “Desilting the Lake may lead to increased water seepage into the ground.” And this is exactly what happened.

Moreover, the state government had constructed twelve tube wells in the area to replenish the water of the Lake. Of these only 2 were functional. So certain areas of the Lake receive water while the others have completely dried up. Pandit Randhey Lal, a saint at the Brahma temple says, “This is kalyug (the age of degeneration). Because the people are evil, the gods have willed the Lake to dry. Whatever the reason might be…it is a sign.” This statement shows just how strong and deep rooted the traditional beliefs of people in Pushkar are.

Despite everything, Pushkar mela still saw a large footfall. People came to take the holy dip in small tanks that contain preserved water from the Lakes. Along the tubs, rows of families sit by praying, having fun and enjoying the blessings of god Brahma. Another sage, Pandey ji, wishes that next year’s rainfall replenishes the Lake and restores its original glory. That might happen if the government decides to not interfere with the water in Pushkar.

Till then, the religious and the tourists will have to contend with an empty landscape and the possibility of kalyug.


~ by kritigupta on November 6, 2009.

3 Responses to “Dry-Cleaning the Pushkar lake”

  1. thanks kriti. its a very tragic story. i wish they do something concrete to restore water levels.

  2. It’s sad to see any lake all dried up like this, let alone the Pushkar Lake.

  3. This is interesting, in a country where fanatic mobs kill each other on the question of building temples and mosques…no one seem to have an issue when a natural water reservoir is almost drying..and whats ridiculous is that blame kalyug and evil souls for it

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