In the desert state of Rajasthan, Pushkar grows more roses every year than any other part of India! That might come as a surprise to many. Because, the importance of the only Brahma Temple in the world and the world’s largest camel fair which is held in Pushkar every year, overshadow this little known fact.
The varieties of roses grown in Pushkar are not cultivars meant for exhibitions and competitions. These are desi or local varieties and are not varieties of any consequence if these are to be classified. All these roses are of either red or pink colour.
Beni Gopal Mantri of Natraj Gulkand says that rose is a 10-months-in-a-year occupation for rose growers of Pushkar. Rose blooms hit a lean period between mid-January and mid-March every year when they are few and far between. But, in the month that follows, from mid-March to mid-April, the blooms are so numerous that it almost exceeds the total blooms during the rest of the year.
Since roses are too delicate to pack, handle and transport and since its durability is also far too less as compared to other flowers used for decorative purposes such as orchids, anthuriams and birds of paradise, fresh roses are not sent to far off places. For this reason, the destination of fresh roses exported within and outside the country cannot be more than 24 hours away.
Maximum export of roses from Pushkar to other Indian states and abroad is in the form of dried flowers or petals. Surat and Kandwa are major buyers of dried rose petals from Pushkar. Roses are packed in baskets or in sack cloth when they are exported.
A number of derivatives can be extracted roses. These include gulkand which is used for soothing the throat and is also used as an ingredient for preparation of sweet betel or meetha paan.
Washing the eyes with rose water relieves burning sensation and improves the eyesight. It can also be used as a deodorant or a mild room freshener.
Fresh flowers are used for making garlands, bouquets or used as a decorative item in flower vases. Dried roses and rose petals are used for preparing sweetmeats. Roses and their extracts are used in preparation of perfumes and Ayurvedic medicinal preparations. These extracts are also used for making incense sticks.
Sharbet is also prepared from roses. Rose oil is used for aromatherapy and Ayurvedic massages.
Several brands of rose products are produced in Pushkar. Prominent among them are Natraj and Ajmera.
“It is difficult to quantify the production of roses in Pushkar as there are many small growers in this business. On a rough estimate, the annual production of roses in Pushkar would be in the range of 10,00,000 kilograms,” says Mantri.