Rewalsar – A sacred confluence of multi religions

The lakes, especially in the hills have always grabbed my special attention and it is always my effort and desire to include a lake in the program during my wanderings in the hills. Here unfolds another jewel in the enchanting and mysterious state of Himachal Pradesh.

Rewalsar

It is a small beautiful charming town surrounded by beautiful hills with an amazing lake as its centre of attraction, is a wonderful confluence of three religions Buddhism, Sikhism and Hinduism. Standing at a height of 1350 meter above sea level, this lake is approximately 24 kms (nearly 1 hour drive) away from Mandi and has a good connectivity by local buses.

Since this is one of the very few lakes in Himachal where you do not have to walk a lot to experience the beauty of this place (it is just 2 minute walk from the road head), it proves to be a very good weekend option (from Delhi or nearby areas) for a family outing and especially for the people who get tired very easily walking in the hills. Approaching Mandi from Delhi is very easy, any bus heading towards Manali via Sunder Nagar will get you to this ancient town.

Ancient temples on the bank of mesmerizing River Beas near Victoria Bridge in Mandi


When you come to Rewalsar, you cannot be untouched by the spiritual vibrations being reflected in every activity in this sacred land, be it the chirpings of the birds, soulful chantings from the monastery or temple or Gurubani from the Gurudwara, people feeding hungry souls in the lake, pondering monkeys over the trees, Buddhist prayer flags swirling in the air, swimming ducks in the lake, meditating and contemplating holy people on bank of the lake.

The green and serene water of the lake, monks running the prayer-wheels, beautiful surrounding hills, finely ornated colourful monasteries with young monks playing around, burning oil lamps, ringing bells, cows and dogs resting near the lake, swaying trees, smiling flowers etc, whatever passes through your eyes gives you a sort of positive vibrations.

Devotees feeding the hungry souls in the lake.

This was the first time I had seen so many fishes struggling hard to grab the food offered by devotees. The unfortunate dogs and monkeys were merely the spectators.

A local Buddhist elderly with his prayer wheel near the lake

Colourful holy prayer flags beside the lake

I was initially supposed to be accompanied by my friend Rajesh on this beautiful exploration, but due to a rumour of a possible theft at his home, he had to cut short his trip and get back home as early as he could. Wishing Rajesh best of luck, I continued my adventure alone to explore some of the most interesting and beautiful places coming onto my way in this trip.

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The day started on a sad note but the journey did not. After bidding a bye to Rajesh, I took a mini bus to Rewalsar from Mandi. I was however missing Rajesh as I was sure that he would have loved being at this place (as I still remember the pain he went through while climbing Bijli Mahadev).

Upon reaching the town, I fell in love with this lake and the place at the very first glance because of its captivating surrounding. The lake and its inhabitants (fishes and ducks) were presenting such a magical ambience that I kept sitting near the serene lake for around 2 hours just enjoying them doing their usual activities and fantasizing as if I would be a duck swimming around the lake or a bird enjoying this beautiful town from the sky.

Calm lake with some floating ducks, temples and monasteries in the background

It was so soothing sitting on this side of the lake and relishing the nature’s wonders.

Queens of the Lake

Rewalsar as a sacred place to people from different religions, offers peaceful praying time for the religious and spiritual souls at the various holy shrines. A huge statue of Acharya Padamsambhav atop a hill literally dominates this place and is easily visible from most part of the lake.

The master is supposed to have flown to Tibet from this holy land by virtue of his supernatural powers to spread ‘Dhamma or Dharma’ and to propagate ‘Mahayana Buddhism’ in Tibet where he is regarded as second Buddha and is known as Guru Rimpoche. It is said that when he came to this land to preach the holy word of Buddhism, the King of this place ignorantly ordered to burn him alive at the very site of Rewalsar after hearing some rumours about the master.

But to his surprise, the flames of the pyre turned into a deep beautiful lake and there emerged the master unaffected sitting onto a lotus flower in the middle of the lake. Realizing the master’s powers, King apologised for his act and devoted rest of his life to the sublime teachings of ‘Dhamma’. It is still believed that the master’s spirit rests in the island of floating reeds on the lake.

Acharya Padamsambhav sitting on a lotus dominating the city

Just below are the two temples orange (dedicated to Laxmi Narayan) and the blue (Lord Shiva) with mild reflection in the lake.

Acharya Padamsambhav, showering the divine blessing upon the entire valley from top

This place was also visited by tenth Sikh Guru Shri Gobind Singhji who resided here for a month in its pristine and peaceful atmosphere, hence this place is held sacred in Sikhism. A gurudwara has been built to commemorate the guru’s stay at this place by Mandi’s King Joginder Sen (The town of Joginder Nagar near Mandi is named after this King).

There are three temples near the lake dedicated to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishu and sage Lomas. The nearby area is also supposed to have been the shelter of the Pandavas (the heroes of the epic Mahabharata) for some time who visited this place after escaping from burning wax palace built by Kauravas for their stay. A lot of devotees can be seen nearby the temple feeding small flour balls to the innumerable hungry fishes in the lake.

As soon as I entered into the lake premises, this activity attracted my attention and I rushed eagerly to witness it from close by. After spending a peaceful and soul lifting time near the lake, now it was time to explore the surroundings. I first decided to explore the lake from different angles taking a circumambulation of the entire lake.

Moving onto the left side of the lake towards the gurudwara, once often gets to see the meditating monks and an array of colourful Buddhist prayer flags amongst the bushes and flowers spreading the teachings of Lord Buddha in the atmosphere. As you move further, you pass through the market where you spot people chatting and sitting lazily, selling some eatables. You also have some staying options available in the market area.

Laxmi Narayan Temple

Prayer wheels across the lake in the market

The silent divine bell to awaken the souls

A monk walking past the oil lamps in the monastery premises

Passing through some monasteries and temples, now I wanted to make my way uphill towards the statue of Guru Padamshambav. On the way, I came across some other monasteries where I moved the prayer wheels, observed the monks passing their leisurely time and enjoyed the intricately decorated monasteries.

I climbed up near the statue where Guru Padamsambhav is depicted meditatively sitting on a lotus flower and blessing the entire town. The height of this place actually makes it a wonderful view point to witness the enchanting views of the lake and the valley.

The green lake surrounded by green hills looks like a pond from this point. I have always been amazed and hypnotized by the mystical and enticing Buddhist art on the monasteries with colourful wall paintings ‘thangkas’, beautifully carved dragon images, lit up oil lamps, illustrated mythological stories, the images and statues of meditating Buddha, the soulful chanting with the use of their traditional musical instruments, this whole ambience is sure to transport you into a spiritual world and you get to experience a state of utmost peace and tranquillity within.

Path leading to the teachings of ‘Dhamma’ and towards being human

Mesmerising lake from the top surrounded by Gurudwara (in the north), monastery (in the east), temples (in the south) and a small zoo (in the west)

Mystical dragon carving on the outer wall of a monastery

Meditating Lord Buddha

A beautiful wall painting with blisfull Buddha in the centre

After exploring this wonderful town, as I was planning my journey back to my friend Bali’s place where I was invited to attend a small family function, I heard some kids talking about a zoo. Upon enquiring, I discovered that it was near the lake. Since I am very fond of wildlife too, I was happy to know about this, though I generally prefer to see wild creatures out of the cage in their natural habitat. Since this zoo is set in a natural wild atmosphere amongst dense forest, it does give you a different feeling seeing the animals in the forest however caged.

It is a very small zoo and I was a bit sad to see a caged bear that was looking very unhappy, firstly perhaps because he was alone and secondly because the space was too limited for him to roam freely. On the other side, there were some herds of deers comparatively looking happier and had comparatively a wider area. This day had almost everything that I usually look for in my wanderings. The time did not further permit me to visit the gurudwara this time as I had to reach Bali’s place by local buses. While waiting for the bus at the station, I chanced upon some food.

A bunch of Hog Deers in the little zoo

Caption – Cute and friendly barking deers

Poor bear, felt very sad to see a creature of such size in such a limited space

A good bye look at the lake with a promise to come again

Since there was no direct bus available to Bali’s place, I had to take several buses (Rewalsar – Jahu – Bhota – Hamirpur – Sujanpur Tira) to reach there. When I reached Sujanpur Tira, it was dark and I had unfortunately missed the last bus to his village Gander, so I hired a taxi from the station. As usual something unusual took place this time as well and the taxi driver stopped to buy some stuff just a kilometer ahead. A gentleman approached me and started enquiring about me.

To my pleasant surprise, he was Bali’s brother-in-law who was going to his home from the market area and Bali had informed him about me. We paid some money to the taxi driver and drove into brother-in-law’s car and reached home safely. I was dearly welcomed by the family members and had a nice dinner. It was really nice to see Bali and family after a long time. In the evening, we received a message from Rajesh saying that everything was fine at his home and it was just by a gust of wind that the door of his balcony got opened and the neighbours took it as the entry of a thief into his home.

It was funny for all of us and relieving too. While discussing with Bali’s father I got to know that there were actually seven more little known lakes almost of the same size of Rewalsar just above the town with some caves where Pandavas spent some of their time into the escapade. It was a wonderful discovery for me and I intend to explore these lesser known lakes very shortly. Overall, it was another wonderful and adventurous day for me.

  • Stone

    Is that place for real?
    What a beautiful place and beautifully presented by you.
    I would love to visit it some day.

    Hope you visit other lesser known lakes soon.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you Sandeep ji for taking out time to read the story and for commenting. Yes, this is a real place and i will probably re-visit this place this month to explore the other nearby lakes.

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  • venkatt

    Rewalsar looks like a beautiful little gem, Vipin. All the photos, especially the one with the aerial view of the lake(taken from the Padamsambhav statue?) were very good. Are there enough accomodation facilities to spend a night at Rewalsar during peak summer season?

    • Yes Venkatt ji, this is surely a gem offering almost everything for adventurers, nature lovers, pilgrimes, kids etc. It is worth spending a night at the lakeside and there are ample accommodations available (including Himachal Tourism’s The Tourist Inn) nearby. For more details on accommodation in Rewalsar, please check out…http://himachaltourism.gov.in/post/Hotels-in-Mandi.aspx…….Thanks for liking the photos…..

  • It is a FOG. Very beautifully narrated and the pictures are looking super. I passed through Mandi, I am sure a lot of us would have, few times but never looked beyond the road. Thank you for introducing this lake at Ghumakkar.

    The Silent bell is a great analogy, never thought that way. Write more often.

    • Thank you Nandan for admiring the post and the photos. You are right, sometimes we are unaware of such lesser known jewels on our way and miss out their beauty. Similarly while coming back from Mani Mahesh yatra this year, we spent some time at the very beautiful temple complex (Chaurasi Temple) near Bharmour, they were so ancient but so wonderful….i am always on the look out for such places……’Silent Bell’ – this is what that came to my mind when i saw this bell…..so silent but still inspiring and awakening….spreading the holy word without saying anything….sometimes the people are like that especially buddhist monks…..

  • chicobello

    Its indeed a commendable job! Telling people about Rewalsar is absolutely remarkable taskneedless to say that narration are pics are awesomeI have been reading and hearing a lot about this place in mandi and today visited it through your descriptionthanks a lot

    • Your encouragement is what keeps us looking for such wonderful places. I would wish if you could personally go and visit this lovely wonder. Thanks for sparing time to go through the story.

  • D.L.Narayan

    Lovely blog, Vipin. Rewalsar is indeed a gem of a place. Thank you for taking us there.

    The title “Confluence of many religions” struck a chord with me right away since India is the confluence of all religions of the world. The pictures are as beautiful as your description of the holy place. Great to know that Acharya Padmasambhava, who spread Buddhism beyond the Himalayas, is still remembered in the land of his birth. Sad,however, that you were not able to visit the Gurudwara. Hope to read about it and the other nearby lakes in your next post.

    The zoo, however, struck a discordant note and it was distressing to see a sloth bear caged up. Maybe someone should request the authorities to release it into the wild, where it really belongs. I was also wondering about the fish in the lake; is fishing banned in this lake?

    • Thank you DL ji. I am glad that you liked the post and the photos. You are true, India is undoubtedly a confluence of many religions and this one place keeps that essence alive. Will probably do the other lakes and Gurudwara this month on a leisurely weekend. I too was unhappy to see the poor creatures, he would have been happier with somebody’s company or maybe in a larger space, it was disheartening to see the bear struggle for his survival. It seemed to me as if he was saying take me out of the cage or otherwise kill me……..too heart wrenching……I am not sure if fishing is allowed or not but people were surely more enjoying there to feed the fishes than actually thinking of making them their food or catching them for fun……

  • AUROJIT

    Hi Vipin,

    very interesting info about Rewalsar.

    In fact, at least on one occasion we stayed for a full day in Mandi not knowing what to do. Wish we had information about this attractive place then.

    Very well described post highlighting various aspects from traveller’s point of view.

    Enjoyed reading and hope to visit the place after going through your account,

    Thanks,

    Auro.

  • Hi Auro, thank you very much for your liking the post and your encouraging words. Mandi has actually been my base for exploring three amazing lakes i.e., Kamrunag, Rewalsar and Parashar….all three are a day’s excursion from Mandi and gives you different flavours altogether…….wish that you get to enjoy these hidden treasures of mother nature before they become too commericialised & crowded and loose their natural unexplored charm & beauty…….

  • Surinder Sharma

    Hi Vipin,
    Rewalsar very well description , photos are marvlous. Mandi is good place in Himachal to visit. Just little tough road journey from Kiratpur Sahib to Bilaspur. Hope your next post will publish soon, and you will write what you feel. Professional Travelouge has same narration and not so much enjoyable to read.
    Thanks

    • Surinder ji, thanks for the encouragement. We most of the time cross Bilaspur in dark and could hardly ever realized this. Will try to bring something early…..

  • ~ sakSham ~

    Hi Vipin,

    It’s a real pleasure reading ur post. After reading it I’ve read all ur older posts & found them equally interesting. I strongly believe that the best way to explore nature is trekking… and u do it so well.

    Writing a travel story is entirely different thing from travelling …. so hats off to u & all other “Ghumakkars” for bringing us the beauty of different locations in a very interesting way…..
    I hope that some day I may dare to join ghumakkar community by sharing my experiences.

    Thank you for making us aware of the offbeat locations.

    • @ Saksham – A lot of us started writing after reading these inspiring accounts. Give it a try, trust me it is not difficult and the high of seeing one’s work in print is indeed very satisfying.

      • ~ sakSham ~

        Very true sir, I’ll definitely try my hand on it….very soon may be..

        Neways thanks for ur encourages words & concern.

    • Hi Saksham, thank you so much for your lovely comment and for sparing time to read all the previous stories. Well, I am sure that you must be having some wonderful stories in your bucket, please let your travel experiences help others through your writings and inspire them to explore these wonderfur places. As Nandan said, it is not difficult, just an initial effortfull step towards this and then it starts coming your way!

      I have done some of my ‘most memorable trips’ only with the help of some fellow Ghumakkar friends (like Sandeep Panwar, Harish Bhatt, Manu Prakash Tyagi, Neeraj Jat etc). So these stories not only inspire you to travel but also help you make friends with like minded friends who later become your very good travel companions.

      Look forward to hearing your travel experiences soon!!!

      • ~ sakSham ~

        Thanks Vipin for ur encouragement …

        In fact without interacting much with all u people, I’m feeling some sort of bonding..perhaps it’s b’coz of the same spirit of ‘Ghumakkari’ & fascination towards the nature, which we all have in common.

  • Ritesh Gupta

    Vipin Ji….
    Excellent Post, well Written and equally supported by beautiful Click…..
    First time hear and read about Rewalsar through your detailed post.
    Thanks for post….

    • Ritesh Bhai, thank you very much for your encouraging words.

  • Tx, Vipin for introducing Rewalsar with us.
    A nicely written post with excellent photographs. We are also planning to go there after reading your post sometime this year.
    Look forward to your next posts.
    Regards,

    • Hi Amitava. I am glad that you liked the post and more glad that you are actually planning to visit this place. I would highly recommend to visit the other nearby 7 lesser known lakes as well, they might be a wonderful surprise…….do share your story with us once you get back!!!

  • Very well written. Really like the narrative on the silent bell.
    RRG

  • Thank you very much Rishi Raj ji for liking the post.

  • Thanks Vipin for taking us through a lesser known but amazing place. All photos are great but the best is the panoramic view of the lake showing the lake and surroundings.

  • Deependra ji, I am glad that you liked the photos and the post.

  • What a wonderful post !

    Vipin , No doubt the place is ultimate but the way you have shown and described this place is extraordinarily fantastic.

    You also have been a very frequent traveler . why don’t you write more and more stories in ghumakkar.com

    • Oh thanks for the encouragement, Vishal bhai, noticed your comment while flipping through the older post…I have just started travelling & you guys have been doing it for long…hopefully we will travel together sometime…:)…

  • Directly opposite my place @Balh Valley .. could be around 10km straight in the air :)

    • Thanks for commenting, Thakur saab!

  • Nice place and you have described it beautifully.

    • Thank you Pradeep bhai for going through an older post and leaving your valuable words. Revived my memories back…

  • Nirdesh Singh

    Hi Vipin,

    Rewalsar is indeed pretty and unique.

    Enjoyed the post and the photos.

    Will love to visit this place but for now it is Kumaon!