I had fallen in love with Rewalsar Lake when I saw Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film “KAREEB”. I had travelled on Manali route many times, but no one ever told me about this lake. After seeing Kareed, in 2004 I alongwith Laxman visited this beautiful like, while coming back from Jwalaji and were awestruck then.
Rewalsar has been filmed so beautifully in the movie, that anyone seeing the song चोरी चोरी जब नज़रें मिलीं..चोरी चोरी फिर नींदे उड़ी, is sure to fall in love with the beauty of Rewalsar
just check this video :
So this time, we had pre-planned our visit to this bewitching place. We had started from Jwalaji and covering Kangra, Palampur and Baijnath we continued to Mandi. 20 Kms before Mandi, it was becoming dark, and when we reached Mandi, it was completely dark. We reached the main square of Mandi and parked our car, had some refreshment and discussed about our next step. We had earlier come to Mandi and stayed here for a night but that was near the high way, and we never knew that Mandi is such a beautiful little town. We roamed around in the streets but could not see a good hotel, as most of them were above restaurants, a sort of rest rooms for locals. Someone told us about a good hotel, but we were lost in the streets of Mandi and reached a market which had most of the shops owned by sikhs.
We finally decided to say good-bye to Mandi and reach Rewalasar, which was 25 Kms. We asked a boy on bike about the way and that good samaritan told us the way like turn left, turn right, and go straight then turn left etc…. and after seeing our lost faces, he asked us to follow his bike. We again ventured through Mandi behind him. After about 2 Kms of turning lefts and rights, he finally left us at the road going straight to Rewalsar. We thanked him and with hunger, fatigue and cursing from our womenfolk, we finally reached Rewalsar at around 9-30. We straight away went into HPTDC hotel, who gave us rooms saying it is only available for one day as they have bookings the next day. We went to our rooms, had some fatigue-removing liquids and went straight to bed.
Next morning, we came out of hotel and saw the jaw dropping scenes all around. Rewalsar had changed a lot since our last visit. So many encroachments near the lake, a big statue of PadamSambhava in the back ground and lot of greenery were the immediate signs we noticed.
Next day we decided to see the upper lakes first and then see Rewalsar….we started our journey and near the Rewalsar Gate a man came running to us and asked for Rs.25. “Kis baat ke ” I barked. He meekingly said – sir ji aap raat ko aaye thhe isliye maine disturb nahin kiya, par yahan aane ka panchayat shulk 25 Rs. hai..we paid the money and asked for way upwards.
Guru Padamsambhava, who is called the second Buddha came here and started practicing Mahayan buddhism. There is a story of local king, infuriated by love affair between Padamsambhav and king’s daughter, tried to burn him alive, but the fire became water and Padamsambhave became lotus flower. PadamSambhava was a great Tantra teacher and it is said that he used to fly to Tibet from here and spread Buddhism there. The latest addition to Rewalsar is 123 feet statue of Lord Padamsabbhava, which looks magnificent.
Rewalsar lake is initially connected to Lomash Rishi, who had been searching for a place for his tapasya, and who was told by Lord Shiva about Rewalsar, which is abode of gods and various gods reside there as flowers, trees, fishes and water bodies. Rishi Lomash came to Rewalsar and did his penance. There is an ancient temple of Lomash Rishi on the bank of the lake, and perahps the first ever temple here.
So we finally came out of Rewalsar and took the hilly small road going upwards. The Rewalsar bus-stop cum main bazar was buzzing with people, but none of them was tourist as most of them were Himachalis. About 80% tourists in Rewalsar are Buddhists coming from India, Bhutan, Thailand, Sikkim and Tibet.
We can clearly see the impact of buddhist culture all over Rewalsar.
we turned right after the bus stop and put our car on to steep little road. This road goes upto the top of the hill from where a magnificent view of Himalays can be enjoyed. As per mythology Pandavas stayed here for some time and when Kunti, their mother felt thirst, Arjuna hit the mountains with his arrow, which pierced 7 times and thus seven lakes were formed. Out of these seven lakes only 3 are left and the other 4 have dried up. After continuous ascending we reached at the level of 1600 feet and we were before a beautiful lake, called Kunti lake.
By the side of the lake there was a small temple of Kunti…perhaps the only temple of Kunti in the world. There was an old priestess sitting in the temple whom I asked about the temple. She didnt reply and I took it as rudeness…when my wife again asked in loud voice, she opened her little box, put on the hearing aid and said – why are you shouting… I am going to tell …hmmm this is Kunti temple, and that is kunti lake… and thus we were told the story. Surprisingly all the temples here have women priests, which is quite rare
Kunti lake is full of fishes, because angling in Rewalsar is forbidden and Himachalis here treat fishes as sacred, hence are not captured from the sacred ponds. We purchased some food for fishes and went down the lake. Surprisingly the fishes noticed us coming down, and from all over the lake they started gathering exactly at the place, where we were going to land.
So after filling the belly of always hungry fishes, we continued our ascend towards the top. In the way we saw one of the lakes which was drying, but would be full during monsoons.
Finally we reached the top. The view from the top was mind blowing…on one side the mighty Dhauladhar range and on the other side Kinner Kailash and surrounding mountains, alongwith valleys were a treat to the eyes.
There was a temple complex on the top, one Naina Devi temple and some other small temples of Durga, Krishna and Hanuman ji. The good thing about these temples were that they were very neat and clean without any chaos or garbage. Another unique thing was that all the temples had women priests ( women lib party workers must be happy and can use this as their victory). We went into all the temples, prayed, paid some donation and came out.
At this height (about 6000 feet), the air was cold, devoid of any pollution and enjoyable. After spending some time and clicking some photos, we came down and in the middle way there was a beautiful small restaurant, managed by a retired Fauji. The balcony of the restaurant was facing the valley and the view was jaws dropping.
We took some refreshment and discussed about places to see. There was a Foreigner sitting next to us…. a chat with him and we came to know that he has come from Norway and is staying here for the last two months. The room rent in this restaurant was Rs.350 per day and it was as good as free for him. He liked the place very much and did many rounds of trekking to and fro to Rewalsar lake, a feat which seemed impossible to us at this age.
The Norwegian was well versed with Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and I felt pity for my countrymen, many of whom either did not know our great philosophy or they mock at it. We had a heartful chat about various aspect of Hinduism, Sikhism and buddhism and then he asked us if we have seen the caves above, where Padamsambhava did his penance. We cut a sorry figure and told that we were not aware of such caves. He then indicated the place, which we had left 30 mnts ago, and requested us to go there as the place was not to be missed.
Lo and again, we turned our car back and ascended 3 Kms towards the caves. We had earlier passed from here but did not know of any such caves. The parking was full with foreigner’s cars who had come to see the ancient magical caves. We also parked our car and climbed some 50 steps upwards and reached the cave.
Surprisingly, here also two Buddhist lady priestess were incharge and they ushered us to the cave.
The cave had a small entry, but opened into a big hall followed by another smaller hall.
The main cave had the images of various buddhist deities and fotos of Dalai Lama. On the altar there were currency notes of various countries like Bhutan, China, Thailand, Nepal denoting buddhists coming from all over the world to this wonderful place.
There were many foreigners sitting in meditative poses in the hall. There was complete silence in the caves and one could feel immense joy while being here.
It is said that Padam Sambhava did his meditation here and it was here that he got Nirvana. The next smaller cave was also magical. It had a small statue of PadamSambhava. I sat there to rest for a while and within seconds my eyes closed and I started going to a trance like stage. I did not want to get up and continue my meditation here for ever…. While Laxman shook me 2/3 times that I woke up and stood up to move further. Such was the energy and vibrations in the cave.
Energised and peaceful we came out of the Buddhist caves. On way back on stairs, a man started persuading us to see a small cave nearby which was supposed to have footprint of Arjuna. We went near the cave, but its mouth was so small, we didnt feel like going inside. The man became a little angry and said that we have gone to buddhist caves but not seeing hindu caves….now who would tell him there is no budhism or hinduism.. both are dharmic religions. Laxman gave him a 10 Re note, and he was happy. In the parking the tea-wali told us that yesterday a cobra came out of that cave… we were relieved and patted ourselves for not going inside.
On our return journey we got down near the Buddhist Gompa which is having the big statue of Padam Sambhava. We decided that instead of climbing up from Rewalsar, we would see the gompa and descend from there to Rewalsar, as that would be easier. We went to the gompa. It was a magnanimous, colorful temple which was really a treat to the eyes.
Well you must need a break now… rest of Gompa and main Rewalsar in next post…