Rewalsar - A tiny Lake Town in Himachal Pradesh with 2 Buddhist Monasteries, a Gurudwara, Hindu temples and surrounded by Seven Lakes & a famous Naina Devi Temple at one of the top-most peaks around it

 

How many times you come across a small place which has some of the most stunning stories associated from different religions. Rewalsar is a very special that way. It's a small lake town with 2 Buddhist Monasteries, a Gurudwara & Hindu temples around the holy lake. and not only that, There are some very interesting short drives/hikes around Rewalsar which take you to other set of 7 lakes (Saat Sarovar), a cave and famous temple of this region in Himachal Pradesh - Naina Devi. And not to miss the beautiful scene around the lake created by thousands of fish there.  Rewalsar Lake is a very close to my native place, but somehow I always felt that this blog doesn't give enough credit to this place. We are making an attempt to write a detailed blogpost about Rewalsar with all relevant details like how to reach there, places to stay, things to do or places to explore and how to visit it while you are planning a trip to Kullu/Manali or Parashar Lake


Let's talk about geographic location of Rewalsar Lake and how to reach Rewalsar lake :

Rewalsar lake is in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. Mandi town comes on the way when you go to Kull/Manali from Chandigarh or Delhi

Like many other places, Rewalsar is approachable through road. Nearest Railway station is Una and nearest airport is in Bhutar/Kullu. For road trip to Rewalsar, Google Map is best to follow than we sharing details, but keep in mind that it's a little away from main highway which connects Delhi with Mandi.

Lot of people come to Rewalsar from Mandi town, which means they stay around Mandi town and plan a day trip to Rewalsar. 




Rewalsar is visited by Budhist tourists or local travelers. At times, folks prefer to visit Rewalsar while driving back from Kullu Manali to Delhi or Chandigarh. Road connecting Mandi town to Rewalsar is pretty good now. One can take this route to hit Hamirpur or Una from Mandi. It's a highway which has improved a lot in last one year or so. 

Let's talk about some of the most interesting elements of Rewalsar or main places to visit around Rewalsar Lake :

Let's start with some of the most visible things :



Tourists may not be very happy coming to Rewalsar but there is enough to explore for a traveller. Apart from the main monasteries around the lake, there is a Gurudwara and few hindu temples. If you walk around the streets you will experience a different town and as you climb towards any of the monasteries, things change suddenly.

Rewalsar Lake : Sounds pretty obvious, but let us share few things which can make your experience a little better. Plan to walk around the lake. There is a road around Rewalsar lake and one should plan to walk around this. While you are walking, do take some stops to take go closer to the lake. There are few spots where seating arrangements are made and I especially love those spots where prayer flags are installed. These spots are in high demand especially when it's windy. The wind makes these flags flutter and create some interesting music. Please note that some of the places listed below are at the periphery of the Rewalsar Lake, so when you are walking keep an eye and ensure that you cover those places as you move along. The Rewalsar lake has a maximum depth of 16.5 metres. Rewalsar lake is rectangular in shape, with the catchment area situated to 2 of it's sides.



Here is a view of a monastery from the lake. Zigar Gompa is the newest of the Rewalsar monasteries. I have been to Rewalsar many times and this is first time, this monastery was so clearly noticeable from the  lake. There is a huge statue of  Padmasambhava installed on a platform which doubles as working monastery space can be seen for great distances away from the Rewalsar skyline. 

Statue of Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), which is visible from almost all parts of Rewalsar and even other places around the town:

Recently a monumental statue of Padmasambhava is installed at a height around Rewalsar lake. It's not that recent and to be precise, it was inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama in 2012 and the height of this statue of approximately 37 meters. It seems quite a good amount of time is spent to built this statue and some of the artists from Nepal & Bhutan have collaborated with local workers to give it a final shape we see today. 

One needs to hike a little away from the road around Rewalsar Lake, although not much. 

Rewalsar lake is also known as 'Tso Pema' and especially for  Tibetans community in the town. Are you wondering why I was mentioning this in the section about Statue of Padamsambhava? The lake is associated with Padmasambhava  who is also known as Guru Rinpoche and recognised as a second Buddha. There is a legend that the King Arashadhar of Mandi had Padmasambhava burnt alive after rumours that the Guru had attempted to teach his daughter, Princess Mandarava. As per princely protocols, it was not an accepted thing and the rumour lead King to make this decision. The pyre burned for a full week, with great clouds of black smoke arising from it, but after a week a lake appeared at the spot where he was burnt and Padmasambhava manifested himself as a 16 years old boy from within a lotus in the middle of this lake, with Mandarava in his arms. Later king married his daughter with Padmasambhava. Then Padmasambhava went to Tibet to spread Vajrayana Buddhism.

The Tsechu fair was held in Rewalsar in 2004 to commemorate the birthday of Guru Rinpoche. The fair was inaugurated by the 14th Dalai Lama and was attended by the 17th Karmapa along with 50 thousands+ other Buddhist pilgrims from different parts of the world. 

This Statue is part of Tso-Pema Orgyen Heru-kai Nyingmapa Gompa in Rewalsar.


Drikung Kagyu Gompa :

Drikung Kagyu Gompa is one of the most visited places in Rewalsar, especially because it's clearly identifiable colourful structure around the lake. In total, there are 4 monasteries in Rewalsar and 


Tso-Pema Orgyen Heru-kai Nyingmapa Gompa :

Nyingmapa is oldest Gompa or Monastery in Rewalsar and very close to the lake. So when you are walking around the lake, make a point to visit this Monsatery and also go inside. The interiors of the Monastery are vivid & bring peace to you for the time you are inside. The lake is visible from its open area. There is a huge prayer bell installed close to the lake and plenty of prayer wheels around the main gompa. 


Feeding Fish of Rewalsar Lake :

If you have landed in Rewalsar and only going around the lake and visiting these beautiful spiritual places, there is a probability that you miss meeting thousands of fishes of Rewalsar lake. 



Rewalsar lake is famous for it's countless fishes. The most exciting thing to do in Rewalsar is to watch these fishes playing with each other and level of excitement can be increased if you offer them something. This time I noticed that lake is not well maintained, which is very unfortunate. Rewalsar lake has also some significance from religion point of view. We noticed some folks washing, taking water from the lake and having a sip. For a moment I couldn't believe that water of Rewalsar lake can be drunk. 

....

Afternoon meal at Rewalsar Gurdwara :

There is also a Gurudwara in Rewalsar and close to the lake. On can plan to have langar in the Gurudwara unless you want to try local Mandi Dham in one of the dhabas around bus stand of Rewalsar. 

The tenth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh visited Rewalsar to consult with kings of the Hill states seeking support against the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. He stayed at Rewalsar for a month or so. Raja Joginder Sen of Mandi built a gurudwara at Rewalsar in 1930 to commemorate the Guru's visit. The place is particularly sacred to Namdhari Sikhs due to its mention in Sau Sakhi as a sanctuary. 

The Rewalsar Gurudwara Sahib is a on a hilltop and it's  easily recognisable from distant places around the town due to its blue color standing out in the greens of hills and massive domes. One needs to climb up 100+ stairs to get to this sacred place of worship. Next to the Gurudwara is a water tank, which you usually find close to any Gurudwara.  Taking a dip here is a holy practice.

People of every religion visit this shrine in order to gain consolation and blessings of the divine deity. I love this part that Rewalsar has Hindu temples, Gompas as well as Gurudwara and everyone can visit them & take blessings. 

Lomesh Rishi Temple :


This temple of Lomesh Rishi is very close to the lake and one of the Monasteries we talked about. The history of Rewalsar is found in Skanda Purana, as per Hindus. A Hindu sage named Lomas was searching for place to worship. He traveled and climbed the top of Drona mountain, from the top of mountain he saw a lake surrounded by trees, flowers and birds. He decided to meditate at the bank of the lake, written as Hridayeshwar in Skanda Purana. He meditated here, and Lord Shiva and Goddesses Parvati blessed him by imparting the secrets of this place where all the Devas and Ganas are in the form of flowers, and trees.

2 other temples in the town are dedicated to Radhe-Krishna and Lord Shiva. 

Naina Devi Temple :



Naina Devi temple is located at a beautiful location on the hill top having views of snow covered peaks around Rohtang Pass and layers of different himalayan mountain ranges. The wind in this region was cool in the month of may, when temperature in other North Indian cities is 40+ celsius. The drive from Rewalsar lake to the temple takes 30 minutes and we crossed few other beautiful lakes on the way. 


Above board, which is installed near temple, will give you an idea about the location of this temple.  This place is just 35 kilometers from Mandi town and 11 kilometers from Rewalsar. Since this 11 kilometers drive is in hilly regions, it takes around 30 minutes. 

Naina Devi temple is one of the important temples in this region and has a very well maintained campus. If you are visiting the temple during first half of the day, you may want to enjoy bhandara (food) in the campus. Bhandara space is open for everyone till 2pm. 

There is a sitting place on one of the edges of this hills from where one can see different layers of Himalayan Mountain Ranges. One a clear day, one can see shining white hills with snow-sheet. Above photograph shows hills around Mandi, Sundernagar, Manali, Kullu and Rohtang Pass. 

If you are planning to visit Rewalsar, we strongly recommend a visit to Naina devi temple. Many folks find this place more interesting as compared to Rewalsar because of various reasons. One of the main reason is clean spaces around the temple as compared to Rewalsar town which is little dirty. But I am sure that a true traveller would love both the places equally. Because it's more about exploring two very different things. 

If you plan to stay around this place, there is a HPPWD guest house but you need to book it in advance. There is a HPTDC hotel in Rewalsar as well, but spending a night around temple would be more fun because of the weather you will experience on the top of this hill. There are few Home-Stays on the way from Rewalsar to Naina Devi Temple. The one which is closest is just on the roadside and opposite of the dry lake. It's not the top most hill but can be a good place to stay if you don't find place in the guest house. 

Saat Sarovar ( Seven Lakes ):

Today again I am back with a lesser known place around Rewalsar Lake in Mandi region of Himachal Pradesh. Most of the times people visit Rewalsar but hardly know about these beautiful lakes around the villages in this region. This posts shares some of the interesting facts about these lakes and we highly recommend to visit these 7 lakes, if you are around Rewalsar. And if you like lesser touristy places and like nature, I am sure you would love to spend more time here instead of Rewalsar :).

We highly recommend to visit these 7 lakes, if you are around Rewalsar. And if you like lesser touristy places and like nature, I am sure you would love to spend more time here instead of Rewalsar :). 

I know many of the folks are not even aware of Rewalsar lake, so let me share a bit about it. You can also check out our Rewalsar Lake post to know more. It's a lake surrounded by monasteries, temples & gurudwara, popularly known for huge amount of fishes. The bollywood movie 'Badal' was shot here and that's how it got more popularity.


While talking about Rewalsar & these 7 lakes above Rewalsar town, let me share a fun fact - The bollywood movie 'Badal' was shot around Rewalsar and that's how it got more popularity over a period of time. 

From Rewalsar there is a road going up till Naina Devi temple. And these beautiful lakes are around the same road. These are 7 sarovars (lakes) of varied sizes, but relatively cleaner. Unfortunately few of these lakes have dried.  But the remaining ones look beautiful with green surroundings. You would lot of fruit trees around these lakes and agricultural land. When we visited the place, a family offered us water & some fruits growing in their garden. When we there, we felt like having a house there. But that has become a tendency these days. 4 out 10 places we visit, seem like appropriate place to live :).


From Rewalsar there is a road going up till Naina Devi temple. And these beautiful lakes are around the same road. These are 7 sarovars (lakes) of varied sizes, but relatively cleaner. Unfortunately few of these lakes have dried.  But the remaining ones look beautiful with green surroundings. You would see lot of fruit trees around these lakes and agricultural land. When we visited the place, a family offered us water & some fruits growing in their garden. When we were there, we felt like having a house there. But that has become a tendency these days. 4 out 10 places we visit, seem like appropriate place to live :). 

I highly recommend to  drive around this road and walk till lake. You would  definitely enjoy. If you are travelling to Rewalsar in bus, you can plan to take an auto-rickshaw to visit this place. In fact, we saw few Home-stays around the road. So you may also want to spend a night around this place. But be aware that you won't have much to do, but you definitely plan bon-fire under star-glittered sky.

I highly recommend to  drive around this road and walk till lake. You would  definitely enjoy. If you are travelling to Rewalsar in bus, you can plan to take an auto-rickshaw to visit this place. In fact, we saw few Home-stays around the road. So you may also want to spend a night around this place. But be aware that you won't have much to do, but you definitely plan bon-fire under star-glittered sky. 

Holy Caves on the way to Naina Devi temple from Rewalsar Lake:

When you drive up to Naina devi temple from Rewalsar, there are holy caves on the way. Caves are a few steps above the road. Padmasambhava reputedly meditated in a location high on the ridge above Rewalsar. This place is approx 10km by road. Supposedly there is a short cut from statue of Padamsambhava but we don't have precise details about that path, it's slope etc. The area around these caves is decked with prayer flags.

Buses bound for the hilltop Naina Devi Temple pass by the site. There are few morning buses and one around afternoon. Do confirm latest schedule before planning your visit. We are not sharing timings as it keeps changing. 



The sad part of the visit is cleanness of this lake. It seems that market around the lake makes it dirty and there is not enough policing to ensure that lake remains clean and regular maintenance happens. It was not a pleasant experience to go closer to these fishes. The water was stinking when fishes were in full excitement. 


If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling - 

1. Manage your waste well and don’t litter Use dustbins.
2. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin. 
3. Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem. 
4. Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits. 
5. Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite.

Comments

Rajat Kumar said…
Never heard of this place before. Looks like a wonderful offbeat destination.

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