Sunday, April 21, 2013

Find An Offbeat Buddhist Trail Passing Through Rewalsar Lake In Himachal Pradesh


Tso-Pema-Ogyen Heru-Kai Nyingmapa Gompa, now say it again! The oldest gompa tracing back its history in 9th century not built by the Tibetans by Kinnaur Buddhists and till date managed by them quite comfortably. The place is an offbeat Buddhist pilgrimage and a nice hideout of backpackers from all over the world. The place is revolved around the tranquil Rewalsar Lake, which has an interesting story. The legend goes on like this; Padmasambhava, the tantric teacher from Nalanda who introduced Mahayana Buddhism to Tibet and also to the prince of Sahor (Mandi). The father of prince tried to ruin their faith by accusing them to perish in fire. The burning fire fumed for one week or so, and finally when the fire tamed, a lake was formed with a huge lotus called Rewalsar. 

For many years the lake was surrounded by seven reed islands, a symbol of Padmasambhava called as Rinpoche by the Tibetans. Till date the place has its strong scent of Buddhism with two huge monasteries and plenty of pilgrims every year. The town has paid the price of being famous; some ugly erections of three-tier buildings clutter the place. Only saving grace is the sight of Buddhist lamas and local families who ritualistically do their prayers every day around the lake. The monasteries and lamas create a serene presence around the place and thus attract some genuine Buddhist pilgrims.

prayer flags in Rewalsar Lake
Prayer Flags in Rewalsar Lake
 Rewalsar Lake is popularized by Himachal Pradesh Tourism as a ‘confluence of faith’, and tries to attract three religions: Hindu, Buddhism and Sikhism. However, the place is quintessentially a Buddhist place and patronized by Tibetans and overland travelers. 

Temples & Monasteries around the Rewalsar Lake

The famous Sisu Fair begins in Early February or late January. It is equivalent to Kumbh Mela of Hindu faith. A large chunk of pilgrims are seen in Baisakhi to light lamp and offer prayers at Lomas Rishi Temple. There is nothing as such of fun around the lake except tranquility and salubrious weather. If you are in interested in monasteries and Buddhist faith, Tso-Pema-Ogyen Heru-Kai Nyingmapa Gompa is must watch for you. The colorful murals and giant prayer wheels are installed in 60s and 90s.

Holy Padmasambhava
 The Hindu presence is accentuated by triple temples of Shiva, Rishi Lomas and Krishna. Guru Govind Singh Gurudwara, which was built in 1930 by Raja Joginder Singh reflect Sikh’s faith in this tinsel town of Buddhist.

Rewalsar lake meditation
Spend time at Rewalsar Lake

 What to do in Rewalsar Lake?

The place as I’ve mentioned before is not a place for fun. Those who want to spend time in aloneness, in midst of nature and away from crowd must come here. You can relish excellent Tibetan food for momos and fried mutton noodles. Also you can trek to Sarkidhar (7km) and relish the beauty of verdant Himachal valley. A small but beautiful temple is located further 2 km called Ugartala Temple also locally called Nano Devo.

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