Tso Pema popularly known as Rewalsar is a small town situated on a mountain spur in Mandi district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. At its heart lies the holy lake. The place is sacred to three major religions- Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, hence called as Trisangam (Tri-Three, Sangam-Confluence) also. It serves as a fine example of religious harmony and honour that makes this place glorious.
The Hindu history of Rewalsar is found in Sakand Puran. Rishi named Lomus was searching for place to worship. He travelled and climbed the top of Drona mountain, from the top of mountain he saw a beautiful lake surrounded by beautiful trees, flowers and birds. He decided to meditate at the bank of the lake, written as hridyalashwar in Skand Purana. He meditated here and according to Skand purana Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati blessed him by telling the secrets of this place where all the Devatas and Ganas are in the form of flowers, floating lands and trees. Hridyalashwar means the king of lakes. Seven theological lakes associated with the Pandavas of Mahabharata are located above Rewalsar.
The famous Tso Pema is associated with Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche), who is recognised as a second Buddha. One version of a legend has it that the king of Mandi had Padmasambhava burnt alive after rumours that the Guru had attempted to teach his daughter the Dharma, which was not accepted then. 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-year-old boy from within a lotus in the middle of the lake. The king, repenting his actions, married his daughter with Padmasambhava. It was from Tso Pema that Padmasambhava went to Tibet to spread Vajrayana Buddhism.
There are islands of floating reed on Rewalsar Lake and the spirit of Padmasabhava is said to reside in them.
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. 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.
Rewalsar is located at an altitude of 1360m (4460ft) above sea level. It is 23 Kms south-west from Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh state of India.
Lying in the Southern Himalayan belt, the summers in Rewalsar are mild and pleasant whereas the winters are generally cool and can sometimes be freezing when heavy woollens are required.
During the rainy season various mountain streams with white waters can be seen along the hill sides. I usually call them “doodh ki nadiyaan (rivers of milk)”.
Rewalsar is a serene place with exquisite landscape and diverse flora and fauna. Being a pilgrimage destination to many religions it is visited by people from India and abroad to make prayers, meditate or simply soak up in its tranquil atmosphere. The panoramic lake view with Lord Padmasambhava showering blessings on Rewalsar attracts everyone with it charm and grandeur.
There is a famous Padmasambhava cave at the top. One has to climb stairs to reach the cave. The landscape is punctuated by crags and boulders. Tibetan prayer flags can be seen everywhere. The Tibetan mantras are written on them and it is believed that the air carries the message of truth and peace written on these flags. Buddhists monks can be seen painting the prayer flags here and the ancient art they use is just one of its kind.
The village hosts some of the best in tradition of religious buildings - architecture, sculpture, painting and other allied arts. It is an ideal retreat to rejuvenate yourself and recharge your spiritual batteries. The pilgrimages are soaked with culture and richly decorated with carvings. Their colours and decorative lights are sure to catch your eyes and the inner beauty will capture your heart.
The forest department maintains a small zoo at Rewalsar. The entry fee to the zoo is at a very minimal charge and various animals can be spotted like bears, deers, tortoise, ducks, porcupines and many more.
Walk around the lake:
You can take a walk around the lake in clockwise direction. It is considered a part of ritual, a part of interaction, a part exercise. Indulge yourself with meditation and yoga with the clear air of Rewalsar. You can also take a dip in the holy water of the lake.
Feed the fishes:
The lake has a huge number of fishes. One can easily get the feed for fishes from local vendors selling nearby the lake which includes biscuits, crackers, flour etc. The quench of the fishes shoving each other and jumping out of water for the food is just an amazing experience. One can also see monkeys, dogs, pigeons fighting in the same league.
An important thing to note here is that the fishes are considered blessed, hence killing and eating fishes is not allowed.
Turn the prayer wheels: