Introducing Rewalsar Lake
Around 24km southwest of Mandi, the sacred lake of Rewalsar is revered by Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs. The Indian monk Padmasambhava departed from Rewalsar in the 8th century AD to spread Buddhism to Tibet, and Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs came together here in the 17th century to plan their resistance against ethnic cleansing by the Mughals.
A country road winds up to the lake and right around the lakeshore, where you’ll find the ochre-red Debung Kagyud Gompa, with an active thangka (Tibetan cloth painting) school and a large central Sakyamuni statue. Just beyond is the pale blue gurdwara built in honour of Gobind Singh in the 1930s. In the other direction, the Tso-Pema Ogyen Heru-kai Nyingmapa Gompa has artful murals and atmospheric pujas (prayer ceremonies) at around 7am and 3.30pm. Uphill from the lake is the towering white Zigar Drukpa Kagyud Institute, with outsized statues of Tantric deities. A 12m-high statue of Padmasambhava is under construction on the hill above the lake. On the far side of the lake are a number of small Hindu temples dedicated to the sage Rishi Lomas, who was forced to do penance here as a dedication to Shiva.
Local taxi drivers can arrange tours to other temples and viewpoints around the lake, including the Buddha Cave on the ridge, where Padmasambhava allegedly meditated (you can also walk here from the lakeshore).
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