Rewalsar — Himachal Pradesh
Rewalsar, synonymous with the lake by the same name, and home of the Buddhist saint, Padmasambhava, who introduced the Tantric teachings of Buddhism in Tibet, is bewitching and magical. A secret beauty off the beaten track, 25 km from the Himachal Pradesh town of Mandi, Trisangam, as Rewalsar is locally known, has one of the state’s most picturesque natural mountain lakes.
The square lake is 1,360 m above sea level and revered by Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists. The crowning glory is its float of reeds, believed to contain the spirit of Padmasambhava. Tso Pema or ‘Lotus Lake’ has three monasteries, a gurudwara and three temples. A 12-metre statue of Padmasambhava on the hillside above the lake dominates the skyline. According to legend, the king of Mandi, suspecting Padmasambhava of having a clandestine relationship with his daughter, Princess Mandharva, ordered his soldiers to throw the Master into a cauldron of boiling oil. When Padmasambhava entered the vessel, it magically turned into a giant lotus and the surr ounding plain became a lake. The oil from the pot blended with the water, leaving it eternally murky! The lake is home to a host of fish species, though fishing is prohibited.
Picnickers can enjoy boating on the lake. Visit the Padmasambhava Cave high above the lake on the ridge. This is where the Guru is believed to have meditated. A few other legendary lakes lie above Rewalsar and are associated with the Mahabharat, involving the escape of the Pandavas from the burning wax palace.