Lake on mountains - Rewalsar
Peace and only Peace at Rewalsar
Rewalsar Lake in Himachals
The summer of 2009 was very special for the family as we were to visit Himachals for the first time! The internet and travel sites gave new ideas and travel planning was a great fun. We were searching for a suitable place near Mandi to break our journey. Rewalsar caught our fancy with descriptions like lake nestled in mountains and a holy place for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs. The images were quite fascinating with magical visuals of lake, woodland, mountains, monasteries and temples. I immediately booked a 4 bed room in Tourist Inn hotel of HPTDC through the online booking system, the tariff being a paltry sum of Rs 900. During our stay we came to know that the 4 bedded rooms on either side of the front part are most sought after.
Delhi to Himachal
The D day arrived and we started from Delhi on one of the May mornings filled with a great sense of excitement in a hired Indica. The Delhi – Chandigarh highway was symbolizing the new India with modern expressway, flyovers, toll plazas and upcoming huge 21st century residential complexes under the banner of some of the biggest real estate companies. The housing projects at different stages of progress shocked me rather than impress me with their grandeur and size. They looked like humiliating the local populace which was seen busy in their age old simple and trivial looking daily chores. It was a brutal onslaught of money on the peaceful and tranquil existence of simple villagers. The cruelty of money power was quite stark in its various manifestations.
Rewalsar - Break journey
Rewalsar was our next stay after Shimla serving the purpose of midway journey break between Shimla and Manali. We started early for Rewalsar as we wanted to leave Shimla at the earliest to get away from intimidating crowd at Shimla. The drive in HP is very fascinating as HP is all about hills, mountains, valleys, rivers and winding roads. HP people are as beautiful as their surroundings. Their looks strikes you time and again – there fair skin, glow in skin and eyes full of life. They have a deep smile and look symbol of happiness and peace, as beautiful as the surrounding nature.
It was Ner Chowk from where we had to leave Shimla – Mandi highway. Ner Chowk looked like a medium size town and was full with usual activities. The landscape was very much flat as it was in the plains. I was beginning to get disappointed with my expectation of a lake in the mountains. With the milestone announcing Rewalsar 15 Kms from Ner I felt that lake on mountains was more of a virtual concept than a real one. My disappointments started melting as the roads became steeper and steeper. We were looking for that magical lake and there was no hint that there will be a lake surrounded by monasteries, temples and gurudwaras. But immediately after the town we were could see ourselves climbing on mountains. The views were breath taking.
Suddenly it appeared
It was nearing 2 PM and suddenly Rewalsar emerged from the mountains, the colorful monasteries getting the first attention. It is indeed a very small village with small shops in the only street. We reached our destination i.e. HPTDC hotel and what a beautiful place it turned out to be. The hotel overlooks the lake which is surrounded by mountains, monasteries, temples, gurudwaras and a very small settlement. The hotel looked new but later on the manager informed that the hotel was built in 19th century and a revamping has been carried out recently.
Peace and serenity
It was a blissful experience and Peace and Serenity was all over the place and in our minds too. The manager and staff were very hospitable. As we were very tired and hungry we ordered our food and had a great time in the nice bathrooms taking long baths. The food was good and well served but slightly on expensive side as compared to its tariff. The kids were eager to explore Rewalsar and we got out of the hotel and into the street immediately. It was a very small village. The humble surroundings brought us closer and closer to inner peace. The small shops had many Tibetan eating joints with menus displaying the names of exotic dishes from many countries i.e. Italian, Israelis etc. We could see quite a few foreign nationals who were seen in such Tibetan joints and looked well researched and staying for a long time. We went inside the monasteries. The visual impact of bright colors all around was quite fascinating. The monks and devotees made the place very sacred.
The spiritual air
As you come down from the hotel in the street you see the grand entry of the Monastery. The colors strike you immediately. People inside are on a single purpose – pursuit of spiritual experience. A road encircles the lake and you see other monasteries, pale blue gurudwara. Uphill from the lake is the towering statue of Padmasambhava looking over the human beings around the lake. On the far side of the lake are a number of small Hindu temples dedicated to the sage Rishi Lomas. When we visited the water was quite pale and we saw a strange thing-multitude of fishes that are addicted to food items thrown by people. They looked quite ugly in shallow waters. Tibetans walk around the lake in evenings and mornings with beads in their hands.
The small shops dealing in beautiful Tibetan artifacts were fascinating with their riot of colors. We stopped at one such shop and bought beads made of Tibetan stones. The whole process was very enjoyable. It was like an exchange of happiness rather than buying and selling with lot of smiles going back and forth.
The evening had set in and the balcony was inviting. I was experiencing the fantasy of my life, sitting on a balcony and looking at the lake surrounded by Monastery, temples and gurudwaras, the apple wine playing an important part. The backdrop is set by mountains where one could see a moving point of lights of the vehicles on winding roads of the mountains at different heights. The chanting, devotional songs, temple bells and sounds from mountains and jungles had a tremendous impact on the mind subjected to stress and negativity of so called modern life. One evening on the balcony sipping fruit wine was worth all the travel and expenditure.
We did not visit the caves higher up on the mountains and left it for the next time. There is a path leading from the lake and village to the mountain top and Padmasambhava cave. A visit to the cave is highly recommended with a 2 day stay at Rewalsar.
The pristine beauty of the valley and the mountains having a harmonious existence of small settlement of human beings engaged in spiritual search and experience had a cleansing effect on mind filled with the filth of modern day living. The overall experience was marked by a deep spiritual peace. It’s not a regular tourist destination but a very good place to be with oneself which is so difficult otherwise.