Rewalsar is a tranquil village in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. This village, with its small lake and surrounding woods, is stunningly beautiful. It is also home to some of the popular monasteries from the Nyingmapa order of Buddhism. The Drikung Kagyud Gompa and the Zigar Gompa are among the prominent monasteries of this order. A unique feature of these gompas is the amalgamation of the Indo-Chinese style of architecture. They have beautiful interiors adorned with stucco images and paintings. Rewalsar is an important site of Buddhism in this state due to its legends about the 8th century saint, Padmasambhava. It is believed that he proceeded to Tibet from Rewalsar. Presently, Rewalsar is among the most visited Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the country.
Standing on the edge of the Rewalsar Lake, the monastery is highly significant and revered by people of all religions. With water, woodlands and high hills, the site of Rewalsar presents an enchanting variety of natural beauty. The spot is sacred for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.
According to legend, Guru Padmasambhava built the Rewalsar Monastery in the 8th century. This pagoda style monastery stands on the shore of the famous Rewalsar Lake. Padmasambhava was a follower of Buddhism and belonged to the North West Frontier Province of Pakistan. He became a pioneer in spreading Buddhism in Himachal Pradesh. The locals knew him as Guru Rinpoche, the Buddhist preacher. The prime attraction of this monastery is the 150 feet statue of the Guru. The cool interiors of this monastery are a treasure trove of wall murals and stucco images. Also, the various legends and stories associated with the life of Guru Padmasambhava impress tourists.
Legends in Rewalsar
Guru Padmasambhava is believed to have acquired Tantric and spiritual powers. Once the evil ministers had him thrown into a fire but it miraculously transformed into a lake with lotuses! His foot imprints are found around the lake and in the nearby caves. Another popular legend is of him making his way to Tibet on a tiger since the Emperor had invited him to ward off evil spirits from his kingdom. Padmasambhava founded the first ever monastery in Tibet known as the Samye Gompa - an initiative to spread Buddhism there. He was responsible for establishing the famous Takshang Monastery in Bhutan.
The villagers of Rewalsar still believe that the spirit of the guru lives in the floating islands on the Rewalsar Lake.
How to reach Rewalsar
Rewalsar is around 24 km from Mandi town by road. The Pathankot railhead is the nearest (210 km away). Bhuntar Airport is 57 km from Mandi district.