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Rewalsar (Tibetan: Tsopema, sometimes Tshopema. Meaning: Tso - lake, Pema - lotus) is a small town on the banks of Lake Rewalsar in Himachal Pradesh. The lake at Rewasar is believed to be place where Guru Rinpoche was placed on a burning funeral pyre by the king of Zahor, but instead of being consumed by the flames he transformed the fire into a lake. Due to this incident, Rewalsar became an important sacred site for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, and there are many Buddhist monasteries and retreat centers around the lake.


Rewalsar is equally sacred to Hindus, Sikhs, and Buddhists. It was at Rewalsar that Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) is said to have transformed a burning funeral pyre upon which he was placed into a lake, which is the focal point of the town and the main attraction for pilgrims. Hindus believe that it was here that Rishi Lomas offered penance to Lord Shiva, while Sikhs have constructed a Gurudwara above the town to commemorate Guru Gobind Singh's visit to the area.

Rewalsar lies in the Southern Himalayan belt at an altitude of 1,360 m above sea level. Winters in Rewalsar can be freezing, while summers are generally pleasant.

Get in[edit]

Map of Rewalsar

By bus[edit]

There are direct buses from:

  • Mandi – ₹35, not via Nerchowk
  • Nerchowk
  • Sundarnagar – ₹60, not via Nerchowk. Buses go from Sundarnagar at around 7AM and 2PM, and take 1¾ hr. They go back at 8:50AM and 4PM.

Mandi connects Dharamsala and everything in between, and Manali.

Sundarnagar connects Shimla (to Shimla at 10:20AM for ₹273), and Kiratpur Sahin for the railway.

Get around[edit]

As most of the attractions are near the lake, walking is the best, and in many places, the only way to get around. Auto rickshaws and taxis are available from the bus station to outlying districts or up the hill to the cave and Devi temple.


  • 1 Rewalsar Zoo. At the other extremity of the lake, there is a small zoo where local animals can be seen. It is located under the trees and the walk is quite enjoyable.
  • 1 Sar Village. Close to Rewalsar. The village has two lakes, a number inexpensive guesthouses, and is near the sacred caves and Devi temple.

Temples and monasteries[edit]

  • 2 Drikung Kadyud Gompa. Another part of the Tibetan monasteries here.
  • 3 Gurudwara of Guru Gobind Singh. The Sikh temple in Rewalsar.
  • 4 Shiv Mandir. The Hindu temple in Rewalsar.
  • 5 Tso-Pema Ogyen Heru-kai Nyingmapa Gompa (Tsopema Nyingmapa Monastery) (on the banks of the lake). A Tibetan retreat center founded by Dudjom Rinpoche. It is the oldest monastery at the lake. Nyingma monastery (Q12371212) on Wikidata


  • 1 Rewalsar Lake. Roam around the lake, stand at the water or sit in one of the many pavilions and enjoy the quietness. According to Buddhist legend, the lake was miraculously created from a funeral pyre that had been built by the King of Zahor for the purpose of burning Guru Rinpoche and Princess Mandarava alive. The depth of the lake has never been established and remains a mystery. A park surrounds the lake, which serves as an area to circumambulate the sacred site. Before India was engulfed in Covid with many deaths, the locals reported that the lake turned a deep yellow, and then returned to normal colour as the pandemic died down. Rewalsar Lake (Q7346840) on Wikidata Rewalsar Lake on Wikipedia
  • 2 Statue of Padmasambhāva. Hike up to the statue and enjoy a pleasant view over the town. There is also a nice café up there for a coffee or chai. Statue of Padmasambhāva in Rewalsar (Q108838256) on Wikidata
  • Tsopema festival. Takes place every 12 years. Last occurrence was in 2004. It falls on the auspicious 10th day of the 1st month of the Tibetan lunar calendar and it is celebrated as the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava ("The Lotus Born" Guru) who was supposedly born in the monkey year.

Further afield[edit]

Hike up to:

  • 3 Guru Rinpoche Cave (Padmasabhava Cave) (A 40-min hike from the town.). A cave where Guru Rinpoche meditated, contains a number of shrines and a large statue on the guru. En route will pass a small nunnery and meditation caves. The path is steep in parts, but well paved. The cave is inside of the houses, so you have to go through one of the doors of the houses there.
  • 4 Naina Devi Temple (1-2 km further up from the caves). A 2-hr walk, passing some Buddhist caves (see above) and lakes (if you go via Sar) en route from Rewalsar.


There are a number of small Tibetan handicraft stores in the town.


  • 1 Korlam Kitchen. A simple restaurant in a clean environment. Inexpensive.


  • 1 Emaho Café, Drikung monastery, +91 1905 240 243. Coffee, cakes, simple meals. Terrace seating with views over the lake. Very touristy.


There are many guesthouses in town, just walk around and you will find them. Otherwise, Sar up the hill has a few inexpensive guesthouses. But if you are in town, it is a good idea to stay in one of the religious places.

  • 1 Drikung Kagyu Buddhist Monastery's Guesthouse (Emaho Guesthouse), at the main entrance of the lake (Right next to Emaho Café). They host pilgrims and non pilgrims. It might get busy during Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist holidays. They have two types of rooms. The simple ones are on the ground floor, in front of the café (WiFi accessible), next to the street and with shared bathrooms. The others seems to be upstairs, bathroom en suite and more calm. From ₹600 (food extra).
  • 2 Gurudwara Guesthouse. The Sikh temple provides very simple accommodation with shared or private bathroom, and food for pilgrims and foreigners. Free, but around ₹50–100 donation per night recommended.
  • 3 Nyingmapa Monastery Guesthouse. Another Tibetan monastery guesthouse to the one below. ₹300–800.
  • 4 The Tourist Inn (Himachal Pradesh Tourist Development Corporation), +91 1905 240252, . Run by the Himachal Pradesh tourist authority. The guesthouse is clean and simple. ₹800–3,000.

Stay safe[edit]

  • There are many stray dogs in Rewalsar, and so it is advisable not to stroll around after dark. You may also consider bringing earplugs as the canines often bark throughout the night.
  • The town has an issue with monkeys, which roam in the town, and so it is recommended to keep belongings close by and to hide any food items or anything that could be mistaken for food, this is especially relevant for the lakeside area.

Go next[edit]

  • Bir – A town with many Buddhist temples and institutes. Paragliding. Numerous hostels. Between Mandi and Dharamsala.
  • Dharamsala – Home to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile in McLeodGanj. Popular with Buddhist pilgrims and backpackers.
  • Manali – A backpacker favourite. Trekking and mountaineering. Buses to Ladakh.
  • Mandi – An historical city with many temples. A regional transportation hub.
  • Parvati Valley – Home to Kasol, a backpacker favourite. The spiritual center of Manikaran. Hot springs. Hiking trails at the Great Himalayan National Park. Weed harvest in September.
  • Shimla – The former British hill station and current capital of Himachal Pradesh.

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