HIMACHAL THE BEAUTIFUL STATE, PART IV – RENUKA LAKE

My Fantasy Place

It is within three hours of drive from my place in Kandaghat (Please read: ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is – Kandaghat In Shimla Hills’) and yet, I hadn’t been there except with my parents when I was small.

It is my fantasy place. My fantasy is all about a boat in a lake on a moonlit night with a partner. So what if this time the boat happened to be not a rowing boat but a paddle-boat with a dragon face and so what if the moon was out in the forenoon itself? It was still my fantasy place.

The Journey to and from Renuka

My wife and I were on return passage to Kandaghat from Haridwar. We spent the night at the Special Forces Training School Mess at Nahan and started from there after breakfast. The distance of 38 Kms from Nahan was spent looking at the beautiful scenery:

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On the way back from Renuka to Kandaghat via Kumhar Hatti, we realised that even if we had gone straight from Kandaghat, we would have been blessed with equally beautiful sights:

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Largest Natural Lake in Himachal

Renuka Lake is the largest natural lake in Himachal (the Gobind Sagar Lake in Bilaspur being the largest man-made reservoir in Himachal). We took a Golf Kart to go on the track around the lake and the driver told us that it is about 3.5 Kms (the actual circumference of the lake being 3.214 Kms). Many people feel that the Khajiar Lake near Dalhousie is most serene and isolated. Well, you have to be at Renuka to experience the quiet. You can hear the birds, the fish (the lake is house to large Mahseer fish), and even the dry leaves fall from the trees. You can whisper to your inner self; it is so quiet.

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Religious Significance

Renuka Lake is not just a tourist spot of outstanding and enchanting beauty, it is a place of great religious significance. The lake is named after the goddess Renuka or Renu who is the avatar of goddess Parvati or Shakti, the wife of Lord Shiva. Indeed when we went boating, we had to do so bare feet as the lake is considered the abode of Renuka ji (the name literally meaning Mother of the Universe).

The temple of Lord Parshuram stands on the bank of the lake. Lord Parshuram was the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Bhagwati Renuka Ji, Lord Parshuram’s mother and her husband Maharishi Jamdagni performed deep meditation (known in Hindi as Tapa or तप, from the Hindi word Tapsaya और तपस्या) at a place appropriately called Tape Ka Tibba (Meditation Hillock). Lord Vishnu was pleased with their meditation and took birth as their son. He was named Ram by his parents but came to be known as Parshuram because he in turn pleased Lord Shiva with his meditation (Tapa) and received the divine weapon Parshu from him.

The temple of Lord Parshuram stands at the bank of Renuka Lake
The temple of Lord Parshuram stands at the bank of Renuka Lake

On the opposite side of the temple, across the lake is the holy spot where there is an icon of Renuka ji:

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Renuka ji resides permanently in the lake after she took Jal Samadhi (meditative absorption in water) after King Sahastrabahu killed Maharishi Jamdagni for the latter’s refusal to hand over the Kamdhenu cow as the Maharishi explained that it was the property of Lord Indra given to him in trust. Renuka ji promised her son Lord Parshuram that every year on the occasion of Devprabodhini Ekadashi she would emerge from the lake to meet him. A five day international festival is held in Renuka on this occasion every year. This is immediately after Diwali and my wife and I missed it by a few days. A visit to the temple of Lord Parshuram is a must. You would be served with free Langar (community kitchen) whilst you are there:

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Tourist Interest

There is a HPTDC hotel and restaurant at the entrance itself. Both the rooms and food are available at reasonable prices (Rooms ranging from Rupees 2500 to 3500 per day and night).

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To go around the lake, one can hire boats and these are reasonably priced too (A four seater paddle boat costs Rs.250 and six seater Rs.350). There is a Security or Guard Boat on duty to help in case of distress.

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Boating in the lake is an unforgettable experience. My wife and I did it starting 11 AM to noon on 22 Nov. The sky was totally blue, the sun shone pleasantly and as its rays shimmered on the surface of the lake, these were reflected into the branches of the trees around. Whilst boating, if you keep hearing the words: “this is heaven on earth“, chances are that you yourself are saying them as a litany as you go from one enchanting sight to another:

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One can go on the 3.5 Kms track around the lake in the HPTDC provided Golf-Kart. They charge Rs. 50 per head. My wife and I took the trip by ourselves. There are pens of a mini-zoo all along this track:

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Parshuram Sarovar and Renuka Temple

Both are right next to the lake. Indeed, the way to the lake is through the Sarovar on the bank of which is the temple and a Forest Rest House:

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Memories Forever

Renuka Lake is definitely the place to spend a day and night and make precious memories that will last you a lifetime. In the end, here are some that we made:

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