THE LEGEND OF BUDDHA TEMPLE
The Buddha temple (Gompa) is supposed to have come into existence during the 8th century when Padmasambhava Buddha the second and the originator of 'Lamaism' or the 'Tantrik cult' of Buddhism (Vajrayan) emanated. It is believed that Padmasambhava selected Mandi for his spiritual exercise.
He came miraculously to this kingdom, particularly to visit the king's renowned daughter Mandharva, to preach her the teachings of Buddhism. She was a religious woman. But the heretic king burnt him alive, on the spot where the present lake, Rewalsar, is existing.
Padmasambhava changed the flame and converted it into water and out came a lake, and Padmasambhava sat upon a Lotus stalk in the midst of the lake. The king then conceded his ignorance and paid homage to Padmasambhava. The King's daughter Mandharva, who had been put in a deep trench full of thorns, was taken out and allowed to follow the Preacher's teachings.
The Lamas have built a beautiful Gompa or a Buddhist temple on the spot. There is a huge idol of Padmasambhava as the presiding deity. The image is flanked by the idols of Tara Devi and Lord Buddha. A number of wheels (wooden or metallic) have been fixed all round the temple with the Buddhist Mantrams carved in Tibetan script.
During the month of 'Phagun,' on a particular day, which is supposed to be the birthday of Padmasambhava, a fair is held at Rewalsar. A considerable number of Tibetans, Lahaulis and Kinnauris turn up on that day to pay homage to him regarded as the incarnation of Lord Buddha.
On this auspicious day, a special dance is arranged in which fifteen to twenty men participate and it continues for two to three hours. This dance is called 'Chhambh' dance. An image of the second Buddha is also taken round in a chariot. The long pole fixed in the compound of the shrine is replaced after covering it with cloth having five colors, amidst the chanting of Buddhist prayers. The colors used are blue, yellow, red or pink, white and green.
According to the Buddhist faith, the Padmasambhava meditated somewhere here for 25 years. His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the shrine during the year 1957. In memory of their visit, they planted two trees of Magnolia Grandiflora, which are now in full bloom.