The ancient Lokpal lake situated at an altitude of 14,200 feet has been the focal point of many spiritually significant events. This sacred place finds mention in Ramayana, Mahabharat, Puranas and more recently in the autobiographical poem of Guru Gobind Singh. The sanctity of this place is attributed to Goddess Durga, Lakshmana and the Pandavas.
This picturesque lake is surrounded by the snow-clad Hathi Parvat and Saptashringa or Saptarishi peaks (seven peaks) of the Garhwal Himalayas. The crystal clear waters of the lake is from the melting glaciers of both Hathi Parvat and Saptashringa. A small stream Himganga flows out of this lake and joins the Pushpawati stream that flows out of the Valley of Flowers at Ghangharia village (Gobind Dham) and eventually as Lakshmana Ganga.
Legend has it that the spot where the temple dedicated to Lakshmana has been built is where Lakshmana was brought after he was grievously injured by Meghnath and then revived by the Sanjeevini booti. It is also said after Lakshmana beheaded Meghnath in a fierce battle, he came to this lake to do tapah (penance and austerities) to regain his strength. Lakshmana who is believed to be Sheshanaga is said to have spent a great deal of time in meditation in the form of a serpent on the banks of this lake in Satya Yuga before taking birth in Treta Yuga. King Pandu who was an exemplary tapasvi has also spent his time in meditation at Lokpal lake during his exile. Guru Gobind Singh, the revered tenth Guru of the Sikhs is said to have meditated here as per the Dasam Granth.
This temple on the banks of Lokpal lake is revered by Hindus, Tibetans and Sikhs who come to offer their prayers at the Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib. Lokpal lake over the years came to be known as Hemkund or Himkund deriving its name from hima which means snow or ice and kund which means pool. The sparkling waters of the lake is deemed sacrosanct and said to have medicinal and healing properties. It is highly recommended to take a dip in this holy water no matter how cold it might be!
Locals say Tibetans, Garhwali and Bhotiya used to visit this temple on Krishna Janmashtami, Durga Ashtami and Raksha Bandhan even before the Sikh community came to know about Hemkund Sahib. This valley used to be called Bhyundar valley but is now a part of the Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib. The beautiful Brahma kamal is found in abundance here.
The snow-capped Garhwal Himalayas and its ethereal reflections on the pristine waters of Lokpal lake, stunning natural beauty and divine energy of this place lends an air of serenity and bliss.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)