It is a small lake, nestled amidst the mountains, surrounded by forests. The shape is slightly elongated, though not a regular oval. But then, you wouldn’t expect a natural lake to have a perfect shape, would you? At first glance, it appears like any other mountain lake. Why then is this one special? Because, it is associated with the divine, by Buddhists, as well as Hindus!
There are many legends and myths related to the lake at Khecheopalri, near Pelling in West Sikkim. It is said that these mountains are the abode of the Goddess Tara, and that the lake is her footprint! Another legend states that this is the site where the Guru Padmasambhava preached to the 64 Yoginis. Yet another speaks of the locals witnessing two conches falling from the skies, the ground shaking violently, and water emerging from the earth, forming the lake.
In Hindu mythology, the lake is Shiva’s footprint, and the Lord himself meditates in one of the caves in the mountains here.
It is also said that no leaf ever floats on the lake, despite being surrounded by trees. As soon as leaf falls, a bird picks it up and flies away!
|Blue Fronted Redstart|
The legends and myths have, to a great extent, helped preserve the sanctity and the peace here. The lake and its surroundings are home to a number of birds, and even in the short time that we spent there, we saw quite a few. The ducks swimming in the lake were especially a wonderful sight!
The only sore point of the trip was a bunch of visitors having a jolly time ringing the temple bell, enjoying the echoes, and laughing raucously. It made me wonder if we would ever learn to be responsible tourists.
Among all the sites we visited near Pelling, this is one I would love to go back to, someday, and spend some leisurely time just sitting by the lake. Is it the divinity that beckons me, the stories, or the birds? It doesn’t really matter. What does, is being drawn to it.