Renukaji and its history

In the year of 1814, a beautiful land was found out by the Gurkhas. This place came to be known as "Renukaji". The place's name actually emerged from the lake 'Renuka' which has a great beauty in itself. The place is situated in Uttaranchal, India and is definitely a must visit for all the tourists and the nature loving people.The lake resembles a woman in her sleeping posture and surrounding it, are many temples which exist from the ancient times. Behind the beauty and the existence lies a history.

The birth of this beautiful lake has a tale involving love, betrayal, evil emperors, and devotion. Renukaactually was the wife of a powerful sage called Jamadagini. They had a son called Parshurama. The saint used to meditate in the mountains surrounding the lake. They also owned a sacred cow called Kamadhenu, which was considered as the mother of all cows and was also seen as goddess for all the cow worshippers. The sacred Kamadhenu used to grant three wishes to his owner. The evil emperor Shahasarjuna heard about this and went to steal the holy cow. While doing so, his evil eyes fell on the beautiful wife of the saint, Renuka and he desired to achieve her as well. While doing so, he killed the saint, Jamadagini. Renuka managed to get away from the evil clutches of the emperor and jumped into the small lake called Ram Sarovar in grief of her beloved husband's death and also to escape from the hands of Shahasarjuna. All the gods were extremely happy to see her devotion and love for her husband and rewarded her purity by making her return from the death and live in the water of the lake. Hence then, the small lake became the largest in Himachal Pradesh. The name also changed into "Renakaji". Renuka's son also wanted to stay at the feet of his mother forever and hence he was changed into the small lake by the end of Lake Renukaji, called as Parshuramaa Tal. Thus, the existence of this place has a rich history and interesting legend behind it. This makes the place more interestingby itself.

The reunion of son and mother is celebrated in the month of November. This starts from the eve of Dev Prabodini Ekadasi. A large fair is also held at the same time. This fair is of great importance for the people living here, as it provides them a break from their daily routine and provide merriment in their life. Along with the dancing, and singing and shopping like any other fair, this fair holds of much importance to the people in the Hindu religion. One of the reasons for its importance is for the belief that Renuka was none other than one of the many reincarnation of Goddess Durga, the Mother Goddesses. Many people from all over the places come to see this unique fair and celebration. A brass idol of Parshurama is made in a village of Jammu and carried all the way in a beautiful palanquin and on its way it is also joined with more twelve local gods in the bank of river Giri. Here Parshurama stays for three days and also becomes an oracle, who answers the questions of his devoted worshippers. Thus, it is for sure that along with all the hustle, bustle of the fair along with all the rituals and tradition is a must watch for the people. After the fair ends, there are certain rituals which have to be followed. The participants unite under their deities and exchange turbans and capful of water and at last take a dip in the sacred river, Renuka.

However, this story of devotion and purity of Renuka has another version of it too. This story, on the other hand proves Renuka to be infidel, which surprisingly totally an opposite side of the story previously given. According to this story, Renuka's attention wandered while performing her daily purification ritual and was not successful at completing it. Jamadagini, her husband was furious at this and accused Renuka of unfaithful thoughts. Thus, he ordered his five sons to behead their mother. The four sons refused to do so, and were turned into stones. His fifth son Parshurama carried out his father's order, but later both father and son regretted over their action and wished them back to life. Thus, Renuka is seen as an ally to those who are falsely accused of crime and infidelity. While, on the other hand some stories state out that Renuka, indeed was distracted for a few moments from performing her ritual. Some legends state that she was distracted by the glimpse of the Gandharva king, Chitrangada who was with his one of his wives and enjoying her company. Another legend states that Renuka saw the shadows of King Chitrangada in the water.

Whatever, the case maybe all the legends states that it ended on a sad note for Renuka and her son. It is also believed that Parshurama was the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and was among the seven humans who achieved immortality. The temples which surround this area are the 'Renuka Temple', 'Gayatri Temple' and 'Atop Jammu Peak'. The temples add extra charm to the place and are of equal importance. The Renuka Temple is the most important among all. It is also called as 'The Math'. It is believed that this temple was built overnight by the Gurkhas when they invaded the region. Hence the temple has a special significance.