Jammu & Kashmir – Lake of the Ashes of the Dead
Gangbal Lake is arguably the most sacred body of water in India that is not a river. Located close to Mount Haramukh, it shares a history and culture with that sacred mountain devoted devoted to Lord Shiva, and many pilgrims to the area often visit both sites. Pilgrimages to the high mountain lake are very popular during the summer months.
Exactly how long the area around Gangbal has been inhabited or considered sacred is somewhat a matter of conjecture. Many shepherds and pastoral peoples reside in and around the tranquil place, and it is more than possible that the hermit Hurmukhuk Gosoni either spent time here or at least passed through here when he was seeking to climb the mountain.
Because of its proximity to the sacred mountain of Shiva, Gangbal Lake became known as a destination for those whose relatives and loved ones had passed away. From time immemorial, the lake has been a place where mourners have placed the ashes of the dead, a tradition that continues to the present day.
Gangbal Lake is located towards the northern end of Kashmir not too far from Mount Harmukh. Located barely fifteen miles east of the city of Bandipora and with a major road running nearby, it is relatively easily accessible and many pilgrims travel here every year. Located in India’s northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir, it is a little over 400 miles north of New Delhi.