Himalayan Mystery: The Lake & the Little Bird
Nestled in the forested areas of Himalayas, Serolsar or Saryolsar lake is located five kms from Jalori pass, a high mountain pass at an elevation of 10,282 feet above sea level in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. This lake is neither very big nor incredibly deep nor near a famous place or monument to attract any attention. There is no big human habitation nearby either. The lake’s vicinity is covered up with fallen tree leaves, but its water always remains clean. Still it attracts not only tourists but also men with a spiritual mentality because of its glass clean water despite the natural surroundings with trees and many birds.
Surprise of all surprises it is the birds living around and particularly one little bird named “Aabhi” which keeps the lake clean. The little creature keeps watch all through the day and picks up even if it is a leaf from the lake as if it is employed for the same. No matter what time of the day the lake is visited, it is clean. This unique bird which has taken the complete responsibility of cleanliness of the lake is not often seen elsewhere. The residents of the village believe that the bird ‘Aabhi’ is a one-of-a-kind bird who is only seen in this region.
The residents of the nearby village claim that since long ago around this lake there used to live several birds. These birds used to create their nests on the trees around the lake, eventually the lake used to get clumsy at times, with the feathers of birds, twigs and leaves from the trees falling into it.
It is also believed that this ancient lake has the golden palace of Budhi Naagin, the goddess of the snakes at the bottom of the water. Since it was a snake goddess palace there were many snakes too. But the serpents did not like the birds making a mess of the place of their deity and destroying all their eggs and nests. The birds, also staying there for long, did not want to leave and prayed to the goddess. Budhi Naagin heard their plea and concluded that no bird would ever be attacked by the snakes, if the birds would ensure the cleanliness of the lake, so the story goes. This order given by the goddess is still respected by the birds living in this region. It is evident that as soon as a leaf or a twig falls in the lake the birds immediately collect it from the lake to ensure the cleanliness of the lake.
There are many other stories about the lake and its mysterious snake goddess. But the little bird has stolen the show till date. Till today the actual depth of the lake is not known to anyone. Visitors are allowed to offer prayers to the Budhi Naagin at the temple located next to the lake. No visitors are allowed to enter the lake. It is believed humans who dared to go into the lake die. This is again based on an age-old belief surrounding the golden palace of Buddhi Nagin.
Renowned Himachali author SR Harnot’s appreciated short story ‘AABHI’ which has been included in Hindi syllabus by Jain University Bangalore for graduate students. Based on ‘Aabhi’ the author has tried to draw a comparison between the dedication of the Aabhi bird and forest mafia, who are cutting trees and disturbing the ecological system. In his short story Harnot has sarcastically pointed at the forest mafia and advised to take the example of a small bird, who is dedicatedly helping Sereolsar Lake clean by picking straws and leaves immediately.
Since then, a number of reviews have been published in various Hindi magazines and journals. Famous author and critic Dr. Vinod Shahi has placed this story in the classics category along with Prem Chand’s story – ‘Poos ki Raat’ and Nirmal Verma’s – ‘Dedh Inch Uper’. Prof. Khem Raj Sharma of Central University Dharamshala has translated the story in English language.