Jammu is a land of shrines and pilgrimages. They are numerous and varied, and belongs to various faiths. There is hardly a village or town which does not have a shrine of its own. And many of them are of more than local importance.
Jammu province has three lakes, Mansar, Surinsar and Sanasar. The first two lakes are rich in religious and historical association and the third one is considered as tourist resort. According to a legend these two lakes date back to the time of the Mahabharata.
Nilapura was the territory around Surinsar and Mansar lakes as referred by Kalhana in Rajtarangini.
The legend of Surinsar Lake states that during the wander of the Pandavas in exile, the five brothers once sojourned in these parts and Arjuna disported with a Nagakanya, Alupi, whose beauty captivated his heart at the very first sight. Their meeting resulted in the birth of a son Babruvahana, who grew up into a youth of great physical power.
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But Arjuna knew nothing about it. At the conclusion of the Great War, however, when the Pandavas performed the Yajna, Babruvahana held the horse released by Arjuna near the site of the present lake TatKhooni. A battle royal ensued when Arjuna asked to youthful Babruvahana to let go the horse in the fight the great Mahabharata hero was worsted. He fell down in the swoon.
When Babruvahana’s mother heard of this, she hurried to the spot and admonished her son, telling him that he had killed his own father. The son was full of remorse and hurries consultations took place about how the dying hero could be saved. The consensus was that could be done only with the help of an herb which grew in the neither world. Babruvahana therefore shot an arrow onto the ground. The miraculous arrow pierced the earth and picking up the life-saving herb on the other side on the planet, returned by a different passage with the herb at its tail end. Arjuna was thus saved and the two depressions created by the arrow’s passage across the earth got filled up in course of time to make the two gem-like Mansar and Surinsar, which shine like jewels on the blossom of Jammu.
The original sites of depressions created by the arrow’s passage across the earth have changed very much owing to the topographical changes through the centuries. The water gushing out from these original depressions making whole lake as the nectar fills the lake to its brim.
On Sankranti day in every month a large number of people from Jammu region visit the Shrine and take a dip on the holy waters of this lake and it is believed that sins gets washed out by taking a bath on this particular day.