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Lake Manasarovar

* The most sacred mountain and lake in the world. 
History:  Unknown
Distance from from Lhasa: more than 1300 km
Entrance fee: RMB 160
Open Hours: All day

 

Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
Mt.Kailash & Lake. Manasarovar
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Lake Manasarovar, or Mapam Yumco is a fresh-water lake in Tibet Autonomous Region of China 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles) from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasa Sarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Kangrinboqe Peak, the main peak of the Kangdese Mountains, at an elevation of 4,588 meters. It is the highest body of freshwater in the world. The Mapang Yumco Lake is famed as the “Mother of All Rivers”. In the absence of wind and waves, the vast lake surface is like a mirror reflecting the blue sky, white clouds, snowy peaks and steep cliffs. The lake is recognized as a holy site by various religions and also thought to be the highest freshwater lake in the world.

The word 'manas' means mind or consciousness; the name Manasarovar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Mampang Yumco in Tibetan means the "eternal and invincible jade lake," and was named to mark the victory of Buddhism over the local Bon Religion in the 11th century. It is taken as "the king of holy lakes" with fame as great as the holy mountain of Kangrinboqe.

Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,556 meters (14947.5 feet) above mean sea level, making it the highest fresh-water lake in the world. It is relatively round in shape with a circumference of 88 kilometers (55 miles). Its depth is 90 meters (300 feet) and its surface area is 320 square kilometers (120 square miles). The lake freezes in winter and melts only in the spring. It is connected to nearby Lake Rakshastal by the natural Ganga Chhu channel. Manasarovar is the source of the Sutlej River which is the easternmost large tributary of the Indus. Nearby are the sources of the Brahmaputra River, the Indus River, and the Karnali River (Ghaghara) which is an important tributary of the Ganges River, so this region is the hydrographic nexus of the Himalaya.

The lake derives most of its water from melting snow in the Kangdese Mountains. Offset by blue skies and white clouds, it is as beautiful as a fairyland, transparent, tranquil and boundless. Blue waves roll softly across the lake, and distant mountains are seen indistinctly around it. As per Hindu theology, Lake Manasa Sarovar is the abode of purity and one who touches the earth of Manasa Sarovar will go to paradise. One who drinks the water from the lake will go to the heaven of Lord Shiva. He will be cleansed of his sins committed over a hundred lifetimes.

According to Tibetan Buddhism, the Guangcai Dragon King Palace lies at the bottom of the lake. In front of the palace is Tsampo Zhaxi, which is a holy tree sending out light as the source of happiness on the earth. Indian legend claims the lake to be a place where Siva and his wife Goddess Woma, daughter of the Himalayas, bathed. In Buddhist scriptures, the lake named the "mother of the rivers in the world" refers to the holy lake, Mampang Yumco, which enjoys a reputation equal to the holy mountain of Kangrinboqe. Xuan Zang (600-664), an eminent monk who lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). He described the Mampang Yumco Lake in his book Records of Western Travels as "a jade pond in west."

There are eight monasteries surrounding the lake. Gyiwu Monastery and Curgu Monastery are the best known of them. The area surrounding Curgu Monastery is respected as a holy and pure bathing site. Buddhist followers believe the water can wash away "five malignancies of the human soul (greed, anger, craziness, sloth and jealousy)" and can remove uncleanliness from human skin. As a result, the holy lake is crowded with people who come to take a bath there every year. These people also carry water from the holy lake on their long journeys back home, and share it with their relatives and friends.

Four bathing gates lead to the holy lake: the Gate of Lotus Baths in the east, the Gate of Sweat Baths in the south, the Gate of Filth-Removing Baths in the west, and the Gate of Belief Baths in the north.

The holy lake also has four headwaters: Maquanhe River in the east, Shiquanhe River in the north, Xiangquanhe River in the west, and Kongquehe River in the south. The four rivers are named after the four supernatural animals in paradise -- the horse, lion, elephant and peacock. They are also the origins of four well-known rivers in South Asia: the Ganges, Indus River, Sutlei River and Yarlung Zangbo River. Mapam Yumco Lake's reputation as mother of the rivers in the world was probably established due to this.

The water of the lake is regarded as dew bestowed from heaven. Drinking it or dipping oneself in it helps build up healthy qualities, removes annoyance and prolongs life. Tibetans deem all fish or feathers they take from the lake or lakeside as gifts from the Dragon King. This is why people who come to take a ritual walk around the holy mountain Kangrinboqe also walk around the lake. Many tend to prostrate themselves and then crawl to complete a circuit in a week.

Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and the neighboring countries. Bathing in the Manasa Sarovar and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasa Sarovar Yatra which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the cleansing waters of the lake.

Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and the neighboring countries. Bathing in the Manasa Sarovar and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasa Sarovar Yatra which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the cleansing waters of the lake.

Manasa Sarovar Lake has long been viewed by the pilgrims as the source of four of the greatest rivers of Asia namely Brahmaputra, Karnali, Indus and Sutlej. So it is an axial point which has been thronged by pilgrims for thousands of years. The region was initially closed to pilgrims from outside and no foreigners were allowed between 1949 and 1980. But after the 80s it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.

According to Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called "Manas sarovara", which is a combination of the words manas (mind) and sarovara (lake). The lake, in Hindu religious belief, is also supposed to be the summer abode of swans. Considered as sacred birds, the swans (Sanskrit: Hansa) are an important element in the symbology of the Subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty. It is also believed the Devas descend to bathe in the lake between 3 and 5 am the time of the day known as Brahmhi Muhurta.

Buddhists also associate the lake to the legendary lake known as Anavatapta in Sanskrit and Anotatta in Pali, where Queen Maya is believed to have conceived Buddha. The lake has a few monasteries on its shores. The most notable of which is the ancient Chiu Gompa Monastery, which has been built right onto a steep hill. It looks as if it has been carved right out of the rock.

The Jains and the Bonpas of Tibet equally revere this spot with great enthusiasm.

Travel Tips:
  • Admission fee: RMB 1,20 (USD 18) per person
  • It takes about 2 days from Lhasa to get there. Walking around the lake one circle takes about 4—5 days

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