Manasarovar, the fresh water lake is set amidst Mount Kailash and Mount Gurla Mandhata. It lies in the Tibet autonomous region of China 2000 km from Lhasa. Lake Rakshash Tal is located towards its west. Manasarovar is one of the highest fresh water lakes in the world and lies at 4,556 m above sea level. This lake is round in shape. Its circumference is 88 km, depth 90 m and the total area is 320 sq km. A natural channel Ganga Chhu connects it with lake Rakshash Tal. Manasarovar is the origin of four main rivers namely, Sutlej river, Indus river, Brahmaputra river and Karnali river.
The lake was first explored by Jesuit missionaries who travelled from Ladakh to Lhasa in 1715. However in the 20th century, a Swedish adventurer and explorer named Sven Hedin made a circumambulation of Mt. Kailash. Due to the Indo-China border dispute, Indians were not allowed to visit Manasarovar lake for nearly two decades. However, thanks to the initiatives of the Indian and Chinese governments, the Kumaon Mandal Vikas Nigam now arranges for a Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra once a year, that too for limited numbers of pilgrims.
The lake is the major attraction in this place. Hindus believe that, Lord Brahma first created this lake in his mind and hence its name, Manas (mind) and Sarovar (lake). Also according to Hindu
mythology, Manasarovar lake is a summer abode for swans, considered to be the wisest and most sacred birds. Also it is believed that the Devas or Gods descend and take bath in this lake at Brahma Muhurta (3 am to 5 am). This lake is also holy to Buddhism and Jainism. Pilgrims believe that people who take bath in Manasarovar and drink its water, will have all their sins forgiven.
Mt. Kailash is a symbol of relief for pilgrims from India
. It is an important place for four different religions. It is called as the “World Pillar” and is 22,000 feet high. In its shadow the Manasarovar lake lies serenely. In Hindu
mythology, Manasarovar lake is symbolized as the female aspect of creation, the Yoni and Mt. Kailash as the active male aspect, called Lingam. Jains, consider Mt. Kailash as a place where their first prophet obtained his enlightenment. According to Buddhist cosmography, Mt. Kailash is identified as the mighty Mount Sumeru, the central peak of the world. Mt. Kailash is considered as “Precious Jewel of Snow” in Tibet.
The pilgrimage to Manasarovar is the most difficult in Asia. Distances, harsh weather, bandits and difficult treks are worrying aspects of this pilgrimage. The present route from Delhi
, the capital of India
, consists of both bus journey and high-altitude mountain trekking.