About Lake Manasarovar
Together with the Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar makes up the world-famed, truly divine circuit called Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. You may have been on multiple pilgrimage journeys across the world but this is one which really makes you feel the divine presence of gods.
Meaning 'invincible lake', Lake Manasarovar is the most sacred lake in Tibet. It's also one of the highest in the world.
Lake Manasarovar is a fresh-water lake and it's beautifully surrounded with snow-laden peaks of the Himalayas. Every year, this lake attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists from different religions. Followers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Tibetan Bon religion hold this lake in high reverence.
Situated at an elevation of around 4,583 m, Lake Manasarovar is at a distance of 20 km south-east of Mount Kailash. It is located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and is 940 km away from Lhasa. The lake also lies close to the site from where the mighty river Sutlej originates.
Lake Manasarovar is a highly sacred lake and has a number of mythological stories and legends associated with it.
Hinduism : According to Hindu mythology, Lake Manasarovar was first imagined by Brahma in his mind. The lake is also believed to be the place where Hamsa (a spiritual aquatic bird) abides. Hindus consider the lake as a symbol of purity. Hindus believe that taking a dip in this lake or drinking the water of the lake will purge all sins of the past and purify the soul. That's why a large number of Hindus visit the lake to perform ritual bath in the water of the lake.
Buddhism : Followers of Buddhism believe that Lake Manasarovar is linked with the legendary lake Anavatapta. It is at this legendary lake where Buddha was conceived by Maya. The shore of the lake is lined with a couple of Buddhist monasteries as well including the most well-known Chiu Monastery.
Jainism : According to Jains, Lake Manasarovar is connected with Rishabhadeva, the first Jain Tirthankara.
Bon : Lake Manasarovar is frequently visited by the followers of the Bon religion, native to Tibet. According to Bon mythology, when Tonpa Shenrab first came to Tibet, he took a bath in this lake.
What to See
Apart from being highly sacred and picturesque, Lake Manasarovar also features a number of other attractions to see and explore.
Ji wu Monastery : It is located on the western banks of Lake Manasarovar. The monastery is in the Ji wu village where you can interact with locals and experience the day-to-day life of villagers. This is also a good place if you want to soak up heart-stirring views of sunrise and sunset.
Chiu Monastery : Just at a distance of 20 km from the Ji wu Monastery is the Chiu Monastery. It's the largest in size among all the monasteries that are situated on the shore of Lake Manasarovar.
Lake Rakashastal : The lake is located at a distance of 3 km from Lake Manasarovar. Since it's a salt water lake with speedy currents, fishes or weeds can't grow in it. That's exactly why the lake is also called the 'Ghost Lake'.
Apart from these main tourist attractions, Lake Manasarovar is also famous for being home to a large number of swans. Large flock of swans make the entire lake come alive. If you are interested in viewing beautiful swans as they gather on the lake, you should plan your trip around summer.
Summers are pleasant and winters are very cold. The average temperature on summer days is 20 degrees Celsius. But it can plummet dramatically at night. During winters, temperature can easily go beyond -10 degrees Celsius. It's advisable to carry necessary clothing items with you during your visit. Weather in and around Lake Manasarovar can change anytime. Heavy downpour is rare.
The best time to visit Lake Manasarovar is between April and October. During this period, the weather is pleasant. Plus, the inns and guesthouses located near the lake and the Mount Kailash are open.
How to Reach
Fly to Kathmandu and from there you can enter Tibet through the Nepal-China border by road. You can also get a fully-customized helicopter yatra organized through a travel agency. Though trekking in high altitude areas is an experience of its own, you can also cover the distance in LandCruiser jeeps. Lake Manasarovar can be visited as part of the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra which usually takes anywhere between 15 and 18 days. Parikrama around the lake takes 3-4 days.
If you plan to spend your nights near Lake Manasarovar, you can avail yourself of a few inns and guesthouses that are located in Ji wu village. Though these modest accommodation offer basic bed and food facilities, it's always a good idea to carry some of your own food.
You can also choose to camp in this region. Camping allows you to spend nights by the lakeside while enjoying the sights and scenes of the area.
Lake Manasarovar is located in a high-altitude zone where the climatic conditions are harsh. It is easy to get altitude sickness while travelling here. So, it's important that you give yourself adequate time to acclimatize.
The more you walk during your Lake Manasarovar Yatra, the more you'll enjoy the experience. Trekking in this region gives you an opportunity to grow spiritually and do some self-introspection.
The journey can be long and tiring. You should have enough rest so that you can reconnect with nature and enjoy more.
Since Lake Manasarovar is a highly sacred pilgrimage destination, you should treat the area with utmost respect. Walk around the lake in a clockwise direction and avoid throwing rubbish on the path at any cost.
The area around Lake Manasarovar is a scenic one. If you have an interest in photography, you can have a good time clicking some of the most beautiful pictures that you can keep as memories.
You'll come across multiple checkpoints during the tour. Make sure you handle all your border passes appropriately.