Lake Manasarovar (also spelled Mansarovar and Mansarowar; Sanskrit: ???? ?????; Tibetan: ???????????? Mapham Yutso; Chinese: ????) is the highest freshwater lake in the world, located at the foot of Mount Kailash in Tibet. It is the holiest lake in Asis and an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists alike.
History of Lake Manasarovar
There were once eight Buddhist monasteries around the lake, symbolizing the Wheel of Life. Pilgrims circumambulated the lake, visiting each of the monasteries along the way, representing a turn of the wheel. Most of the monasteries have now disappeared (the most notable survivor being Chiu Gompa), but Buddhists still make the pilgrimage around the sacred lake.
Myth and Mystery
According to Hindu tradition, Manasarovar was created by Brahma, god of creation, to provide an appropriate place for religious rituals. It is said that he had 12 sons, who were holy men and performed rituals and austerities on the dry land at the site. To give them a more suitable place to earn merit, Brahma created the beautiful Lake Mansarovar.
The lake's Indian name derives from this legend: Brahma had a mind (manas) to create a lake (sarowar). For Hindus, a circumambulation of Mount Kailash and a dip in the cold waters of Lake Mansarowar removes the sins of all lifetimes, bringing salvation from reincarnation.
Buddhists associate Manasarovar with Anotatta Lake, where the Buddha was mystically conceived. According to Buddhist legend, the Buddha's mother was transported here by the gods, where she bathed in the sacred waters of Manasarovar until her body was purified. She then saw a white elephant running to her from Mount Kailash, as the Buddha entered her womb.
What to See at Lake Manasarovar
Located at the southern base of Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is famed for its exceptional beauty. Its color changes from a clear blue around the shores to a deep emerald green in the center; it looks positively magical in the moonlight. The lake is 55 miles (88 km) in circumference, 330 feet (90m) deep, and 120 sq mi (320 sq km) in total area.
The journey around the lake is 64 miles long and usually takes four days. Many travelers opt to pitch a tent by the lake for a couple days instead, recuperating from the strenuous journey around Mount Kailash.
Quick Facts on Lake Manasarovar
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||30.688707° N, 81.466370° E|
|Lodging:||View hotels near Lake Manasarovar|
- Lake Mansarowar - StateMaster (accessed June 2009)
- Mount Kailash & Mansarowar Yatra - Travel Himalayas (accessed June 2009)
- Mount Kailash and around - Rough Guide to China (accessed June 2009)
- Lake Manasarovar - Wikipedia (accessed June 2009)
- Photos of Lake Manasarovar - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Lake Manasarovar
Below is a location map and aerial view of Lake Manasarovar. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.