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Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar (Mapam Yumco) (Sanskrit: ; ; alternatively Mapam Yum Co, Mapham Yu Tso), or Manasa Sarovar/Lake Manas, is a freshwater lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasarovar is Lake Rakshastal; toward the north is Mount Kailash.



Lake Manasarovar lies at above mean sea level, a relatively high elevation for a large freshwater lake on the mostly-saline lake-studded Tibetan Plateau. Despite claims to the contrary, there are hundreds of higher freshwater lakes in the world, including a larger and higher freshwater lake at above sea level and 495 sq. km in size, Angpa Tso (East Chihpuchang Hu), further east on the Tibetan Plateau at 33-24N 90-17E. The largest freshwater lake of its size (290 sq. km) over 5000 meters elevation is Pumoyong Tso (Pumuoyong Tso), also on the Tibetan Plateau, at 28-34N 90-24E and elevation. [1]

Lake Manasarovar is relatively round in shape with the circumference of . Its depth reaches a maximum depth of and its surface area is . It is connected to nearby Lake Rakshastal by the natural Ganga Chhu channel. Manasarovar is near 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), an important tributary of the Ganges River.

Religious significance

View from Chiu Gompa
View from Chiu Gompa
Satellite view of lakes Manasarovar (right) and Rakshastal with Mount Kailash in the background
Satellite view of lakes Manasarovar (right) and Rakshastal with Mount Kailash in the background

In Hinduism

As per Hindu theology, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a personification of purity, and one who drinks water from the lake will go to the Abode of Lord Shiva after death. He is believed to be cleansed of all his sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes.[2]

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.

Manasasarovar lake has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being near the source of four of the greatest rivers of Asia, namely the Brahmaputra, Karnali, Indus and Sutlej. Thus it is an axial point which has been thronged to by pilgrims for thousands of years. The region was initially closed to pilgrims from the outside; no foreigners were allowed between 1949 and 1980. After the 1980's it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail. [2]

According to the Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth.[3] 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 the Hamsa goose. Considered to be sacred, the Hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty.[4]

In Buddhism

Buddhists also associate the lake with 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 built on a steep hill, looking as if it has been carved right out of the rock. The lake is very popular in Buddhist literature and associated with many teachings and stories in Buddhism. Lord Buddha, it is reported, stayed and meditated near this lake on several occasions. Buddhists say that famous Uturu-kuru divaina (island or mountain range) was nearby the Anavatapta vila. However, more evidence shows that Uturu-kuru divaina was the Kuril Islands Kuril Islands, as the Sanskrit meaning of Uturu-kuru is Northern-men as Kur meaning man, in the Ainu language. Lake Manasarovar is also the subject of the meditative Tibetan tradition, "The Jewel Tree of Tibet". A modern narration and description of the meditation was made popular by Robert Thurman.[5]

Further reading

The Lake and Tibetan Himalayas
The Lake and Tibetan Himalayas
The Lake

  • Allen, Charles. (1999). The Search for Shangri-La: A Journey into Tibetan History. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London. 2000. ISBN 0-349-111421.
  • "A Tibetan Guide for Pilgrimage to Ti-se (Mount Kailas) and mTsho Ma-pham (Lake Manasarovar)." Toni Huber and Tsepak Rigzin. In: Sacred Spaces and Powerful Places In Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays. (1999) Edited by Toni Huber, pp. 125 153. The Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, H.P., India. ISBN 81-86470-22-0.
  • Lake Mansarovar is mentioned in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Sacred book of the Sikhs)

Thurbon, Colin. (2010) 'To a Mountain in Tibet'. Harper Collins. ISPN:978-0-06-176826-2


  1. Charles Allen. (1999). The Search for Shangri-la: A Journey into Tibetan History, p. 10. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London. 2000. ISBN 0-349-111421.
  2. Eckard Schleberger, Die Indische G tterwelt. Eugen Diederich Verlag. 1997

External links

bn: ca:Llac de Mansarovar cs:Manasarovar cy:Llyn Manasarovar de:Manasarovar es:Lago Mana Sarovar eu:Manasarovar lakua fr:Lac Manasarovar gu: ko: hi: it:Manasarovar lt:Manasarovaras ml: mr: ne: nl:Manasarovar ja: pnb: pl:Mapam Yumco pt:Lago Manasarovar ru: simple:Lake Manasarovar sv:Manasarovar ta: te: uk: zh:

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