The sight of a huge lake with a reflection of snow-capped mountains in its lucid waters is jaw dropping. Be prepared for a feast for the eyes. Manasarovar Lake lies at 4,556 m above mean sea level. It is relatively round in shape and its circumference is 88 km, depth is 90 m and it occupies a total area of 320 square kilometres.The lake freezes in winter and melts only in spring.The Sutlej River, the Brahmaputra River, the Indus,River, and the Karnali River all trace their sources to its close vicinity.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Tibet and the neighbouring countries. Bathing in the lake and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organised regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial bathes in the cleansing waters of the lake.
According to Hindu legend, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar, which is a combination of the words Manas (mind) and Sarovar (lake). The lake, in Hindu mythology, is also supposed to be the summer abode of swans, which are considered to be judicious and sacred birds. It is also believed the Devas (Gods) descend to bathe in the lake between 3 and 5 am. This time of the day is known as Brahma Muhurta (moment). 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 beautiful 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.
Must visit Places during Holy Kailash and Mansarovar Yatra:
Tirthapuri: Tirthapuri is best known for being a sacred place of Padmasambhava and his consort Yeshe Tsogyel. The monastery which was formerly connected with Hemis monastery in Ladakh was completely destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and rebuilt in 1980s. Behind the Hemis Monastery in Ladakh is GuruGyama cave where Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogye both meditated and a granite rock with their embedded footprints. The hot springs are surrounded by pink and white limestone terraces, which make a favorite picnic spot for Tibetans. Small pure opaque calcium balls are found among the terraces; search carefully for these small beads are considered to be powerful medicine. Ravens and rainbows abound in this magical spot. Tirthapuri can also be visited as part of a journey to or from the kingdom of Guge, or as part of a return journey to Shiqunhe. To reach it turn southwest off the main road at Menjir (also called as Mensi) and continue for 13km (8miles). From Tirthapuri to Toling is approximately one long day of driving, so consider spending an extra night here and enjoy.
Gauri Kunda (Yokmo Tso): Gauri KundaGauri Kunda, which is 50 to 60 m. down from the Dolma-La pass (5608 m.) is the highest lake in the World. Tibetan people called it Yokmo Tso, that means ‘Maid Servant’. Once upon a time, the maid of a rich family had an illicit affair and bore a baby boy. She took him to Mt. Kailash and by the lake she took a drink. Through carelessness, the baby slipped into the water and sank without a trace. The maid stayed here for days, heartbroken, and spent all her waking hours watching the lake’s surface. Finally, a message appeared on a rock next to her. The baby was in fact a deity and he asked his mother not to worry but to perform the 13 circuits around the mountain and then go home a new women. This small rock smudged with butter, is still here.
Yam Dwar: Yam Dwar Yam Dwar (entrance) is located in Tarboche which is approximately 30 minutes drive from Darchen. The literal meaning of the Yam Dwar in Hindi language is the gateway of the God of Death. It is the starting point of circumambulation of mount Kailash. In Tibet, it is known as Chorten Kang Ngyi i.e. two legged Stupa.
Asthapad: Asthapad Maha Tirth is one of the major Jain Tirths and it is situated nearly 5 km up in the mountain from Darchen. Thousands of years ago Shri Adinath Bhagwan, first of 24 tirthankars, attained salvation at this place. After his salvation his son king Bharat made a palace (known as “Sinh-Nishadha”) of real gemstones with 24 idols of Jain tirthankars on Ashtapad mountain in his memory. Ashtapad derived its name from the fact that it has eight steps to go up the mountain (Ashta means eight and pad means steps in Sanskrit). Other names for the tirth are Ratnamay (made of gemstones) Rajatadri and Sfatikachal (the crystal palace).
Siwasthal: Siwastal is located on the way to Dolma-La, which is approximately 2 hours walk from Deraphuk Gomba. Siwastal is considered as a replica of the fabled burial ground at Bodh Gaya, India. Here pilgrims undergo ritual death and enter into the horrific presence of Yama, before being reborn on top of the Drolma La. On the ground is an incredible assortment of clothing, bones, saddle bags, hair, shoes and endless other objects. All who pass leave something even offerings of blood (cut a finger or scrape the gums). Many lie on the ground and visualize their journey after-death. A few brave ones stay overnight. Above the cemetery is a red foot print of Milareppa (Tibetan yogi & poet) on the surface of a rock.
Tarboche: Rasising the flag poleSaga Dawa is the most important annual festival of Mt. Kailash, during this time, the giant flagpole is ritually taken down and the prayer flags along its length replaced. Tibetans from all over Tibet pour into the area, most of them two or three weeks before the actual date, the full moon of the forth lunar month. Many bring products to sell and the result is a remarkable carnival. During the flagpole ceremony, as the pole’s tip is raised and pointed east towards Gyangdrak Monastery, monks of that monastery perform a special ritual. A Cacophony of music from long trumpets, conch shells and other instruments welcomes the rising flagpole. After the Tarboche is fully upright, Tibetans scrutinize its position for omens. If the column is ramrod straight, all will go well: disease will abate, livestock will be healthy and everyone will prosper. If the pole leans toward Kailash, local inhabitants will suffer famine, disease and perhaps untimely death. If the flagpole tilts away from the mountain, great alarm is generated.