|Surface area||410 km2 (160 sq mi)|
|Max. depth||90 m (300 ft)|
|Surface elevation||4,590 m (15,060 ft)|
Lake Manassarovar (Manas Sarovar; Lake Manas; Mapam Yumco; Ma-fan Hu; Mapham Yu Tso; Tibetan: མ་ཕམ་གཡུ་མཚོ།, Wylie: ma-pham g.yu-mtsho, ZYPY: Mapam Yumco; Sanskrit: मानस सरोवर; simplified Chinese: 玛旁雍错; traditional Chinese: 瑪旁雍錯) is a freshwater lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region, 940 kilometres (580 mi) from Lhasa. To the west of it is Lake Rakshastal; to the north is Mount Kailash.
Lake Manassarovar lies at 4,590 metres (15,060 ft) 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 4,941 metres (16,211 ft) above sea level and 495 km2 in size, Angpa Tso (also known as Chibzhang Co, Migriggyangzham Co, East Chihpuchang Hu), further east on the Tibetan Plateau at . The largest freshwater lake of its size (290 km2) over 5000 meters elevation is Pumoyong Tso (also known as Puma Yumco, Po-mo Hu, Pumuoyong Tso), also on the Tibetan Plateau, at at 5,018 metres (16,463 ft) elevation.
Lake Manasarovar is relatively round in shape with the circumference of 88 kilometres (55 mi). Its depth reaches a maximum depth of 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 square kilometres (120 sq mi). It is connected to nearby Lake Rakshastal by the natural Ganga Chhu channel. Manassarovar 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.
Lake Manas Sarovar overflows in to lake Rakshastal which is a salt water endorheic lake. These lakes used to be part of Sutlej River basin and got separated due to tectonic activity. Lake Manas Sarovar can be connected to the Ganga River basin through a fifteen km long tunnel to divert its water for easy availability to Hindus of India who considers its water as sacred.
The word "Manassarovara" originates from Sanskrit language, which is a combination of the words "Manas" "sarovara" manas meaning mind and sarovara meaning lake. According to the Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth.
As per Hindu scriptures, Lake Manas 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.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manas Sarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and the neighboring countries. Bathing in the Manas 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 Manas Sarovar Yatra which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the cleansing waters of the lake.
Manassarovar lake has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being nearby to the sources 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 closed to pilgrims from the outside following the Chinese Invasion of Tibet; no foreigners were allowed between 1951 and 1980. After the 1980s it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.
According to the Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called "Manasa sarovaram", which is a combination of the words manasa (mind) and sarovaram (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.
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, as the Sanskrit meaning of Uturu-kuru is Northern-men as Kur meaning man, in the Ainu language. Lake Manassarovar is also the subject of the meditative Tibetan tradition, "The Jewel of Tibet". A modern narration and description of the meditation was made popular by Robert Thurman.
As per Jainism Kailash Manassarovar is associated with first Tirthankara Lord Shree Rishabhdev. Ashtapad mountain which is near to the Kailash mountain is a place where Lord Rishabhdevji attained Nirvana (Moksh) with crores of his disciples. Referring Mount Kailash as Mount Ashtapada is highly debated.
- Allen, Charles (1982) A Mountain in Tibet: The Search for Mount Kailas and the Sources of the Great Rivers of Asia. (London, André Deutsch).
- Allen, Charles. (1999). The Search for Shangri-La: A Journey into Tibetan History. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London. 2000. ISBN 0-349-11142-1.
- "A Tibetan Guide for Pilgrimage to Ti-se (Mount Kailas) and mTsho Ma-pham (Lake Manassarovar)." 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 Manassarovar is mentioned in the Siri Guru Granth Sahib (Sacred book of the Sikhs)
- Thubron, Colin. (2010) 'To a Mountain in Tibet'. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-176826-2
- "China wetlands" (PDF). Ramsar Wetlands International. p. 77. Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- Charles Allen. (1999). The Search for Shangri-la: A Journey into Tibetan History, p. 10. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London. 2000. ISBN 0-349-11142-1.
- In Search of Myths & Heroes By Michael Wood
- Eckard Schleberger, Die Indische Götterwelt. Eugen Diederich Verlag. 1997 (German)
- The Jewel Tree of Tibet - Robert Thurman. Soundstrue.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-18.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lake Manasarovar.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Mount_Kailash.|
- The Pilgrimage Kora Around Lake Manassarovar
- Kailash Manassarovar Yatra 2012 News
- Kailash Manassarovar Yatra History
- Kailash Manassarovar Yatra Guide