|Surface area||410 km2 (160 sq mi)|
|Max. depth||90 m (300 ft)|
|Surface elevation||4,590 m (15,060 ft)|
Lake Manasarovar (also Manas Sarovar, Mapam Yumtso; Chinese: 玛旁雍错, Tibetan: མ་ཕམ་གཡུ་མཚོ།, Wylie: ma pham g.yu mtsho; Sanskrit: मानसरोवर ) 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 Manasarovar 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.
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. Lake Manasarovar is near the source of the Sutlej, which is the easternmost large tributary of the Sindhu. Nearby are the sources of the Brahmaputra River, the Indus River, and the Ghaghara, an important tributary of the Ganges.
Lake Manas Sarovar overflows in to lake Rakshastal which is a salt-water endorheic lake. These lakes used to be part of the Sutlej basin and were separated due to tectonic activity.
The word "Manasarovar" originates from Sanskrit, which is a combination of the words "Mana" and "sarovar," with mana meaning mind and sarovar meaning lake. According to Hinduism, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth.
In Hinduism, Lake Manasarovar is a personification of purity, and one who drinks water from the lake will go to the abode of Shiva after death. He is believed to be cleansed of all his sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and neighboring countries. Bathing in Manasarovar and drinking its water is believed by Hindus to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the yearly "Kailash Manas Sarovar Yatra". Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the waters of the lake.
Lake Manasarovar has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being nearby to the sources of four great rivers of Asia, namely the Brahmaputra, Ghaghara, Sindhu 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 Battle of Chamdo; 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 Hinduism, the lake was first created in the mind of Brahma after which it manifested on Earth. Hence it is called "Manasa sarovaram", which is a combination of the Sanskrit words for "mind" and "lake". The lake is also supposed to be the summer abode of the hamsa. Considered to be sacred, the hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty.
In the Bon religion
The Bon religion is also associated with the holy place of Zhang Zhung Meri sacred deity. When Tonpa Shenrab, the founder of the Bon religion, visited Tibet for the first time - from Tagzig Wolmo Lungring - he washed himself in the lake.
Buddhists associate the lake with the legendary lake Anavatapta (Sanskrit; Pali Anotatta) where 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 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. Buddha, it is reported, stayed and meditated near this lake on several occasions. Lake Manasarovar 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.
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), is further east on the Tibetan Plateau at . The largest freshwater lake of its size (290 km2) over 5000 meters elevation is Puma Yumco, also on the Tibetan Plateau.
- 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 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 Manasarovar is mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred book of Sikhism
- Thubron, Colin. (2010) 'To a Mountain in Tibet'. Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-176826-2
- Nepal Tourism Package
- 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
- Kailash Yatra. "About Holy Manasarovar Lake - Kailash Yatra". www.kailash-yatra.org. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
- Eckard Schleberger, Die Indische Götterwelt. Eugen Diederich Verlag. 1997 (German)
- The Jewel Tree of Tibet - Robert Thurman. Soundstrue.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-18.
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