Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar
Mapam Yumco
Manasa Sarovar
मानस सरोवर
(July 2006)
Location Tibet
Coordinates 30°40′25.68″N 81°28′07.90″E / 30.6738°N 81.468861°E / 30.6738; 81.468861Coordinates: 30°40′25.68″N 81°28′07.90″E / 30.6738°N 81.468861°E / 30.6738; 81.468861
Surface area 320 km2 (120 sq mi)
Max. depth 90 m (300 ft)
Surface elevation 4,556 m (14,948 ft)
Frozen winter

Lake Manasarovar, Mapam Yumco (Tibetan: མ་ཕམ་གཡུ་མཚོ།Wylie: ma-pham g.yu-mtsho, ZYPY: Mapam Yumco; simplified Chinese: 玛旁雍错; traditional Chinese: 瑪旁雍錯; alternatively Mapam Yum Co, Mapham Yu Tso), or Manasa Sarovar/Lake Manas (Sanskrit: मानस सरोवर), is a fresh-water lake in Tibet Autonomous Region of China approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasa Sarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Mount Kailash. It is the highest body of freshwater in the world.[1][2]



Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,556 m (14947.5 ft) above mean sea level, making it the highest freshwater lake in the world.[1] It is relatively round in shape with the circumference of 88 kilometres (55 mi). Its depth is 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. Manasarovar is 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) which is an important tributary of the Ganges River, so this region is the hydrographic nexus of the Himalaya.

Religious significance

View from Chiu Gompa
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.

Manasa Sarovar lake has long been viewed by the pilgrims as the source of four of the greatest rivers of Asia namely Brahmaputra, Karnali, Indus and Sutlej. So it is an axial point which has been thronged by pilgrims for thousands of years. The region was initially closed to pilgrims from outside and no foreigners were allowed between 1949 and 1980. But after the 80s it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.[2]

According to 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 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 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 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. Lake is very popular in Buddhist literature and associate with many teachings and stories in Buddhism. Lord Buddha used to stay and meditate near this great lake for several occasions. It is a saying that famous Uturu-kuru divaina (island or mountain range) was nearby the Anavatapta vila. However, more evidence show that Uturu-kuru divaina was Kuril islands kuril islands, as the sanskrit meaning of Uturu-kuru is Nothern-men as Kur meaning man, in Ainu language.

Further reading

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)


  1. ^ a b "Lake Mapam". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  2. ^ a b c In Search of Myths & Heroes By Michael Wood
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Eckard Schleberger, Die Indische Götterwelt. Eugen Diederich Verlag. 1997
    This article incorporates information from the German Wikipedia.

External links

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