Importance of Mansarovar Lake
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrimage is widely known for its religious significance among people of Hindu, Buddhism, Jain and Bon faith. The word is derived from Mansarovar Lake and Kailash Parvat(mountain). According to Skanda Purana(supreme Hindu text) tells that Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiv, where he lives with family and other Shiv gans. Also, the Mansarovar lake is where Shiv and Indra swim as swans. It is also said in Skanda Purana that ‘Kailash Mansarovar’ is Godly Home of Lord Shiva, which must be visited at least once in a lifetime of earthly birth. And the journey is not an easy feat, you have to trek the rough terrain of rocks, glaciers in extreme climatic conditions at an altitude of 19000 ft.
In this phase, we will talk about the Mansarovar lake, the world’s highest freshwater lake situated at 15000 ft in the autonomous region of Tibet. Here are the most important religious details:
Mansarovar is said to be associated with Lord Shree Rishabhdev, the first Tirthankara. Ashtapad Mountain, located close to Mt Kailash, is regarded as the place where Lord Rishabhdevji attained Nirvana (Moksha).
In Bon religion, the Mansarovar lake is also associated with Zhang Zhung Meri. The founder of religion Tonpa Shenrab visited Tibet for the first time and washed himself in the lake.
The lake holds great significance for Buddhists where Queen Maya is believed to have conceived Gautam Buddha near the lake. There are few monasteries on the shore and the popular one is ancient Chiu monastery built on steep rock. It is also believed that Gautam Buddha stayed and meditated here for ages. Lake is also called the “Jewel of Tibet”.
Mansarovar is the combination of two Sanskrit words – Man (mind) + Sarovaram (lake). The lake was first created in the mind of Lord Brahma and then it was manifested on earth. In Hinduism, the lake personifies purity and one who drinks water goes to Shiva’s abode after death. Also, it is believed that one who takes a dip in the lake is relieved from all sins committed from last even over 100 lifetimes.
The lake lies below the holy Kailash in western Tibet and is the most revered place for Hindu. The lake is known as lake of consciousness as it was created in mind. This is the summer abode of hans(swans), which is a very important symbol of the mythology, representing wisdom and beauty. There are five sacred lakes mentioned in Shrimad Bhagwad Puran collectively named as Panch Sarovar: Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar.
This is the lake where all Gods, Goddesses, and sages come for the bath in Brahm Muhrat (2 hours early than sunrise). They can be seen in the form of Divya Jyoti (divine lights) coming down from the sky and then going up after a dip. The lake looks extreme peaceful but a lot of activities happen at the lake, which can be felt by people who are connected spiritually. For those who stay near the lake overnight, they can feel the hulchul (stirrness) in the lake. This lake is said to be the last remnants of Tethys ocean.
Many people have mystic experience because high spiritual energies exist at the lake. That’s not just the simple water body, that’s the lake of consciousness, the lake of supreme power. The place is the beautiful creation of God which is lively with full of supreme energies. As a human, offcourse we can’t absorb everything around this place. Sages who are in practice of meditation from decades staying away from material world connect with the energies flowing around and communicate with God or spiritual Guru. And for the scientific people who try to do research on this place have failed every time. It is the place beyond any science and modern technologies.
Rakshastal near to Mansarovar Lake
Mansarovar is the highest freshwater lake where life exists, you can see birds playing around and a lot of positivity in your surrounding. On the other hand, there is Rakshas Tal less than 1 km distance to Mansarovar where drinking water is prohibited. It is a blackwater lake where life does not exist. It is believed that Ravan meditated here for ages to get blessings from Lord Shiv. People involved in the Tantric activities practice here secretly. There are two water bodies close to each other but totally opposite in nature, one represents good and other represents bad. Mansarovar is sun shaped whereas Rakshas Tal is Moon crescent-shaped and in front of these two lakes- there stands the holy Mount Kailash. Irrespective of its significance, Rakshastal also looks beautiful and breathtaking surrounded by amazing Tibetan plateaus.
Mansarovar lake lies at 15,060 ft from sea level, which is relatively high altitude for any freshwater lake in the saline cold desert of Tibetan Plateau. The lake circumference is about 95 km and it takes around 3-4 hours for Parikrama on a vehicle. It is connected to RakshasTal by a small river Ganga Chu whose length is only 10 kms. 4 major rivers are originated near this place and diverted to 4 different directions. These are Sutlej, Indus, Brahmaputra and Karnali river.
Satellite image of Mansarovar and Rakshastal
There is a lot of information on Mansarovar, which are maybe far beyond my understanding now. But I have tried my best collecting the information as per my belief.
My experiences at Mansarovar
3rd June 2018
Divya Jyoti (Divine lights) at lake
3:30 AM: I woke up in Brahm- Muhrat to witness the divine lights. I wore multiple layers of warm clothes and went outside the guesthouse. It was completely dark outside, no light, no stars, no person. Was I the only one? And yes, certainly it was only me who gone out crazy enough to watch the beautiful night all alone. I started walking towards the lake and I could only feel the icy cold breeze splashing on my face. I covered myself to the best but it was not enough. I stood for some time in front of the lake, then my legs got frozen and I started shivering. Then I decided to continuously walk to maintain warmth. Legs were in rhythm to walk, hands in pocket, my eyes were looking for Gods in form of divine lights and heart was chanting for Shiva. I was determined to see the divine light and continued on my way.
I could feel a lot of positivity and divine feelings, which I never had previously. It was like Shiva was around me in the form of wind or birds at lake. After waiting for an hour, I got to see the light at distance straight in front of me. All the books and articles I read about Divya Jyoti was true. I forget about the freezing breeze and bowed down with folded hands. Yes! That was the Divya Jyoti, where Gods and ancient sages come down in Brahm Muhrat to take a dip in Mansarovar. I was so delighted and felt lucky to witness. But, this was not enough and I was riding on my luck. I saw another light on my right side. My efforts were paid off. After waiting for a few minutes, I started walking back to the guest house. I saw Jayshree aunty chanting songs of Lord Shiva played on mobile. I too sat along with her wrapping blanket around. Even today, I listen to those songs and it still reminds me of the hours spent at Mansarovar lake. After an hour RP Yadav Ji came out, I again went to the lake with him. I could hear birds singing and that peaceful environment still gives the same peace at this time also whenever I close my eyes. I can still feel the heart-filled moment. There are few things which no one can explain because everybody feels differently. You have to come here to find your moment.
Dip in Mansarovar
This was the most blissful morning of my life. I woke up, came out of the room and saw lucky birds playing and flying. The wind was so high that I could see the difficulty for birds while coming down. The sun was out and the view of the divine lake was awesome. I was amazed looking at the immensity of the lake. It was a bit cloudy so we could not see Kailash for which everyone was waiting and discussing in which direction it would be. There were only a few plateaus and the place was simply very beautiful.
Birds flying at Mansarovar
Ready for dip in Mansarovar
Preparation for havan at Mansarovar
We had our breakfast and then Sherpas arranged tents at the shore of lake for those who want to take dip. We were waiting for more time so that clouds will shed off and will get more heat from the sun.
Most of the people headed for hot spring shower and I decided to take holy dip in Mansarovar. I took clothes to change and went near the lake. The moment I took my jacket off, dam it was very cold. Then not to wait for more, I went inside the lake. It was muddy at the start but I went little far, I was like Oh My God! It was very beautiful feeling praying upon Lord Shiva right in the middle of the holiest lake of the universe.
Sheeps at Mansarovar lake
Mudhouse at Mansarovar
Sherpas instructed not to stay in the water for long as we might get hypothermia. I came out of lake with a numb body. Immediately I rushed to the tent and changed clothes to get warm. I sat for some time alone, which gave me the feeling of immense peace. In the entire journey, there was no temple so people started offering prayer at the lake itself. Lot of us were sitting, meditating and chanting. Siddharth and his family so graciously arranged havan near the lake. Reciting Mahamrityunjay Jaap for havan was another great experience for all of us. It took around an hour and after some time, clouds started shedding off and we got the first glimpse of Mount Kailash. I was overwhelmed to look at that and tears started rolling down naturally. For all that you have come so far was in front of me. It was the blessings of Lord Shiva himself on us.
Mansarovar Parikrama and Kailash darshan
After 12 Now it was time for Mansarovar Parikrama, we sat in the bus to start the journey. Within half an hour the clouds totally went away and we could clearly see Mount Kailash’s south face enroute to Darchen our next hop. I occupied the last seat in bus so that I could open window. I was continuously gazing at the peak in the amazing landscape.
After 1 hour of drive of encircling around lake, we saw Mansarovar lake was crowned by mount Kailash on one side and with Gurla Mandhata mountain range on the other side. It looked so heavenly that I didn’t want to take eyes off. The color of the water was changing from deep blue to emerald green and then again to sparkling turquoise. The mesmerizing tint of water merges beautifully with the sky, erasing the existence of the horizon at the other end.
Please watch this beautiful video taken from the bus while parikrama.
The buses stopped at some point near lake and we got some time to fill water. Pilgrims usually carry stone and water from the lake as prasad of Mansarovar. For continuous 4-5 hours, we had beautiful darshan of Kailash en route to Darchen ( our next pit stop). All I can say this land is not only blessed by GOD but they actually live here. Now it was sunset time, and never in my life, I have seen such a big sun drowning at the horizon. What a wow moment where you see every shade of nature in a single day.
The time we reached Darchen it was dark. After having dinner it became darker and the sky was again full of stars at your eye level. I could spend doing nothing but gazing at the stars if our trek was not planned in next early morning. We settled in the room with excitement to start our biggest journey of the lifetime.
Stay updated for my next post of Kailash Parikrama day -1 which we did on foot and seen 3 faces of Kailash.
If you have missed, then read previous articles in sequence
- Planning and preparation for the trip to Mount Kailash.
- Arrival in Kathmandu and visit to Pashupatinath as the start of the journey.
- Trips within the trip – Days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot.
- Survival in no man’s land between Nepal and China
- Arrival at Mansarovar lake- first mystic experience.
- Complete information about Mansarovar, my experience of parikrama and dip in holy Mansarovar lake.
- First day of trek from Yam dwar to Derapuk to reach abode of Shiva.
- Second and toughest day of trek to reach 19500 ft at Dolma La pass
- Third and the last day of trek and coming back to home with tons of memories of Kailash
Stay fit and happy traveling. I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.
Picture and Information References: wikimedia.com, wikipedia.com, indiapilgrimtours.com and my friend Rupa.