Manasarovar, also known as Mapam Yutso, is a sacred lake in Tibet. Situated on the slopes of a mountain, it stands at an altitude of 4,586 m above sea level and has a depth of 77 m. Covering an area of 412 sq km, it is the highest freshwater lake globally. The Jiwu monastery, located by the lake, provides a perfect vantage point to admire its beauty. Positioned 20 km southeast of Mt Kailash and to the north of Namu Nonyi Peak, Mapam Yutso Lake holds this prestigious title.
Mapam Yutso in Tibetan means the “eternal jade lake,” named to signify Buddhism’s triumph over the local Bon Religion in the 11th century. Xuan Zang (600-664), a distinguished monk of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), described Mapam Yutso Lake in his book “Records of Western Travels” as a “jade pond in the West”. Mapam Yutso is held in equal regard as the holy mountain. It has been mentioned in numerous religious records and legends. According to Indian legend, it is believed to be the bathing place of Siva and his wife, Goddess Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas. According to Tibetan legend, it is said to be the abode of the God Guangcanlong. Buddhist scriptures refer to the lake as the “mother of the world’s rivers”.
Main Attractions around Manasaarovar Lake
There were nine monasteries encircling the lake, with Jewu and Chugu Monasteries being the most renowned. The vicinity of Chugu Monastery is revered as a sacred and pristine bathing spot. Buddhist adherents hold the belief that the water here possesses the power to cleanse the “five malevolent aspects of the human spirit” (greed, anger, madness, laziness, and envy) and purify the human skin from impurities. Consequently, the sacred lake is thronged with individuals who visit annually for bathing purposes. These individuals also bring back vials of water from the holy lake to share with their relatives and friends.
The holy lake has four bathing gates: the Lotus Baths in the east, the Sweat Baths in the south, the Filth-Removing Baths in the west, and the Belief Baths in the north. Additionally, there are four water heads: the Horse River in the east, the Lion River in the north, the Elephant River in the west, and the Peacock River in the south. Mapam Yutso Lake’s reputation as the mother of rivers worldwide was likely established this way.
The historic quotation:
According to the Gangdise Records, a Tibetan ancient book, there existed a Naga palace in Mapam Yutso Lake that held a multitude of treasures. Pilgrims who circumambulate the lake or acquire a small fish, stone, or bird feather are granted gifts by the Naga King. Buddhist devotees hold the belief that the water here has the power to cleanse the “five malignancies of the human soul” and purify both the skin and the soul. Additionally, this location holds significant spiritual importance in Hinduism.