Saturday, May 22, 2010
Lake Manasarovar is a fresh-water lake in Tibet Autonomous Region of China 2,000 kilometres from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasa Sarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Kangrinboqê Peak. It is the highest body of freshwater in the world. Manasarovar lies at 4,556 m (14947.5 ft) above sea level, making it the highest fresh-water lake in the world. It is relatively round in shape with a circumference of 88 kilometres. Its depth is 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 square kilometres. The lake freezes in winter and melts only in the spring. 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.
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.
According to Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. 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 swans. Considered as sacred birds, the swans (Sanskrit: Hansa) are an important element in the symbology of the Subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty also believed the Devas descend to bathe in the lake between 3 and 5 am the time of the day known as Brahma Muhurta.
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.