A journey into Tibet - Kailash Manasa Sarovar
1. A journey into Tibet - At Kathmandu
2. A journey into Tibet – Mountain flight
3. A journey into Tibet - Manakamana
4. A journey into Tibet - Kathmandu to Nyalam Mu
5. A journey into Tibet - Rest day at Nyalam Mu
6. A journey into Tibet - Nyalam Mu to Zhongba
The D day for Manasa Sarovar had
arrived. Most people had acclimatized which was clearly visible from their
faces!! With high spirits we started our journey to Manasa Sarovar that was
still 450 km away.
The road went next to Brahmaputra
It would have been another
monotonous journey but Tibet brings springs out surprises at such places. This
time it was in the form of sand dunes. They were huge giving a feel of desert.
A lake like formation was seen on
the other side of sand dunes. Guide mentioned it as the source of Brahmaputra
By 12 noon we reached a check
post. This would be the Mother of all check posts. Our passports were taken by
the guide and submitted to Police at the check post. The Police were taking their
own time to verify them. People in the bus were frustrated when things did not
move even after 30 minutes of wait. The fact that we were asked to put inside
the bus irritated a lot. “Why so much check here? What were the people at
immigration doing? Were they cutting the grass?” were the comments from angry
people. Few used this opportunity to bash communists and their policies.
For me it was a matter of safety
for the country. Better be safe than sorry. Make sure that the border and entry points are
well guarded and protected. Then there is no need to invest on keeping police
at each and every monument, mall, Temples, bus and railway stations. I really
appreciate the way the Chinese administration handle such things. It may seem
draconian but benefits the country.
Little after the check post,
drivers decided to have lunch on a road side Chinese restaurant as there were
no hotels further. While drivers and guides were busy having Chinese food, we
silently munched our packed lunch.
After lunch, we crossed a pass
that was 17,000 ft altitude. A lake was seen while getting down the pass. Looking
at the size, I mistook it for Manasa Sarovar but it was Lake Kunggyo Co.
We were now seeing a snow clad
peak of Gurla Mandhata on our left side. At the height of 25,243 ft it is one
of the formidable peaks in Manasa Sarovar area. Now I was sure that we were nearing
Manasa Sarovar. Within minutes we saw the first glimpse of the lake!! A sherpa shouted
“Manasa Sarovar” and everyone in the vehicle jumped their feet to see the lake.
It had taken quite an effort to reach the place and we were emotional.
As per wiki, “Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,590 meters (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 kilometers (55 mi). Its depth reaches a maximum depth of 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 square kilometers (120 sq mi). Manasarovar is near 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), an important tributary of the Ganges River.”
|Manasa Sarovar with Kailash Parvath at the background|
The lake has religious significance for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. 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.
|Gurla Mandhata background|
Buddhists also associate the lake with the legendary lake known as Anavatapta in Sanskrit and Anotatta in Pali, where Queen Maya is believed to have conceived Buddha.
As per Jainism Kailash Mansarovar is associated with first Tirthankar Lord Shree Rushabhdev. Ashtapad Mountain which is near to the Kailash Mountain is a place where Lord Rushabhdevji attained Nirvana (Moksh) with crores of his disciples.
Though the lake seemed very near
to us, it was still a km away. While we wanted to directly run into the lake,
Sherpas asked us to wait for sometime where we can get better spot to touch
And then the parikrama of the
lake started. The distance of 80 km on the periphery of the lake is covered by
vehicles. Today, we would be doing only half of the parikrama and settle down
in the camp. Few people also do parikrama by walk which would take about four
days to complete.
The beauty of the lake started
appearing as we started the parikrama. At each turn, the lake looked different.
The Kailash Mountain was partly visible under the clouds.
We got down at a nice location to
enjoy the lake. People used this opportunity to take bath in the lake. I
shivered at the thought of getting into water at such cold conditions. But the
clear water was irresistible and I ended up getting into water. This was the
first time I had voluntarily taken bath in a religious place. I kept wondering
what made me to do so. Was it the religious feeling or clean waters that
attracted me or the fact that I was without bath for past few days? Anyway,
taking bath was a refreshing exercise. I also liked the fact that people
strictly avoided the use of soaps and shampoos.
The parikrama continued and we
were now climbing up from the lake. Another lake was visible now. It was the
lake Rakshastal. The Lake looks more beautiful than Manasa Sarovar. But while
Manasa Sarovar is considered as pure and holy, Rakshastal symbolizes the
daemon. The fact that Ravana, the hated figure in India had performed penance
at this lake has not helped the matters!! Even the lake is considered as unholy
Even though it is just next to
Manasa Sarovar (in fact connected by a short river), the water of Rakshastal is
Rakshastal has four islands. The
source of Sutlej River is also near Rakshastal.
Until now the parikrama was on kutcha
roads. But here near Rakshatal, we joined the highway coming from Taklakot to
Darchen. The road again was stunningly smooth. Taklakot is the place where
pilgrims from Indian Government side would enter Tibet.
Our place of stay was a guest
house near Chui Gompa. The guest house was just opposite to the lake. The Gompa
itself is situated on top of a hillock.
During night, my roommate from
Bengal started having troubles. He had a slight gas trouble on the previous day
but now it had become severe. Severe acidity accompanied with pains worsened
the matters. His refusal to take food
had made him weak. Sherpas gave medicines like ENO but they were not effective.
Concerned by his state, I suggested consulting
doctor. Luckily, one of the members in the group was a doctor. And good thing
was he had the right medicines for the illness. I hope that it solves the
problem. During night head of the tour organizer comes and force feed him with
food. If his condition shows no sign of improvement he has to return back.