Lake Manasarovar: a Mystical Sacred Lake in Tibet
In remote western Tibet, Lake Manasarovar sits at the foot of Mount Kailash. The lake is believed to be the most sacred one in Tibet and has the most transparent water among all the lakes in China.
Believers’ passion for Lake Manasarovar is deep because it is considered a place where a true believer can become a god. What makes this lake so awesome for so many people? Part of the mystical qualities are the beauty and remoteness of the rugged land in western Tibet.
Here, we have provided you with a full guide to visit Lake Manasarovar, including some basic information, the highlights, and how to go on a yatra.
- Name: Lake Manasarovar
- Tibetan: Mapham Yum-Tso “Victoria Jade Lake”
- Chinese: 玛旁雍措
- Location: West Tibet, near India/Nepal, 1,200 km (745 mi) by road from Lhasa
- Altitude: 4,556 meters (14,947 ft)
- Things to do: Worshipfully walking round it, hiking, photographing
Things to Do when Visiting Lake Manasarovar
1. Enjoy the Breathtaking Scenery
Lake Manasarovar is beautiful. The blue of the lake mirrors the blue sky and white clouds, and in a climate with little vegetation and grey dirt, the blue of the fresh water contrasts strikingly with the white sides of Mt. Kailash nearby.
A monastery called Chiu Gompa to the northwest of Lake Manasarovar is one of the best places to enjoy the view. Climb up the hill near Chiu Gompa and a bird’s-eye view of the whole of Lake Manasarovar comes into view.
Check out other sacred lakes in Tibet.
2. Take a Bath in a Hot Spring
A natural hot spring is located in the small village near Chiu Gompa. This is the best way to wash away your fatigue.
3. Go on a Lake Manasarovar Yatra
Every year, pilgrims from India, Nepal, China, and many other countries visit Mount Kailash for a yatra (a pilgrimage to a holy site) and to do a kora (a sacred walk) around the sacred mountain. Some of them also do a kora around Lake Manasarovar, which is believed to bring cosmic blessings.
The path around the lake is about 90 kilometers and may take 3 to 4 days to finish. Compared to a Mount Kailash kora, a trek around Lake Manasarovar is easier due to the lower altitude and less bumpy mountain roads.
However, the streams and rivers on the way could cause some challenges. Although some bridges were built, they may still cause serious disadvantages during rainy seasons.
No matter what religion you believe in, or even if you are not religious, going on a yatra around Lake Manasarovar can be a memorable experience. If you want to go on your yatra, check out our complete guide.
Lake Rakshastal, located 2 miles away from Lake Manasarovar is considered to be a lake of demons and people avoid even touching it lest they get cursed. Regardless of its story, the scenery is as beautiful as Lake Manasarovar.
Mount Kailash is a holy peak for four religions and the kora around it is more challenging.
Modern Convenience of Visiting Manasarovar
Now it is no longer so difficult to travel there. Moneyed modern pilgrims sometimes go there by jet and then heated helicopter from Nepal. The Kailash and Manasarovar scenic area is now connected by a nice two-lane paved road, with comfortable warm hotels in Shigatse.
Real believers might find themselves jostling with busy picture-taking sightseers for some space on the lake's shore of rock and sand. At night tourists congregate on the shore to watch the flickering lights of pilgrims.
Tips for Visiting Lake Manasarovar
The Best time to go
In winter, heavy snow causes problems and the lake might be frozen. Therefore, late spring to early autumn (May to September) is the best time to go there.
If you are going to do the kora, autumn (September to November) is the best time as there is warmer weather and less chance of rainfall.
Altitude sickness and preparation
The high altitude makes it dangerous for acclimatized people to exert themselves. We advise that you prepare physically and bring the right equipment and clothes if you are planning a Lake Manasarovar yatra.
Can I Bathe or Fish in the Lake?
Bathing or fishing in Lake Manasarovar is not allowed so as to protect the fragile natural environment.
Visit Lake Manasarovar with Us
We can help you visit Lake Manasarovar as an extension to one of our most popular Tibet tours:
- 4-Day Lhasa Highlights Tour: Explore Lhasa’s highlights with sufficient oxygen, and enjoy meticulous care and assistance.
- 8-Day Lhasa-EBC-Lhasa Roof of the World Adventure
Or let us help you arrange a customized trip to the area. Our Tibetan tours can include a guided hike around Lake Manasarovar with full logistical support. We can help you get a Tibet Entry Permit and other permits needed for that part of Tibet.