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Mt Kailash and Lake Manasarovar Travel Guide

Mount Kailash (Tibetan: Kangrinboqê or Gang Rinpoche; Sanskrit: Kail Parvata;) is a peak in the Gangdise Mountains, which are part of the Himalayas in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the Ganges River). It is considered a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism. In Hinduism, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and a place of eternal bliss. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarowar and Lake Rakshastal in Tibet.
There have been no recorded attempts to climb Mount Kailash; it is considered off limits to climbers in deference to Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. It is the most significant peak in the world that has not seen any known climbing attempts.

Mt. Kailash is among the most sacred places on earth. It is the mother of all holy places, “Tirtha Sthaan”, for followers of Lord Shiva, “Shiv-Bhakts”. This holy mountain is to Hindus as Jokhang Temple is to Tibetan Buddhists or as Jerusalem is to followers of Christianity. The Mt. Kailash Yatra (ritual), is a pilgrimage undertaken by those wishing to purify their soul through peace with themselves and the world around them. Pilgrims will trek around the base of Mt. Kailash, while many take about three days, some devout pilgrims make the journey in one day. Tibetans who make this pilgrimage will leave behind an article of clothing, a lock of hair, or a stone to symbolize leaving behind prejudice and misperceptions of reality. No matter where you may come from, this is a journey where you can wash your soul of your anger, anxiety, and ego.

Read more via the Kailash Trekking Maps.

Lake Manasarovar, Mapam Yumco, Mapam Yum Co, Mapham Yu Tso (Tibetan: Mapam Yumco), or Manasa Sarovar/Lake Manas, is a fresh-water lake in Tibet Autonomous Region of China approximately 800 kilometres (500 mi) from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasa Sarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Mount Kailash. It is the highest body of freshwater in the world.

Manasarovar Geography

Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,556 m (14947.5 ft) above mean sea level, making it the highest freshwater lake in the world. It is relatively round in shape with a circumference of 88 kilometres (55 mi). Its depth is 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 square kilometres (120 sq mi). 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.

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.


Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and the neighboring countries. Bathing in the Manasa Sarovar and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasa Sarovar Yatra which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the cleansing waters of the lake.

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 after which it manifested on Earth. 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 Hamsa goose. Considered to be sacred, the Hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty.

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.

Special note: we have thousands of high resolution Kailash tour photos which we collected during the past years and without permission, any pictures of those on our websites can not be reused.

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