Geography of Manasarovara Lake
Globally, Manasarovara Lake can be pinpointed at coordinates can be pinpointed at coordinates 30 degrees 40 minutes 23 seconds north and 81 degrees 29 minutes 16 seconds east. This lake is situated at an elevation of about 4,590 metres (15,060 ft) above the mean sea level. This elevation is comparatively high considering the fact that it is a large freshwater lake on the mostly saline lake-studded Tibetan Plateau. This lake is relatively round in shape with a surface area of about 410 square kilometers (160 sq mi). It has a circumference of near about 88 kilometres (55 mi) and a maximum depth of about 90 m (300 ft). The natural Ganga Chhu channel connects Manasarovara Lake to Lake Rakshastal in the vicinity. Lake Manasarovar overflows into Rakshastal Lake. It is known to be a salt-water endorheic lake. These lakes used to be part of the Sutlej basin and were separated due to tectonic activity. Lake Manasarovar is near the source of the Sutlej, which is the easternmost large tributary of the Sindhu. Nearby are the sources of the Brahmaputra River, the Indus River and the Ghaghara, an important tributary of the Ganges.
Religious Significance of Manasarovara Lake
Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Bon religion are the different sects with which Lake Manasarovar has significant relations. The Manasarovara Lake region can be called the cynosure of the world as it is considered very holy by the Hindus and the Buddhists.
In Hindu tradition, Manasarovar is known to be created by the god of creation, Lord Brahma. This is because he needed a suitable place for his12 sons to perform religious rituals. They were recognized as holy men and only had dry land at the site to carry out rituals and austerities. By giving birth to Lake Mansarovar, Lord Brahma provided them with such a place which could help them earn merit. It is believed that Brahma had a mind (manas) to create a lake (sarowar). This lake was first created in the mind of Brahma after which it physically appeared on earth. Thus, it is this Hindu belief on which the name of this lake is based. Hinduism also considers Manasarovar to be a personification of purity. Thus, Manasarovar Lake is a pilgrimage site for the Hindus along with Mount Kailash. A pilgrimage to Mount Kailash involves circumambulating the holy mountain and also the Manasarovar Lake. More specifically, Hindus travel clockwise around the mountain to cover a circuit of about 52 km. Pilgrims (also known as yatris in Hindi language) are known to take a ritualistic bath in the lake. From religious point of view, this bath is a means to reach Lord Brahma’s paradise. As part of their pilgrimage, they also drink the holy water of the lake. This would free them from the sins of a hundred lifetimes, bringing salvation from reincarnation. The lake is also considered to be the summer abode of the hamsa. The hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty and is also held sacred.
According to Jainism, Lake Manasarovar is related to the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabha.
Manasarovar Lake is associated with the mystical creation of Lord Buddha and is thus religiously significant for the Bhuddhists. Buddhism associates Manasarovar with the legendary lake, Anotatta. Anotatta is the name of the lake in Pali and in Sanskrit it is known as Anavatapta. It has been highlighted in Buddhism that Buddha's mother was transported here by the gods. She took a bath in the holy waters of the Manasarovar until her body was purified. As Buddha entered her womb, she saw a white elephant running to her from Mount Kailash. It is also believed that many a times, Manasarovar region became the dwelling site for Buddha. He also meditated in the vicinity of this lake. This lake is mentioned in Buddhist literature and is also associated with many teachings and stories. In the modern narration and description of the meditation called "The Jewel of Tibet", Lake Manasarovar is a subject. It was made popular by Robert Thurman.
According to Bon religion, the founder of Bon religion, Tonpa Shenrab, washed himself in the Manasarovar Lake on his first visit to Tibet from Tagzig Wolmo Lungring.
After the Battle of Chamdo, the Manasarovara Lake region was closed for pilgrims from the outside. More specifically, foreigners were prohibited from entering this region from the years 1951 to 1980. It was after the 1980s, that this region again became a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.
Kailash Manasarovar Yatra
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) acts as the organizing body of the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. This yatra is organized every year in batches via different routes. It is important to note that this yatra is open to a limited number of people. This is because certain criteria reject the number of applicants for the yatra. One needs to be an Indian citizen with a valid Indian passport. Physical fit is a must to bear low temperatures, survive on rugged terrain, dangerous trekking trails and high altitudes. Any major health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma, heart disease, epilepsy, etc detected prior to the commencement of the journey will lead to rejection of the applicant as a yatri. People below the age of 18 and above 70 will not be considered for the yatra. It is only after careful medical examination that people are selected for this pilgrimage to high altitudes. People also have to become accustomed to the harsh weather conditions for this trek. Training with free weights, bands, a backpack, bodyweight exercises or gym machines is advised prior to the yatra, to build overall strength. There are two routes that the Ministry of External Affairs offers to pilgrims. They are the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand and the Nathu La mountain pass in Sikkim.
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