Lake Manasarovar is among the world’s highest fresh-water lakes. At an elevation of 4,583 meters, the lake covers 412 square kilometers. With the northern part broader than the southern end, the deepest point of the lake is over 70 meters. The lake is purer than a sapphire and one can see through dozens of meters into the lake. The lake is located in the Burang County, 20 km southeast of the Mount Kailash.
In Tibetan language, Manasarovar means “invincible lake”. In “Regions In Great Tang”, wrote by monk Xuanzang, Lake Manasarovar was regarded as the sacred Yaochi Lake of Nirvana. In the 11th century Buddhism won in the competition against the local Bon Religion and changed the lake’s name from “Machui Co” into “Manasarovar”, which means the “Invincible Lake”, in the hope of winning more believers in Tibet. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is believed that bathing with the water of Manasarovar will drive off avaricious desires, troubled thoughts and past sins; drinking the water will keep healthy and away from disease; while circling the lake will bring boundless beneficence to the pilgrims. Thus all the pilgrims to Tibet will come to Manasarovar and regard circling and drinking from the lake as their greatest fortune. Throughout the year, numerous pilgrims and visitors are attracted to the holy Mt. Kailash and the Lake Manasarovar. It is also 1 of 3 Holy Lakes in Tibet (the other 2 are Namtso Lake and Yamdroktso Lake).
The Hindi poet Kalidasa once wrote that the waters of Lake Manasarovar are “like pearls” and that to drink them erases the “sins of a hundred lifetimes”. Be warned, however, that the sins of a hundred lifetimes tend to make their hasty exit by way of the nearest toilet. Make sure that you thoroughly purify Lake Manasarovar’s sacred waters before you drink them.
Every summer, flocks of swans will gather on the lake, bringing grace and life to the area. Legend says that the fish in the lake can cure sterility, dystocia, dropsy and other illnesses. Chemical analyses show that the lake water indeed contains various types of minerals. At just 3 kilometers away from Manasarovar, the “Ghost Lake” La’ang is a salt water lake. With high winds and rapid currents, it’s difficult for fish or weeds to grow.
The prime time of shooting is before and after sunrise or sunset within an hour.
The quality of eatery only owns the word: basic. The private hotels in Manasarovar can offer simple food with high price, let alone the flavor. It is always best to carry some solid food like instant noodles and biscuit. If conditions permit, bring some fruits and vegetables.
Just like eatery, the options for accommodation are also limited. There are several nameless hotels in the small village at the foot of Ji wu temple. The condition is very tough and CNY 30 each bed. The price of some guesthouses with the same condition is CNY35 per bed. The only benefit is that these hotels are near to lake and you can appreciate sunrise and waterfowl.
1. Ji wu temple
Ji wu temple is famous as many tourists will stay overnight in there. Get up early and climb up to the hill to shoot intoxicating sunrise of Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash in the distance. Located at the western bank of Manasarovar, Ji wu temple is just in the direction of sunrise and also the perfect place to shoot the sunset. In addition, you can shoot the scenery of Ji wu village, Gurla Mandhata( also called goddess peak) and grazing cattle and sheep. There is a hill northeastward of Ji wu temple, where you can appreciate the bay and reflection of Gurla Mandhata.
2. Chu temple
Chu temple is the largest temple among five temples around Manasarovar. It is located in the south of Manasarovar and 20 kilometers away from Ji wu temple. View from the top of temple, travelers can feel that the lake is just under your feet. This is the perfect shooting angle of Holy Mountain and sacred Lake. In summer, you can easily encounter the pilgrims from India and Nepal bathing in the lake.
3. Lake Rakshastal
At 10 kilometers away from Ji wu temple, the “Ghost Lake” La’ang is a saltwater lake which is separated from Lake Manasarovar. You can drive directly to the lakeside. In addition, the ice formation period is longer than Manasarovar and is suitable to shoot the melting ice of the lake.
The tour of Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash belong to Ali trip. Generally, photographers need to rent a car to Manasarovar from Lhasa and this route costs you at least four days.
Day1: Start from Lhasa and stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day2: Shoot Mount Everest and stay overnight in Tingri.
Day3: Drive to Saga County. Appreciate the beautiful scenery along the way.
Day4: Arrive in Ji wu temple. If you don’t arrange to circumambulate the lake, spend a night by the lakeside is a good idea. Thus, you can gain two ideal lights in the morning and evening. After visiting the Lake Manasarovar, you can keep southwards to Burang County and continue your Ngari trip. If you are lucky enough to visit this beautiful lake on a fine day, you will enjoy a spectacular picture formed by bluish water, glistening waves, reflections of clouds and snow-capped mountains.