Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash are both bounded by faith and wrapped in the arms of Mother Nature, instantly spelling out mysticism and mystery. No wonder, every year, innumerable tourists and trekkers from different parts of the world join in for the most revered (and, one of the most difficult) trek ever. And, the list includes not only people with deep religious beliefs and sentiments, but people in search of adventure also.
Although the trek is supposedly one of the most well-known in India, here are some facts about the place and the yatra, which you may find handy if you’re to (or planning to) travel to Mansarovar Lake in the near future—
1. A sacred place for not just the Hindus, but for the Buddhists, Jains and Bons too.
For Hindus, Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva.
For Buddhists, the place is an embodiment of Lord Buddha.
The first Jain saint, Adinath received his emancipation at this place.
For the Bons, their saint Shenrad is said to have descended on this very peak.
2. Mt. Kailash is also known as “Meru” and is regarded as the navel of the earth.
Four great rivers see their inceptions within 50 kms radius, and in four distinctive directions:
Through the west flows the great river Sutlej.
Towards the east flows river Brahmaputra (locally known as Yarlang Sangpo)
Towards the south flows river Karnali.
Towards the north flows river Indus.
3. Lake Mansarovar has a circumference of 110 kms, which the locals cover in a single day, on foot.
Inexperienced trekkers, on the other hand could take anywhere up to 3 days.
4. They say the best time to visit the Lake is between 3 AM and 5 AM in the morning.
This period is known as the Brahmamuhurta— the time when the Gods come to bathe in the lake!
5. Myths say Queen Maya was given a bath in the lake by the Gods before Siddhartha came into the world!
6. Mansarovar lake is considered to be the remains of the great Lake Tethys—the source of all creation.
According to legend, the lake was created by Lord Brahma himself for meditation—Manasa in Sanskrit refers to “Mind” whereas Sarovar means “Lake”.
7. A dip in the sacred waters of Mansarovar are said to wipe off your sins from the last 7 births.
Hence, every year Hindus from across the world decides to come here at least once in their lifetime.
8. Do a Parikrama once, and your sins are washed for forever, do it 108 times, and you can attain Nirvana or Moksha or Salvation.
Well, if one trek around the lake takes 3 days, can you imagine how many days you shall have to spend in that shivering cold if you want to achieve salvation!
9. Gauri Kund – The lake of compassion where Goddess Parvati used to bath.
If you happen to trek to the Mansarovar Lake in future, don’t forget to visit Gauri Kund—a group of 5 natural small reservoirs with emerald green water.
10. The yearly Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is organized by the Ministry of External Affairs between the months of June to September.
11. Any person who is less than 70 years of age can be a part of this trek provided he or she holds an Indian Passport.
Interested people may get more information about the trek from http://kmy.gov.in.
12. There are two major routes to commence the Yatra.
The first one starts from Lipulekh Pass in Uttarakhand, while the other one commences from Nathu La Pass in Sikkim. However, all trekkers must get a prior health check-up done at New Delhi, the accommodation for which is provided by the Government itself along with free meals.
13. The mesmerizing journey makes you trek at a height of 19,500 feet under inhospitable conditions.
Trekking up to Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar takes you through some of the most beautiful places you have probably ever come across. It is a journey through places devoid of any cacophony of modern day life, through places where only love and peace prevails. So, if you’re physically weak or have faced breathing problems before, you’re requested not to go about this trek. The Government of India, quite naturally, doesn’t take any responsibility of your ill health on the way!
14. Not at all easy on the pocket – It costs anywhere between Rs. 1.5 to Rs. 1.7 lakhs for a round trip.
The journey takes you across one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world (and spreads across two countries—India and Tibet) in search of salvation, happiness and to envisage true mystical beauty, quite naturally, doesn’t come at a pocket friendly rate. And, if this wasn’t enough, you have to gain consent once again at the medical camps held at the border areas to go about with the rest of your trip.