Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 17



We are at Maanas. North Western shore. Place marked as CG (pointed by arrow) in the picture above.,.

In the pilgrim season of July-Aug, the skies here are usually cloudy, and Kailasa plays hide and seek with the pilgrims… This day, that we have arrived at Maanas, is no different. We arrived with a drizzle on… Then the drizzle stopped…Later, in the early part of the evening, we had a bath in this holiest of waters – Manasarovar… Afterwards, back in the room, as we settle under the quilt seeking some relief from the cold, we hear one of our Nepali Sherpa guides say that “Kailash Nathji is seen”… We run out…. On our left, towards the north, we have our fist glimpse of this “Throne of Gods” – Mount Kailas…




Oh yes, it is somewhat hidden by white clouds… But there it is…. Holiest of Mountains! Mount Kailas!



Can you see the stairway to heaven running right up the middle of the mountain?

In the book, “The Throne of Gods”, the authors Heim and Gassner write : “The fundamental idea of Asiatic religions is embodied in one of the most significant temples I had ever seen, a sun-lit rock and ice! Its remarkable structure and peculiar harmony of its shape, justify in my speaking of Kailas as the most sacred mountain in the world…..the holiest mountain in the world and the Sublime Throne of the Gods.

From a different angle….



And some more….



That is Mount Kailasa … Known in Tibetan as “Khang Rimpoche” – ‘The Jewel of the Snows”….

Writing about his experience of Maanasa bath and sighting of Kailasa, Swami Tapovanam writes in his book “Kailas Yatra” : “By the holy bath in the Manasa, my mind attained a rare joy and fulfillment. I praised my own good fortune for being able to bathe in the divine lake where Mahadeva and Paravathi as well as Indra and Indrani bathe. All my stupendous efforts and my recklessness had been rewarded. Thinking thus my mind became totally quiet and peaceful. I felt that the Lord of Kailas had saved my body often from the jaws of death only because I was destined to enjoy this bliss. Ah! Ah! I am blessed! I am blessed!”…. “There on the North Western side of the lake Mt. Kailas can be seen. When we reached Tugalo Gumma itself I had seen Kailas and recognized it from the descriptions made by the lamas. With tears of joy flowing from my eyes I had prostrated again and again to it. Seeing it clearly in front of me the next day also, I was wonderstruck.”

That was in 1925… Now, some eighty eight years later, this Soota, a nondescript pilgrim, stands on the same shore… Feeling so very blessed! And wonderstruck at  the first sighting of Kailasa! Is this for real! Am I actually at Maanasa and seeing Kailasa? Could this be happening to me? Ah! Ah! I am blessed! Yes, I am blessed!


Coming down to earthly plane, let us once more see the road that leads  from our transit hotel to the lake



Now, if you do a ‘right-about-turn’ and look backwards, this is what you will see.




You see this conical hill, standing there, all by itself…. There on that hill is a holy cave. Built around that holy cave, stands a sacred monastery… The Chiu Gompa….

Lake Manasarovar is ever so sacred to Buddhists. It is the place where Queen Maya is said to have conceived Buddha. The lake is known in Buddhist parlance as Anavatapta – “Free of Heat” or “Free of strife” (Pali name Anotatta)…  Lama Govinda writes in “The Way of the White Clouds –  “… according to the oldest Buddhist tradition the descent of the Bodhisattva into his last life-in the fulfilment of his vow to attain final enlightenment, or Buddhahood-is connected with Manasarovar. According to this tradition, Queen Maya dreamt that the couch on which she rested was borne by the guardian gods to the Anotatta Lake (the Pali name for Manasarovar) and was bathed in its sacred waters, whereupon all human impurities were removed from her, so that the future Buddha could enter her womb. He descended from the direction of Mount Kailas, appearing like a white elephant in a cloud. This shows that even from the very beginnings of Buddhism, Kailas and Manasarovar were held in the highest esteem and that the Buddhists fully shared in a tradition which goes back to Vedic times, if not to the very beginnings of human civilisation.”

The holy lake was considered as the wheel of Dharma, and there were eight monasteries built in the eight directions. All these monasteries are said to have been destroyed during the Chinese cultural revolution. It is understood that many have since been rebuilt in some measure. Of these, the one where we are now, is the one in the north west, the  Chiu Gompa, marked as CG in the satellite picture in the start of this post….

What a beautiful setting! Built right into the hill…. Chiu Gompa (Sparrow Monastery)….Here is a close up…




You can see the monastery on the hill-face. Inside is a cave where Padmasambhava, the great sage who introduced Buddhism to Tibet, is said to have attained Nirvana. Guru Padmasambhava (8th Century AD), known as second Buddha, was a Brahmana born in Oddiyana in classical north west India (which is identified with the beautiful region of Swat valley in Pakistan). He and his consort were adepts in Tantra, which forms the basis of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a statue of Padmasambhava in the Chiu Gompa. His hand and foot imprints are said to be there in the cave in the Gompa.

We knew nothing of this when we visited the Maanas. Neither did our guides tell us. So we missed the chance of visiting the monastery and seeing the cave.  One was also boxed in for time… I guess a dream visit would need one to spend months here. All we had was a day. A few more days at Manasarovar is certainly called for. One should visit the Gossul Gompa, which is in the western shore of Maanas. Set on a hill, the gompa offers a breathtaking view of Maanas. There are caves here as well. Regarding Gossul Gompa, Swami Tapovanam writes : “Before dusk I reached a monastery called Goosal. The monastery was almost in the middle of the western bank. Ah! Ah! How can I describe the divine beauty of the lake when viewed from that monastery…

Coming back to our Maanas evening…. It is late evening and twilight is setting in…. And there is Maanas magic in the air…. Shankar, peering out of the window of our room suddenly notices the sky… And grabbing his camera he runs out…. And he captures this painting of God… Chiu Gompa – blush of mother nature…




What words can describe this? And this is what pilgrim after pilgrim who visits Maanas sees. The moods of Maanas…. Nature at her best, as she adorns herself in brilliant hues….

Maanas prepares for the night…




And night at Maanas…


314 Moonlight on Manas


The night photo is from an earlier trip by a friend of mine, Narayan Iyer… Shall share some more of his photos in the next post…

Signing off this post with a picture of Kailas as seen from Chiu Gompa, taken at sunrise… This picture is from the Net… (Credit: Nilesh Korgaokar, from this link )


Chu Gompa on the banks of the Mansarovar Lake with Mt Kailash in the background


Om Mani Padme Hum!

** To be continued **


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5 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 17”

  1. Thiru Says:

    Mesmerising GK both the way pictured and written. The way you took us down to nightfall truly amazing

  2. Nirmala Says:

    Beutiful description. Very nice to read

  3. Narayan Iyar Says:

    Can you please add soem info on ashtapad also

  4. ravi anna Says:

    once manasarover thought to be a far off place accessible to only Rishis and devas, appears to be at our neighbourhood after the illustrious description by sri kamesh. His photos are very informative and his descriptions lucid for everyone to understand as if they are the pilgrim..thanks very much mr kamesh keep it up.

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