Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 19

It has been more than five months since we commenced this blog-journey of Maanas-Kailas…. And this chronicler is “still Still” in Manas… Yes, he is frozen still, caught in the spell of memories of Manasarovar… In fact, he did want to move on to the next spell, the foothills of Kailas… But Maanas does not let go… For you can see Kailasa from here… And then there is the master magic of Maanas too…

Salim Ali, the great ornithologist, who came here in 1945, writes of this maanas-magic – “The colours on the lake, changing not only with time of day but  with every fleeting mood of the sky are a thing undescribable, and not likely ever to be forgotten. From almost snow-white, may be, at one end, it ranges to every imaginable shade of green and blue –– and from the deepest jade and the purest emerald to intense ultramarine blue and purplish-black.”

Ah yes, Maanas is the muse of nature… Being God’s poetry form, it awakens the poet in the hearts of all who come and gaze at its magic. It is that which enables many a travel writer, to be able to convey in some measure,  the abstract cosmic mystery of Maanas, the undescribable beauty, the dance of sound and wind and colors and myriad sensations of body. mind and heart…

Let us then, before we move on from Maanas, share a few of such pictures, that have been word-painted by some who came here, only to find themselves completely captivated… And proclaiming – “I came, I saw, I am conquered”…

One such,  is Sven Hedin, (1865 – 1952) – a Swedish geographer, map maker, explorer, photographer, travel writer, illustrator – one of the great explorers of twentieth century. He has written much about Maanas-Kailas.. But in this  post here, we shall see some freezes, a few snatches of experience, from one of the many days that he spent at Manasarovar. The quotes are from his book – “Trans-Himalaya”, published in 1910.


The date is 8-Aug-1907.

Hedin has survived a near death encounter the previous night… He and his men had been caught in a terrific storm when they were boating in the lake, in the mission of sounding its depths… The God of the Lake has been kind, and they are alive. And now in the safe comfort of a monastery in the western bank of the lake –  the Gossul Gompa.

Hedin writes:

“We ascended to the roof of Gossul-gompa. It is flat, as usual, with a chimney, parapet, and streamers. No language on earth contains words forcible enough to describe the view from it over the lake. It was, indeed, much the same as we had seen from various points on the shore, but the light and shade was so enchanting and the colouring so wonderful that I was amazed, and felt my heart beat more strongly than usual as I stepped out of the dark temple halls on to the open platform. Tundup Sonam said in his simple way that the lake with its encircling mountains seemed like the sky with its light clouds. I, too, was the victim of an illusion which almost made me catch at the parapet for support. I wondered  whether it was a fit of giddiness. I took, to wit, the border of mountains on the eastern shore for a belt of light clouds, and the surface of the sea for part of the sky. The day was perfectly calm and the lake like a mirror, in which the sky was reflected; both looked exactly the same, and were of the same colour, and the mountains, which in consequence of the distance were all blended into a dark shadow, were like a girdle of clouds. The air was not clear, everything was of a dull subdued tone, there was no colour to speak of, but all was grey—sky, land, and water, with a tinge of blue, a fairy scene of glass, with decorations of white gauze seen through a thin blue veil of incense rising from the altar of the mighty god of the lake.

What has become of the earth, if all is sky and clouds ? We are not totally bewitched, for we are standing on the roof of the monastery leaning against the parapet. A dream-picture in the most ethereal transitory tones floats before us. We seem to stand on a promontory jutting out into endless space, which yawns around us and in front. And where is now the holy lake, which yesterday nearly robbed us of life, and on which the storm was so furious that I still seem to feel the ground quaking under my feet? Has the Gossul monastery been changed by some whim of the gods into an air-ship which is bearing us away to another planet ?”

All is so indescribably quiet; so ethereal, transparent, and transitory, so subtle and sensitive, that I scarcely dare breathe. Never has a church service, a wedding march, a hymn of victory, or a funeral made a more powerful impression on me.


Signing off this post with a picture from the Net (Click here for the source original) .

This is of Maanas lake, as seen from the parapet wall of Gossul Gompa… From around here it was the Hedin would have had his wonderful vision….

Gossul Gompa With Lake


Needless to say, the picture described by Hedin was from his “moments of magic” – of the cloud-filled sky reflected in totality in the pure mirror of Maanas waters…..

He writes –

“Perhaps an hour such as I spent at the parapet of Gossul comes only once a year. The effect is the result of a certain temperature, a certain percentage of humidity, calm air, preceded by rain and a north-easterly storm. How seldom are all these conditions fulfilled ? At most once a year, and just at this hour, this hour of all hours, I stood on the roof and saw the blue lake at rest after its play.

Wonderful, attractive, enchanting lake ! Theme of story and legend, playground of storms and changes of colour, apple of the eye of gods and men, goal of weary, yearning pilgrims, holiest of the holiest of all the lakes of the world,art thou, Tso-mavang, lake of all lakes…. Navel of old Asia, where four of the most famous rivers of the world, the Brahmaputra, the Indus, the Sutlej, and the Ganges, rise among gigantic peaks, surrounded by a world of mountains, among which is Kailas, the most famous in the world ; for it is sacred in the eyes of hundreds of millions of Hindus, and is the centre of a wreath of monasteries where every morning blasts of conches sound out from the roofs over the lake.  Axle and hub of the wheel, which is an image of life, and round which the pilgrims wander along the way of salvation towards the land of perfection. 

That is Manasarowar, the pearl of all the lakes of the world. Hoary with age when the books of the Veda were written, its blue billows have in the course of centuries seen innumerable troops of faithful Hindus and Tibetans arrive at its banks, there to drink, bathe, and find rest for their souls.


** To be continued **


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3 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 19”

  1. krishni457 Says:

    excellant write up & Photos. Thank u Sir. a feast for our eyes.

  2. Meenakshi Says:

    Thank you for the extensive write up on Manasarovar and the beautiful pictures.

  3. chaity Says:

    this journey with you Sir, is wonderful. Thank you so much for this series of lovely write up. It is a treat to read and move on with you

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