Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 22

As this post goes to press (figuratively speaking), year 2013 is winding down.. At this time, Maanas and Rakshas Tal would be a splendid sea of ice… While this travelogue is about a Yatra that took place in June-July of this year, the summer of Maanas, the magic has been such that we have been traveling on the blog journey a whole season, and we are now in winter… But Maanas is timeless… In fact, when Soota returned from his Yatra, he was finding it difficult to relate to date and calender for quite some time… The present day concerns of workaday life and TV news seemed totally remote, as if they were not of his planet… The initiation into the unbounded space and timelessness of Maanas-Kailas would keep him floating, like a piece of cotton flower flying in some mountain sky… But Gravity prevails and he does come down in time… But the memories remain… And the longing to return…

How would Maanas be now?  How is Maanas in winter? Let us have a glimpse, shall we?

One man from India who has contributed more to the body of knowledge of Maanas-Kailas than perhaps anyone else in the world in the last few centuries is Swami Pranavananda – an Indian Sanyasi who hailed from Andhra Pradesh. He has done more than 20 parikrama-s of Kailasa and Manasarovar, many times in deep winter… He was a spiritual man of the East who delved deep into inner consciousness. In addition, he also brought to his thinking the scientific objectivity of the West when it related to exploration of the outer world. And he could relate the two in a continuum of knowledge and experience…

Swami Pranavananda (FRGS) has discovered and documented a great amount of information about Maanas-Kailas in diverse areas such as, Geography, Geology, Botany, Zoology, Archaeology, Religion etc. He brought fundamental new knowledge about the sources of the four great Asian rivers of that region (Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Karnali) and corrected the earlier understanding that was based on studies of Western Scholars (including Sven Hedin)…So great was his contribution in Geography, that he had the distinction of being conferred the highest membership status of the Royal Geographical Society of Britain – namely, FRGS – Fellow of Royal Geographic Society…  More about him in some future post…

One of the seminal works of Swami Pranavananda is his book – “History of Kailash Manasarovar”, published in 1949.

Let us browse this book and view the onset and the beauty of winter in the region of the twin lakes – Manasarovar and Rakshas Tal…

Snowfall begins in September…But the waters do not freeze… Tempestuous winds begin in November. The lake starts freezing…First in the edges and then in the middle.. Massive sheets of ice start floating in the lake… As December sets in, cyclonic gales blow from Gurla Mandhata, “giving rise to huge oceanic waves in the Lake, roaring and thundering aloud.”  And then sometime in end of December, magic happens… The lake begins the last lap of freezing…  By end December, beginning January, the lakes are completely frozen… From January, sounds and rumblings are heard in the lake… As the waters in Maanas fall below the frozen ice tops, cracks start developing on the ice beds as they break under their own weight… Fissures, several feet broad, crisscross the lake… The fissures freeze and break again during each day, and ice blocks come up creating ever new patterns every single day. Along the coast line, ice blocks erupt from the lake ends, forming ‘coastal eruptions’…. “Sometimes massive blocks of ice are bodily lifted and hurled from the bed of the Lake on to the shore, carrying with them small pebbles, big stones, mud and sand.”

Swamiji writes – “A series of peculiar phenomena takes place on the frozen Lake of Manasarovar which it is impossible to describe fully. In one corner towards the south of the Naimapendi, the ice on the Lake cracks, and innumerable glassy panes of ice 2 to 4 tenths of an inch in thickness are hurled out into heaps in a minute as if by magic…

Unlike Maanas, Rakshas Tal has far less fissures. And it freezes all over, enabling horses, mules, yaks to go across the entire lake stretch…Rakshas Tal freezes earlier (and faster) than Maanas and melts later…

About the frozen Rakshas Tal, Swamiji says – “…the zebra-like formations of snow in well-marked stripes in the ups and downs, in the valleys, especially on the south and west in winter, and in the islands and irregular shores with bays, gulfs, promontories, peninsulas, straits, isthmuses, rocky shores etc. lend an additional element to the picturesqueness of the landscape around the Rakshas. Indeed, Rakshas Tal would form a good model for learning geographical terms.

With that background, shall we move on to a few pictures, all taken from the Net.

The pictures in the gallery below have been taken from the link -> Click here for source

Click on the first picture and use arrow keys to browse…Press Esc to return…


And here’s a picture of Rakshas Tal de-freezing in the month of May. (click here for source of the picture )




Let us now come back to  savor a moment of Maanas magic … When the Maanas first freezes over completely…

The Lamas and Tibetans believe that lake freezes in entirety on the full moon day of Margashirsha month.. That is a day of festivity for the locals…

And in the year 1936, the Margashirsha Purnima happened to fall on Monday, Dec 28th… And Swami Pranavananda was staying in a monastery by the banks of Maanas on that day…. Shall we see what he saw?

Ok folks! Easy does it now…Empty your mind… Let go… Take off and fly into the Maanas sky and view the scene as described by Swamiji. 

He writes about himself in third person…

Begin Quote—

“It was Monday, December 28, 1936. Somehow that day the author came out of his meditation room at the unusual hour of 7 a.m. and looked around ; He could not say why, it was all like the dead of night, absolute silence and perfect calmness prevailing. Curious to know as to what had happened he went to the terrace of the monastery and stood up, and in an instant felt a thrill and lost all physical consciousness for some time – how long he could not exactly tell. As he regained consciousness, he was stunned by the sight of the Holy Kailas on the north-west, piercing into the pitch blue sky and dyed in amber robes of the early morning sun (which had not yet reached other places) and overlooking the Holy Lake in all majesty and dignity, bewitching even the inanimate creation. Not even a single sheep or lamb in the sheep-yard bleated. While he was musing over the splendour and over-powering beauty of the Holy Mount, it rapidly changed several robes of various colours and hues and ultimately decided upon the usual perpetual silver garment, which was reflecting in the clear and calm blue mirror of the mid-lake. Dazzled at the sight, he lowered his eyes towards the Lake that was just in front of him. The very first sight of the Holy Lake made him forget himself and even the Lake herself for some time, and by the time he could see the Lake again, the sun was sufficiently high on the eastern horizon. For over a mile from the shores, the waters in the Lake were frozen into milk-white ice all around. It was an unforgettable and memorable sight – the middle of the Lake picturesquely with its unfrozen deep blue waters quite calm and serene, reflecting the Kailas and the snowy cap of the Ponri peak and the resplendent rays of the morning sun. Oh ! How happy he was ! He utterly fails to describe the bliss he enjoyed and the mystic charm of the enchanting Lake. Tears of joy trickled down the cheeks, only to be frozen on the parapet. There was pin-drop silence everywhere. Like the eternal silence of Nirvana there was perfect stillness all around. What creature could there be on the face of earth which would not feel and become one with that sublime serenity of silence of the Almighty? He leaned against the parapet of the terrace and stood dumb-struck by the most enrapturing splendour and lustre of the sublime serenity of the spiritual aura of the two holiest places on the face of the earth. How fortunate he felt himself to be under such a wonderful spell ! Then he was lost within himself. At about 10 a.m. he was roused by the hailing shouts of the villagers. The whole village was on the house-tops hoisting coloured flags, burning incense and hailing the, gods aloud ‘So! So !! So !!! Lung-ta-ro ! Lung-ta-ro !! Lung-ta ro !!!’ There had descended a thorough change in the whole atmosphere (both physical and mental and spiritual) and he felt as if he was in an altogether new world. By December 30, i.e. in full three days, the entire Lake was frozen like the mythological ocean of curds…”



Today, the day of this blog post, is December 30th, 2013.  The same date as the “entire lake freezing” day that Swamiji describes…  And this date, Dec 30th, is the day that the silent sage of Arunachala, Sri Ramana Maharshi, was born in Tiruchuzhi in the year 1879. That day too was a Monday. And He was born just as the Arudra Darshan idol of dancing Siva, Lord Nataraja, was just re-entering the temple of Bhoominatha after the Tiruvadirai ceremonial procession in town….

As I check out the almanac for the date of magic in maanas that was described by Pranavananda – 28-Dec-1936 –  Purnima, Margasirsha – Somavara (Monday ) – sacred to Siva…

I find that it too was the  Tiruvaadirai day! Arudra Star, month of Margazhi….The day of the dance of Siva…



On that note folks, wishing all a happy new year!

Om Nama Sivaya!

** To be continued **


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3 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 22”

  1. ravi anna family Says:

    It again proves the existence of the divine power called as shiva by sages in kailash. How on arudra day the entire climate and sylvan surroundings changed to accommodate shiva`s divinity to become infinitely sylvan.
    And to report it today again was divine intervention. Very well done.
    Correlation of ramana`s birth with arudra procession date may not be known to many of such rare and important facts and events.
    tks for such excellent information and it is very rare to get these unless one is blessed.
    Photos again are excellent.
    ravi anna family

  2. Krishnaswamy Sourirajan Says:

    Dear Kamesh sir It is really wonderful. I go thro arunachala Aksharamanamaalai on mondays. This excellent information on the eve of New Year 2014 is due to my good fortune. Thank u & wish u a cheerful & Happy NEW YEAR.

  3. Thiru Says:

    Got to read this post today. Fantastic and so timely for the winter. The pictures are amazing. Will read more about Swamiji. Anyone managing to do a parikrama in winter must have been super human. To do it more than 20 time….some endurance and spiritual orientation. Thanks GK for the gem.

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