It lies about 20 km (12.43 mi.) southeast of Mt. Kailash. It means ‘Invincible Jade Lake’ in Tibetan. The name originates from a story that Buddhism wins a victory against Bon in a religious match beside the lake. It is the same ‘Jade Pool of Western Kingdom’ described by the high monk Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in his Westward Diary.
As per Hindu theology, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a personification of purity, and one who drinks water from the lake will go to the Abode of Lord Shiva after death. He is believed to be cleansed of all his sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasa Sarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and the neighboring countries. Bathing in the Manasa Sarovar and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasa Sarovar Yatra which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the cleansing waters of the lake.
Manasasarovar lake has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being nearby to the sources of four of the greatest rivers of Asia, namely the Brahmaputra, Karnali, Indus and Sutlej. Thus it is an axial point which has been thronged to by pilgrims for thousands of years. The region was initially closed to pilgrims from the outside; no foreigners were allowed between 1949 and 1980. After the 1980s it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.
According to the Hindu religion, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called “Manas sarovara”, which is a combination of the words manas (mind) and sarovara (lake). The lake, in Hindu religious belief, is also supposed to be the summer abode of the Hamsa goose. Considered to be sacred, the Hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty.