Manasarovar Kora in Western Tibet
Kora in Tibetan means a pilgrimage route around a sacred temple, a holy mountain or lake, such as Barkhor Kora, Kailash Kora and Manasarovar Kora. If you travel to Tibet, making a kora as local people do will make your Tibet tour more interesting.
Lake Manasarovar, as one of the famous holy lakes in Tibet, lies at about 20 km southeast of the sacred Mout Kailash. Although there is now a road around the lake, many pilgrims and tourists still choose to walk the kora around the lake.
The Manasarovar Kora is a lovely walk. The Lake Manasarovar reflects the most lucid shades of blue sky, white clouds and snow-peaks nearby. Manasarovar represents the female or wisdom aspect of enlightenment and symbolizes fortune and fertility in Tibetan Buddhism. Thus, Tibetan Buddhists are always eager to circumambulate the lake.
There are five Buddhist monasteries around the Lake Manasarovar, Chiu Monastery, Langbona Monastery, Seralung Monastery, Trupo Monastery and Gossul Monastery.
Tibetan Buddhists always start the kora from Chiu Monastery on the northwest corner of the Lake Manasarovar as it is widely regarded as the best place to start the walk. Tibetan Buddhists and Hindus should do the kora in clockwise direction, while Bonpos do it counter-clockwise. For tourists, they usually do it as Tibetan people do. It needs four days to finish the Manasarovar Kora.
Starting from Chiu Monastery, you will reach Langbona Monastery in about four hours’ walking clockwise. From Langbona, the pilgrimage trail cuts inland to avoid lagoons that form along the north shore of the Manasarovar. Look for cairns, prayer flags and other signs of pilgrim activity that herald the way. Do not make the mistake of hugging the lakeshore unless you are up for an icy-cold swim or have a raft in tow.
Trekking for another four hours from Langbona, you will reach Hor Qu at the northeast corner of the lake. You will spend a night at Hor Qu by camping.
On the second day, you will trek about three hours from Hor Qu to Seralung Monastery on the east shore of the Lake Manasarovar. Sera Monastery is a good place for camping and experiencing religious life. It is best to have a good rest here as it is a little hard to trek at a place over 4,000m.
On the third day, you will trek about four or five hours to Trugo Monastery on the southern bank of the Manasarovar. Trugo is the only monastery at either Kailash or Manasarovar belonging to the Gelugpa of Tibetan Buddhism. Trugo (means "Bathing Head") is so named because of its importance as a place for ritual bathing. In the middle of each lunar August, many Brahmanists will come here from Nepal to patter and pray, and then diving into the cold water for bathing.
Trugo Monastery is the perfect location to view the Holy Lake and Holy Mountain (Kailash). Kailash seems to embrace the lake from this angle, lending credence to ancient myths that speak of the two representing a god and goddess in union.
On the last day, you will trek back to Chiu Monastery via Gossul Monastery. It takes around 9 or 10 hours to finish it.
The best time to do the trek is May, June and September. A tent and stove are necessary and you should prepare for any weather at any time. So your luggage will be a little heavy. In addition, it is not easy to finish this trek at an altitude over 4,000m. It is best to hire a horse or yak to carry luggage, food and drinking water for you. It costs around 200RMB per day for each horse.