4 of Asia’s Highest Holy Lakes


Lake Manasarovar with Mount Kailash in the distance

Regardless of where sacred sites are found, there will always be those willing to journey to them in order to live their faith to the fullest. Here are four of Asia’s holy lakes that are located on remarkably high ground.

Text by Prakhar Tripathi and Rachel Kewk
Photo: Shutterstock

1. Lake Manasarovar

Location: Tibet
Altitude: 4,585m
Maximum Depth: 90m
Both Buddhists and Hindus believe that bathing in or drinking from the lake – also called Jewel of Tibet because of its sapphire waters – cleanses one of sins and brings good fortune. Some pilgrims circumambulate the equally revered Mount Kailash that flanks the lake for similar reasons.

2. Lake Namtso

Location: Tibet
Altitude: 4,718m
Maximum Depth: 125m
Pilgrims walk around the lake, which is significant in Bon and Tibetan Buddhism, to cleanse themselves of sins and accrue blessings. It is believed that the year of the goat is the best time to do this. In Tibetan, Lake Namtso means “heaven lake’. One of the three holiest lakes in Tibet, it is also the highest saltwater lake in the world.

3. Lake Issyk-Kul

Location: Kyrgyzstan
Altitude: 1,601m
Maximum Depth: 668m
Archaeologists discovered the remains of a 14th-century Christian monastery on its northern bank. Historical cartographic records suggest that this could be the burial site of Apostle Matthew, one of the 12 well-known disciples of Jesus Christ.

4. Qinghai Lake

Location: China
Altitude: 3,194m
Maximum Depth: 26m
Besides being the largest lake in China, it is also situated in one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Tibetan Buddhism. Devotees believe that they can be cleared of their sins by circumambulating it seven times.

This is an excerpt from an article from Asian Geographic Issue 5/2018. To continue reading, get your copy here.

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