Lake Manasarovar Kora
Access: Lhasa-> Shigatse-> Latse-> Sakya-> Bagar-> Darchen
Starting/Ending: Chiu Gonpa (Monastery)
Route: Chiu Monastery > Hor Qu > Seralung Monastery > Trugo Monastery > Gotsmk Monastery > Chiu Monastery
D1 Chiu Monastery to Hor Qu(基乌寺到霍尔): 30km / 8 hours
As per Buddhism tradition, head in a clockwise direction from Chiu, traveling eastwards along the north shore. You will pass Mani stones nearly 2m high. The trail soon leaves the waterline and ascends over the top of a red escarpment for two hours.
The cliffs below are sprinkled with caves that have been used by religious practitioners for centuries. Some of these caves have been converted into permanent homes. From the grass-capped, rolling top of the escarpment the route descends into a small vale where you can see the ruins of Cherkip Monastery; at this point you're a little over two hours from Chiu Monastery.
From Cherkip, it is faster to follow the trail east over the headlands to Langbona Monastery/兰伯那寺, a 90-minute walk. There is also a lakeshore route past more caves and cliffs. When the escarpment ends look for the trail going north along the Gyuma valley to Langbona on the west bank of the Gyuma-chu.
East of Langbona, the route traverses a marshy plain to the settlement of Hor Qu, 4 hours away. Look for a series of tracks heading towards the distant margin of the plain. Under no circumstances return to the edge of the lake from Langbona. The swamps along this part of the lakeshore give way to several lakes that flow into Manasarovar, effectively blocking the route to all but birds and fish.
D2 Hor Qu to Seralung Monastery(霍尔到色热隆寺): 13km / 3 hours
The trail from Hor Qu leaves the settlement in a south-westerly direction, avoiding the extensive swamps abutting the lake. A little south of Hor Qu you cross the bridge over the Samui-chu, the main road east initially follows this valley. South of the swampy tracts, the trail rejoins the lakeshore along a stone beach. Look out for white-and-black polished stones, sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. The route is squeezed between the water and a cliff, before a side valley and Seralung Monastery appear. The temple is still in reconstruction(as of 2006). Lodging only available at the locals' home, but they can hardly understand any outside language, incl. std. Chinese.
D3 Seralung Monastery to Trugo Monastery(色热隆寺到楚古寺): 27km / 7hours
At first the route south of Seralung stays near the lakeshore, but in about one hour, the mountains retreat and a plain forms next to Manasarovar. The trail moves inland about 1km and crosses the bridge over the Trak Tsangpo about 3 hours from Seralung. Up the valley,there are extensive hot springs and geysers as well as Bon and Buddhist sites. About 3 hours from the Trak Tsangpo Bridge, you will round the south side of Manasarovar and reach the Yerngo Monastery ruins situated in abroad plain. South of the plain the massive flanks of the Gurla Mandata (7728m) massif rise up to a heavily glaciated summit. In Buddhism, Gurla Mandata is the dwelling place of the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati. However, in the older Bon tradition, the mountain is the home of the Queen of the Dralha, an important class of ancient warrior deities.
You will reach Trugo Monastery after another hour. Trugo is the only monastery at either Kailash or Manasarovar belonging to the Gelugpa secu. 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 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. Trugo Monastery is the perfect location to view the Holy Lake and Holy Mountain(Kailash). The 2 rows of simple buildings in front of the monastery provide lodging for Y10/bed. Water need to be fetched from the lake. Rotten weeds floating on the water surface around the monastery.
D4 Trugo Monastery to Chiu Monastery(楚古寺到基乌寺): 40km / 9~10 hours
From Trugo a motorable track shoots over the range of hills south-west of the lake to join the Purang-Darchen road, but the kora route stays near the lakeshore. Eventually, swampy ground gives way to sandy expanses near the south-west corner of Manasarovar. The trail passes between the lake and the much smaller Shushup-tso along a narrow sand and gravel bridge. You'll walk along the west side of the lake two hours from Trugo; continue walking along the beach for two more hours to Gotsmk Monastery/果祖寺.
Gotsmk Monastery sits on top of a cliff and is best known as the place where the great Kagyupa saint Gitsangpa meditated. 3 lamas dwell in it. On the lakeshore below the monastery are a couple of caves used by pilgrims to camp. Retreat caves are found on the circuit around the monastery. The kora follows the lakeshore to the Tsering Madang valley three hours away. From here it is two more hours back to Chiu along the beach.
- Check whether a PSB permit is still required to trek in the area.
- Backpackers usually take Chiu Gonpa as the base, which is 30km southeast of Darchen. If you don't charter a vehicle to arrive, the alternative is hitchhiking at Bagar Check Point or Darchen to Chiu Gonpa. There are 2 guesthouses in the village nearby the monastery, Y30~50/bed. The southern one provides veg and plain rice. You need bring enough food for the Kora.
- The sights is attractive along the kora but without much change. Some travelers just spend a few days in Chiu, bathing in the hot spring, enjoying the tranquil beauty of the lake and the mountain.
- Though there is no steep slope on roue, walking over the soft sand path is not so easy.
- For moving on, you have Lhasa in the west, Mt. Kailash and Shiquanhe in the north, Purang in the south, choose whichever.