On the Tibetan land of lakes and hills, in the lap of grand mount Kailash. Apart from the holy lake Mansarovar, there are many other beautiful lakes adding to the natural richness of the place. Rakshastal (Rakshas Tal; Sanskrit: राक्षस ताल) is one of them.
Situated at an altitude of 4,575 metres, Rakshastal covers a total area of 250 square kilometres. It is lying on the west of the holy lake Mansarovar and in the south of mount Kailash. From the north-western tip of Rakshastal, the river Satluj originates. There is a distance of 3.7 kilometres between Rakshastal and Mansarovar. Earlier, they ‘were one’; Rakshastal was only a part of Mansarovar. Due to the geological changes over the years, the two different lakes have come into existence. They are joined by a natural channel called Ganga Chhu, which is believed to be created by Rishis to add pure water from Mansarovar into Rakshastal.
Like all the other places within and around the great Himalayas; Rakshastal also bears many mythic stories woven around. As the name Rakshastal means the lake of demons. As per the Hindu mythology, the ten headed Demon like king of Cylone Ravana had worshiped the God Shiva at this place to get some supernatural powers. The God was pleased with his severe penance and gifted him some such powers, too. In Buddhism, it is believed that the crescent-like shape of Rakshastal, and the almost round, sun like shape of Mansarovar side-by-side represent darkness and brightness respectively. The lake, unlike its neighbouring one, is considered to be unholy and notorious. The local people believe it to be poisonous and nobody takes a dip into the water or drink it!
May be, due to its saline water, no life is generated within, and because of that it has earned such notoriety among people. Thus, in the eyes of mythic references, too, along with the factual geographical scene, Rakshastal stands in a sharp contract with the holy lake of Mansarovar.
There are four islands in Rakshastal; Topserma, Dola, Lachato and Dosharba. These islands are used by local people as winter pasture for their yaks.
Though not considered holy despite its proximity with some of the holiest places in the world, Rakshastal is not the least inferior to the other lakes in Tibet as far as the natural beauty it displace. The deep blue waters of the lake presenting a wonderful and eye-soothing combination with the ice-covered tips of mount Kailash offer a serene experience to the viewer. Pilgrims usually may avoid visiting it; still, it is a place not to be missed if one wants to enjoy the beauty of nature at the fullest.