Shrines At Kailash
Rakshastal or the lake of the Demon is situated in Tibet near Kailash Mansarovar. The lake is located at south of Mount Kailash and just west of Mansarovar lake bears no significance or relevance to its immediate neighbor. The lake covers a huge area of 250 km at an altitude of 4,575 meters. Even in the absence of grassland and greenery nearby, the deep blue lake looks absolutely stunning and beautiful.
The name Rakshastal comes from Sanskrit and its literal meaning is the lake of the demons or Rakshas. The Lake Rakashtal is known as Ravana Tal as well. The lake itself was the place where Ravana the ten headed Asur had prayed to Lord Shiva. Ravana was a Shiva Bhakt and he wished to take Lord Shiva along with him to Lanka, his home place. He requested Lord Shiva for the same but Shiva refused to the offer and continued living in Kailash. Seeing this denial of Lord Shiva, Ravana decided to bring the whole Kailash to Lanka along with Shiva. But as Shiva was a person who loved nature, loneliness, serenity and isolation, Shiva forced the mountain down in its place. And in order to do so, one of the leg thumbs of Ravana got below the holy mountain and got crushed. But Ravana was such a dedicated devotee; he didn’t bother of his pain and continued praying Lord Shiva. Since Ravana was a Rakash & prayed Lord Shiva with Shiv Tandav Strotam at Lake or Taal in hindi, for residing in Lanka, this place in Kailash area is known as Rakashtal.
Seeing his sheer dedication and devotion a pleased Shiva gave Ravana a Shivlingam and stated that wherever Ravana place the lingam, it will remain there and the place will be known as Shiva’s abode. During Ravana’s journey back to Lanka God Indra offered him help and put the Shivlingam there on gorund at Rameshwaram, the same place Lord Ram has performed Yagya before attacking Lanka and Ravana. Ram wanted Yagya to be performed by greatest Brahim priest & in that era Ravana was world's most knowledgeable Brahmin .So Ram requested Ravana to perform this Yagya for him. Ravana knew that what this Yagya is about and he understood that the Gods are coming for war against him, still he accepted the invitation & performed Yagya Puja with full vedic rituals in favour of Ram at Rameshwaram. Thus Rameshwaram is known as 1 of the 12 Jyotirlingam.
The two lake at the foot of Mount Kailash are exactly opposite of each other even being so closed at proximity. The Mansarovar Lake is known to be calm and composed where on the other hand, Rakshastal Lake just being 2.7 km away from Mansarovar is known to be stormy and windy. The lake water is salty which disables it to inhabit any life within itself or near the lake. The peaceful nature of Mansarovar thus associates it with the Gods and the exact opposite stormy nature of Rakshastal associates it with the Demons.
According to Buddhism, the two lakes denote the Sun and the Moon. Mansarovar is circular in shape depicting the Sun and Rakshastal has a crescent providing the image of the Moon: thus these two lakes denote the brightness and darkness altogether. Rakshastal lake is also known as Ravana Tal, as it is considered to be the place of severe penance by Ravana, the demon-like egoistic King of Lanka. Rakshastal Lake is said to be so much salty that the local consider it poisonous and there is a small river which connects Mansarovar and Rakshastal known as Ganga Chhu. This is believed that this small linkage is built by the Rishis to add some pure water from Mansarovar to Rakshastal.
Yam Dwar, the name sort of describes itself. It is a place where one embraces death or can say the Gateway of the God of Death. This is the place to enter the abode of Lord Shiva. The word Yam means Yamraj the god of death and Dwar is called gate. In Tibet Yam Dwar is known as Tarboche which is the place where they start circumambulation of their lord. IN Hindu, the worshippers of lord Shiva have to pass the gateway of death to reach their lord, one must pass through Yam Dwar to reach Mount Kailash. Yam Dev takes the decision of taking someone’s life away from this earth by judging and deciding based on the persons sins and merit, and then release the persons soul for further cosmic.At Yam Dwar it is believed that one can actually enter this gate when ones soul is emancipated from this mortal world.
Gauri Kund situated at 5608m when coming downwards from Dolma-La is also known as the lake of Compassion. The lake has a section in the religious book ‘Shiva Purana’ where the lake was the place where goddess Parvati acquired lord Ganesh the elephant headed God by bathing in the emerald water of the lake. The lake is also famously known as Parvati Sarovar. The tale about Gauri Kund as described in the ‘Shiva Puarana’ is that goddess Parvati created the image of Lord Ganesha from soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. Parvati commanded Ganesha to guard the entrance of the lake and do not let anyone enter no matter what. Lord Shiva somehow returned at that very moment and tried to enter the lake entrance. He was stopped by Ganesha, an unknown child stopping Shiva to go to his beloved wife. Agitated with this hindrance Shiva beheaded the little boy. Seeing this Parvati was inconsolable and demanded Shiva to bring Ganesha back to life no matter what. Helpless Shiva wandered to get a head of any boy he could find, but when he got none, he beheaded a little elephant and placed the elephant head on Ganesha’s body. From this Parvati got her son back and we got our elephant headed Lord Ganesha.
Ashtapad is at an elevation of 4900 metres (17000 feet) in the great Himalayas . Ashtapad, means Eight Steps, is the place where the first Jain Tirthankara Shri Rishabhadev Bhagwan also known as Shri Adinath Bhagwan attained Nirvana or salvation. At Ashtapad, every stone every carving is considered as incarnation of Gods. The place is considered to be highly religious and spiritual. In Ashtapad people believe that God exist in the form of nature and humans are to give test to prove their courage, devotion and values.
Ashtapad second to Mount Kailash is home and abode of lord Shiva. The basic characteristics of spiritualism, the concept of Indian culture is called superior than Tibetan culture and it is believed that an infinite amount of energy of spiritualism is always flowing in our religion and culture.
Himalaya is also called Ashtapad because of its eight different mountain range; Gaurishankar, Kailash, Badrinath, Nanda, Drongiri, Narayan, Nar and Trishuli and according to Nirvankand this is also called Adishwar Swami. From there numerous Muni got Moksha or salvation by doing Tapsya or meditation. According to Shrimadbhagwat, at this place Rishabhdev’s father Nabhirai and mother Marudevi had done hard meditation after Rishabhdev’s Rajyabhishek and had taken Samadhi. Footprint of Nabhirai at Neelkanth Mountain attracts everybody towards him as a sign of first man’s footprint.
Also form Ashtapad the southern face of Moutn Kailash the Meru Danda can be seen and this face of the great Kailash is known to be the most beautiful face of all.