We have measured 14C, 210Pb and 137Cs profiles in two representative cores from Manasbal Lake, Kashmir, India. The sedimentation rate derived from 210Pb and 137Cs in the upper part of the core is in the range of 3.4 to 5.5 mm yr−1. In contrast, 14C ages show an inversion at depths >20 cm. These results are attributed to the erosion of the ubiquitous 10–20-m-thick loess mantle, based on the similarity of 14C ages of the inversion layer in the sediments and the paleosols present in the catchment area. Frequency-dependent mineral magnetic susceptibility (χfd), carbon to nitrogen ratios and pigment concentrations in the profile show a significant amount of allochthonous component in the lake deposits and support the conclusion that the 14C dates do not reflect the chronology of the in-situ lake sedimentation but episodic deposition of the surrounding loess. Thus, 14C serves as a useful tracer to understand source components of the sediments.