Mount Kailash(6638m) is a majestic pyramid of rock and snow situated in western Tibet following the reverent lake Manasarover in the same region 45 km away at the altitude of 4590m.
The parikrama(kora) of the mighty mountain Mt. Kailash and holy dip in lake Mansarover is pious experience to rinse your soul and explore the world in the holiest way possible.
Sacred to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, it is known as the “Navel of the Earth”, where the divine takes an earthly form. The Mt. Kailash is not only highest parts of the world but the source of four mighty rivers of the region— The Brahmaputra, The Sutlej, The Ganges and the Indus.
Lake Mansarovar in Mount Kailash and Holy Mounatin Kailash are two of the holiest pilgrimage areas to devotees of Hinduism.Each year thousands of devotees undertake the Scared journey through the mountains and plains of Nepal and China to reach this sacred land in Tibet.
Another uniqueness contributing to the mystical and spiritual aspects of Kailash is that four most sacred rivers of the Indian sub-continent begin from here – Sutlej, Karnili, Brahmaputra and Indus. The end of these rivers is more than 2,000 kilometers apart, yet they all have their source within hundred kilometers of Mt. Kailash.
In Jainism, Kailash is also known as Mount Meru. According to Jain scriptures, Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt. Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhanatha, attained moksha (liberation)
Mount Kailash (Kailasa) is known as Mount Meru in Buddhist texts. It is central to its cosmology, and a major pilgrimage site for some Buddhist traditions
Vajrayana Buddhists believe that Mount Kailash is the home of the buddha Cakrasaṃvara (also known as Demchok) who represents supreme bliss.
The mountain is known as “Kailāsa” (कैलास) in Sanskrit. The name also could have been derived from the word “kelāsa” (केलास), which means “crystal”.
The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che. Gangs or Kang is the Tibetan word for snow peak analogous to alp or hima; rinpoche is an honorific meaning “precious one” so the combined term can be translated “precious jewel of snows”.
For Tibetans, pilgrimage refers to the journey from ignorance to enlightenment, from self-centeredness and materialistic preoccupations to a deep sense of the relativity and interconnectedness of all life. The Tibetan word for pilgrimage, neykhor, means “to circle around a sacred place,” for the goal of pilgrimage is less to reach a particular destination than to transcend through inspired travel the attachments and habits of inattention that restrict awareness of a larger reality. By traveling to sacred sites, Tibetans are brought into living contact with the icons and energies of Tantric Buddhism. The neys, or sacred sites themselves, through their geological features and the narratives of transformation attached to them, continually remind pilgrims of the liberating power of the Tantric Buddhist tradition. Over time pilgrimage guidebooks were written, giving instructions to pilgrims visiting the holy sites and accounts of their history and significance. These guidebooks, neyigs, empowered Tibet and its people with a sacred geography, a narrated vision of the world ordered and transformed through Buddhist magic and metaphysics.
In 2001 the Chinese gave permission for a Spanish team to climb the peak, but in the face of international disapproval the Chinese decided to ban all attempts to climb the mountain. Reinhold Messner, who condemned the Spanish plans, said
If we conquer this mountain, then we conquer something in people’s souls. I would suggest they go and climb something a little harder. Kailas is not so high and not so hard.
Mt. Kailash, the holy region attracting scholars and researchers from all over the world. Mt. Kailash (also known as the ‘Sumeru Parbat’ in Hindu epics) provides a spiritually enriching, naturally unique and a truly rewarding journey of a life-time.
According to Skanda Puran,Supreme Hindu Text,It is described that Kailash manasarovar is supreme mountains where God shiva dwells and is residential himalaya home of shiva. Where as the Lake situated in Mount -Kailash name as Manasarovar or Lake manasarovar is described as Supreme Holy Lake where god shiva and Indra swimmed as Swan.
Every object in this area is sacred and related to many of the legends and mythical stories from ancient scriptures and oral traditions.
Mount Kailash so magical, so majestic, so serene, and so tranquil makes her existence timelessly sprinkling the aura of spirituality throughout the Himalayan region.
the great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world’s most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain’s remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey.
How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten.
According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja, the sacred herb known in the west as marijuana, Hindus do not interpret Shiva’s behaviors as contradictory however, but rather see in him a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. For a Hindu, to make the arduous pilgrimage to Kailash and have the darshan (divine view) of Shiva’s abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion.
Kailash is sacred to other religions as well. The Jains call the mountain Astapada and believe it to be the place where Rishaba, the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras attained liberation.
Followers of Bon, Tibet’s pre-Buddhist, shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise and believe it to be the seat of the Sky Goddess Sipaimen. Additionally, Bon myths regard Tise as the sight of a legendary 12th century battle of sorcery between the Buddhist sage Milarepa and the Bon shaman Naro Bon-chung. Milarepa’s defeat of the shaman displaced Bon as the primary religion of Tibet, firmly establishing Buddhism in its place.
While the Buddha is believed to have magically visited Kailash in the 5th century BC, the religion of Buddhism only entered Tibet, via Nepal and India, in the 7th century AD. Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the ‘Precious One of Glacial Snow’, and regard it as the dwelling place of Demchog (also known as Chakrasamvara) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo. Three hills rising near Kang Rimpoche are believed to be the homes of the the Bodhisatvas Manjushri, Vajrapani, and Avalokiteshvara.
Pilgrims to Kailash, after the difficult journey getting there, are then confronted with the equally arduous task of circumambulating the sacred peak. This walking around the mountain (clockwise for the Buddhists, counter-clockwise for Bon adherents) is known as a Kora, or Parikrama, and normally takes three days. In hopes of gaining extra merit or psychic powers however, some pilgrims will vary the tempo of their movement. A hardy few, practicing a secret breathing technique known as Lung-gom, will power themselves around the mountain in only one day. Others will take two to three weeks for the Kora by making full body prostrations the entire way. It is believed that a pilgrim who completes 108 journeys around the mountain is assured enlightenment. Most pilgrims to Kailash will also take a short plunge in the nearby, highly sacred (and very cold) Lake Manosaravar. The word ‘manas’ means mind or consciousness; the name Manosaravar means Lake of Consciousness and Enlightenment. Adjacent to Manosaravar is Rakas Tal or Rakshas, the Lake of Demons. Pilgrimage to this great sacred mountain and these two magical lakes is a life changing experience and an opportunity to view some of the most magical scenery on the entire planet.
Many Hindu devotees believe that one must not hinder Lord Shiva and his ascetic life, by summiting Mt Kailash. Hence, climbing Mount Kailash has been forbidden. In Tibet, it is believed that only one monk went atop the sacred mountain, Milarepa; upon his return, he forbade that none shall disturb the Lord residing there.
After a thorough research done by some Russian scholars, it was concluded that Mount Kailash, is indeed an axis and nodal point of this world. They put forth another idea, according to which it is a human-built pyramid, which is the centre of an entire complex of smaller pyramids, a hundred in total.
In ancient texts, it is referred to as the center of the world. The reason can be understood from the geographical significance of it’s place: within 30 miles radius, are the sources of mighty rivers Indus (north called “Sindhu” in India), Sutlej (in west), Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsang-po in east), and Karnali (largest tributary to the Ganges in south).
The pristine Mount Kailash (6714 meters) dominates the entire region’s landscape.
In Tibetan Buddhism it is believed that Mt Kailash is the dwelling place of Chakra Samvara Demchog (the Wheel of Bliss) and his consort, Dorje Phagmo. It is also venerated as the abode of one of the great Tibetan yogi – Milarepa.
Buddhist pilgrims perambulate clockwise around the mountain and it is called Kailash Kora. Kailash Kora has the greatest spiritual significance for the Buddhists.
In Tibet’s pre-Buddhist, Shamanic Bon religion, Mt Kailash is abode of Sky Goddess Sipaimen, and is in the form of a giant Mandala that is the central point of all Tantra Rituals and Forces. The founder of Bon Religion, Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche is believed to live on Mt Kailash, which is considered as nine- story Swastika Mountain, and the axis mundi – the central pillar of the world. The Bonpo Pilgrims walk counter-clockwise around the Mt Kailash.
In fact, the entire region of Mt. Kailash has religious significance. The region also includes the two turquoise-blue, pristine high-altitude lakes of Mansarovar and Rakshesa.
The life changing Kailash Mansarover yatra is a pious journey which takes more than just a day. The most popular route to the yatra is from Kathmandu, a beautiful ancient city of Nepal.
Hindus regard the peak as Shiva’s symbolic ‘Lingam’and worship Mt Kailash, which is the Sanskrit name for the mountain. Bonpos believe the sacred mountain to be the place where the founder of the Bon religion landed when he descended from the sky. Tibetan Buddhists believe Kang Rinpoche, which means Precious Snow Mountain, is a natural mandala representing the Buddhist cosmology on the earth and the Jains believe this is the place where their religion’s founder was spiritually awakened
Although it is little known in the western world, Mount Kailash is one of the most sacred spots on earth, and is a holy pilgrimage site for people of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Bon faiths.
Pilgrims and tourists alike perform a seriously challenging kora – a walk circling a sacred site – around the base of Mount Kailash. This is no walk in the park – the Kailash kora is a 32 mile (52 km) trek that starts at 15,000ft (4600m) and includes an 18,372ft (5600m) pass!
Mount Kailash is remote, deep in Ngari, the Westernmost part of the Tibetan plateau. The nearest largest town is Ali, which is the Chinese-built administrative center for Ngari prefecture. But there are a number of nearby destinations of major interest which you can include on your trip: especially Lakes Manasarovar and Rakshastal and the Guge ruins, but also Tirthapuri Gompa, Purang (near Nepal border) and Panggong Tso (Bangong He).
Geographically, the Mount Kailash area is massively significant, with four major rivers of Asia having their sources in this area, as you see in the image below. It is a common misperception among Tibetans and Indians alike that Lake Manasarovar is the actual mother of these four rivers:
Actually, though, only the Langchen Tsangpo, the Sutlej River, flows from Lake Manasarovar, although all four rivers do begin in the close vicinity.
Getting to Mount Kailash: the Major Routes
Darchen, the village at the southern foot of Mt. Kailash, is the starting point for a pilgrimage, and there are a number of ways to get there, but here are a few common routes:
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