- This article is an itinerary.
Chortens and Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash ( Tibetan: Kang Rinpoche) is a sacred mountain in the far west of Tibet.
This Mountain is considered holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. 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).
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.
Flora and fauna
It is generally cool during nights and warm during days at Mt. Kailash.
Summers (May to August) are very pleasant with moderate climate, with average around 15°C. Summers is ideal for all outdoor activities, temple visit, dip in holy waters and also for visiting nearby attractions. A grand religious festival Saga Dawa Festival is usually held at Mt. Kailash around May and June each year.
Monsoons (September to November) are accompanied with little rain falls and also temperature drops down to 10°C.
Winters (December to April) are chilly days with average minimum touching near 5°C. Minimum can touch sub zero levels to -15°C. Snow falls often during winters.
The best season to visit Kailash Mansarovar is from May to November.
May to November offers cool and pleasant climate and the right period to spend meditation and also good for visiting temples in and around.
December to April is snow bound and chilly. Tourists typically keep off chilly snow bound days in winters.
There are only four land routes to reach Mt. Kailash.
- From Xigatse (accessible from Lhasa or Kathmandu) - Saga - Manasarovar (4 days on a hired jeep, longer by a combination of public transportation and hitch-hiking) or Xigatse - Ali - Darchen (6 days on a jeep)
- From Indian border near Uttarkashi (very limited number of Indian citizens every year by lottery system).
- from Kashgar via Ali
- from Simikot/Hilsa in Nepal via Purang (helicopter ride to Hilsa makes it fast but expensive)
The entry point for Mt. Kailash is Darchen. Located right in front of Mt Kailash, this is the starting point for pilgrims going on the Khora.
Y50 per person no matter how many times they circumambulate the mountain on one visit. Porters or yaks will cost about Y65 per day.
The main attraction of the mountain is the pilgrimage circuit around the mountain. It normally takes 3 days and should only be undertaken by the well-prepared and fit.
- Mt Kailash Kora (Pilgrimage Circuit) - A pilgrimage to Mt Kailash involves nothing more or less than making circuits around the sacred mountain. The Outer Pilgrimage Circuit (Chikhor) is about 52km, and Tibetans can complete a circuit in a day. The majority of pilgrims try for 13 circuits, if they can. Some pilgrims do a circuit performing Kyangcha (Prostration). While the average circuit takes about 14 hours to complete, those doing prostration can take a couple of weeks. Those seeking to secure their path to enlightenment try for 108 circuits. Buddhists and Hindus travel clockwise around the mountain while Bonpos travel counter-clockwise. Most travelers take three days to complete a circuit.
- Day 1 - Darchen - Drirapuk Gompa
- Darchen - Chogu (Chuku) Gompa (3-4 hrs), Chogu (Chuku) Gompa - Drirapuk Gompa (3-4 hrs)
- Day 2 - Drirapuk Gompa - Dolma La - Zutrulpuk Gompa
- Drirapuk Gompa - Zutrulpuk Gompa (7-8 hrs)
- Day 3 - Zutrulpuk Gompa - Darchen
- Zutrulpuk Gompa - Darchen (3 hrs)
- Lake Manasarovar Kora (Pilgrimage Cicuit) - Together with Mt Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a pilgrimage site. There is a pilgrimage path around the lake and a circuit is a little over 100km, taking 4-5 days to complete. Chiu Gompa, 30 km south of Darchen, is a good starting point for a circuit around the lake.
- Day 1 - Chiu Gompa - Langbona Gompa
- Day 2 - Langbona Gompa - Seralung Gompa
- Day 3 - Seralung Gompa - Trugo Gompa
- Day 4 - Trugo Gompa - Chiu Gompa
- Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage tour is one of the most demanding and challenging of treks for pilgrims in the world. This is a route opening up unending stretches of barren land, lush green valleys, snow capped peaks and pristine blue lakes. Mt. Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva, and the source of the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali. This mount is considered as one of the ten most beautiful mountains in China and a divine mountain universally by people from all over the world. Its shape is like the pyramids in Egypt with four nearly symmetrical sides. Its glistening snow-covered top makes it the most eye-catching one. Around this sacred mountain, there are five temples in total. All the temples are shrouded by mystery and legends.
The peak of the Mt. Kailash is always enveloped by white clouds. Therefore the locals think if someone can clearly view the peak, he or she will be very lucky. For hundreds of years, Mt. Kailash has been an alluring mountain to pilgrims and explorers. However no one has reached its top until now.
- Five temples around Kailash The Mount Kailash is surrounded by five monasteries, namely Nyari Monastery, Drirapuk Monastery, Songchu Monastery, Gyangzha Monastery and Thailong Monastery. Nyari is the first site on the Kailash Kora and the last two are located on the inner kora. Each monastery is endowed with different legendary stories and decorated by distinctive sculptures, statues, murals, thangkas and other Tibetan cultural objects. Unfortunately, all are destroyed to different degrees. But the monasteries can offer simple accommodation to pilgrims and trekkers.
- Mt. Kailash Khora - the pilgrimage circuit
- Lake Manasarovar Khora - another pilgrimage circuit
- Not much choice as the handicrafts (made in china) are duplicates or of no use except giving as gifts to friends.
Weather conditions can change rapidly here and you should be prepared for the worst.
It's unlikely you will have problems with the altitude other than shortness of breath, and less energy than you are used to as you will have been at altitude for quite some time just to get here, however altitude sickness is unpredictable, and you should always keep your plans flexible enough to give your self a rest day if needed.
- Do not sit or climb on sacred sites.
- Pass mani stones to the right.
- Turn prayer wheels in a clockwise direction.