Mount Kailash - Center of the universe, where nature and the spirit meet - The holiest of the holiest mountains. For centuries, Mount Kailash has been a destination for pilgrims and those who seek majesty in nature. Within its flanks worshipers from many faiths believe the gods live.
A destination for pilgrims from around the world, Mount Kailash is situated in a remote part of Tibet Autonomous Region of China. While the mountain is the focal point of the pilgrimage, the true experience also encompasses the journey.
In the Hindu faith, it is believed that Lord Shiva lives at the summit of Mount Kailash, where he sits in perpetual meditation with his wife Parvati. Tantric Buddhists believe the 21,778 foot mountain is home to Buddha Demchok. Whatever one’s belief, Mount Kailash is set in a spiritual landscape of great natural beauty.
Legend says that thousands of sages, ordinary mortals, philosophers and even Gods had submerged in the blissful trance at the very sight of this divine grandeur. The mountain is also known as the Meru, Sumeru, Sushumna, Hemadri (Golden peak), Karnikachala (Lotus Mountain), Amaradari, Deva Parvat (Summit of Gods), Ganaparvat, Ajatadri (Silver Mountain).
In the shadow of Mount Kailash lies Lake Manasarovar, also a treasured destination for Hindus. It is believed that at midnight the gods come down from the surrounding peaks to purify themselves in its sacred waters. The lake is freshwater, unusual at such high altitudes, and is some 80 kms in diameter. Birds fly over the surface of the lake through the peace of the day and the beauty of Tibet. In this unique region gods and nature reign.
Pilgrims from different faiths set out on this once in a lifetime journey. Situated on the Tibetan plateau beneath the mountains on the valley floor, Lake Manasarovar is also a sacred destination for Hindu’s from around the world. Pilgrims arrive by road — which takes six days — by helicopter, by foot, and more recently by plane, landing at a newly opened airport near Lake Manasarovar. When they first see Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar, many are overwhelmed, eyes filled with tears as they pray and dance for joy.
On the other side of the mountains from Lake Manasarovar lies Monster Lake. Contrast is everything. In the cold, blue waters of Monster Lake it is believed that devils come to bathe. The opportunity to see this lake happens only on the way to the base of Mount Kailash. But there are many other myths surrounding the raw beauty of the Tibetan Plateau. There is Yamadwar — the gateway to heaven — from where we start our three day trek, known as a Kora Parikrama, which means making a single circuit around a holy site.
One of the more extreme examples of trekking can be found in the devotees who prostrate themselves every few steps as they undertake the Parikrama around Mount Kailash. On the way up to the mountain pilgrims experience a wealth of religious and natural sights such as monasteries, rivers, glaciers, snow-capped mountains, lakes and sparse vegetation. Some walk, some ride, and some crawl, but all make their way round the holy mountain. Hindus and Buddhists go round clockwise. On their way they meet Bons coming anti-clockwise.
The three-day trek takes pilgrims from 14,100 feet to 18,500 feet. Passing through Droma-la and down some sixty feet lies Gauri Kund. This mystical lake is best known for when Parvati came to meditate beside it and saw her husband, Lord Shiva, roaming around in Kedarnath in India.
Untouched by the worries, noise and trouble of our busy everyday world, Tibet and the region around Mount Kailash gives the traveller an opportunity to see the earth as it once was. Wild and domestic animals can be seen roaming freely and unhindered across the largest plateau in the world.
The Indian Pilgrimage Service Center in Lhasa, Tibet, estimates thousands of tourists from around the world make the journey to this remarkable place every year, fulfilling long held ambitions. The spiritual, curious and devout, researchers, cultural tourists, the inquisitive come from all nationalities, cultures, and creeds to experience the wonder of Mount Kailash and its environs.
Fishtail Tours and Travel is proud to have assisted many thousands of pilgrims on their journey. We offer physical support to pilgrims, and specialize in making their ambitions come true. Experienced, committed and knowledgeable, the guides, drivers and Sherpas have successfully supported devotees in their pilgrimages for the past fourteen years. In support of this trek, yaks accompany the group, carrying essentials, such as bedding and camping equipment, cooking utensils, water and food.
One of the exciting things about an expedition is experiencing the new and the less familiar. Food, water, cooking utensils, tents and sleeping bags all need to be carried in support of the pilgrim’s journey. While the going may sometimes appear difficult, Sherpas work day and night to support the travellers. These sturdy men cook, carry luggage and look after people’s general welfare. Although uncommon, the effects of altitude can affect a few individuals. In such cases the helping hands of the medical doctor and Sherpa are there to assist. For every four pilgrims there is one Sherpa. Friendships are often established between Sherpas and members of the group, which can be as large as eighty people.
Pilgrims take home with them unique and remarkable memories. And all the while Mount Kailash awaits those who answer its call.