Kailash Mansarovar Yatra – The Place of Lord Shiva & Highly Sacred Lake & Rivers According to Hinduism

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra

The holy Kailash Mansarovar yatra is one of the most significant Hindu pilgrimages taken every year by hundreds of Hindu devotees. The route to Kailash Mansarovar opens every year around April last week and remains open till September. When devotes travel in batches to reach Mount Kailash and holy Mansarovar lake.

A great mass of 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.

Source of Highly Sacred Lake & Rivers

The landscape around the mountain is rugged and dry but crossed by crystalline blue streams and other bodies of water. Near the sacred mountain is the source of the Indus, Sutlej and Bramaputra rivers and on its south side are two freshwater lakes, the easternmost of which is the highly sacred Lake Manasarowar (Mapam). With an altitude of 14,950 feet, Mansarovar is the highest body of fresh water in the world. The other lake, Rakshastal, also has legendary significance.

Place of Lord Shiva According to Hinduism 

In Hinduism, Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailasa. Mount Kailasa is regarded in many sects of Hinduism as Paradise, the ultimate destination of souls and the spiritual center of the world. According to a description in the Puranas, Mount Kailash’s four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli; it is the pillar of the world; rises 84,000 leagues high; is the center of the world mandala; and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. From it flow four rivers, which stretch to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions.

Adi Kailash Om Parvat Trek

Mount Kailash has a religious significance in the Hindu texts. Ravana was the biggest follower of Lord Shiva. Popularly known as Chota Kailash, Adi Kailash is a holy place where Ravana came from Lanka to pray to Lord Shiva.

This popular pilgrimage in the Himalayan range, close to the Indo-Tibetan war, is akin to Mount Kailash in Tibet. During the trek, one gets the opportunity to view the snow peaks of thick forests, wild flowers and Annapurna. Gauri Kund is located at the foot of Mt. Kailash, which has the reflection of water in the mountain. Parvati Sarovar, also known as Mansarovar, is close but is not as big as the original one.

Supremely Sacred Site of Four Religions

It’s mainly the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon that consider Mount Kailash as a sacred place. As per the Hindu belief, Lord Shiva, along with his wife Parvati, resides at the peak of Mount Kailash in a state of meditation. According to Jains, Kailash is the place where the first Jain Tirthankara attained Nirvana. In Buddhism, the belief goes that Kailash Parvat is where the Buddha, representing supreme bliss, resides. The Bon (a religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet), however, believe that the entire region is the seat of all spiritual power

Kailash seen from a far

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.

No pilgrims climb Mt. Kailash; all four religions believe it would be a serious act of sacrilege to set foot on its slopes. Legend has it that the only person to have reached the summit is the Buddhist champion Milarepa (who flew to the top in the 12th century) and that all others who have ventured to defy the taboo have died in the process.The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. Only those in the best health are able to undertake the journey even to the starting point of the circumambulation, let alone walk 52 km in a single day. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions.

How to Reach Kailash Mansarovar – Mount Kailash Route

From Lhasa to Kailash

There are a few ways to get to Mount Kailash. The most common, and the way that we recommend, is to travel overland from the Tibetan capital of Lhasa to Mount Kailash. Between 90% and 95% of foreign travelers (excluding Indian pilgrims) take this route to reach Kailash. There is a good paved road leading west from Lhasa to Kailash via the towns of Shigatse, Lhatse, Saga and Paryang.

From Kathmandu to Kailash

The next way to go to Mount Kailash is going overland from Kathmandu, Nepal through the main overland border crossing at Zhangmu or Kyirong. Currently, this option is NOT available to foreign passport holders (except Indians on a Hindu pilgrimage journey) as this border crossing has been CLOSED since the April 2015 Nepal Earthquake. It is impossible to say at this point (December 2016) when this border crossing will reopen. When it does reopen, foreigners are permitted to cross overland from Nepal into Tibet at either the old Zhangmu border crossing or at the new Kyirong crossing and then continue west to Kailash from there. We do not recommend taking this approach to Kailash as it does not allow your body enough time to adjust to high altitude.

From Simikot to Kailash

The third main way to Kailash is via the small village of Simikot in far northwest Nepal’s Humal District. To reach Simikot you need to fly from Kathmandu to Nepalganj in south western Nepal and then take a second flight on to Simikot, elevation 2985 meters. From Simikot, you have two options. The first is to take a helicopter to the village of Hilsa, elevation 3650 meters. We don’t recommend taking the helicopter as again, it does not allow you the proper time needed to acclimatize before entering Tibet.

The Parikrama of Mount Kailash

After the difficult trek to reach Mount Kailash, pilgrims are then required to circumambulate the peak of the mountain. This walking around in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction is known as parikrama. For those who cannot do it on foot (since it usually takes 3 days), there is an option of hiring a yak or a pony.