Mount Kailash introduce

For most travelers to Far-west Tibet (the prime focus of their journey is the sacred peak of Mount Kailash (6,658 meters). This extraordinary mountain is regarded as the 'heart of the world', the 'axis Mundi', the center of Asia, by Buddhists, Hindus, Jams and followers of other spiritual traditions. Of all the special destinations for the traveler to reach, Mount Kailash is surely one of the most sublime and sacred. Its geographical position as the watershed of South Asia is unique and it is this which gives it a cosmic geomantic power. From its slopes flow four great rivers in the four cardinal directions - the Indus north, the Brahmaputra east, the Karnali into the Ganges south, and the Sutlej west.

Before Mount Kailash lie the twin lakes of Manasarovar (4,600 meters) and Rakshas Tal(4,584

meters), shaped respectively like the sun and moon, and which are said to have associations respectively with the forces of light and dark. Further south, just on the edge of the Tibetan plateau and near the Himalayas is another snow-capped peak, Mount Nemo Nanyi (Gurlamandhata; 7,728 meters), which is one of the highest inside Tibet. Its
three peaks and four ridges form a swastika, an ancient symbol of the universe's infinity Mount Kailash itself
is known in the Tibetan language as Gang Rinpoche ('Precious Snow Mountain'), and in Chinese as Gang
Rinboqe Feng. Though only 6,714 meters high, it stands quite alone like a great white sentinel guarding the
main routes into Tibet from India and Nepal in the south and west.

Traditionally a pilgrim undertakes the 58 kilometers trekking circuit or circumambulation (kora) around Mount
Kailash commencing at Darchen (4,575 meters) and Crossing the 5,723 meters high Dolma La pass on the second
day of the three-day walk. All along the pilgrimage route are places of historical and spiritual interest.

The Rigour of the Routes to Mount Kailash

Although Mount Kailash and its environs are of exceptional natural beauty it can only be reached via lengthy and often arduous travel along one of several routes into the region. Rivalry for the tourist business between the authorities of various Chinese provinces and districts has led to the imposition of travel restrictions by Lhasa on foreigners travelling in outlying regions. Only the most determined or wealthy travelers can therefore hope to circumvent such obstacles.

Local food is basic and needs to be supplemented and a large degree of self-reliance and ortitude is essential. Furthermore, the sacred Mount Kailash has never easily allowed visitors into its sanctum, but with fortitude, patience and a pure, constant intention to reach and circle its snow-capped peak, one will succeed. For all these reasons, the journey to and through Far-west Tibet requires the appropriate preparation, both logistically and mentally.

The traveler who is prepared to undergo the rigours of this journey will come into contact with a way of life that has undergone little change for centuries, and experience the wonder of a unique wilderness and culture largely untouched by the modern world. Therefore, despite all drawbacks and hardships to participate in a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash or simply to travel in this unique and stunningly beautiful and unpolluted natural environment can be one of life's most rewarding experiences.

Weather Observe:

Ask those who have made the trek in the past few days the conditions you are likely to encounter. The weather will determine to a large extent the amount of baggage you need. Do not be concerned with a change of clothes for each day. Extra pairs of socks and underwear are the most that are needed. Do not forget a good raincoat and parka all-weather jacket even if the sky is clear blue. A strong pair of walking Shoes is essential.


By the time you arrive in Darchen(4800 meters) you should be reasonably acclimatized to the altitude (it is said that over 3660 meters it takes from 10 days to three weeks for the blood count to adjust to less oxygen). Remember the Dolma La pass is not far less than 5790 meters: plan to carry as little extra weight as possible.

Porter Arrange:

For a Tibetan porter or yak to carry your baggage in Darchen, the price ranges from around ¥120 for a yak per day, the same for a yak-herder or porter and ¥150 for a horses per day. This can be done by approaching likely looking people or by making arrangements through the guesthouse manager. If you have arranged your travel through an agency all will be handled by your tour guide.

Provisions Water:

It is said that one should drink around four liters of liquid a day to replace the fluid lost through perspiration at high altitude, So important to stock up whenever you come across a Spring or fresh stream Dehydration leading to digestion problems is always possible at high altitude Arrange to carry a good-sized water bottle with you and drink from it throughout the day. Orange or fruit flavor powders such as 'Tang' are good to mix in the water.


Nowadays, normal meals are available at guesthouse at each stop on the trekking trail, but you still need to plan the food to take. Each day the body burns a lot of energy so you need to start with a substantial breakfast of carbohydrates and glucose. Muesli, granola and porridge oats are all beneficial. Do not hold back on sugar or glucose either. A large mug or two of tea, coffee or cocoa is vital. Glucose tabs are also helpful, in the evening you need to make up a thick soup or dehydrated stew and hot tea or chocolate.
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Day One:

Darchen is the starting and completion point for the general circuit of the sacred mountain. It is wise to spend at least a day here in preparation. It is possible to leave extra baggage at the Darchen Guesthouse. Leave as soon as possible after breakfast. The trail follows along the we spur of the foothills before reaching a cairn of prayer stones where it turns north into the great western valley. After about one kilometer it reaches Chorten Kang-nyi ('Two Legged Stupa'). This was blown up in the 1960s and rebuilt in 1987, being the first Buddhist structure on the circuit to he replaced A few hundred meters east of this is the Darpoche ('Great Prayer Flagpole') which is taken down and redecorated on the full moon day of the Buddha Enlightenment Festival (around April/May each year). Hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims come for this event. It marks the beginning of the pilgrimage season, since the Dolma La pass is blocked by snow until April.

Above the shallow depression of Darpoche is a large flat ledge of red rock, on the surface many prayers and mantras are carved, it was here that the Buddha came with 500 disciples from India. They were said to have flown there over the Himalayas by means of their supernatural powers. The view from this place looks down upon a wide flat expanse of the valley floor. Steep cliffs rise high on either side. The Lha-chu ('Divine River') flows down from the valley ahead and pours out onto the gentle slope of the Barka Plain, flowing into the waters of the Rakshas Tal ('Demonic Lake') in the far distance. On the valley floor are ruins of 13 stupas.

A footbridge now crosses the river and above it. Nestling in the chit face is the rebuilt Kagyu monastery of Choku Gonpa which was originally founded by Nyepo Drubtob. Below this but not discernible is the Langchen Bepuk ('Hidden Elephant Cave where Padmasambhava stayed and meditated when he came to Mount Kailash)

One can climb down from the Buddha's Platform directly to the trail below, or return to the Two Legged Stupa and rejoin the circuit. If time permits a walk over the bridge to the Choku Gonpa is worth including in the trek. The view of the south face of the mountain, if clear, is striking. Do not be surprised if the attendant monk here is not very cooperative. The trail now continues up the valley. The path is not steep but climbs steadily. The red escarpments of the eastern wall tower above the valley obscuring the peak from view. After some time you pass the Three Pinnacles of Longevity above the opposite cliff face. They represent the Three Deities of Longevity: Amitayus, White Tara and Vijaya. Above the trail the right-hand cliffs become smooth and form what seems to be a giant seat. Rising higher behind this is the rock formation regarded by Hindus as the monkey god Hanuman in prayer to the mountain. Buddhists call it the "Torma-offering of Padmasambhava"

After some hours more one comes upon a grassy flat populated by mar mots. Rivulets of pure sweet water cross the trail. There is a rock in the middle of this spot which is associated with Mahakala, one of the main Buddhist protectors. From here the valley begins to turn east and, as though gazing down from the heavens, directly above is the western face of Mount Kailash, a triangular facet of rock dripping with great drops of overhanging. This is a face of the mountain rarely seen in photos. Yet it has a power and beauty of its own.

From this turn in the valley it is another two hours at least before reaching Drirapuk. At this point the going is not so easy and, if it is late afternoon or near sunset, each step seems a race against time. Once Drirapuk is in sight it is important to keep to the trail. Do not be hasty. It actually passes your destination on the far side of the river. Unless you are prepared to remove shoes and socks and chance a wade through the river (which can be risky when the water is high) it is better to keep walking past Drirapuk and you will find a bridge which crosses the river over two spans. Many pilgrims drowned here before it was built in 1986. Now follow the trail down the opposite bank and traverse a second bridge of one span which crosses a tributary from the valley north. A short distance away is the 'India Pilgrims' Rest House at Drirapuk.

Drirapuk Temple This is further up the hill behind the rest house. It encloses a retreat cave associated with the great yogin Gotsangpa. Drirapuk ('Cave of the Female Yak Horn') is so named because its walls bear indentations of a dri's horn. Gotsangpa, who stayed here from 1213 to 1217 was a disciple of one of Milarepa's disciples and is known as the author of the first history and guide book of Mount Kailash.

The location here presents one with a spectacular view of the peat north face of the mountain. Unlike the south face which has a smooth slope, usually covered in snow apart from the unique vertical striations down its center, the north face is a near-vertical sheer cliff some 1,520 meters high consisting of jet black rock. In only a few places does the snow cling to it, creating extraordinary oval panels like massive eyes sited within long mask-like bands of horizontal strata, all framed by the near-circular dome of the peak which itself is flanked by two symmetrical mountains. It is as though the gods rent the mountain with a cosmic sword and then swept the rubble of the one shattered half into two tidy piles.

The 'pile' to the right is the mountain associated with the bodhisattva Vajrapani, the one to the left, the peak associated with Avalokiteshvara and beyond that a third is known as the mountain of Manjughosa. These three patron bodhisattvas of Tibet respectively embody enlightened power, compassion and discriminative awareness. The view of the north face is equally spectacular at midnight (under the moonlight) as at midday.

Day Two:

This day is the climax of the pilgrimage. The Dolma La pass lies 6.4 kilometers ahead but 762 meters above Drirapuk. Physically it is the most arduous day. Breakfast early and set off as the sun's rays break over the ridges above. After the footbridge the trail rises up a rocky slope. Take this gently but steadily. It soon reaches a level walk. The peak of Mount Kailash rises to the right and can now be seen linked to a long spur which joins the eastern ridge. This is the top edge of the glacial valley from which the Lha-chu ('Divine River') flows.

The trail continues to meander along levels and then up short staircases. At one point it passes by a broad pile of discarded clothes, utensils and personal items including hair and teeth. This is the Silwutsel charnel ground, the place of death. It was named after a famous cremation ground near Bodh Gaya in India. Tibetan pilgrims discard something of their possessions here. It represents the renouncing of attachment to worldly objects and to this life. Without such an understanding death remains a moment to fear.

Just above Silwutsel is a knoll over which all loose rocks have been piled up into small cairns. This is a place linked to Vajrayogini, a dakjnj who inhabits fearsome places such as charnel grounds. She is the consort of the wrathful meditational deity Cakrasanwara (Khorlo Dernchok), who is said to preside over Mount Kailash.

All along the path now are special places connected to the history and mythology of the mountain. The air becomes more rarefied and it is essential to take short rests, breathing deeply, before continuing on. Shortly after passing a small azure pool below the trail it turns right and begins the ascent to the Dolma La ('Pass of Tara'). Now one's steps only cover a few meters before one must stop, gulping in air, before covering the next short distance. At last one reaches the 5,723 meters pass and is able to sit down and take in the meaning of that moment. At the pass is a large boulder depicting Tara, festooned with prayer flags. Here too Tibetans leave things of themselves such as a tooth, a lock of hair or even a personal snapshot.

After perhaps 30 minutes and a warm drink we descend a steep, rock-strewn path to the valley below. Just below the pass is Lake Tu-je Chenpo Dzingbu (Skt. Gauri Kund; Eng. 'Pool of Great Compassion'). Take great care now because it is easy to sprain your ankle or worse. You must negotiate steep staircases down to a snowfield. The only way down is to jump from boulder to boulder across a large rockfall. On the ridge above is a formation known as the Lekyi Ta-re ('Axe of Karma'), as though one's previous actions, if ignored, mav, at any moment ripen in an accident, suffering or death.

A final steep descending staircase brings you to the valley floor. From here it still about five hours to the day's destination with no shelter in between. It is vitally important to remain on the right hand side of the river, the west bank. If not, you will get trapped, unable to cross it. The walk now becomes very pleasant and relaxing (as long as the weather is clear and there is no howling gale). The path follows the gentle slope of the valley over grassy fields and clear brooks for several kilometers before it narrows and turns further south to merge with another valley before reaching Dzutrulpuk, the 'Miracle Cave' of Milarepa.

Stay in the rest house and the next morning can be spent exploring the caves and visiting the temple and shrine that has been built around Milarepa's cave. A married elderly couple supervises the temple which is usually an active residence for over half a dozen Tibetan devotees, helpers, or relatives who continuously busy themselves with the tasks of maintaining the buildings. Perhaps for this reason they often seem quite impatient with visitors.

The main temple encloses Milarepa's cave which is capped by a large slab of rock, said to be impressed on its underside with the shape of Milarepa's shoulders and upper back. This was formed when he forced the huge rock higher to make the cave more roomy. Unfortunately it now was too high and draughty. So the top of the slab (which is encased inside a mud wall) is said to hold imprints of his feet and hands where he pressed down on the rock to make it lower and just right!

Surrounding the boulder and the temple complex are dozens of stacks of Mani Stones, rocks carved with prayers and quotations from the scriptures. Hardly a stone remains untouched. Hundreds of thousands of prayers cover the valley's slope. They continue in heaps up until reaching a vertical cliff face. Along its base is a strata into which retreat caves have been created. One imagines Milarepa's disciples meditating here, following his example by living off soup made from the abundant nettles that grow all about. Many of the caves contain meditation platforms self-contained by dry stone walls which divide them from their cooking partitions and entrance areas. It is well worth the short climb up to these caves before beginning the final stage of the trek.

Day Three:

The return to Darchen The walk back to Darchen is easy and the exit from the valley can be reached within a few hours. Just as the valley allows the river to flow out into the Barka plain the walls become steep and the trail passes through multicolored stratas of rock changing from red to yellow, from black to purple. This section is known as the Trangse Trangmar ('Gold and Red Cliffs'). The trail now turns right as it skirts the base of the foothills before finally returning to Darchen. There are many more sites of lesser significance on the three-day circuit of Mount Kailash, but those just described are all that an average pilgrim would be able to absorb in the short time available.