As its rugged peaks rise into the eternal skies, Mount Kailash is truly a beacon on the horizon – the earthly manifestation of the creation of the world, home to sacred gods and the site of great revelations which have changed the course of history. The sublime abode of Lord Shiva, the natural mandala of Buddhist cosmology, and the location of where the first prophet of the Jains, Mahavira, experienced enlightenment as well as the founder of the Bön religion, Mount Kailash remains one of the most sought-after – as well as challenging – pilgrimages in the world.
The magnificent mountain is flanked by harsh and abundant landscapes alike; overlooking the azure waters of the holy Lake Manasarovar, it guards the life-sources of many rivers and tributaries including the Indus River, the Karnali River, the Sutlej River, and the Brahmaputra River nearby. The Lake is revered as a “personification of purity” according to Hindu texts, stating that those who drink its waters will join Shiva after death, and many pilgrims bathe in Manasarovar beneath the full moon to wash away their sins.
The region is alight with religious and spiritual significance; surrounded by five ancient temples, its legacy as an important pilgrimage has lasted for thousands of years; Hindus and Buddhists make the journey in a clockwise motion while the Jain and Bönpo followers complete it in a counterclockwise direction, comprising an impressive 52 km in total. Each year, the Saga Dawa Festival is held on the day of the full moon during the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar. Celebrating the enlightenment of Sakyamunis, this is one of many important calendar events taking place for Buddhists, who fast from meat for the whole month.
While it is forbidden to reach the summit because of its divine and sacred importance, people who can catch a glimpse of its peak are considered lucky given that it is often shrouded by mist and fog.
When to Travel
Pilgrims wishing to make the journey can choose to travel during one of the major religious events, and trekkers may also wish to make the same journey for a unique experience. Weather-wise, June to September offer the most pleasant conditions, with an average temperature of 15°C. Caution must be practiced while trekking given the sometimes arduous terrain as well as the rains and landslides which are common in the region.
The best way to experience Kailash Yatra is by a Mt. Kailash tour, led by experienced and dedicated tour guides who can disclose the many mysteries of the holy region as well as find the most picturesque route. It is a fulfilling experience which will enthrall trekkers from all walks of life – and a lifetime adventure which will never be forgotten.
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