MT. KAILASH & LAKE MANASAROVAR

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Kailash (6714 m.), World most sacred mountain,very popular among pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus, is located in a high and isolated enclave of West Tibet. It is one of the 3 pilgrimage sites in the area, known collectively as Kangri Tsosum; the other two are Ponri Ngaden and Lake Manasarover. All are said to be at the heart of the ancient Shangshung kingdom, the supposed land of origin of pre-Buddhist sect Bonpos.

Mt. Kailash is their soul mountain (lari), which they also call Yungdrung Gu Tse (the Nine story Swastika Mountain). This is the very place where it is stated that the sects legendary founder, Tonpa Shenrab, descended from heaven to earth. Lord Shiva both the creator and destroyer of life is believed by Hindus to reside in the holy mountain. Mt. Kailash or Mt. Kailas (Tibetan: Gang Tise or Gang Rinproche; Chinese:Gangdisi Shan) is a striking peak in the Himalayan mountains of western Tibet. The source of some of the longest rivers in Asia, Kailash is a sacred mountain for four faiths: Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and followers of the indigenous Tibetan religion of Bön. Next to the mountain are two sacred lakes, the most important of which is Lake Manasarowar.

What to See

Mount Kailash rises to 22,028 feet (6,714 m) in one of the highest and most rugged parts of the Himalayas. Made of black rock, the symmetrical peak has a distinctive diamond-like shape with four steep facades. The south face has a vertical gash across its horizontal layers, creating the appearance of a swastika - an ancient symbol of good luck in this part of the world.

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.

Myth & Mystery

According to Hindu mythology, Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailāśā. Mount Kailāśā 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.

This legendary mountain has long been identified with the striking peak in the Himalayas that now bears its name. Shiva is therefore believed to dwell at its summit. Some traditions say the mountain is Shiva's linga, while Lake Manasarowar is the yoni of his consort.

The importance of this holy mountain in Hinduism is reflected, among other places, at the famous Ellora Caves in India, where the largest and most important rock-carved temple is dedicated to Mount Kailash.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok (also known as Demchog or Chakrasamvara), who represents supreme bliss. They also say it was on this sacred mountain that Buddhism displaced Bön as the primary religion of Tibet.

According to legend, Milarepa, champion of Tantric Buddhism, arrived in Tibet to challenge Naro-Bonchung, representative of Bön. The two magicians engaged in a great sorcerous battle, but neither was able to gain a decisive advantage.

Finally, it was agreed that whoever could reach the summit of Kailash first would be the victor. While Naro-Bonchung soared up the slope on a magic drum, Milarepa's followers were dumbfounded to see him sitting still and meditating. Yet when Naro-Bonchung was nearly at the top, Milarepa suddenly moved into action and overtook him by riding on the rays of the sun, thus winning the contest and bringing Buddhism to Tibet.

In Jainism, Kailash is known as Mount Ashtapada and is the site where the founder of their faith, Rishabhadeva, attained liberation from rebirth.

In Bön, the religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet, the mountain is believed to be the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.

Pilgrimage

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Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe thatcircumambulating (walking around) Mount Kailash will remove sins and bring good fortune. The pilgrimage around the sacred mountain is called theKailash Kora.

It is said that one trip around the sacred mountain will wipe away all the sins (bad karma) of one's current lifetime; 108 revolutions will remove the sins of all one's lifetimes and bring salvation from reincarnation (moksa). Alternatively, pilgrims who complete one circumbulation of Kailash and bathe in the frigid waters of Lake Mansarovar will also bring salvation.

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 rugged path around Mount Kailash is 32 miles (52 km) long, following a blue mountain stream much of the way. Altitudes range from 15,000 feet at the start to 19,000 feet at the Dolma Pass. The circumambulation is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists but counterclockwise by followers of the Jain and Bön religions.

A typical journey lasts about three days, but some try to earn extra merit by completing the entire walk in a single day. Braving the uneven terrain, high altitudes and variable weather, these hardy souls can complete the trek in about 15 hours.

Other pilgrims seek special merit by taking much longer to circle the holy mountain: instead of walking, they perform body-length prostrations for the entire 32 miles. The pilgrim bends down, kneels, prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers, rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four days of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation this way.

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.

Most pilgrims and trekkers take three days to complete the journey around Mount Kailash from the city of Darchen, aiming for Drirapuk Monastery on the first night, crossing Dolma La Pass and arriving at Zutrulpuk Monastery the second night, and finally returning to Darchen on the third day.

Monastery accommodation is not always available, so travelers must carry tents and food. To help with the burden, yaks and porters can be hired in Darchen for about ¥100 per day. The path frequently crosses mountain streams, so waterproof boots or an extra pair of shoes is essential.

Itinerary - I
Day 01 Drive KATHMANDU (1300m) - NYALAM (3750)(6-7 HRS) - Overnight Hotel/Camp
Day 02. Drive ZHANGMU/NYALAM - PAIKO TSO (4350m)(6-7 HRS) - Camp
Day 03 Drive PAIKO TSO - ZHONGBA (4700m) (6-7 HRS) - Camp
Day 04 Drive ZHONGBA - MAYUM LA (5200m) (6-7 HRS)) - Camp
Day 05 Drive MAYUM LA - LAKE MANASAROVAR (4,550 m)(5-6 HRS) - CAMP
Day 06 Explore LAKE MANASAROVAR - Drive to DARCHEN (4560 m)(1 HR) - Camp
Day 07 Start trek (circumbulance around MT KAILASH) from DARCHEN - DIRPHUK (4890m)(6-7 HRS) - Camp
Day 08 Trek DIRPHUK - ZUTUL PUK (4790m)(6-7 HRS) - Camp
Day 09 Trek ZUTUL PUK - DARCHEN ( HRS) - Camp
Day 10 End trek at DARCHEN and drive to TIRTHAPURI (4300m) where one can enjoy hot water spring - Camp.
Day 11 Drive TIRTHAPURI - NYOGZE (4350m)(6-7 HRS)
Day 12 Drive NYOGZE - PARYANG (4450m) (5-6 HRS) - CAMP
Day 13 Drive PARYANG - SAGA (4400m) (6-7 HRS) - CAMP
Day 14 Drive SAGA - UPPER NYALAM (3750m) (7-8 HRS) - CAMP/HTL
Day 15 Drive NYALAM - ZHANGMU (2300m) - KATHMANDU (6-7 HRS) - Transfer to your hotel

Total cost USD 2150

COST INCLUDES:
Twin Sharing accommodation in tented camps and guest houses as per itinerary on full board basis, Tibet China Visa fees, transportation by 4WD Land Cruisers(FOUR CLIENTS PER LANDCURISER), supporting truck, all trekking equipment such as two men tent, dinning tent, kitchen utensils, toilet tents, sleeping mattresses, camp chairs tables, all food stuff, gamow bags (life saving device incase of altitude sickness), all sightseeing as per itinerary with English speaking guide, monastery entrance fees, portable oxygen cylinders in case of emergency, Yak and Yak man for porter age of luggage and equipment, travel permit to kailash and all necessary transfers.

COST EXCLUDES:
Nepal re-entry visa fees, sleeping bag, down jacket, Laundry, Telephone calls, expenses of personal nature, any kind of travel insurance, Emergency evacuation cost, extra charges for hiring porters and vehicles in case of land slide and other natural calamities and gratitude tips.

Itinerary - II
Day 01 Drive KATHMANDU - ZHANGMU (2300m)/NYALAM (3750)(6-7 hrs)Overnight at Hotel/Camp
Day 02. Drive ZHANGMU/NYALAM - PAIKO TSO (4350m) (6-7 hrs) - Camp
Day 03 Drive PAIKO TSO - ZHONGBA (4700m) (6-7 hrs) - Camp
Day 04 Drive ZHONGBA - NYOGZE (4,600m) (6-7 hrs) - Camp
Day 05 Drive NYOGZE - LAKE MANASAROVAR (4,550 m) (6-7 hrs) - CAMP
Day 06 Explore LAKE MANASAROVAR - Rest & Camp
Day 07 Drive to DARCHEN (4560 m) (1 hr) - Camp
Day 08 Start trek (circumbulance around MT KAILASH) from DARCHEN - DIRPHUK (4890m) - Camp
Day 09 Continue trek DIRPHUK - ZUTUL PUK (4790 m) - Camp
Day 10 Continue trek ZUTUL PUK - DARCHEN - Camp
Day 11 End trek at DARCHEN and drive to TIRTHAPURI (4300m) where one can enjoy hot water spring and have a special relaxation - Camp.
Day 12 Drive TIRTHAPURI - HORFE (4520m) (6 - 7 HRS) - Camp
Day 13 Drive HORFE - PARYANG (4450m) (8 HRS) - Camp
Day 14 Drive PARYANG - SAGA (4400m) (5-6 HRS) - Camp
Day 15 Drive SAGA - LHATSE (3900m) (6 HRS) - Guest house
Day 16 Drive SANGSANG to XIGATSE (3,900 m.) (6-7 HRS) crossing over a pass of 5,220 m HTL.
Day 17 Morning sightseeing to the Panchen Lama's TASHILHUMPU MONASTERY and drive to GYANTSE (3,950 m.)(2 HRS) and visit KUMBUM STUPA & PHALKOR MONASTERY. Overnight at HTL.
Day 18 Drive GYANTSE to LHASA (3,650 m.) (7-8 HRS). Full day picturesque drive crossing over KARO LA (5,010 m.), KAMBA LA (4,794m.), colourful YAMDROK LAKE and the Tibetan lifeline river BRAHMA PUTRA (YARLUNG TSANGPO) - HTL
Day 19-20 Two full day sightseeing tour to LHASA including JOKHANG TEMPLE, BARKHOR BAZAAR, POTALA PALACE, DREPUNG & SERA MONASTERIES. Overnight at HTL
Day 21 Early morning drive to GONGGAR airport for departure flight to KATHMANDU or to your onward destination - Transfer to your hotel in Kathmandu.

USD 5250 per person

COST INCLUDES:
Twin Sharing accommodation in tented camps and guest houses as per itinerary on full board basis, Tibet China Visa fees, transportation by 4WD Land Cruisers(FOUR CLIENTS PER LANDCURISER), supporting truck, all trekking equipment such as two men tent, dinning tent, kitchen utensils, toilet tents, sleeping mattresses, camp chairs tables, all food stuff, gamow bags (life saving device incase of altitude sickness), all sightseeing as per itinerary with English speaking guide, monastery entrance fees, portable oxygen cylinders in case of emergency, Yak and Yak man for porter age of luggage and equipment, travel permit to kailash and all necessary transfers.

COST EXCLUDES:
Nepal re-entry visa fees, sleeping bag, down jacket, Laundry, Telephone calls, expenses of personal nature, any kind of travel insurance, Emergency evacuation cost, extra charges for hiring porters and vehicles in case of land slide and other natural calamities and gratitude tips.