KAILASH : THE JOURNEY TO THE HEAVEN
Mount Kailash which stands prominently in the remote south-west corner of Tibet at the altitude of 22,028 feet is the holiest of all holy peaks. For centuries Mt. Kailash and the holy lake of Manasarovar nearby have played a significant role in the collective consciousness not only for Buddhists but also for Hindus, Bonpos and Jains. Both of these are sacred to all these four major religions. For the Buddhist, Mt. Kailash is the manifestation of the Lord Buddha, for the Hindus it is regarded as the abode of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati. The Jains revere it as the site of their first saint Adinath’s emancipation. And the followers of Bon, the oldest religion of Tibet, worship it as the secret Nine Stone Swastika Mountain. Tonpa Shenrab, the founder saint of Bonpos, is said to have descended on its peak. The people living in Dolpo, the remote and isolated region of wild-west of Nepal, practice Bonpo religion and the name of our trekking company Dolpa Treks is derived from the region.
Pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar is very popular among the people of all the four religions. The faithful set off on the long journeys to the holy sites with the hope of good fortune and eternal salvation. At a height of 6656m, the mountain’s physical form seems a natural symbol of purity to a curious traveler. Mt. Kailash is locally called Kang Rinpoche or the precious jewel of the snow. It is striking with its snow-capped peak against the clear blue sky which justifies its name Jewel of the Snow.
Each of Mt. Kailash’s face highlights different moods. The southern face reflects majesty or splendor; it is fully covered with snow. The west face is enveloped in an aura of compassion and benevolence. The north face is stark, forbidding and daunting while the east, only visible from a distance is mysterious and distant.
The Kora (parikrama) or circumambulation of Kailash starts from Darchen and is a three-day trip, the total distance is 54 km long, and the most sacred to all the pilgrims. It is performed in a clockwise direction by Hindu and Buddhist and anti-clockwise by the Bonpos and Jains. The Droma-la pass, is the highest point of Parikrama at 5630m. One Parikrama of Mt. Kailash is said to erase the accumulated sins of the lifetime, while 108 of virtues and merits will ensure nirvana or liberation from the circle of life and death.