Mt. Kailash & Powerpoints

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Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Itinerary
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra by Helicopter - Kathmandu (Hilsa)
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Photo Gallery

Holy Mt. Kailash : The home of Lord Shiva.

For the Hindus Mount Kailash is the earthly manifestation of Mt. Meru, their spiritual centre of the universe, described as a fantastic ‘world pillar’ 84,000 miles high, around which all else revolves, its roots in the lowest hell and its summit kissing the heavens. On the top live their most revered God, Shiva, and his consort Parvati. For the Jains, an Indian religious group, Kailash is the site where their first prophet achieved enlightenment. For the older, more ancient religion of Bon, it is the site where its founder Shanrab is said to have descended from heaven. It was formerly the spiritual center of Zhang Zung, the ancient Bon Empire that once included all of western Tibet. Bon people walk around the mountain in a counter clockwise manner, unlike the other religions.


Over the centuries pilgrims have constantly journeyed immense distances to achieve enlightenment or cleanse themselves of sin, braving enormous distances, particularly harsh weather and bandit attacks.

Mt. Kailash, 6,740 m. is situated to the north of the Himalayan barrier, wholly within Tibet. It is the spiritual center for four great religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, the Jain religion and the pre Buddhist animistic religion - Bonpo. To Tibetans it is known as Khang Rimpoche (Precious Jewel of Snow) and they see it as the navel of the world. It is said that a stream from the mountain pours into a nearby lake and from here rivers flow in the four cardinal directions. The River of the Lion Mouth to the North, the River of the Horse Mouth to the east, the River of the Peacock Mouth to the south and the River of the Elephant Mouth to the West. Strangely enough, four major rivers do indeed originate near Kailash, the Indus, the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra), the Karnali and the Sutlej.

Gaurikund

Gauri Kund, a water body that is also known as the Lake of Compassion, lies on the way while going on downwards from Dolma - La (Dolma Pass). This steep descent from Dolma Pass is a wonderful lake which is at an altitude of 5608m. As per Hindu mythology, there is a fascinating tale about Gauri Kund and has been described in legend “Shiva Purana”. The lake is also famous as “Parvati Sarovar” as this was the place where goddess Parvati had acquired her son Ganesha (Elephant headed God). Goddess Parvati had formed an image of Ganesh from the soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. She placed Ganesha at the entrance of her home as her janitor to prevent anyone from entering while she was bathing. Now Lord Shiva happened to return at this point of time and was stopped by Ganesha. Offended by this disrespectful act from Ganesha, Lord Shiva cut off the boy's head. Pravati was grief-stricken by seeing it and insisted that the boy needs to be brought back to life. Lord Shiva took the head of a wandering elephant and placed it on the body and life was restored and Parvati had her son back.


Yam Dwar

Yam Dwar is situated in Tarboche which is approximately 30 minutes drive from Darchen. The exact meaning of the Yam Dwar in Hindi lingo is “the gateway of the God of Death”. It is the initial point of circumambulation of Mount Kailash. Known as Chorten Kang Ngyi which means two legged Stupa in Tibet.


Ashtapad

Located at a height of 17000 ft, Ashtapad is the bottom of Mt. Kailash and one of the main holy places for the Hindus and Buddhists. It is also considered a major Jain Tirths as the first of the 24 Jain Tirthankara “Shri Adinath Bhagwan” had attained salvation (Nirvana) at this place. The literal meaning of Asthapad is “Eight Steps” as Astha means Eight and Pad means Steps in Sanskrit and that’s how the place derived its name.


Shivasthal

Just around 2 hours walk from Deraphuk Gomba situated on the way to Dolma – La is Siwastal. Many pilgrims visit this place as it is known a duplication of the magical funeral ground at Bodh Gaya. Pilgrims here experience ritual death and enter into the dreadful presence of Yama, before being reborn on top of the Drolma La. One can easily notice the ground which is laid out with unbelievable collection of clothing, shoes, and bags along with terrible things like bones, hair and even blood. These things are mainly the offerings which are made by the people who pass from here. Above the burial ground is a red foot print of Milareppa (Tibetan yogi & poet) on the surface of a rock.


Tarboche

Tarboche flagpole, is one of the most important aspect of Tibetan spirituality. On “Saga Dawa” which is an impressive and capturing annual festival of Mt. Kailash this giant flagpole which has numerous prayer flags on it is brought down and replaced. This annual festival or one can also mention it as a carnival attracts Tibetans from all over along with other tourists and pilgrims. This ritual is performed every year on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, to celebrate Sakyamuni's enlightenment”. During the flagpole ceremony as the poles tip is raised and pointed east towards Gyangdrak Monastery, monks of that monastery carry out a special ritual. A cacophony of music from long trumpets, conch shells and other instruments welcomes the rising flagpole. It is like a magical event that captures one’s senses. People gathered there attach there prayer flags and help in making the pole rise again. The flagpole should be standing in a perfect upright position or it is believed that things will not be good for Tibet.


Dirapuk Gompa

Dirapuk Gompa (4890m) shines in a brief sunny period among the rain and hail. The Gompa takes its name from the words dira (meaning ‘female-yak-horn’) and puk (cave). The great monk Götsangpa meditated her, supposedly from 1213 to 1217, and Buddhists say he first discovered the kora route around Kailash. He was led to Dirapuk by a yak that turned out to be the lion-faced-goddess Dakini (Khadroma), who guards the Khando Sanglam La. One can see the magnificent view of North Face of Holy Mt. Kailash. The Lingam and Nagshesh Swaroop.


Zutulphuk Monestary

Zutulphuk monastery is worth visiting; the temples and shrine that has been built around Milarepa's cave. You can see Milarepa’s foot steps, His Holy stick and the Holy stones of Inner Kora. 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 and continuously chanting. One imagines Milarepa's disciples meditating here. Zutulphuk Monestary is second night halt for Kailash Parikrama.


Foot Steps of Holy Mother
Kailash Parikrama ( Day by Day)

The diameter of Mt Kailash is almost 52 kilometers. Hindus perform a parikrama, Buddhists call it a Kora. Tibetan Buddhists believe that a single kora washes away the sins of one life and that 108 kora secure nirvana in this life. Normally Pilgrims make the circuit in three days, but this also is difficult, particularly since the circuit, though mostly level, involves the crossing of a 5630m pass (Dolmapass). For this three days you can hire and ride on Horse back/Yakback or porter to help you. Some part of parikrama you have to do on your foot even if you have hired Horse. Total Parikrama: 52 km, out of 20 is by bus.

Day 1: Darchen to Derapuk (4860 m)

Yam Dwar is situated in Tarboche which is approximately 30 minutes drive from Darchen. The exact meaning of the Yam Dwar in Hindi lingo is “the gateway of the God of Death”. It is the initial point of circumambulation of Mount Kailash. Known as Chorten Kang Ngyi which means two legged Stupa in Tibet.
Start from Darchen and drive to Tarboche (10 km) and trek to Dirapuk (6 km)7 km/ 5 - 6 hrs.
After breakfast, drive approx. 10 Kms. to place called ‘Tarboche’, which is the trek’s starting point of Kailash Parikrama. One can pick up a chit for porter and horse; the rule is you cannot choose your porter or horse. The first day of Parikrama from Tharboche is a gradual walk. One can see mesmerizing trail and different shapes of Holy Mountain. The trail leads us to few ups and downs till we reach our camp/guest house at Dirapuk (4860 m) 7 km/ 5 - 6 hours trek. One will also see a huge Shivlingam view of Holy Mt. Kailash, facing northwest. Overnight in Camp / Guest House (By any chance, if one cannot go for three days Parikrama, they can do small parikrama of Tarboche (about 400 mt.), which is considered as full Parikrama. After finishing this parikrama, one can go back in the same vehicle to Darchen and wait for the group for two days).

Day: 2 Derapuk to Dolmala pass (Highest point of Yatra) to Zuthulphuk (4760 m) 186km/ 9 - 10 hrs.

6 km. uphill trek/Horse back to Dolmalapass, 4 km. downhill trek to Zutulpuk valley, 6km flat walk/horseback to Zutulpuk Gompa(night halt). Today, Parikrama leads to a higher side of the holy path just beneath the Holy Mount Kailash. The walk will bring us to one of the highest point at Drolma La, 5,200 m. before descending to the gradual field towards Zuthulphuk for the overnight stay after 5-6 hours walk. Zuthulphuk (4760 m) 18 km/ 9 - 10 hrs. This day is the climax of this holy journey & the most difficult day of our journey. One has to pass through Drolma La Pass - 5680m - highest altitude on this tour. Physically, it is the most arduous day. At the pass is a large boulder depicting Tara (Shaktipith), festooned with prayer flags. Tibetans leave a memento of themselves such as a tooth, a lock of hair or even a personal snapshot too. After perhaps 10 to 15 minutes, we descend a steep, rock-strewn path to the valley below. Just below the pass is Lake Gaurikund i.e. 'The Pool of Great Compassion'. Take great care here onward 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 rock fall. On the ridge above is a formation known as the Lekyi Ta-ra ('Axe of Karma'), as though one's moment ripen in an accident, suffering or death. A final steep descending staircase brings you to the valley floor. From here, it is still about 3 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 and will be 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 Zuthulphuk, the 'Miracle Cave' of Milarepa with an overnight stay in the Camp.

Day 03 - Zuthulphuk to Darchen

10 km beautiful walk/horseback where Trek ends. Drive about another 10 km to Darchen. The morning can be spent exploring the caves and visiting the temples and shrine that has been built around Milarepa's cave. One imagines Milarepa's disciples meditating here. Many of the caves contain meditation platforms, self-contained by dry stonewalls 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. The winding gradual tracks finally ends our holy pilgrimage walk 10 km/ 4 - 5 hrs. Once we reach at the trek end point near Darchen, our bus will be waiting to take the group back to Darchen.