Monday, March 27, 2017

The Kailash Manasarovar Yatra

Kailash Mansarovar located in the autonomous region of Tibet in China can be visited from Kathmandu through Lhasa. A private vehicle can be hired in Lhasa or Kathmandu. The asphalted road passes through the uneven terrain of Tibet, making it easier to traverse the valley. However, you can consider trekking during certain parts of the trip as well.

Mount Kailash or Kailasa Parbat is known as the abode of the Shiva, which in Tibetan is called Khang Rinpoche is a mountain belonging to Gangdise Mountains and is situated at 6,638 m which are a part of the Trans-Himalayas in Tibet, not far from two large lakes, the Manasarovar and Rakshas Tal. Devotees believe that walking to Kailash by foot brings good fortune.

It is an important source of some of the longest rivers in South Asia like the Indus River, Sutlej River, Brahmaputra River, called Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet and Karnali or Ghaghara in India, a tributary of the Ganges. Considered holy by followers of different religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon, a multitude of pilgrims dream of reaching Mansarovar once in their lifetime.

The majestic peak of the Kailash has never been climbed by anyone since it is considered sacred. Climbing to the peak is prohibited by the Chinese government. The pilgrimage is done clockwise by Hindus and Buddhists. The followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumnavigate the mountain in a direction to the left.

Along the fifty kilometers of the Tibetan slope, there are many painted rocks and prayer flags, focused particularly on the Dolma, and there are four, practicable with a path that goes from four to seven hours to Buddhists monasteries like the Darchen Gön, Chuku, Dira Phuk and Zuthulphuk.

In the same area is also the Shiwa Tsal, a cemetery where Lama and monks are cremated. The area is frequently visited by dozens of pilgrims from all over the Tibet, who prostrate themselves near the sacred places.

The Kailash appears in one of the most popular works of the Tibetan canon, the hundred thousand songs of Milarepa and in the larger epics of Indian literature. Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a place of pilgrimage for many faithful coming from India, Tibet or other neighboring countries. Each religion has its own theory about the creation of the lake and its religious significance.

Mansarovar or Mapam Yumco is also considered sacred, therefore, thousands of devotees make a pilgrimage to the Mansarovar region each year. It is relatively round in shape, with a depth of 90 m. It is located in the prefecture of Ngari, more than 1,600 km west of Lhasa.

It is separated from Lake Rakshastal, its nearest western neighbor, by a strip of land of only a few kilometers in width, and is overhung by Mount Kailash, some thirty kilometers to the north. It freezes in winter and thaws in spring.

This is indeed a sacred lake in Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Bon religions. It is one of the three stages of the complete pilgrimage with the Kailash and the Tirthapuri. The Hindu pilgrims immerse themselves there, but not the Buddhists. Some pilgrims also make the complete tour. Its waters are renowned as being of great spiritual benefit, immersed by Hindus, or drunk by Tibetans, which is also considered excellent for health and longevity.

It has been revered since time immemorial and represents the primordial waters of the universe. To the north lies the Kang Tise mountain range, with the Kailash, the residence of Demchok and his companion Dorje Phagmo. Kailash and Manasarovar symbolize the earth's father and mother. To the south stands the Gurla Mandata or Memo Nani mountain range (7,694 m), the third highest mountain entirely in Tibetan territory after the Shishapangma with 8,012 m and the Namche Barwa (7,756 m). Also called Memo Namgyal, it is the home of Lhamo Yangchen, female deity very important for the farmers of the region.

The spectacular environment of the lake, stuck between two mountain ranges, is one of the most beautiful in Tibet.

Pilgrimage tours are regularly organized, especially from India, the most famous being the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, which takes place once a year. Words are not enough to describe the holiest place for Hindus. This place is for Hindus as is Mecca for Muslims. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the purifying waters of the Manasarovar. The lake according to Indian epics is also supposed to be the summer abode of swans. The Buddhists associate the lake with the legendary Anavatapta or Annodata.

The lake has a few monasteries on its banks. The most notable are the ancient Chiu Gompa, which was built on a nearby hill and looks as if it had been carved into the rock itself. Both Jains as Bonpas of Tibet equally revere this place with great devotion.

Despite its proximity to Mana Sarovar lake, Lake Rakshastal does not share the cult tradition with its eastern neighbor. In Buddhism, Lake Mana Sarovar, which is round as the Sun, and Lake Rakshastal, in the shape of a crescent, are considered as brightness and darkness respectively. However, despite its notoriety, Lake Rakshastal has no less beauty than other lakes in Tibet.

Its salt water, which contrasts strongly with the fresh water of Mana Sarovar lake, does not produce aquatic plants or fish and is considered poisonous by the local population. On Lake Rakshastal there are four islands: Topserma (Dose), Dola, Lachato (Nadzhado) and Dosharba. The islands are visited by the local population only during the winter period when the water remains frozen and are used as winter pastures for the yaks.

Time and temperature

Summer (May-August) is pleasant, with a mild climate in western Tibet, with an average temperature of around 15 ° C. Monsoon (September-November) is accompanied with small rainfall and average temperature around 10 ° C.

Winters (December-April) can be harder and colder throughout the region. Once in awhile there is snow falls, and the temperature can reach around 5 ° C, sometimes even minimum of -15 ° C. The best time to visit in Mansarovar is during the Summer/Monsoon.


In addition to the permit to enter Tibet, which is issued by the Tibet Tourist Office, visitors need another 3 permits, Foreign Travel Permit, Foreign Permit and Military Permit to enter the area, which is issued by different agencies of the government. Local outdoor agencies can assist in permits and process visas on the part of tourists.

Standard Itinerary

Day 01: Flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa (3,650 m)
Day 02: Lhasa to Shigatse
Day 03: Trip to Sang-Sang, 7-8 hrs journey
Day 04: Trip to Saga, 6-7 Hours
Day 05: Trip to Paryang, 6-7 hrs Journey
Day 06: Trip to Mansarovar, 6-7 hrs trip
Day 07: Rest day at Mansarovar
Day 08: Trip to Darchen and hike to Mt. Kailash Circuit of Damking Donkhan
Day 09: Hike to Jarok Donkhang, 5-6 hrs
Day 10: Walk to Zutul-Puk, approximately 7 hours of hiking
Day 11: Walk to Darchen, drive to Lake Mansarovar
Day 12: Trip to Paryang
Day 13: Trip to Saga
Day 14: Trip to Paigu Tso Lake
Day 15: Trip to Nyalam
Day 16: Nyalam to Zhangmu to Kodari and Kathmandu

1 comment:

icyHighs said...

I'm looking fwd to this -more for nostalgia than anything else but shd still be good for a few laughs.