2014 Mt. Kailash Tour: An Auspicious Year for Pilgrims and Tourists

  Mt. Kailash by Jan Reurink

Mount Kailash is regarded as the most sacred mountain in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Bon alike. Kora (circling on foot) or circumambulating Mt. Kailash is considered a very holy activity. Pilgrims believe that making a kora of Mt. Kailash purifies sins and brings good fortune. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, making a kora of Kailash in 2014, the year of the Horse (it occurs once every 12 years), will enrich our good Karma 12 times and wash away our Sins 12 times.

Mt. Kailash is 6,638 meters (21,778 feet) in elevation. It is 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the border of Nepal (Zhamgmu) and 1200 kilometers (750 miles) from Lhasa. It takes an average of three days of trekking to complete the kora of Mount Kailash and the approximate distance of the kora route is about 52 kilometers (about 32.5 miles).

Traditionally, Buddhists and Hindus circle Mt. Kailash in a clockwise direction, whereas followers of Bon and Jainism go counter clockwise. Most pilgrims will complete the kora on foot but a few Buddhist devotees will circumambulate by making repeated prostrations (one body length at a time), which is physically very demanding and takes about a month. Others choose to make the circuit on horseback. Putting up strings of prayer flags (known as Lungta), burning incense, and giving money to beggars are also common practices during the kora.

In addition to being of paramount religious significance, the Mt. Kailash region is home to the headwaters of many of the Asia’s largest river. The Indus, Sutlej (a major tributary of the Indus River), Brahmaputra and Karnali rivers (a tributary of the Ganges) are vital water sources for several countries, including India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

“An awe inspiring part of the Mt. Kailash tour is when travelers experience the scenic route and alpine dessert landscape of western Tibet”, according to Tsering Namgyal, western Tibet guide.  Seeing mountains (the Tibetan range) up close, turquoise lakes, local nomads with their herds, views of wild animals (including some endangered species) are among the major attractions of the Mt. Kailash tour, says Tsering.

Traveling on the roof of the world has its challenges. Altitude sickness is a serious concern in areas of Tibet and especially Mt. Kailash. The lowest elevation is in Lhasa, at 3650 meters (11,972 feet) and the highest is the Dolma La pass at 5,648 meters (18,525 ft.), with average elevation being about 4,000 meters (14,104 feet). We strongly recommend traveling to Lhasa first, acclimatizing for a few days there, and then setting out for Kailash. After that most people have little or no trouble with the altitude.

 

[READ: TIBETAN HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS IN 2013: SHOULD I TRAVEL OR NOT]

 

Many travelers have complained of the lack of good accommodations and food in the western Tibetan region. It is true that there are only a few very basic guesthouses with limited choices of food (mostly Tibetan and Chinese), but this is part of traveling in what is still a fairly remote part of the world. The large increase in the number of pilgrims and tourists expected in 2014 will probably put a strain on the existing resources. Therefore, we strongly recommend camping for at least three days of the Mount Kailash trek, with a cook as part of the trekking team. It will add a little bit to the overall cost but is well worth it.

Most Kailash tour start either from Lhasa or Kathmandu and the tour generally lasts for 10 to 17 days depending on one’s travel itinerary. Expect 6 to 7 hours of driving per day when traveling to Mount Kailash from either entry point. Most trip itineraries include spending a night at Everest Base Camp at 5,150 meters (16,900 ft.).  The best time to travel is in May and June. July and August fall in the rainy season. September and October are cooler (but not overly cold to people accustomed to fall and winter in places like New England) and offer great views of the Himalayas.

2014  Mt.  Kailash tour  will be a “Mecca” for all Tibetan Buddhists given the auspicious nature of the year. Expect lots of local Buddhists and others to be making the kora as a way to attain enlightenment! For tourists and any other travelers witnessing the pure devotion of these pilgrims, the stunning alpine desert landscape, and the close-up mountain views will surely inspire you and make you feel like you are on top of the world.

When you embark on Mt. Kailash tour, it is in your interest and ours that the experience is a rich one for you. We can promise you that we will do all in our power to make your travel with us to Mt. Kailash an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience! Please ask lots of questions and contact us anytime. Our Himalayan Expert will be available to speak (+1 888 388-5308) to you 24/7. Chat anytime or email us at enquiry@sonamadventures.com for latest update news and information.

 
Reviews: Donald TIbet review

"In over 30 years of traveling for business and vacation my recent visit to Nepal and Tibet with Sonam was probably the best trip I ever experienced. Whether it was help with flights, suggestions about useful gear, or attention to the large and small daily details, Sonam was on top of everything. I would definitely travel with Sonam Adventures again and am already  recommending him to my friends and to professional colleagues.".
                                                      Donald J. La Rocca, New York, New York

 

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About Sogyal

Sonam Gyaltsen (Sogyal) is a Tibetan American and the owner of Sonam Adventures LLC. He is a Himalayan connoisseur and passionate traveler. He divides his time between US, Nepal & Tibet PRC.