The journey to the abode of Shiva is packed with thrills
THE REVERENTIAL AURA that encapsulates the Himalayas is nowhere more evident then in Mount Kailash and Mansarovar. It is the most important pilgrimage in the Himalayan region.perhaps no other pilgrimage symbolises the yearning of the spirit to attain heights closest to the gods, and the indomitable spirit of the pilgrim to undertake this task. Lake Mansarovar and Mount Kailash are considered holy by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, and Bons. In the ancient religious texts of these religions, Mount Kailash is referred to as the centre of the world as it is located at the heart of six mountain ranges that symbolise a lotus. Four major rivers of the Indian subcontinent originate around this area- the Indus, the Brahmaputra, the Karnali or the Ghaghar, and the Sutlej.
Replete with symbolism, for Hindus Mount Kailash represents Shiva’s symbolic lingam. Bons believe the sacred mountain to be the place where the founder of the bon religion descended from the sky. Tibetan Buddhists believe it is a natural mandala representing the Buddhist cosmology on the earth, and the place, also known as Mount Ashtapada, where their religion’ s first prophet tirthankara Rishabhdev meditated and attained supreme enlightenment. Lake Mansarovar is the highest fresh water body in the world. Hindus believe that one who drinks water from the lake will ascend to the abode of lord Shiva after death. Also, he will be cleansed of all sins committed over a hundred lifetimes. The lake is almost round in shape and measures approximately 88km in circumference. Adjacent to it is lake Rakshash Taal (Lake of the Demon) which, though naturally connected to the sweetwater lake of Mansarovar, is actually salty and no life or vegetation is found in it.
Thousands of pilgrims arrive at Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar following a tradition going back thousands of years. as per tradition, pilgrims cicumambulate Mount Kailash on foot for good fortune. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists and anti-clockwise by Jains and Bons. The path around mount Kailash is 52 km long.
There are only four land routes to reach mount Kailash. Helicopter rides from Napal are also available. Darchen marks the entry point for Mount Kailash.
The best time to visit Kailash Mansarovar is from May to October. A very limited number of visas are issued for Indian citizens; hence the trip needs to be planned well in advance and proper administrative clearances need to be taken.