Kailash Parikrama – A Journey to Abode of Lord Shiva
Staring at the great Mount Kailash, makes me wonder the marvels of Mother Nature. Standing high at 22,000 feet, it’s difficult to analyze how nature carved its way to such colossal heights. As a part of the Transhimalaya range in Tibet, Mount Kailash holds a special place in the hearts of Hindu pilgrims. This awe-inspiring peak as per the Hindu mythology is said to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Only a few thousands devotees can complete their pilgrimage, each year, and the credit goes to its remote location, difficult terrain and towering altitude.
So what’s the hype about visiting this 22,000 feet tall wonder? The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra as it is popularly referred to serves two purposes- to take a holy dip in the Mansarovar Lake, and complete a circle (parikrama) around the Holy Mountain. The pilgrimage welcomes people, aged 18-70 years, and is a voyage to be taken on foot or by hiring helicopters, land cruisers or luxury AC buses. The voyage usually commences in May and stretched until September, each year. For booking the Yatra, you need to seek services from a private Nepal or Tibet tour operator or visit the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. The process will take up to 30 days to complete and involves a medical check-up of the tourists.
Natural Beauty at its Climax
The voyage takes you amidst the snow-capped Himalayas complimented by picturesque landscapes that boast of unique variety of flora and fauna. The cool and pleasant atmosphere echoes tranquility and solace. The devotees stay in huts, sleep on the cushioned floors, and enjoy the basic amenities in the lap of Nature. It feels awesome to experience the living in ancient times.
You can opt from the package choices available for an 11-day journey via helicopter, a 14-day voyage by an AC Bus, or a 13-day jeep safari. The expedition commences from Kathmandu and completes at Yama Dwar. The in between stops are Kodari, Nyalam (here you must obtain immigration visa to visit the China controlled region), Dongba, Darchen, and Lake Mansarovar.
What is Parikrama?
The trek to Mount Kailash is tricky and you may face several weather and terrain hurdles before you can visit the peak. If successful, you can orbit the mountain in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction, and this task is referred to as parikrama. It takes 3 days to complete the parikrama on foot; you may hire a pony or yak, instead.
Lake Mansarovar Uniquness
Lake Mansarovar is nestled at the foot of holy Mount Kailash, at the height of 4500 metres above sea level. Located in Tibet, it is the highest fresh water lake in the world, and holds a religious significance for the devotees.
Did You Know – Lake Mansarovar changes colors! It is crystal blue at the edges, and turns into emerald green in the centre, and shimmers like a gem in the moonlight.
Religious Significance of the Yatra
Mount Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati as believed by the Hindus. For Jains, it is where the first Jain Tirthankara attained Nirvana. The Buddhists believe that it is the abode of Lord Buddha and absolute ecstasy echoes here. For the Bon (a creed predating Buddhism in Tibet) strongly believe that the area holds ultimate spiritual power.
What Else to See?
The other attractions of this pilgrimage include Gauri Kund, known as the Lake of Compassion, Yama Dawar, from where the parikrama commences, , Asthapad is the base of the revered Mount Kailash, Tarboche is the flagpole that holds several prayer flags form the Tibetan population, and Tirthapuri is a sulphur spring, and said to have healing properties.
Come experience the blissful journey to the venerated Mount Kailash!