Known to be the abode of the Hindu God, Lord Shiva and his wife, Goddess Parvati, Mount Kailash is counted among one of the revered peaks. There are a lot of mythological stories that recount the tale of how Lord Shiva stays here and his place is that of perpetual meditation. It is further believed that the mountain is thereby the source of all the spiritual power and mythologists have even opined that it is the holy presence of Shiva which has thwarted the attempts of umpteen mountaineers to climb to the summit of this range.
Other mythological accounts also believe that Mount Kailash is truly hailed to be the stairway to heaven. It is believed that Mount Kailash is the Axis Mundi or more commonly the cosmic axis which means that it acts as the centre of the world. This infers that it is the point of confluence of earth and heaven.
Now that we have some idea about the mythological foothold of this range, let us check out some facts and figures.
Location, height and facts
Mount Kailash has an elevation of 6638 metres (21778 feet) which is less than Mount Everest which though has been scaled but the former hasn’t been climbed yet. The word Kailash is perhaps derived from a Sanskrit word which means crystal.
The Tibetan name for this mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che and it means snow peak. It is 22,000 feet away from the Tibetan plateau and there are two stunning lakes that are found at the very foothill of this mountain. This includes Lake Mansarovar and Rakshas Tal.
Both these lakes too have a lot of mythological stories as their backdrops. The Lake Mansarovar is known to be blessed with positive spiritual vibes while the Rakshas Tal owing to its demonic connection is known to be bereft of all kind of aquatic plants and marine animals and is salty in nature. The water too is turbulent compared to Lake Mansarovar that stays placid all throughout the year.
Even if you dig the books of geography, you will find that Mount Kailash definitely enjoys a very strategic location. Within a radius of 30 miles, you will find the sources of some of the mightiest rivers which include
It is the confluence of all these rivers which fosters the amazing geographical prowess of this range and also embodies the holy image too.
It comes as no surprise that the climate at Mount Kailash is definitely not favourable. While the day time temperature is comparatively warmer as nights tend to be frosty cold, the weather is often a bit too harsh.
During the month of December to January, the temperature near the foothills can dip as low as -15 degrees Celsius as the average temperature hovers around 3 to 4 degrees. The summers are mostly moderate and the temperature averages at around 15 degrees.
Ideally all Kailash mountain tours specially the ones for Lake Mansarovar are taken during the summers and December to April tends to be an off season as most things are closed.
The Kailash parikrama
Now that we have an insight about how holy this mountain is and despite the truly difficult trekking, how innumerable people line up for the sake of offering a parikrama to this holy range, let us discuss deeper.
As per the books of mythology, it is believed that doing a compete parikrama of the Mount Kailash, a person can get rid of a lifetime of sins. Not just the Hindu mythology, even the Buddhists believe in this ideology. While the Hindus perform a clockwise parikrama, the Bon (Tibetan Buddhist) follows the anticlockwise pattern. It is believed that doing a parikrama helps you undergo a cycle of life and a subsequent rebirth as well.
Most tours involving the Mount Kailash parikrama tends to last for three days. However, based on your speed and the number of parikramas you want to do, it might even entail longer. Owing to unfavorable weather circumstances and difficulties; most people take up these tours in groups with guides to help you battle the toughest of times.
The Mount Kailash parikrama tours often involves a visit to Lake Mansarovar wherein the group members are assessed to ascertain who is capable and fit enough to head for the parikrama.
Every day of this tour shows you a different face of the Mount Kailash and the austerity and the mere peace which one feels from within is inexplicable and renders a person incapable of deceit.
This trek is mere 52 kilometres long but given the kind of death defying weather one has to face, the duration ends up lasting for three long days. The trek is only meant for those who are experienced enough and not for novices as it requires one to be in top physical condition.
The eastern end of this range is known as Tatpurush, the southern end is called as Aghora, the western range is hailed as Sadiyota and the northern front is called as Vamadeva.
Every side is distinct and is known for their remarkable properties and nature. The eastern face is known to be made of crystals and it emits a brilliant shine. The western side of the range is known to be made of ruby while the southern side is filled with sapphire and the northern is believed to be made of gold.
This is why every range is unique in itself and the amalgamation of each one of them offers something so unique to the one who beholds it that they are left feeling awe and inspired.
When the tour begins, the pilgrims first need to make their way through the Yam dwar. Yam refers to the god of death and the gate kind of marks the end of life which infers that people are reborn when they cross this gate. This means that their souls are now washed so that they can do a parikrama and strip them of all the misdeeds of their lifetime.
The South face
It is the south face which is visible from the yam dwar on the first day of the trek. This southern side is known to shine like sapphire. The range is known to be the home of mysticism and the weather though harsh lends an air of meditation and serenity and calms you down.
As you proceed further and start the trek, you will ultimately reach the west face which becomes visible on the first day of the parikrama.
The West face
The west face of this mountain range emits a reddish tinge. This side of the range looks austere and the peace which you will feel is something which cannot truly be explained in words.
Each of the group who are a part of the Kailash Parikrama makes it a point to pay their holy pilgrimage to this enormous peak as well. Merely standing there and beholding the massive giantess is sure to help you feel the sanctity of peace.
The North face
On the first day, you will further head to Dirapuk which will help you steal the perfect view of the north face of Mount Kailash. The northern range is known to glister like gold and when the brilliant rays of sun fall on the snow covered peaks, you will feel the glistening colour of gold emanate from it. The sight is as pious as it can get.
Finally it is on the 2nd day of the parikrama that you will be able to steal the breathtaking view of the eastern face of Mount Kailash. This is the side which shines like crystals and the blinding shine will make you bow down to the mystical and magical prowess of this mysterious mountain range.
There are a lot of people who claim that they can feel the sun making a swastika on the Mount Kailash which is a way of paying tribute to Lord Shiva.
It is disputed as to how true these details are. However, there is no way to measure and verify faith. The fact that no one has managed to scale the summit of this mountain and the faith with which too many pilgrims head for the Mount Kailash parikrama is a proof of how faith truly can move mountains.
No doubt, the journey to Mount Kailash is one which requires a lot of effort, discipline and preparation but it is worth every bit the trouble!