Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Guide: All You Must Know!
The Kailash Mansarovar yatra is famous for two things – doing the circumambulation (parikrama) of Mount Kailash and taking a divine dip in the Mansarovar Lake. It is believed that doing the above relieves sins and brings salvation to all. Staggering right? Want to know everything about it? Well, here we come with our Kailash Mansarovar yatra guide to help you.
Considered as one of the most sacred places by Hindus, Jains, Tibetans and Buddhists, Kailash Mansarovar is probably the world’s least visited but the most honoured holy place. Its magnificence lies in its discrete shape- four sheer faces harmonizing the key points of the area and its marvellous placement which is free from the neighbouring mountains that might conceal it. Located at an altitude of 22,000 feet, Mount Kailash is not a destination; it’s a journey. A journey away from human mind’s eye that changes the life eternally.
Best Time To Visit Kailash Mansarovar
So, what is the best time to visit Kailash Mansarovar? Well, the best time to visit this extremely revered place is from April to June and September to October when the visibility is high and gorgeous views are accompanied by comfortable weather conditions. Sunny days and fresh air make trekking enjoyable and it is a perfect time for doing the kora and visiting the nearby temples. Saga Dawa Festival, which is held on April 15 of the Tibetan year, is a great time to experience much stronger spiritual vibes with believers from all over the world.
The months of July and August receive slight rainfall making it difficult to pass through the jagged trails of the area. However, rains do not make it a muddled place instead light rain and fog and much fresh air turns Kailash Mansarovar into a mystifying place giving the visitors an illusionary feeling of walking in the heaven.
From November to March the entire area is covered by heavy snow. The temperatures fall dramatically making it very hard to travel. Heavy snowfall moreover blocks the roads and mountain passes. Tourists usually do not visit Kailash Mansarovar during this time.
So, get set to go on journey of a lifetime!
Travel Documents For Kailash Mansarovar
Travellers need the following documents for their Kailash Mansarovar yatra:
- A passport that is valid for at least beyond the scheduled date of return is required.
- China visa is required.
- A medical report certifying fitness for trekking at high altitudes.
- Travel insurance is a must owing to the unpredictable conditions here.
How To Reach Kailash Mansarovar
Air: The nearest airport is Ngari Gunsa, located at a distance of 209 km. But, it is only connected to Kashgar in China, Lhasa in Tibet and Urumqi Xinjiang region of China. Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow is the nearest airport in India located at a distance of 437 km. The airport is very well connected to many Indian cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai etc. and also to international cities like Singapore, Dubai and Riyadh. Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu is also a nice option as it is linked to various cities all over the world.
Bus: Buses to Kailash Mansarovar are accessible from certain regions in India, China and Nepal. The Indian government arranges regular tours with limited seats. Kailash Mansarovar can be accomplished by four land routes- Indian border near Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, Kashgar in China, Shigatse in Tibet and Hilsa in Nepal. Private buses are also available from all these places. Tourists can also hire a jeep or a helicopter.
Train: Lucknow Railway Station is the nearest railway station to reach Kailash Mansarovar by train. From here, tourists can hire a taxi. Other nearest railway stations are Kathgodam, Haridwar Junction, Rishikesh and Ramnagar.
Where To Stay In Kailash Mansarovar
Mount Kailash region is still developing and accommodations here range from basic hotels and hostels to humble home stays and lodges. The accommodation level is much lower than other cities and there are no five star hotels here. Himalaya Kailash Hotel, Himalaya Pulan Hotel, Ali Jinyanan Hotel, Jiaotong Hotel and Gaer Shuangfu Business Hotel are some of the best hotels here.
Places To Visit Kailash Mansarovar
Mount Kailash, a part of the mighty Himalayas is located in Tibet. It is also known by different names like Gang Tise and Gang Rinpoche. The mountain peak holds immense religious significance and is a place of faith and worship. It is believed by the Hindu religion that Mount Kailash is the place where Lord Shiva resides and hence is considered as the manifestation of heaven. Buddhists believe that the mighty mountain is the habitat of Buddha Demchok who represents supreme bliss. According to Jainism, Mount Kailash is the site where Rishabhadeva, the founder of their faith attained liberation from rebirth. For Bon, this mountain is believed to be the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.
Commonly known as the ‘Ravana Lake’ and ‘The Lake of the Demon’, Rakshas Tal likes towards the western side of the Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar. The north-western tip of the lake is the originating point of River Sutlej. This enigmatic lake is situated at an altitude of 4752 metres and extends over an area of 70 sq. km. According to the Hindu mythology, this lake was the dwelling place of Ravana and therefore holds high historical and spiritual significance. The lake contains extremely saline water and has four islands- Topserma, Lachato, Dola and Dosharba. Although according to Buddhism this lake is a symbol of darkness but tourists are stunned by its beauty and tranquillity. The lake is connected with Lake Mansarovar by a natural channel, Ganga Chhu.
Nestled at a height of about 6000 feet above the sea level, Gauri Kund is a popular sightseeing attraction that has numerous mythological tales and legendary stories behind its origin. It is also known as the ‘Lake of Compassion’ and ‘Parvati Sarovar’. According to the mythical tales of the Shiv Purana, this was the place where goddess Parvati had acquired her son Ganesha. It is believed that goddess Parvati had formed Ganesha from the soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. Tourists often splash water from Gauri Kund on their heads to get purified by its holy water. The reflection of Chhota Kailash peak falling in the lake waters make it even more serene and beautiful.
Located at a height of 4556 metres, Lake Mansarovar is considered to be the world’s highest freshwater lake. Encompassed by the majestic Himalayas, Lake Mansarovar is a spiritual satisfaction facilitator for Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and the followers of the Tibetan religion of Bon.
Spread across an area of 350 sq. km with a depth of 300 feet, the sacred water of the lake is believed to purify the body and soul of all sins and bad deeds. Buddhists also believe that Queen Maya conceived Lord Buddha at this very place. This fresh water lake is seen changing its colour from blue to bluish green and then to green as the sunshine approaches. There are several monasteries at Mansarovar but the most amazing is the Chiu Gompa Monastery. This beautiful holy lake is an ecstasy and must be visited at least once in a lifetime.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Guide Tip: Despite being able to drive all the way around the lake, walking is still the best way to see it.
Things To Do In Kailash Mansarovar
Kailash parikrama or circumambulation is apparently the most difficult part of the pilgrimage. Since Mount Kailash is the holy icy abode of Lord Shiva, pilgrims perform a parikrama to show respect and reverence. The parikrama of Mount Kailash takes around three days and includes trekking steep trails, rough terrain, crossing streams and traversing a pass high in the mountains.
Mount Kailash yatra has two trekking routes- the Inner Kora (about 30 km) and the Outer Kora (about 56 km). The term Kora is used by the Tibetans to refer to the clockwise circumambulation. Although both are hard and strenuous, the Inner Kora is way harder than the Outer Kora with more climbing, more passes and cliffs to get over. Most pilgrims walk around the Outer Kora as it offers splendid views of the Kailash from all sides. The Inner Kora on the other hand only runs up to the south face of Kailash and back in a small loop.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Guide Tip: If you have any kind of breathing problem, you should not trek.
There are a number of monasteries around the Kora. The first one is the Choku or Nyari Monastery which consists of three interesting objects – the Choku statue, the Conch Shell and the Teapot. If history is to be believed then it is said that when an invading army attempted to steal these objects the Gods used their supernatural powers to stop them.
Drirapuk is the monastery where the trekkers usually spend their first night. The monastery provides food and basic accommodation for visitors. The monastery has several statues and remnants of Tibetan Buddhism and is popular for its numerous rows of white stupas.
Zutrulpuk Monastery, located on the west bank of the Zhong Chu River is the second stop for the trekkers. Built around the sacred stones formations most likely formed by Milarepa, the monastery also contains Milarepa’s cave which is topped by a stone slab that is said to have his hand and foot prints. Compared with Drirapuk Monastery, the accommodation here is relatively better.
Selung Monastery is the first monastery in the Inner Kora. It was built as a spot for meditation for the monks.
Gyangzha Monastery, established in the 13th century is the first monastery in the Mount Kailash region. It is regarded as one of the most important monasteries in the Western Tibet.
Hot Springs At Tirthpuri
Situated at the north-west of Mount Kailash and the north bank of river Sutlej, Tirthpuri is renowned for its revered hot springs and Guru Rinpoche Monastery. It is a very popular place for the pilgrims who come here to bathe in the hot springs after completing the Kora and then visit the monastery which has Guru Rinpoche’s footprints. The vibrant colourful prayer flags fluttering in the wind and beautiful stupas amidst barren landscapes look stunning. There is a one hour Kora around Tirthapuri. From the hot springs there is a path that turns towards the east passing a ‘sour’ earth hole and a ‘sweet’ earth hole where the pilgrims dig for small stones which apparently has healing properties.
What To Eat In Kailash Mansarovar
Trekking is an energy consuming activity which takes a lot of strength and the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is fairly difficult. Although tourists get plenty of food with them, there are some tents along the route of outer kora selling food items where they can replenish their energy. Most of these tents provide Tibetan food such as Yak Butter Tea, Tsampa, soups, broth and noodles. It is advisable to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables that have been exposed to the sun. As per the rules and regulations of Chinese Government and CIPSC (China India Pilgrim Service Centre) healthy vegetarian meals are provided in Fixed Kitchen operated in agreement between CIPSC and Madhuban Team.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Guide Tip: Adequate intake of food and water at regular intervals is very important.
Money In Kailash Mansarovar
Chinese Yuan is the most common currency in Kailash Mansarovar. However, tourists can buy products in Indian Currency, Nepali Currency, Chinese Currency and US Dollar. But in Tibet, during the Kailash Mansarovar yatra only Yuan is accepted. Exchange is available in US Dollar only. Getting your international currency exchanged into Chinese currency is highly recommended to avail best deals and have a hassle free travel. Although credit cards are accepted here, but not widely. ATMs are also not very easily located.
Tips For Your Kailash Mansarovar Trip
Our Kailash Mansarovar yatra guide is full of insider tips and information. Read on!
- Kailash Mansarovar is located in the Ali Prefecture. So, besides the Tibet Travel Permit, you also need Alien’s Travel Permit, Military Permit, Foreign Affairs Permit and a Frontier Pass.
- Hindi, Tibetan and English are the most spoken languages here.
- Be sure to pack easy to dry underwear and socks.
- Most accommodations near Kailash kora and Mansarovar Lake are basic guesthouses without independent toilets. So be sure to carry your personal toiletries.
- Do not forget to carry a flashlight and extra batteries.
- Rain-proof gears are a necessity.
- It is advisable to carry your own first aid kit with essential medicines.
- Due to the high altitude and strong solar radiation, it is advisable to get sunglasses and sun screen.
- Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration while climbing.
- Do carry some eatables like chocolates, mints, biscuits, khakra, nuts etc. that is light yet filling.
- Always travel in groups.
- Keep moving your fingers, toes and facial muscles.
- Alcohol, smoking and drugs should be avoided completely.
- Get your mobile phone international roaming enabled in order to stay connected with your friends and family.
- In case of an emergency, dial 110 (Police) or 120 (Ambulance).
So, Kailash Mansarovar is a timeless, breath-taking and a fascinating spiritual spot. Are you ready to have a life changing experience? Well, plan your Kailash Mansarovar trip soon and do not forget to keep our Kailash Mansarovar yatra guide handy.
Editor: Jovita Mendonca
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