Mt. Kailash Full Moon Trip
A great mass of black rock soaring to over 22,000 feet, Mt. Kailash has the unique distinction of being the world's most venerated holy place at the same time that it is the least visited. The supremely sacred site of four religions and billions of people, Kailash is seen by no more than a few thousand pilgrims each year. This curious fact is explained by the mountain's remote location in far western Tibet. No planes, trains or buses journey anywhere near the region and even with rugged over-land vehicles the journey still requires weeks of travel.
Mt Kailash (6741 m) is the most sacred of Holy Mountains in Tibet. Together with the two lakes of Manasovar & Rakas, the region is one of the few truly nature wonders of the world.
Three of the orient's greatest rivers; the Bramaputra, the Sutlej, and the Indus, all take their sources within a hundred kilometers of this "snow capped jewel" which has attracted Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon-po’s from the four corners of Asia for centuries. Mt Kailash - also known as Tise or Khang Rimposhe (Jewel of the snow), has since the time immemorial been celebrated in many eastern cosmologies as Mt Meru, the axis mundi (the center of the physical and metaphysical universe). For the Hindus, it represents the abode of Lord Shiva and for the Buddhists, a terrestrial projection of the cosmic Mandala of the Fiva Dhyani Buddha & The Wheel of life.
Buddhists believe that a single Kora or Parikrama washes away the sins of a lifetime and that 108 circuits secure Nirvana in this life. On the trek, one may encounter Bon Pilgrims circling the route counter clockwise or the very devoted continually prostrate themselves along the whole 32.5 miles loop. There is also the ‘inner Kora’ that passes two lakes to the south of Mt. Kailash. Tradition dictates that only those who have made 13 circumambulation of Kailash may follow this inner route. The mouth of the four great rivers are within 100 Km of the mountain-the Indus, The Brahamaputra, The Sutlej and the Karnali, a major tributaries of The Ganges. Mt. Kailash circuit is 32.5 miles of strenuous trails which crosses the Dolma La. This pass is the route highest point at 18525 ft. At a large boulder is a collection of offerings where pilgrims traditionally deposit one item and take another.
Although the journey entails long rides by Land cruisers over Tibet’s great western plateau through a region inhabited by few wild animals, holy lakes and the occasional nomad, this existing tour involving a four day trek with yaks in the remotest part around Mt Kailash and offers the most fascinating experience.
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu. Transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day is Free. Overnight at the Hotel in Kathmandu.
Day 2: Heritage sightseeing of Kathmandu After the sightseeing tour, return to the Hotel. The rest of the afternoon is free. (Permits for Tibet will be made this day). Evening: Briefing for Mt. Kailash. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 3: After breakfast, continue on the Heritage tour visiting Patan Durbar Square, the stupas of Boudha and Soyambhu and end it with a visit to the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Overnight at hotel.
Day 4: Kathmandu / Zhangmu / Nyalam (3750m) Drive Kathmandu to Kodari (4 ½ hours) 153 Km. with packed lunch boxes. Firstly the drive eastwards is a pleasant one passing through agricultural countryside, crossing over the Bhote Kosi River. The trail now follows the Bhote Kosi river till Bahrabise, a small boomtown for an hour and then heads towards Kodari on gravel roads and landslip areas. At Kodari after completion of Nepali Immigration formalities, we cross the friendship bridge on foot. On the other side, we meet representatives from Tibet with landcruisers and drive for 45 minutes through lush green hillside and cascading waterfalls to arrive at Zhangmu town. Complete Chinese immigration formalities and then drive for another 2 hours through the Tibetan landscape to Nyalam.(3750m) 53km. Check into the lodge. Overnight at the Nyalam Guest House.
Day 5: Acclimatization day at Nyalam (3750m) Overnight at the Nyalam Guest House.
Day 6: Nyalam / Saga (4300m) Drive from Nyalam to Saga (4300m) 291km via Laluna-la Pass (5050 m), lake Paigu Tso and the Tsang po (Brahmaputra) River. The drive catches to the increasing altitude to arrive at Laluna –La pass and leave the main trail to Lhasa descending west to the serene and beautiful Lake Paigu. After crossing the river on ferry, arrive Saga town. Dinner and overnight at the Camp.
Day 7: Saga / Paryang Drive from Saga via New Zongba,(4360m) 160 km to Paryang. Overnight at the Camp
Day 8: Paryang / Lake Mansarovar Drive from Paryang to Lake Manasarovar (5410m) via Mayum La (5151 m) Driving past Kongyu Tso through the village of Thongchen to camp near the Chiu monastery. (The Lake Manasarovar, Hindus believe, was created by Brahma as reflection of the depth of his soul-manas and represents the female energy of Yoni of the Universe, while Mt. Kailsah symbolizes the male energy of the Lingum. At 14459 ft. Lake Manasarovar is the highest body of fresh water in the world. Holy to Buddhists alike, it was once surrounded by 8 monasteries. Buddhist believes that Queen Maya, Buddha's mother was carried here by the gods and some of Mahatma Gandhi's ash was carried here from India and scattered in the Lake.
Overnight at the Camp.
Day 9: Rest and explore Manasarovar Lake. Overnight at the Camp
Day 10: Mansarovar / Darchen / Chukku Gompa Bridge Drive from Manasarovar to Darchen (4560m) 1 ½ - 2 Hrs. to commence the circumambulation around Mt. Kailash. The circumambulation of Mt. Kailash (6714 m /22,028 feet) is an important pilgrimage for religions. To Hindus, Kailash is the abode of Shiva, Tibetans call it Kang Rimpoche; Jains worship it as Mt. Asthapada, the peak from which the religion founder, Rishabanatha achieved spiritual liberation. Followers of Bon – Po, the ancient pre – Buddhist shamanistic religion of Tibet revere Kailash as the soul of Tibet. The circumambulation to the Hindus and Jains is known as Parikrama and Buddhists call it Kora. We head west from the enclosed compound of Darchen and up to a series of prayer flags at 4730m from where you could have the first great views of Mt. Kailash. The prayer flags are replaced annually during the Saka Dawa festival on Budhha's birthday, the full moon day during the Tibetan month of May. The trail continues across the plain to Shersong and after about an hour arrive at the bridge leading to the Nyanri Gompa, perched high on the hillside above. All the monasteries on the Kailash circuit were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Nyanri Gompa also known as the Chhuku Gompa because of the image of Chhuku Rimpoche it houses, was the first to be rebuilt and contains a few treasures that were rescued from the original gompas. Trek from Darchen to Chhuku bridge – 4 Hrs. and side visit to Chhuku Monastery – 30 minutes. Set the campsite a little further from the bridge. Dinner and Overnight at Camp.
Day 11: Chhuku Gompa to Drira Phuk – 4 Hrs. The normal pilgrims route stays on the east bank of the Lha Chu but for better views of Kailash and generally better Campsites, we cross the west bank trail across to arrive at a good camping ground at Damding Donkhang (4890 m) a grassy spot that offers good views of the West face of Mt. Kailash. It is also known as the Valley of yaks as one can see hundreds of Yaks grazing on the meadows We continue further crossing the side streams Belung Chu and Dunglung Chu on rocks as the North face of Kailash comes in view. As you reach the Gompa and a frugal guest house at Drira Phuk, you are rewarded with a fine view of the North face of Mt. Kailash. The three lower hills in front of Mt. Kailash from this vantage point are the manjushree, Avalokitesvara and Vajrapani representing wisdom, kindness and power. The Drira
Phuk Gompa was rebuilt in 1985.
Dinner and Overnight at the Camp.
Day 12: Drira Phuk / Sabje Dratok Start trek from Drira Phuk and immediately cross the Lha Chu on a wooden bridge. After continuous trek to the Lha Chu, we would eventually reach the true source of the Indus. The Kora route makes a serious climb on to a moraine eventually meeting the trail from the East bank. The trail now climbs more gently to a meadow full of fat marmots (phiya) at 5212 meters. This is a good campsite that will make the pass crossing easier than to have camped at Drira Phuk but it is dangerous to Camp at higher altitudes because of acclimatization problems. The snow covered pass to the right, the Khado Sanglam is protected by a lion faced Dakini goddess. Pilgrims may cross this difficult pass only on their auspicious 13th circuit of the mountain. Climb past piles of clothing at Shiva-tsal (5330m) and Tibetans leave an article of clothing or a drop of blood here as part of leaving their past life behind them. Continue past thousands of small rock cairns to a large cairn at 5390 meters passing the Dikpa Karnak, sin testing stone. It is said that those without sin can squeeze through the narrow hole between the boulders while a sinner no matter how small cannot pass through. The trail now leads across a boulder field and climbs through large rocks to a tiny stream. Climb onto a ridge and continue gently on to the Dolma La at 5630 meters. A big boulder on the pass representing the goddess Dolma (better known by her Sanskrit name Tara) is festooned with prayer flags and streamers. It is traditional to leave and take something as part of the collection of coins, prayer flags, teeth and other offerings attached to the rock. This is the physical and spiritual high point of the Kora. The trail from the west side of the pass is steep and rocky at first and then begins a series of switchbacks as it passes Gauri Kund, the lake of mercy and 5450 meters. Many more switchbacks and steep descents leads to the valley and then further descend for about an hour to arrive alongside the Lham Chhukhir at 5150 meters, the evenings campsite on the banks of a river near Shabje Drakthok. Shabje Drakthok has foot prints on a huge rock which pilgrims believe belong to Lord Buddha. Overnight at the Camp.
Day 13: Sabje Dratok / Darchen / Hor Qu Trek from Shabje Drathok along the river, even though the trail is better and less marshy on the other side, it is better to keep to the west side of the river which is actually the main route as it becomes too large below to cross back. When crossing the stream of the Khado – sanglam, arrive at another Chaksal Gang, the third prostration point and from which point is the last view of the east face of Mt. Kailash during the circumambulation. After about 2 1/2-3 hours arrive at the Zutul-puk Gompa 4790m where there is a cave in which the saint Milarepa is said to have meditated. Upon arrival at Darche, board the waiting vehicles for about two hours drive to the campsite near Chiu Gompa. Evening : Visit the Hot springs Upon arrival at Darchen, board the waiting vehicles for about two hours drive to the campsite past the settlement of Hor Qu to the northeast corner of the Lake Mansarovar. Overnight at the Camp.
Day 14: Drive to Paryang. Overnight Camp on the side of the Paryang River.
Day 15: Drive to Saga. Overnight at Camp.
Day 16: Drive to Zhangmu via Nyalam. Overnight at the Zhangmu Hotel.
Day 17: Drive to Kathmandu. After breakfast, complete border formalities and drive down to the Nepal / China friendship bridge at Kodari and meet waiting vehicles and representatives from Nepal for the 4 ½ hour drive to Kathmandu. Upon arrival, check into the hotel. The rest of the day is free. Overnight at the Hotel.
Day 18: Final departure transfer to airport for onward flight.