Mount Kailash - 10 Tips for the Trip and all that you want to know !

It is a dream of every spiritual indvidual to visit Mount Kailash once in a lifetime and relinquish his or her past deeds and seek salvation. But more than anything, the journey to Kailash Mansarovar is a life-changing experience for few of pilgrims who undertake it every year. A sojourn to roof of the world is arduous, as it is located in remotest region. Hence , we hereby provide few tips, wherein to prepare physically and mentally for a trip of a lifetime !

Mount Kailash  - 10  Tips  for the Trip  and all that you want to know !
Salutation to Lord - View of Mount Kailash South Face from Manasarovar Lake

             Revered to as the " Holiest of all Mountains and Axis of Universe " in the western region of Tibet,  Mount Kailash which attracts only the dedicated travellers across the globe each year. !. Are you the blessed soul to visit there ?

Spiritually Enriching and Aesthetically fulfilling, wholly , a trip to the sacred Mount Kailash is a life changing experience– and legend has it that a kora or parikrama or circumbalutation (a pilgrimage circuit) around this holy mountain eliminates all the sins of a life time. In other words, it is simply a..

Divine experience of Lifetime !

Towering over the sparsely populated Nagri of Western region of  Tibet plateau, Mount Kailash is the holy mountain for the four ancient religions of Tibetan Buddhism, Bon, Hinduism and Jainism. Coincidentally, it is also the birthplace of four rivers Brahmaputra, Sutlej ,Indus and Karnali. Adding to the charm is all holy Lake Manasarovar, a high altitude , remote and ultimate travel destination located overlooking Mount Kailash.

Here are 10 Tips for planning your Mount Kailash trip, the top trekking destination in Tibet.

North Face - View from Derapuk

“Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”

एकम सत विप्रा बहुधा वदन्ति, अर्थात , सत्य एक है: जिसे बुद्धिमान विभिन्न नामों से बुलाते हैं।

“Ekam sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti”, a Sutra quote that can be traced to the Rigveda and the Upnishads. It literally means “Truth is one, the wise perceive it differently” or God is one, the enlightened or the wise, call him by different names or perceive him differently.

  1. Get to Know the Trekking Routes of Mount Kailash

The trekking path of Mount Kailash is based on the age-old pilgrims’ path around this holy mountain. The whole circuit is 32 miles. Some tough guys can finish the route within 1 day, but if you don’t want to circumbulate at your own pace. A 3 day plan is most recommended for you to enjoy the kora.

The average total trekking time is around 16 to 19 hours. As you hike, there is plenty of time to stop,admire and explore the monasteries along the path, which is a great way to learn about Tibetan Buddhism.

You might think that one kora is enough, but your will be perplexed? If you  have to complete three kora to be allowed in the inner kora. That’s right, there is an outer and an inner kora.

Tibetans usually complete the kora a total 13 times in their life, as 13 is considered an auspicious figure in Tibet, and anyone completing 108 kora is believed to enter the stage of Buddha. However, it takes much longer for Tibetan to complete one pilgrim circuit as they have to kneel down every three steps! known as Kyangcha !

Kyangcha 

Some of them complete circuits performing kyangcha (prostration) every step and completing the Parikrama.It is said to be very tiring and tibetan believers do it as part of kora.

Gurla Mandhata 7,694m, is the highest peak of the Nalakankar Himal, a small subrange of the Himalaya. It is named after king Mandhata of suryavansha of Ikshvaku dynasty. It lies in Burang County of the Ngari Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, near the northwest corner of Nepal. It is the 34th highest peak in the world  It sits roughly across Lake Manasarowar from the sacred peak of Mount Kailash. The Tibetan name, Naimona'nyi, is said to come from naimo = "herbal medicine", na = "black", nyi = "heaped-up slabs", giving "the mountain of heaped-up slabs of black herbal medicine."

  1. Decide on When to Visit

The main piligrim season from May to August is highly recommended for a spiritual journey to Mount Kailash. An interesting time to visit this sacred mountain is during the Saga Dawa festival in June.

Tibet typically falls in the rain shadow area has a distinct rainy season and dry season, with its rainfall being very unbalanced. In spring and winter it is dry but windy.  Summer and fall is considered the raining season in Tibet; the rainfall during which time reaches 90 percent of all annual precipitation. Thunder and hailstorms can often occur in northern Tibet during the raining seasons, so do come prepared for the weather.

  1. Decide on duration of the trip

Try to spare at least two weeks for your Kailash trip – 

Most trips to Mount Kailash will start and end in Kathmandu / Lhasa in Tibet , although Kathmandu is certainly an good option. There are limited international flights in and of Lhasa so plan a few days to reach Lhasa if you are flying internationally to Tibet.

Once you arrive, it is then recommended to stay at least 2 days to help acclimatize to the high altitude.The kora usually takes 3 days, as it is 32 miles. 54 kms.The Parikrama begins from a place called Tarpoche and ends at enroute Derapuk , Dol ma la , Gauri Kund , Zuthulpuk and finally terminating at Darchen.

You can get to Mount Kailash by renting a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle like a Landcruiser. Currently there are Kathmandu Via Khirong and two routes from Lhasa to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar. One is the northern Ali route (1,094 miles), and the other is the southern Ali route (740 miles).Even you can opt for a chopper package with a short duration from Indian side.Check Summiters Adventures for more details.

The latter is recommended as it takes shorter time. Even though the paved roads of these routes are in good condition, it can still take you around 3 days to drive from Lhasa to Mount Kailash largely due to speed limits and winding routes.The route is scenic ,roads are well maintained and are in good condition.

This already puts us 6 days into our trip. On top of this, when you finish the trip you might need some time either to rest in Khatmandu / Lhasa or to explore other parts around the city, so plan for another 1 to 3 days here.

Adding up the days so far and adding a few extra for flexibility, a two-week trip is certainly most recommended as the minimum.

  1. Eligibility criteria , plan your trip 90 Days ahead and get your Tibet permits 15 days prior to trip.

Why do you need to plan a trip 90 days ahead?

Well, first of all, you need a valid passport minimum 6 months validity, age below 65 years ( Conditions apply ) to apply and get a valid Chinese visa first. When applying for your Chinese visa, you do not need to mention you are going to Tibet, as you will still need to apply for a Tibet Travel Permit separately.

Once you receive your visa, then a licensed travel agency  can help you apply for your Tibet Travel Permit and other required documents, including the Tibet Tourism Bureau Permit, the Alien Travel Permit, and the Military Permit.

  1. When Packing Your Bags Don’t Forget Warm Gear

Do not over-pack supplies for your trip ! Although there are guest houses and monasteries providing basic shelters for you, you will need warm down jackets,dome tents, warm gear to overcome cold while trekking in pilgrimage season of Mount Kailash, especially during the Saga Dawa festival when lodgings become scarce.

Ensure from your travel agency to take care of camping gear for you, so you can just enjoy your trip ! Summiters provides all camping supplies for you, including tents, sleeping bags, carry mats, and even horses or yaks to carry your supplies. They will give you a detailed must packing list according to the season and your travel preferences to ensure that nothing important is left over.

  1. Be Aware of Safety, Insurance , Health Issues, & Evacuation.

It is very safe to travel to Tibet, but it is suggested you consult your family doctor first, as a result of the high altitude you will be traveling across.

Be sure, get thorough health check done especially if your age is above of 50, or have a history of medical illness. Be sure to oxygen canisters, any prescription medicine with you, as many medicines can be hard to get in  remote regions ofTibet.

Watch out for high altitude mountain sickness- the highest point of Mount Kailash trekking is Drolma-la at 18,470 feet. Any phycical activity on the roof of the world might need more extra effort, so prepare for this challenge both mentally and physically in advance. There are several different medications that can be taken to help reduce the effects of High Altitude Sickness,know about the altitude and problems they pose. Dont rely on diamox, acclimatize naturally, follow climb high ; sleep low procedure !. Dont forget to Check with travel agent about insurance during trip.

Remember not to panic when you have high altitude sickness syndrome, it is common at high altitudes due to the thin oxygen levels. Dont conceal.!. Talk to your guide for immediate help. And do not rush your journey. Taking several days to adapt to the high altitude can help prevent getting sick.

  1. Plan Your Budget And Understand the Costs

On average a two week trip to Mount Kailash and lake Manasarovar will costs around $2,500 USD excluding personal expenses.

One of the main costs is the transport, permits The prices of Battery operated buses , Land cruisers fluctuate throughout the year depending upon the season, supply vs demand, total number of available vehicles and the number of travelers.

     May, June July and August  tend to be the most expensive months to rent a landcruiser.

Other components where expenses incur is , hotels, guide, permits, hiring yaks, evacuation during emergency and other miscellenous expenditure ; unforseen expenses can add up if you are not aware of it.

  1. Bring Your Favorite Snacks

Variety of food in this remote mountain region is reasonably limited. Some guest houses provide instant noodles and fried rice for customers. This means you may want to stock a pile of your own energy bars, snacks or other trekking food. This is not to say you will run out of food supply while trekking- but it’s a nice treat for yourself and your companions.

Tibet plateu is a haven for thousands of different species of birds, both in summer and winter.Please be careful not to leave any garbages in the holy mountain region, do not disturb the beauty of it,or feed them . Few species of birds such as Swan , Brahminy duck or Ruddy Shelduck, Bar headed geese and Brown headed gull visit the lake every year.

The region is home to few endemic mammals, in the green pastures commonly found species are namely kiangs, Himalayan Marmot , Brown Bear and fox  respectively.

                             Photos by : Vishwanath Radhakrishna

  1. Disconnect And Unplug – Get Closer to Your Soul

Internet connectivity in Mount Kailash regions is possible but not widely available, only a few of hotels are trying hard to provide internet services. Mobile signal from any service provider is also weak.

Excited you might be, but hold on until you get back to Khatmandu / Lhasa to share your experience with your friends and family. Mountaineous region of Tibet is said to be the closest place to reach your own heart and soul. Spend some precious time of your life, hold up your emotions and experience ultimate nirvana here.

  1. Pay Attention to Sleeping, Taboos and Beliefs

Lower your expectations in lodges ; basic facilities in this region is generally minimal and poor. Some guest houses and monasteries along the trekking route do provide basic accommodation for travelers – sometimes just a roof and bed  is all they have for you in the room.

There are also few Tibetan taboos that you need to be aware of like that a chorten, monastery cannot be entered without permission or when meeting a lama,or talk in loud tone, it is not appropriate to hug him or shake hands with him.

Last but not least.....!

Every mountain, lake, caves,rivers, and monastery in Tibet has its own significance. Make sure your tour guide shares you the facts of Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar and those monasteries along the kora.

Surrender yourself to almighty and find peace in what you are bestowed upon. Mount Kailash, trip is a  journey  to the centre of universe. Do and act as your heart says !

And don’t forget to explore other nook and corners of Nepal / Tibet – still pristine with natural scenic beauty and unique culture. It is truly  an everlasting experience, that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

"Knowing that I am different from the body, I need not neglect the body. It is a vehicle that I use to transact with the world. It is the temple which houses the Pure Self within."

                                                                      - Adi Shankara -