Mt Kailash, 6714m high, is also called Kang Rinpoche or ‘The precious Jewel of the Snow’. Four major religions revere this mountain. Hindus consider it as the abode of Lord Shiva. Buddhists consider it as the manifestation of Sakyamuni, the Buddha. For the Jainis, this is the place of their first saint Adinath’s emancipation. For Bons, the followers of pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, their founder saint Shenrab is said to have descended on its peak. Mt. Kailash also known as Mt. Meru, is referred to as the navel of the earth. Four great rivers flow within a radius of 50 kms in four different directions. To the South is the sapphire face from where flows the Karnali, from the West flows the Sutlej, from the gold face on the North flows the Indus and eastwards flows the Brahmaputra, locally known as Yarlang Sangpo.Mansarovar
Mansarovar is what remains of the Lake Tethys, considered the source of all creation. As the legend goes, Brahma created this lake for his meditation. Literally speaking it is manas+sarovar. ‘Manas’ refers to the mind of the God Brahma, the lake being its outward manifestation. The lake is at a height of 4560m with a circumference of 80 km, which can be trekked in about three days. It has a depth of 300 feet and covers an area of 320 sq kms. It is amongst the highest fresh water bodies in the world. It is believed that Sapta rishis come to bathe every morning in this lake between 3 to 5 am and this time is called 'Brahmamuhurta'. According to a legend, Queen Maya was given a bath by the Gods in its waters before she gave birth to Buddha. Holy also to Buddhists, it was once surrounded by 8 monasteries. Lake Manasarovar represents the female energy of Yoni of the Universe, while Mt. Kailash symbolizes the male energy of the Lingum.
To the west of Lake Manasarovar is Lake Rakshas Tal. It is connected to Lake Rakshas Tal by the Ganga Chhu channel. In Buddhism, Lake Manasarovar, which is round like the sun, and Lake Rakshas Tal, shaped as a crescent are respectively regarded as 'brightness' and 'darkness'. Rakshas Tal’s salty water, a stark contrast to the fresh water of Lake Manasarovar.
The importance of doing the yatra
The region of Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar is steeped in religion and mythology and every year hundreds of pilgrims traverse some of the remotest and toughest regions of the Himalayas to pay their obeisance to the Lord. It is a land where Lord Shiva lives with his consort Parvati. According to religious texts, the abode of creator Brahma is called Brahmaloka, the abode of Lord Vishnu is called Vaikuntha and the abode of Lord Shiva is called Kailash. Of the three, one can go bodily and return in this life having experienced divinity only from Kailash. It is believed that a single set of parikrama around Mount Kailash washes away sins of a lifetime while 108 parikramas will help achieve salvation or Nirvana. The parikrama or kora of Kailash is a three-day trek, 53 kms long and is performed in a clockwise direction. The Dolma pass is the highest point at 5630m. Gouri Kund (5608m), just ahead of the pass, is a group of five small kunds of different shapes containing emerald green water. It is also called the lake of compassion where Parvati bathed. The parikrama starts from Darchen and can be completed comfortably in three days. The locals do it in one long day! Hindus believe that Goddess Parvati has taken the form of the Manasarovar Lake and that deliverance is assured for people taking a bath in Manasarovar. Even drinking the waters of the lake frees a human being from sins committed in a hundred lives. It is believed that Parashuram's ashram too is situated on a hill on the banks of the Manasarovar.