(12 nights 13 days)
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.
- Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu (1400m / 4600 ft)
Upon arrival in Kathmandu we are met at the airport and we transfer to our hotel. The afternoon is at leisure and we walk around Kathmandu maybe walk through Thamel and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city. In the evening, we meet for a trip briefing and then proceed for dinner. Overnight at a hotel in Kathmandu.
- Day 2: Sightseeing Tour around Kathmandu.
After breakfast, we leave for a sightseeing trip. We go the famous Pashupatinath Temple and Budhaneelkantha for a darshan. Evening at leisure as we prepare for the trip. Night stay in hotel.
- Day 3: Kathmandu – Nyalam via Zhangmu (3750 m / 12300 ft) - 7-8 hrs
The drive eastwards is pleasant passing through agricultural countryside and descending to Dolalghat. The trail follows the Bhote Kosi River and then heads towards Kodari on gravel roads and landslip areas. At Kodari, we complete Nepal immigration formalities and cross the friendship bridge on foot to meet representatives from Tibet. Then, we drive for 45 minutes through lush green hillsides and cascading waterfalls to Zhangmu town by land cruisers, where we complete Chinese immigration formalities and then continue our drive for another 2 hours through the lush green landscape to Nyalam. Check into the guesthouse. Note: All of Tibet is on Beijing time. Due to this, the Ngari region of Tibet, which is so far west of Beijing, is dark at 8 a.m. and there is sunlight until about 9 p.m!
- Day 4: Acclimatization day at Nyalam (3750 m / 12300 ft)
Rest day at Nyalam for acclimatization. After breakfast, we set out to the edge of the town to climb a small ridge for a fantastic view of the mountain range. Return to the lodge for lunch. Later, one can stroll through the town bazaar or visit the nearby monastery. Overnight at the Guest House.
- Day 5: Nyalam – Saga (4300 m / 14100 ft; 240 kms/ 4-5 hrs)
Drive from Nyalam to Saga via Laluna-La (pass) (5050 m / 16564 ft), Lake Paigu – Tso and the Tsang Po (Brahmaputra River). The terrain starts with a rough drive over land slide areas climbing gradually with increasing altitude to arrive at Laluna – La (pass) marked by prayer flags and cairns with skeletal yak heads with horns. You will be able to see Gaurishanker, Shishpangma and Langtang Himal peaks on this day. From here, leave the main trail to Lhasa and head west descending to the serene and beautiful Lake Paigu – Tso. Descend further to the crossing on the Tsang Po (Brahmaputra River). Cross the river then drive to the hustle and bustle of the Saga town. Overnight at Hotel / Camping.
- Day 6: Saga – Manasarovar (4500 m / 14300 ft; 450 kms/ 7-8 hrs)
This day is a long day we leave early morning from Manasarovar. After breakfast, drive via. Drive through the windswept territory passing many villages and camps of Yak herders with distance view of snow capped mountains. On this day the road is quite flat, hence the drive will be comfortable compared to other days. We shall have lunch en route. Thereafter drive to Hor Quo (4560 m). We continue driving crossing Mayum La pass (5200 m) and arrive at Hor Quo. Today is the day of lifetime, as we will have the first sight of Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. Stay in a guest house on the bank of Holy Mansarover Lake. Overnight at local guest house.
- Day 7: Rest & explore Lake Manasarovar
Rest day at Lake Manasarovar for acclimatization. We make the most of this and do short walks around giving our body a chance to get used to this altitude. This is especially important because if we intend to do the Parikrama then we will be walking higher. Dinner and overnight camp at Manasarovar.
- Day 8: Drive to Darchen (4620 m) - 1 hr
After breakfast, drive to Darchen (4620 m). Darchen is located beneath the majestic holy Mount Kailash, a small village with couple of guesthouses. During the auspicious pilgrimage time, this place will be flooded with Pilgrims with hundreds of tents all around. Darchen is the beginning and end point of the Kora. Overnight at guest house.
- Day 9: Drive to Sershong / Tarboche (13 km) and trek to Driraphuk (4860 m) 7 km/ 5 - 6 hrs.
After breakfast, drive approx. 13 Kms. to Sershong also known as Tarboche, the trek starting point of Kailash Parikrama. Tarboche is also referred as the outer "Asthapath". The first day of our Kora is a gradual walk with multitudes of other local pilgrims chanting and praying. The trail leads us to few ups and downs till we reach our camp/guest house at Driraphuk. From your guest-house you get excellent view of North Face of Mt. Kailash. Overnight at guesthouse.
- Day 10: Drira Phuk to Zutul Phuk (5150 m / 16890 ft; 22 km; 8-10 hrs)
After an early breakfast, we start trek from Drira phuk and cross the Lha Chu on a wooden bridge. If one continues to trek up the Lha Chu, one would reach the true source of the Indus. The Kora route takes 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 m / 17095 ft. Climb past piles of clothing at Shiva-tsal (5330 m / 17490 ft). As a part of their custom, 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 m passing the Dikpa Karnak, a 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 m / 18470 ft. 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. 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. Many more switchbacks and steep descents leads to the valley and then further descent for about an hour to arrive alongside the Lham Chhukhir at 5150 m / 16890 ft), the evening’s campsite on the banks of a river. Overnight in tents.
- Day 11: Zutulphuk to Darchen- Saga (2-3 hrs walk; drive of 7-8 hrs)
At Zutul-phuk Gompa (4790 m / 15710 ft), there is a cave in which the saint Milarepa is said to have meditated. It is said that he adjusted the height of this cave to make it more comfortable. His footprint still remains on the roof. Trek along the Jhong Chu (River) to a bridge, cross it before descending to 4610 m, the last prostration point (Chaksal Gang) from where we get good views of Manasarovar lake but no views of Mt. Kailash. We meet the vehicles here and carry onto back to Saga. Night stay in hotel in Saga.
- Day 12: Saga – Kathmandu- 9-12 hrs
We leave for Kathmandu very early in the morning. At Zhangmu border where we complete immigration formalities at the Chinese immigration office. After the clearance of border formalities we cross the Friendship Bridge, which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese – Nepalese border. We say goodbye to our Tibetan guide and driver, and walk up to Nepalese Immigration office in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese staff. We drive to Kathmandu and stay the night in hotel.
- Day 13: Fly out Post breakfast, transfer to airport to fly back.