Every year, thousands of tourists and devotees travel to carry out their ritual ceremony at Mount Kailash. If you are an avid traveller and a seeker of spirituality, you must have heard about this peak many a time. Meaning 'precious jewel of eternal snow', Mount Kailash is a place which is shrouded in mystery. Its history remains wrapped up in a number of legends.
A pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash is something that you should undertake at least once in a lifetime. It's truly a unique spiritual experience.
Mount Kailash (21,778 ft) is one of the most well-known peaks in the Kailash Range, located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. This peak is located from where mighty Asian rivers like the Indus, the Karnali, the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra originate. Lake Manasarovar also lies close to his mountain.
Mount Kailash has huge religious significance. It is held in high esteem by the followers of three major religions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
Hindus believe that Mt. Kailash or Mt. Kailasa is the site where Lord Shiva, the Destroyer of evil, abides. Lord Shiva is believed to sit at the zenith of this peak in a state of indefinite meditation. He is accompanied by his wife Parvati. According to Hindu traditions, Lord Shiva is the divine master of Tantra, a belief system which had its genesis in India. The religious significance of Mount Kailash has also been emphasized in the Vishnu Purana.
Followers of Jainism call Mount Kailash as Meru Parvat or Sumeru. According to Jain traditions, this is the place where the first Jain Tirthankar Rishabhadeva achieved nirvana.
Mount Kailash is also believed to be the place from where Buddhism originated and was established in Tibet. According to Tantric Buddhism, this is the place where the Buddha Demchok resides. The mountain has multiple sites where Tantric Budhism was practised.
The legend has it that Milarepa, a maven of Tantric Buddhism, came to Tibet to challenge Naro Bon Chung, a maven of the Bon religion. A formidable battle followed in which each of the magicians tried to gain an advantage over the other. But none of them could win the battle of sorcery. Ultimately, they agreed to a unique challenge that whoever reached the summit of Mount Kailash first would be declared the winner. Both Milarepa and Naro Bon Chung used their sorcery skills to become the victor. Naro Bon Chung used a magic drum to reach the top of the mountain. He had almost reached the zenith of the peak when Milarepa suddenly sprung into action and beat him by riding on the sun's rays.
Apart from Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, followers of the Bon religion of Tibet also hold Mount Kailash in high regard.
If you plan to have a unique spiritual experience, you can never say 'No' to a divine journey to Mount Kailash. For ages, pilgrims and travellers have been undertaking this arduous journey to seek blessings.
Followers of different religions travel to Mount Kailash on foot because it is believed to bring good fortune. The path along which devotees travel is both long (52 km) and challenging. Still, people come here in large numbers, year after year. Hindus and Buddhists walk around Mount Kailash in a clockwise direction, while those belonging to Jainism and Bon cover the circumference in an anti-clockwise direction.
Since the pilgrimage to Mount Kailash is a hard one, people may take multiple days to complete the ritual or parikrama. However, some pilgrims insist upon completing the Mount Kailash parikrama in one day. If someone is fit and healthy, they may cover the distance around the peak in at least 15 hours. But the uneven terrain and the harsh climatic conditions pose a big challenge for others. Different pilgrims also follow different regimens while performing parikrama at Mt. Kailash. Depending on the regimen a pilgrim follows, it may take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
For the convenience of pilgrims, limited modern amenities have been arranged around Mount Kailash. There are resting places where you can rest awhile, catch your breath and then restart the pilgrimage. Since the mountain Kailash is highly revered and believed to lead to heaven, pilgrims consider it blasphemous to put their feet on its slopes. Both the Indian and the Chinese governments have taken useful measures for the safety and comfort of devotees and travellers who wish to undertake the Mount Kailash Yatra. Foreign pilgrims can avail themselves of the guest houses available at the site to spend the nights. If you plan to walk around the mountain, you can do it either on your own or with the help of a pony or a yak.
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