Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar Pilgrimage Tour (NTT-TI-003) | ITINERARY
Duration: 19 days
Max. Group Size: 10 Person
Min. Group Size: 2 Person
Max. Altitude: 5,668 M.
Seasons: February - May, September - November
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 difficult, often dangerous travel. The weather, always cold, can be unexpectedly treacherous and pilgrims must carry all the supplies they will need for the entire journey.
How long have people been coming to this sacred mountain? The answers are lost in antiquity, before the dawn of Hinduism, Jainism or Buddhism. The cosmologies and origin myths of each of these religions speak of Kailash as the mythical Mt. Meru, the Axis Mundi, the center and birth place of the entire world. The mountain was already legendary before the great Hindu epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were written. Indeed, Kailash is so deeply embedded in the myths of ancient Asia that it was perhaps a sacred place of another era, another civilization, now long gone and forgotten.
Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Like many of the Hindu gods, Shiva is a character of apparent contradictions. He at once the Lord of Yoga and therefore the ultimate renunciate ascetic, yet he is also the divine master of Tantra, the esoteric science that regards sexual union as the most perfect path to spiritual enlightenment. According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities, making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati, and smoking ganja, the sacred herb known in the west as marijuana, Hindus do not interpret Shiva's behaviors as contradictory however, but rather see in him a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. For a Hindu, to make the arduous pilgrimage to Kailash and have the darshan (divine view) of Shiva's abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion.
Fly from Delhi to Kathmandu.
On arrival at Kathmandu Airport,get passports stamped by the immigration) On arrival met and transferred to Hotel.
Pashupatinath visit and puja and trip preparation.
Free day in Kathmandu.
Havana wood, cow butter etc purchase incense etc. are to be purchased.
Kathmandu – Nyalam 3900m.
Early morning -0330 hors leave hotel. Drive towards Dhulikhel all the way to Kodari enroute have breakfast at Barahabise. Meet Tibetan staff and drive to Zhangmu custom and immigration and exchange Chinese money. Then high ountain drive to Nyalam.
Nyalam to Paiko Tso Lake 4300m.
Drive along the beautiful valley of the Bhotekoshi River and to the first high pass called Lalung La Pass. 5300m , great view. After a short rest for great Himalayan views of Jugal Himal and Xixapangma 8015m then leave Lhasa Road and follow the rough road enjying the great dreamlike scenery with vast lunar landscape on the right and Xixapangma range on the left. Ahead the great lake. We shall camp by the lake.
Paiko Tso to Saga River Bank Camp 4200m.
Drive through an exotic valley then a hauntingly beautiful vista will open . The cross country drive over the undulating country will take us to the bank of the sacred river - the Brahma Putra or Yarlung Tsangpo. We shall cross it by the ferry and drive through a military town of Saga to reach the campsite.
Saga Camp to Paryang River Camp.
We shall have breakfast and drive through a variety of wide valleys flanked by barren mountains. It is a lunar landscape where we shall see occasional herds of Yaks and sheep peacefully grazing on the desolate highland. We drive on a better road with milestone for a long time until we arrive at deserted town of Dzongba. We then drive through sandy area and our trucks may slow us down. The series of sand dunes, the darting wild rabbits and wild horses make us feel as though we were totally in a different planet. Late in the afternoon we drive over a vast valley with shining Himalayan range to the south and then reach to our camp called Paryang by the river bank.
Paryang to Mayomla Pass Base.
We drive to Mazomla Pass then to beautiful lake called Hanuma Lake and then when we arrive Barkha Plains the great vista opens. With Manasarovar Lake ahead and Mt Kailash rage. We then head to Darchen. In Darchen we shall stay in a Lodge.
Kailas Parikrama - Darchen to Damding Donkhang 4800m 6hours Walk.
We shall start early in the morning about 8 AM from the hotel walking over rocky plains westward with our yaks and camp and trek staff. The walk is very gradual and enjoy the views to the south particularly that of Rakas Tal and Manasarovar in the Barkha Plains. Gurla Mandata Himal dominates the skyline to the south east of Manasarovar. When we arrive at a prayer carn with flags , the magical summit of Kailas will appear - excellent view. We then descend to the Lha Chu Valley and turn north.We arrive at Darboche , a tall pole adorned with prayer flags at 4750 metres. The prayer flags are replaced annually during the Sakya Dewa festival on Buddha’s birthday, the full moon day during the Tibetan month of May/June. Nearby is Chorten-kang-Ni. It is considered an auspicious act to pass through the small archway formed by the two legs of this chorten. The trail continues across the plain to Shersong. An hour past Shersong is a bridge leading to Nyanri Gompa, perched high on the hillside above. All the monasteries on the Kailas circuit were destroyed during the cultural Revolution. Nyanri Gompa, also known as 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 origianl gompas. The normal pilgrims’ route stays on the east baknk of the Lha chu, but for better views of Kailas, and generally better campsites, cross the bridge and follow the west bank. The west-bank trail treks across scree slopes to a camp near Damding Donkhang, a grassy spot at 4890 metres that offers a good view of the west face of Kailas.
Damding Donkhang to Jarok Donkhang 5210m.
We cross the side streams Belung chu and Dunglung chu on rocks and log bridges as the north face of Kailas comes into view. On the opposite side of the Lha chu we can see a stone guesthouse and camp. Several groups of nomads tend herds of goats and yaks nearby. Pass their tents carefully; like most Tibetans they keep ferocious Tibet mastiff dogs. As we reach the gompa and Frugal guesthouse at Diraphuk you are rewarded with a fine view of the north face of Kailas. This is the first night stop for Indian pilgrims. The three lower hills in front of Kailas from this vantage point are Manjushree, Avalokitesvara and Vajrapani, representing wisdom, kindness and power. The Diraphuk gompa was built in 1985. We cross a bridge across the Lha Chu. If we were to trek up the valley of the Lha Chu we would eventually reach the true source of the Indus. The kora route now makes a diagonal climb onto a moraine, eventually meeting the trail from the east bank. The trail climbs more gently to a meadow full of fat marmots (phiya) at 5210 metres. This is a good camp that will make the pass-crossing easier than it would be if we camped at Diraphuk. It’s dangerous to camp higher because of acclimatisation 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.
Jarok Dongkang to Dromo La 5668m – Zhong Chu and tributary Confluence Camp.
We shall climb past piles of clothing at Shiva-tsal, elevation 5330 metres. 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 metres and beyond to a stone hut and camp. Just before the rest house is the Dikpa Karnak, the sin testinbg stone. It is said that those without sin can squeeze through the narrow hole between the two boulders, while a sinner, no matter how small, cannot pass through. Beware, it’s a very small space. The trail leads across a boulder field and climbs through large rocks to a tiny stream. It is considered auspicious to symbolically wash our past sins away with the holy water of this spring. We shall climb onto a ridge and continue gently on to he dolma La at 5630 metres. 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 must be the world’s largest collection pf prayer flags. If we meet Tibetan pilgrims here we shall probably be invited to join them for a picnic in celebration of completing the hardest part of the kora. Most Tibetans do the kora in one day, starting at four or five am, reaching the Dolma La between 10 and 11 am finishing about eight or nine pm. The trail down the west side of the pass is steep and rocky at first, then begins a sereies of switchbacks as it passes Gouri-kund, the lake of mercy, at 5450 metres. Devout Hindu pilgrims are supposed to break the ice and bathe in its waters. Many more switchbacks lead down to the valley and two tented guesthouses alongside the Lham-chhukhir at 5150 metres. A short rest for soft drinks, we resume our walk , staying on the left side and reach the campsite in about 30 minutes on the west bank of Lham -chhukhir.
River Camp to Darchan then to Manasarovar.
The walk along the east bank for some time then along the west bank all the way to Zuthulphuk. Nothing much of interest to stop here. Zutul means miracle and puk means cave. This gompa is named after a cave to make it more comfortable. His footprint still remains on the roof; we can enter the cave through the gompa. Here the river is known as the Zhong chu. Cross a log bridge over a side stream from Kailas, then contour up as the river descends towards the plain. Make a dramatic exit from the river valley onto the plain at the last prostration station (elevation 4610 metres). Rakshas Tal glistens in the distance as we pass mani walls decorated with carved yak skulls. A truck track meets the kora route here, so we could choose to finish the trek at this point. To complete the pilgrimage we should trek a further 1 hour to Darchan along the edge of the plain. We shall then drive to the sacred lake - Masarovar for the night.
Manasarovar – A day for HAVANA and dip in the sacred water.