Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Why Take a Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
In Buddhism, all beings are born to suffer and everyone has to suffer from six destinies (including heaven, people, animals, demon, ghost and hell) before the final liberation. Yatra, also called kora or circumambulation, is both a type of pilgrimage and meditative practice in the Tibetan Buddhism and Bon tradition. It is believed that Yatra can save people from the cycle among six destinies and lead a safe and happy life.
Mount Kailash, meaning the residence of the gods, is regarded as the center of the world by Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Bon and Jainism. Every year, there are different religious pilgrims from different places to have a Yatra around Mount Kailash. Honored as the mother of holy lakes, Lake Mansarovar is believed to purify the evil of people. Kora around Lake Mansarovar is also a great practice. With a short distance between this holy mountain and sacred lake, pilgrims always undertake a Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. According to the Buddhist doctrine, Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is helpful to wash off all the sins in one’s life.
Mount Kailash Yatra
Mount Kailash Trek at a Glance
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Route Map
Starting Yatra from Darchen
Prayer Flags on Drolma-la
Devoted Pilgrims Worshipped to Mount Kailash
A Close Sight of Mount Kailash
Beautiful Scenery of Lake Manasarovar
Pilgrim Circumanbulating around Lake Manasarovar
There are two circumambulating circuits for Mount Kailash Yatra – the outer circuit centering on Mount Kailash while the inner circuit focusesing on Mount Yinjietuo. The Buddhist legendary goes like that only the people who have finished thirteen rounds of the out circuit are qualified for an inner kora. However, in the year of horse according Tibetan calendar, one round Yatra is equal to thirteen rounds in the others years. Therefore, if you have Mount Kailash Yatra in the year of horse, you can undertake another in the inner circuit. The last year of horse is 2014 and the next year of horse is 2026.
Outer Mount Kailash Yatra
When we take about Mount Kailash Yatra, we always mean the outer kora. The outer circuit is long as 52km (or 49km without visiting monasteries). The Yatra starts from and ends at Darchen. The milestones include Dirapuk Monastery (elv. 4080m), Drolma-la (elv. 5630m) and Zutulpuk Monastery (elv. 4835m). Because the physical strength varies on different people, the pilgrims may spend one day, two days or three days on Mount Kailash Yatra.
One day’s route demands the strong energy and superior stamina. It is only suitable for the very experienced trekkers and local pilgrims with sturdy constitution. In order to complete the Yatra smoothly, you are recommended to start at 5:00am, get to Dirapuk Monastery at 12:00pm, to Drolma-la at 16:00pm, back to Darchen at 22:00pm. The whole Yatra takes about 15~18 hours. In Ngari, the day breaks at about 7:00am and it becomes dark at around 22:00.
Two days’ route, quite easier to finish, but still requires the good energy and sound body free from High Altitude Sickness. Starting from Darchen at 9:00 on day one, the pilgrims can take about 1 hour to get to the peak and enjoy the colorful prayer flags, and another 1 hour to get to the pagoda. Then trek along with the up-and-down road, and get to Dirapuk Monastery 3~4 hours later. On day two, climb to Droma-la from 8:00am to 12:00pm, and then go down to the camp where you can have lunch. Then take about 2~3 hours to get to Zutulpuk Monastery and another 3~4 hours back to Darchen.
Three days’ route are available for all people with good health. Pilgrims can get to Dirapuk Monastery and accommodate ther on Day 1, to Zutulpuk Monastery on Day 2 and return to Darchen on Day 3. Regardless of the religion, many tourists also take this route to have a lifetime long trekking. Check the detailed information at Kailash Mansarovar Trekking.
Inner Mount Kailash Yatra
The Inner Circuit is close to Mount Kailash and pilgrims can admire a more wonderful sight of the holy mountain. However, there are much fewer people undertaking inner Yatra. In addition to the Buddhist legendary, another reason is that the road is very steep and full of stone riprap. The weather is always changeable and pilgrims might encounter strong sunshine, heavily snow, hails and strong wind in a single day.
The inner kora is about 30-kilometer-long and one day is enough to complete it. Also starting from Darchen, go along with river countercurrent from the north side of Darchen and then turn left at the intersection. After you reach Selong Monastery, walk along the west of Mount Yinjietuo till the foot of Mount Kailash where you can see the big icy swastika on its south face. After your worship, trace down from the east face of Mount Yinjietuo and go back to Selong Monastery along the valley. Move east towards to the 5300-meter-high pass and reach Gyangdrak Monastery which is the first monastery in Kailash. After that, walk back to Darchen.
You’d better think twice before leaving for an inner circuit since trekking over the cliffs and passes to finish the inner circuit is never easy.
Lake Mansarovar Yatra
Lake Mansarovar is located 30km southeast to Mount Kailash, covering an area of over 400 square kilometers. The road around Lake Mansarovar is in much better condition than Mount Kailash. The Mansarovar Yatra is a lovely walk and you can enjoy the great lake view and wild nature. There are five monasteries around the lake, namely Chiu Monastery, Langbona Monastery, Seralung Monastery, Trugo Monastery and Gossul Monastery. There is no fixed starting point and terminal point of Mansarovar Yatra, but pilgrims usually start from Chiu Monastery. The circuit of Mansarovar Yatra reaches to nearly 90km and it takes four days to accomplish it usually.
Day 1: Chiu Monastery – Hor Qu, 6~8 hours
Starting from Chiu Monastery, you will walk clockwise about four hours to get to Langbona Monastery. Take a rest there and then walk another fours to Hor Qu. On your way to Hor Qu, you will cross a marsh land, and remember to keep a distance to the riverside. Hor Qu is one transportation hub in Ngari, and you can buy some daily necessities there.
Day 2: Hor Qu ~ Seralung Monastery, 3~5 hours
Leaving Hor Qu, you can enjoy the amazing wetland view again. There are a large number of water birds there. After you walk along with the wetland and go across a bridge, you will get to Serlung Monastery soon.
Day 3: Seralung Monastery ~ Trugo Monstery, 5~6 hours
On the third day, you need to walk about five hours or more along with the southern bank of Lake Mansarovar to Trugo Monastery. Trugo means Bathing Head literally for it is an important place for ritual bathing.
Day 4: Trupo Monastery ~ Chiu Monastery
You will finish the longest trekking distance to back to Chiu Monastery on the last day.
Tips for Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Make sure that you undertake the Yatra around the mountain or lake in a clockwise direction, unless you have a special affinity to the Bon faith, in which case you should walk in a counter-clockwise direction.
As one of the coldest areas in Tibet, Ngari has a low temperature. The first priority during your Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is keeping warm. In January, February, March, November and December, the rad is always covered by snows and you should avoid kora. Best Yatra time starts from April to October when the temperature is suitable. But the July and August are yearly rainy seasons with strong wind sometimes, and you’d better wear and pack accordingly.
Accommodation & Dining
There is very basic accommodation along your kora, including the guesthouses in monasteries and nomads’ tents. Don’t expect air condition, a private bathroom or a shower. A sleeping bag and nightclothes will be helpful. In the peak seasons, you may be unable to find a bed in the guesthouses. And in off seasons, some guesthouses along your Mansarovar will be closed and you need to camp by yourself. Food is also available but still simple and basic. You are suggested to buy some snacks in Lhasa and Shigatse.
For pilgrims who want to have a Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, there are several permits needed. Tibet Travel Permit is the most important one, and you can’t board the train of flight to Tibet without it. Then you need an Alient Travel Permit which allows you visit Ngari Prefecture. After that, you have to obtain Border Pass and Military Permit. All the permits can only applied by Travel Agency on behalf of travelers only. Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before your trip while the Alien Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit will only be checked when you are already in Tibet.
Packing and Wearing
Basic warm, comfortable and firm clothing are required for Kailash Mansarovar. Don’t forget to wear a pair of strong and waterproof shoes because you will kora along the bank of lake and the wet road. Under the premise that you pack all necessary articles for a Tibet travel, make your luggage as light as possible. It is available to hire a horse or yak to carry your luggage, which cost about 200CNY per day usually.
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