A massive peak, more than 6,600 m(21,700 ft) high in the remote Gangdise Shan mountain range. Kailash is not only revered in the Shamanistic Bon religion of Tibet but equally among Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. It is believed to be the sacred centre of the world and, among Hindus, the home of Lord Shiva.
Pilgrims travel for days through the wilds of western Tibet to make a Kora (ritual circumambulation) of Mount Kailash in the hope of a better life. The more circuits that are completed, the more auspicious it is. Thirteen is considered especially lucky, while 108 rewards you with instant nirvana. Exceptionally devout believers prostrate their way around the circuit - flinging their entire body flat out on the ground with every step.
The 52-km (32-mi) circular walk starts and finishes at Darchen, a nondescript mud-brick village in a tranquil plain of grazing yaks. It is a mortal sin to set foot on the mountain itself. The pilgrim trail leads round the edge through green valleys and narrow gorges to the Drolma pass at 5,600 m (18,370 ft).
This is the high point of the Kora where celebrating pilgrims chant, prostrate themselves at stone Chortens (stupas) and tie their prayer flags, adding to the myriad of multicoloured tattered cloths torn into shreds by the howling wind. As you descend round the other side, the view of the striated north face of the mountain is dazzlingly perfect - alternate lines of black rock and shimmering ice, rising to an unsullied glistening cone of snow outlined by the deep blue of the Tibetan sky.
There is something extraordinarily uplifting about walking with pilgrims. The intensity of their faith creates an inspirational atmosphere and joyful spirit of shared endeavour as you make your personal Kora.
When to visit
October to November
Duration of the journey
Seven days - four days 4*4 journey from Lhasa and three days walking
- La Chu glacial valley
- Gori kund frozen lake
- Milarepa's Cave
- Lake Manasarovar
You should know
Be sure that you are acclimatized to the attitude before setting out, It is height rather than the terrain that makes the Kailash circuit a demanding walk. Apart from one or two steep rocky parts that require good shoes, it is fairly easy trekking.