Pilgrimage is an effort to cleanse the soul and open the mind. Every year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. Hindus and Buddhists make the peregrination in a clockwise direction. Followers of Jainism and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counter clockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 miles) long.
Some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Kailash should be made in a single day. This is not easy. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek. Some of the devout do accomplish this feat, little daunted by the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions
faced in the process. Indeed, other pilgrims venture
into a much more demanding regimen, performing
body-length prostrations over the entire length of the
circumambulation: The pilgrim bends down, kneels,
prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers,
rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four days of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. A legend claims that many people who dared to defy the taboo have died in the process. Can this be another reason why the mountain is not climbed?
Following the Chinese army’s entering Tibet in 1950, and political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimages to Mt. Kailash were stopped from 1959 to 1980. Thereafter a limited number of Indian pilgrims have been allowed to visit the place, under the supervision of the Chinese and Indian governments either by a lengthy and hazardous trek over the Himalayan terrain, travelling by land from Kathmandu or from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Tibet and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan plateau (ranging 10,000 to 16,000 feet) by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving at Tarchen (4600 m).
Walking around the holy mountain (a part of its.
official park) has to be done on foot or pony; it.
takes three days of trekking starting from a .
height of around 15,000 ft to crossing the Dolma.
pass (19,000 ft) and encamping for two nights en route. First, near the meadow of Dirapuk Gompa—2 or 3 km before the pass and second, after crossing the pass and going downhill as far as possible (viewing Gauri Kund in the distance).