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Kailash and Manasarovar tour from Kathmandu

Few foreigners travel to this remote western corner of Tibet. For most that do, there is only one destination in mind--Mount Kailash. From time immemorial this area has been sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and the followers of Bon, Tibet’s indigenous religion. Even today, pilgrims from all over the Himalayan region travel to Kailash to perform arduous Parikrama or Khora (circumambulating of the mountain), often prostrating themselves the entire way.

Ancient cosmography identifies Kailash with the mighty mountain Sumeru, the central peak of the world. To Buddhist, the “Father Mountain” represents the means to enlightenment; Lake Manasarovar, the “mother principle,” represents transcendental consciousness. Hindus consider Kailash to be the throne of Lord Shiva, one of the three principle gods of the Hindu pantheon, whose long, matted hair forms the holy Ganges River. As a Bon center it is the soul of the country and assures protection for all Tibetans.

Scenically, the area is outstanding. At 6,714 meters (22,022 ft.), Kailash is a glittering snow-crystal towering above the Tibetan Plateau like a beckoning jewel, visible from miles away. Manasarovar is famous as one of the highest lakes in the world. Four of the greatest rivers of South Asia- the Indus, Sutlej, Ganges and the Brahmaputra (the Yarlung-Tsangpo In Tibet)- originate from around Mt. Kailash.

Mount Kailash (6714m), Lake Manasarovar, and Rakas Tal (lake) are situated on the high plains of the western Tibetan plateau, between the mountain ranges of Gurla Mandhata in the southeast and the Kun Lun Mountains in the northwest. The situation of these mountain ranges, placing Kailash at their center, mimics the Buddhist mandala (representing the universe) and is not only religiously significant but is also scenically beautiful. Holy Mount Kailash (or Mount Sumeru) is considered the abode of the primary Hindu god Shiva. For Hindus a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash assures rebirth to Shiva’s paradise. For the Jains it is Mt. Ashtapada, from where their religious founder, Rishabanatha, achieved spiritual liberation. For Buddhists, Mt. Kailash is considered the power place of Shiva’s head Chakra and thus the manifestation of the illusory wheel of sensory emanation. Since Kailash is Mount Sumeru its summit is considered the heaven for higher level Gods, it is also the five Buddha's heaven.

For Hindus, Manasarovar is the Manas or the soul of Brahma. And also it is the place where Shiva and Parvati is take baths. In this way Manasarovar is considered the lake of Wisdom, the abode of compassionate or peaceful Gods and Goddesses. Therefore, Hindus often come here to make the circuit of more than 85 km around Manasarovar. Drinking its elixir water or bathing with it, one’s pollution of being born by womb will be purified, and one can derive wisdom. Unlike this, Rakas Tal is considered the lake of power and residence of wrathful or violent gods and Goddesses.

Holy Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are not only important for living beings, but for the dead spirits too. Since Kailash Mandala is Heaven, taking the spirits of the dead there is considered salvation for them. The reliquaries of high Buddhist Lamas, Sadhus, and their lay devotees are carried to Mt. Kailash. Relics, such as the hair and earrings of Shamans are compulsorily carried to Lake Manasarovar, for their salvation. In the same way, the Hindu people‘s death spirits are also taken to Manasarovar, especially those who have become harmful ghosts.

Why it is important to visit Pashupatinath and Kailash in one’s lifetime ?
Mount Kailash and Pashupatinath, in Nepal, are considered the residences of the Hindu God Shiva. Hindus recognize Shiva as the greatest Yogi, as well as Pashupati. Since Lord Shiva is considered the main god of Chodpa in Tibetan Buddhism and Kapalika in Shivaism, the cemetery (the place where a life ends, and gives space to a new one) is highly respected place of worship by mystics and Sadhus at both Mt. Kailash and Pashupatinath temple. It is said that the God Shiva is considered non- Aryan as the Tradition of worshiping the Shiva Lingam and Pashupati derived from the Dravidian culture of Sindhu. In Nepal, Hindu devotees consider Kailash the summer residence of the God Shiva, whereas Pashupati Shrine is his winter place. After the celebration of Shivaratri (His birthday), it is believed he moves to his summer place, bringing spring to Kathmandu.

Importance of Parikrama (Khora) circumstance and why in“2002”
According to legend one Khora around this holy Mountain cleans away the sins of a lifetime; 10 circuits cleans away the sins of one Kalpa (era) and 108 khoras secure Nirvana in this life. Making one circuit around the mountain in the Year of the Horse (2002), is equal to 13 circuits in any other year. It is considered the most auspicious year for the Kailash pilgrimage, because that was when it became a power place. After making 13 khoras one is allowed to make the inner circumambulation. In this way the more Khoras you make, the cleaner and more pure you become. As you become more pure, you are allowed closer to the core of Kailash and nearer to nirvana/heaven. This is why the paths of holy Mt. Kailash are an endless stream of pilgrims throughout the summer months.

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