16 Days Kailash Mansarovar Tour
Songtsan Travel is now one of only two Tibetan travel agencies licensed to take Indian tour groups on the Mt. Kailash pilgrimage. Starting in Kathmandu, Nepal, the 16-day Kailash journey takes pilgrims to the base of the mountain, provides a guide and yak team for the 3-day Kora, and includes visits to many other interesting cultural and religious holy sites, including Lake Manasarovar.
Interested agencies in India and Nepal are encouraged to work with us to arrange tours. The process is as follows:
Contact Songtsan Travel for itinerary and cost estimate
Book tour by sending a deposit
Send passport photocopies for all travelers
Songtsan travels apply for invitation letter and send it back to agency in Nepal.
Agency takes invitation letter to nearest Chinese embassy to apply for a group visa
Songtsan Travel applies for all special permits for foreigners
Group pays upon arrival
Day 1: Kathmandu (1300m.) arrival.
Pick up from the airport/Drive to Hotel, if time permits our guide will take you to Pashupatinath for Darshan during Arati time. Dinner
Day 2: Kathmandu
Morning: breakfast/ guided tour of Kathmandu holy sites including Pashupatinath , Boudanath and Soyambhunath. Back to hotel for lunch. Afternoon: final preparation for Yatra. Personal gear and equipment will be checked. If anyone needs o buy or rent any gear our staff can assist you in shopping at the various stores in Kathmandu.
Boudhanath Stupa is the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. The Stupa is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu.
Perched atop a hill on the western edge of the Kathmandu Valley, the ancient Swayambunath Stupa (known to tourists as the Monkey Temple) is Kathmandu’s most important Buddhist shrine. The sleepy, all-seeing Buddha eyes that stare out from the top have become the quintessential symbol of Nepal.
Day 3: Drive from Kathmandu to Nyalam (3700m) 175 Km /9 hrs.
Journey begins at 5:30 am. Breakfast in hotel, the road follows the river valleys of the Sunkosi and Bhotakosi rivers, passing through green mountains and cliffs. By the afternoon we get to the Tibetan boarder. Depending on the road conditions, we stay in Zhangmu. If road conditions permit, we will continue drive 30km to Nyalam. Over Night at Hotel/Guesthouse.
Day 4: Rest Day for acclimatization Over Night at Hotel/Guesthouse in Nyalam (3700m)
This day gives us a chance to relax and acclimatize to the high altitude. It is important to stay hydrated and extremely aware of your body's physical condition.
Day 5: Drive to Saga (4200m) 232km / 8 hrs.
Over Night at Hotel/Guesthouse / Camp .The road climbs up to the, La Lung (5124m) then drops down before heading western part of Tibet. Road to east goes to Lhasa, capital city of Tibet. The driving is difficult, but the stunning views of the Himalayas and in particular Shishabangma (8012m) more than make up for the rough travel. By late afternoon we will cross the Brahmaputra River and a quick drive will bring us to Saga.
Day 6: Drive to Paryang (4500m) 285 km / 8 hrs.
Over Night at Hotel/Guesthouse / Camp Our jeeps and trucks roll through the gigantic valleys following the various rivers through the grazing lands of yaks and sheep. The landscape is highlighted by snow capped peaks rising out of the distant sand dunes. Depending on the season, many Tibetan nomads and traders in traditional dress will inhabit this area.
Day 7: Drive to Lake Manasarovar (400m) 298km / 9 hrs.
Over Camp this is the longest driving day of the trip. By late afternoon the drive through the green pastures and huge valleys gives way to the first sighting of Mt Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. Lake Manasarovar is the highest freshwater lake in the world, located at the foot of Mount Kailash in Tibet. It is the holiest lake in Asia and an important pilgrimage destination for Hindus and Buddhists alike.
Myth & Mystery of Manasarovar Lake
According to Hindu tradition, Manasarovar was created by Brahma, god of creation, to provide an appropriate place for religious rituals. It is said that he had 12 sons, who were holy men and performed rituals and austerities on the dry land at the site. To give them a more suitable place to earn merit, Brahma created the beautiful Lake Mansarovar. The lake's Indian name derives from this legend: Brahma had a mind (manas) to create a lake (sarowar). For Hindus, a circumambulation of Mount Kailash and a dip in the cold waters of Lake Mansarovar removes the sins of all lifetimes, bringing salvation from reincarnation. Buddhists associate Manasarovar with Anotatta Lake, where the Buddha was mystically conceived. According to Buddhist legend, the Buddha's mother was transported here by the gods, where she bathed in the sacred waters of Manasarovar until her body was purified. She then saw a white elephant running to her from Mount Kailash, as the Buddha entered her womb.
History of Manasarovar: There were once eight Buddhist monasteries around the lake, symbolizing the Wheel of Life. Pilgrims circumambulated the lake, visiting each of the monasteries along the way, representing a turn of the wheel. Most of the monasteries have now disappeared (the most notable survivor being Chiu Gompa), but Buddhists still make the pilgrimage around the sacred lake.
What to See around Manasarovar Lake: Located at the southern base of Mount. Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is famed for its exceptional beauty. Its color changes from a clear blue around the shores to a deep emerald green in the center; it looks positively magical in the moonlight. The lake is 55 miles (88 km) in circumference, 330 feet (90m) deep, and 120 sq mi (320 sq km) in total area. The journey around the lake is 64 miles long and usually takes four days. Many travelers opt to pitch a tent by the lake for a couple days instead, recuperating from the strenuous journey around Mount Kailash.
Day 8: Drive to Darchen (4600m) 60km Over Night at Guesthouse
Lake Manasarovar (4500m) Lake Manasarovar is regarded as the most holy of all of Tibet’s many lakes. According to Hindu and Buddhist cosmology the four great rivers of the Indian sub-continent, the Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Ganges, and Indus all arise from the lake. It is said that Lord Vishnu floated in it for an eternity, dreaming, until the life force stirred, and out of the water's infinite potential sprang forth all of creation. This day offers a wonderful opportunity to see the great lake Manasarover with mt . Gurula Mandhata (7728m) on south and Holy Kailash on the north. After bath and Puja drive to Darchen via Chiu monastery and hot spring.
Myth & Mystery of Mount Kailash: According to Hindu mythology, Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Mount Kailash, it is regarded in many sects of Hinduism as Paradise, the ultimate destination of souls and the spiritual center of the world. According to a description in the Puranas, Mount Kailash's four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli; it is the pillar of the world; raises 84,000 leagues high; is the center of the world Mandala; and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. From it flow four rivers, which stretch to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions. This legendary mountain has long been identified with the striking peak in the Himalayas that now bears its name. Shiva is therefore believed to dwell at its summit. Some traditions say the mountain is Shiva's linga, while Lake Manasarovar is the yoni of his consort.
The importance of this holy mountain in Hinduism is reflected, among other places, at the famous ellora caves in India, where the largest and most important rock-carved temple is dedicated to Mount Kailash. Tibetan Buddhists believe that Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok (also known as Demchog or Chakrasamvara), who represents supreme bliss. They also say it was on this sacred mountain that Buddhism displaced Bön as the primary religion of Tibet.
According to legend, Milarepa, champion of Tantric Buddhism, arrived in Tibet to challenge Naro-Bonchung, representative of Bön. The two magicians engaged in a great sorcerous battle, but neither was able to gain a decisive advantage. Finally, it was agreed that whoever could reach the summit of Kailash first would be the victor. While Naro-Bonchung soared up the slope on a magic drum, Milarepa's followers were dumbfounded to see him sitting still and meditating. Yet when Naro-Bonchung was nearly at the top, Milarepa suddenly moved into action and overtook him by riding on the rays of the sun, thus winning the contest and bringing Buddhism to Tibet.
In Jainism, Kailash is known as Mount Ashtapada and is the site where the founder of their faith, Rishabhadeva, attained liberation from rebirth.
In Bön, the religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet, the mountain is believed to be the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.
Pilgrimage around Mt. Kailash
Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating (walking around) Mount Kailash will remove sins and bring good fortune. The pilgrimage around the sacred mountain is called the Kailash Kora. It is said that one trip around the sacred mountain will wipe away all the sins (bad karma) of one's current lifetime; 108 revolutions will remove the sins of all one's lifetimes and bring salvation from reincarnation (moksa). Alternatively, pilgrims who complete one circumbulation of Kailash and bathe in the frigid waters of Lake Manasarovar will also bring salvation. No pilgrims climb Mt. Kailash; all four religions believe it would be a serious act of sacrilege to set foot on its slopes. Legend has it that the only person to have reached the summit is the Buddhist champion Milarepa (who flew to the top in the 12th century) and that all others who have ventured to defy the taboo have died in the process.
The rugged path around Mount Kailash is 32 miles (52 km) long, following a blue mountain stream much of the way. Altitudes range from 15,000 feet at the start to 19,000 feet at the Dolma Pass. The circumambulation is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists but counterclockwise by followers of the Jain and Bön religions. A typical journey lasts about three days, but some try to earn extra merit by completing the entire walk in a single day. Braving the uneven terrain, high altitudes and variable weather, these hardy souls can complete the trek in about 15 hours.
Other pilgrims seek special merit by taking much longer to circle the holy mountain: instead of walking, they perform body-length prostrations for the entire 32 miles. 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 this way. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. Only those in the best health are able to undertake the journey even to the starting point of the circumambulation, let alone walk 52 km in a single day. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. Most pilgrims and trekkers take three days to complete the journey around Mount Kailash from the city of Darchen, aiming for Drirapuk Monastery on the first night, crossing Dolma La Pass and arriving at Zutrulpuk Monastery the second night, and finally returning to Darchen on the third day. Monastery accommodation is not always available, so travelers must carry tents and food. To help with the burden, yaks and porters can be hired in Darchen for about ¥100 per day. The path frequently crosses mountain streams, so waterproof boots or an extra pair of shoes is essential. Most pilgrims begin their journey overland from Kathmandu or lhasa. From there, they travel over the Tibetan plateau (ranging 10,000-16,000 feet in elevation) in a rented Jeep. It is a long journey with four night stops in camps, finally arriving at Darchen (elevation: 4600 m).
Day 9: Drive to Tarboche (5 km) trek to Dirapuk (4800m) Over Night at Camp
Our first day of trekking around Kailash begins at Tarpuche . As we make our way along the route we pass numerous chorten as well as the sky burial site of the 84 Mahasiddas We will also have wonderful views of cascading creeks, streaming waterfalls and the mighty west face of Kailash. We will pass the Chukku Gompa and 5 hrs later arrive at the Dirapuk Gompa where we will set up camp for the night. Total hiking for the day will be 15 km 7 hrs.
Day10: Trek to Zutulpuk Gompa (4790m) Over Night at Camp
The hardest but holiest day of the pilgrimage. We will cross through a rocky expanse dotted with stone cairns draped with the clothes offered by pilgrims as a spiritual sign of death. Gaurikunda is one of the holiest sites to view/ visit from the top. Further hiking brings us to the accent up to Dolma -La pass (5630m). After a nice break at the top of the pass we will head down the steep trail to our eventual campsite at Zutul-Puk Monastery (the cave of miracles where Milarepa meditated) Total hiking for the day will be 18 km 8 hrs
Day 11: Trek to Darchen and drive to Manasarovar Over Night at Camp
Trek to Tangsar Tangmar and drive to Manasarovar Hor a 3 hrs walk brings us to where the river emerges onto the Borkha plain. Our jeeps will be waiting to transport us to our camp at Lake Mansarovar.
Day 12: Drive to Paryang
Day 13: Drive to Saga
Day 14: Drive to Nyalam
Day 15: Drive to Kathmandu
Day 16: departure day Transportation to airport / Departure
All the best wishes for your continue happy journey.