Although it is little known in the western world, Mount Kailash is one of the most sacred spots on earth, and is a holy pilgrimage site for people of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Bon faiths. Pilgrims and tourists alike perform a seriously challenging kora – a walk circling a sacred site – around the base of Mount Kailash. This is no walk in the park – the Kailash kora is a 32 mile (52 km) trek that starts at 15,000ft (4600m) and includes an 18,372ft (5600m) pass! To visit, you will need to commit significant time and resources for the journey to what Tibetans call Kang Rinpoche — roughly meaning Precious Jewel of Snows — usually three or so weeks for an overland trip out of Lhasa. And you may want to do it sooner than later, as we are hearing that the Chinese government is actively working on tourist development plans for the area that will very likely change the traditional experience forever. (See an article by Tibetan writer Woser: Please Stop the ‘Development’ of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar for Profit.) . Since no independent travel is allowed to Tibet and you must work with a travel agency, you want to be sure to choose a Tibetan-owned agency, which hires Tibetan guides only. The simplest way to do this is ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent to plan a great trip for you that also supports the local Tibetan economy and culture. (Note to our Indian friends: Sorry, our agents cannot assist Indian nationals.)
Om mani padme hum is an ancient mantra that is related to the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara, and with therefore the Dalai Lama, who is considered to be an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara. Tibetans, who typically pronounce the mantra as “Om mani peme hung,” believe that Avalokiteshvara, who we call Chenrezig, has a very special connection with Tibetans as our protector. In Tibetan, we say, “Chenrezig po kang chen pay lha kyel,” which means: “Chenrezig is the Tibetans’ Buddha.” By practicing Chenrezig’s mantra, we believe that we can accumulate merit and purify our delusions. Many people recite the mantra thousands of times in a day as part of their daily prayer practice. We also print it on prayer flags that blow the prayer to the winds, carve it on stones, and insert papers printed with it inside holy statues and in prayer wheels. Almost all Tibetans recite the prayer, even though many of us don’t know the meaning.
Mount Kailash Pilgimage gallery