The Kailash mountain range is undoubtedly one of the most sacred places of worship, not just for Hindus but for various other religions as well. Situated on an elevation of 6,657 metres above sea level and flanked by two high-altitude lakes on either side, this mountain is known as the holy abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This challenging yet immensely rewarding pilgrimage has been undertaken by Hindus, Tibetans, Jains, Bons, Buddhists and many others since time immemorial. As a part of the ritual, every pilgrim is expected to take a 53 km long Parikrama around the holy mountain home of Mahadev. Shrouded in equal parts of mystery and wonderment Mount Kailash is an iconic place of Shiva worship.
Significance of Kailash Mansarovar
Formed over 30 million years ago, the holy Kailash Parvati is the highest peak in the Kailash range of mountains. The significance of the mountain has often been referred to in the holy Hindu Puranas and Buddhist texts. It is said to be located in Uttarakuru, a semi-mythical and semi-historical region with heaven on top of it where the chief of devas, Lord Shiva resides. It is said that taking the 3 days long trek around the holy mountain will rid you of all your sins.
The 2 holy lakes of Rakshas Tal and Mansarovar are said to possess immense healing abilities. Taking a holy dip in Mansarovar is said to get rid of all bodily ailments for a lifetime. It is also believed to get rid of all sorts of diseases that anyone might be suffering. Completing the circuit around the mountain along with taking a dip in Mansarovar is a lifetime experience where every pilgrim gets blessed by the lord himself.
About Lake Mansarovar
Situated on the southern foot of Mount Kailash, the massive Lake of Mansarovar stretches up to 800 kms and goes 330 feet deep. Other than its religious importance, Lake Mansarovar is known for its exceptional natural beauty. The crystal clear water of the lake reflects the complete structure of the Kailash Parvat. Few holy monasteries pepper the shoreline of the lake with the most striking Gompa being the ancient Chiu Gompa Monastery. Pilgrims from all over the world make their way to the lake when the glacial water melts, allowing the believers to go for a holy dip. Anyone fortunate enough to bathe and drink the Mansarovar water is believed to be clear of all earthly sins for a lifetime.
According to Hindu mythology, Lake Mansarovar was created by the creator, Lord Brahma himself. He believed that this is the perfect and the most appropriate place for performing religious rituals. Him along with his 12 sons, who were also holy men, performed various austerities and purified the region. In Buddhist teachings, Mansarovar Lake is related to the Anotatta Lake.
Religious Importance of Kailash Mansarovar
The religious importance of Kailash Mansarovar can be traced to the holy religious scriptures of Hindus, Buddhists and other religions alike. Although every religion is different with their own set of beliefs, the importance of Kailash Mansarovar is consistent. Here is why Kailash Mansarovar is considered as one of the holiest places on earth:
For Hindus – It is said that completing the Kailash Parvat circuit and taking a dip in the Mansarovar Lake guarantees a place in heaven by washing away all the earthly sins for the remaining lifetime. Another instance mentioned in Mahabharat tells us that the Pandava brothers along with their wife trekked all the way to Kailash Parvat in an attempt to attain salvation. This was done since it is also referred to as the gateway to heaven or the Swarg Lok.
For Jains – The Mansarovar Lake has been mentioned as the place where the first Jain Tirthankara, Lord Rishabh Deva is said to have meditated and achieved his spiritual liberation. This makes it the birthplace of Jainism.
For Buddhism – Mount Kailash is referred as Meru Parvat in Buddhist texts and it is here that Lord Buddha was conceived. The birth mother of Buddha, Maya Devi, had made her way to Kailash Mansarovar and taken a dip in the holy lake, after which Lord Buddha is said to have been conceived. He then, later on, went to Kailash Mansarovar to perform intense meditation.
For Bons – As per the Bon religion, mount Kailash is known as Zhangzhung. The followers of this religion believe that the founder Tonpa Shenrab, had meditated and taken a holy dip in the lake Mansarovar during his first visit to Tibet.
For Sikhs – According to Sikhism, Kailash Mansarovar is the place where the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev, along with the first 10 Guru Devs are said to have performed intense meditation day in and day out.
Lesser Known Facts about Kailash Mansarovar
Being one of the most ancient mountain peaks in the world, there is still a lot to learn about this holy mighty abode of the lord. Many questions remain unanswered and facts are still riddled under a mysterious cloud. This makes Kailash Mansarovar even more mystical and full of wonderment.
Here are a few lesser-known facts about Kailash Mansarovar:
- Climbing is prohibited in Mount Kailash. Keeping in mind the religious significance of the mountain, the government has officially prohibited any sort of climbing activity. This is done in order to protect the religious sentiments of masses. Long back, a few British climbers attempted to scale the mountain but they had to turn back due to bad weather conditions. Some of the climbers even died a few years later and people believe that climbing this holy peak will offend the gods.
- It is considered as the axis of the universe, the centre or the pillar of the world, a place where the earth connects to heaven. Along with this it is also referred to as the energy centre of the earth.
- The two lakes present at the foot of Mount Kailash known as Mansarovar and Rakshas Tal are in the shape of yin and yang. While the Mansarovar Lake was originally created when the gods visualized it in their mind and then recreated it on Earth. On the other hand, Rakshas Tal or the ghost lake is said to have been the meditation point of Raavan who was an avid Shiva devotee.
- Many pilgrims are reported to have experienced a quicker ageing process. They said that their hair and nails grow at a quicker rate than when they are at their home in the plains. Hair and nails take about 2 weeks to grow but this process accelerates when in Kailash Mansarovar region.
- Other than being a holy mountain of worship for various religions, it is also a major source of 4 holy rivers across India. Through the west it marks the origin of the Ganga river, to the south flows the great Karnali, to the east flows Maa Brahmaputra and to the north flows river Indus.
- The 4 faced shape of the mountain is an unexplained mystery for many. It looks like a human-chiselled pyramid and unlike any other mountain in the world. Each side of the mountain has its own relevance and one of the sides is even made up of various precious and semi-precious stones. According to Hindu texts these four sides are made up of crystal, ruby, gold and lapis lazuli.
- The mystery of Gauri Kund or Parvati Sarovar is another point of interest for many explorers and religious people alike. It is said that it was here that Goddess Parvati had gotten back her son, Lord Ganesh. Splashing a little bit of the water from Gauri Kund is said to purify the soul. Goddess Parvati showers the believers from her blessings and relieves them from suffering.
- Om Parvat is another place that piques the interest of many. When the snow falls on top of Aum Parvat, a very prominent OM symbol formation can be seen. A visit to the Kailash Mansarovar peak remains incomplete if one doesn’t pay their respect at the OM Parvat. It is considered to be the god’s signature on the Himalayas.
No matter which religion one belongs to, the importance, significance and the wonder of Kailash Mansarovar goes beyond human perception.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Q1. When Is The Best Time To Go To Kailash Mansarovar?
Ans. The summer monsoon months from May to mid-October are considered to be the best time to visit.
Q2. What Is The Age Restriction For Going To Kailash Mansarovar Yatra?
Ans. The age restriction for Kailash Mansarovar remains between 12 to 70 years old.
Q3. What Are The Documents Required To Apply For Kailash Yatra?
Ans. The most important document is a valid passport. The passport should have a minimum validity of 6 months.
Q4. What Kind Of Fitness Level Is Expected To Complete The Kailash Yatra?
Ans. Good health conditions with a body mass index of below 27 are recommended for every Yatri. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider before booking your ticket since it will be a very high altitude cold desert expedition with bumpy dusty roads and cold weather conditions.
Q5. What Kind Of Currency Is Accepted In The Yatra?
Ans. Being situated in the Tibetan autonomous region, China, Yuan is accepted. However, other currencies like USD, euro and pound are also accepted. Money exchange centres are available in Kathmandu.