Mount Kailash Kora | Tibet, 2006

t_3Distance:  32.3 miles (52 km)

Avg.Time: 2 or 3 days

Start / Finish:  Darchen

Season:  May – October

Maps / Info:

  • For all of my multi day walks in Tibet, I used the trekking notes and maps contained in the following two books:  Gary McCue’s Trekking in Tibet (1999) & the Tibet Lonely Planet guide. Both books provide a good overview of Mt. Kailash’s geographic, cultural and spiritual significance. In 2010, the 3rd edition of McCue’s excellent guide was published.

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  • Mt. Kailash is one of the world’s holiest places. For Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims, a Kora (a ritual circumambulation of a holy place, such as a monastery, shrine, mountain or lake) of the mountain represents the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. According to Hindu mythology Mt.Kailash is the home of Lord Shiva, the Destroyer or Transformer God of the Hindu Trinity.
  • Mt. Kailash stands some 6638 metres (21,778 ft.) high. Geographically speaking, it lies near the source of four of Asia’s greatest rivers: the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali.

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Route / Conditions :

  • It would be very difficult to get lost on this trek. Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims walk the kora in a clockwise direction. Adherents of the ancient Bon (which preceded Buddhism in Tibet) and Jain religions, walk in a counter-clockwise direction. Everyone seems to get on swimmingly.
  • Although route finding is not a problem, the Mt. Kailash kora is by no means a walk in the park. There is an often-snowbound 5630 m (18,471 ft) pass (Dromla la) to negotiate. The reward for reaching this high point is an unforgettable sea of prayer flags and magnificent views.
  • If you have the energy, I wholeheartedly recommend a side-trip up Gangjam Chu Valley, where you will be afforded stunning views of Gangjam glacier and Kailash’s north face.

Sleeping :

  • It may be possible to find accommodation in the monastery guesthouses. However, as these are often full it would be wise to carry a tent. There are a multitude of camping possibilities pretty much the entire way around the kora.

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  • During the height of Indian pilgrimage season, huge tents are also erected close to the monasteries to cater for the extra influx of pilgrims.

Overview :

  • This is one of my all time favourite hikes.
  • Mt. Kailash itself is one of the most striking mountains you are ever likely to see, and when combined with the atmosphere and spirit created by the visiting pilgrims, the Kailash kora arguably represents the ultimate “hiking fusion” of natural, cultural and spiritual elements.

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