There are numerous puja sites throughout India where the spiritually minded can travel to gather prana and take in the sites along the way. From over a thousand Shiva temples, the remnants of numerous Buddha Temples, Jain Temples and geographic locations, including lakes, rivers, and tributaries of the Ganges, mountain peaks and sacred forests, Mount Kailash stands out as one of the most beautiful and preeminent destinations for those seek the ‘navel of the Universe.”
The Hindus believe it is the home of Shiva, destroyer of illusion and suffering, and to the Jains it is where their first spiritual leader was blessed with an enlightened mind. Photo from Flickr
Located along the border hills on the far southwest side of India, and close to Tibet, it is the home of numerous deities. The Hindus believe it is the home of Shiva, destroyer of illusion and suffering, and to the Jains it is where their first spiritual leader was blessed with an enlightened mind. Kangri Rinpoche is the name it is bestowed with in the Buddhist culture, which can be translated as ‘precious one of the snows.’ Buddhists believe it is the home of the Buddha called Demchok, the being who represents supreme bliss. The famous Milarepa was said to reach the summit of this great mountain to claim the supremacy of an enlightened mind and sat upon its peaks in meditation. The Tibetans call it Tise, which means water of the peaks, and it has been given added significance as one of the six mountain ranges, which form the petals of the lotus as the ‘pillar of the world’.
With such a reputation, it is no wonder that thousands of Indians as well as spiritual seekers from around the world travel to it in pilgrimage every year. If they do not seek the elevated peaks (it is considered a sin to try to climb the mountain, though the stairways on Mount Kailash are thought to lead to heaven), they circumambulate the mountain believing that this act restores one’s karma and eliminates past ill-action. It is a trek of 32 miles (52 kilometers) and the elevation even at its foothills can cause even the most hearty mountain climber to endure altitude sickness. The terrain is uneven and is considered some of the most inhospitable terrain of the Himalayan Mountains. Still others will prostrate themselves around the entire 32 mile circumference, giving honor to Shiva, Buddha, Milarepa, and other spiritually realized beings who have added their ‘mojo’ to the mountain.
Walking around the mountain can only be done on foot, by yak or pony and most usually sleep the first two nights in a makeshift infrastructure or modest housing provided by locals or prepared by the pilgrims themselves who travel to the mountain. Mount Kailash has never been climbed, though several mountaineers have prospected it, perhaps due to its near perpendicular wall faces and death-defying weather.
You can trek to Mount Kailash from Tibet, Kathmandu, Ladakh in India, or several other locations. Some even say there is a secret trail from Uttaranchal (Darchula), an ancient trans-Himalayan trade route town located in the northern sate of India, in Pithoragarh disctrict. This city is not to be mistaken for a nearby Nepalese town (about 14 minutes by air) called Darchula. If you are trying to reach Mount Kailash from the Indian district, it is part of the Kailiash-Manasarovar pilgrimage that takes place often.
This adventure is one that tops many people’s bucket list. The highest peak of mount Kailash is over 22,000 feet. The Chinese government is trying to build a road along the sacred path of the mountain called simply, kora, so if you want to see this sacred heritage site before it is defiled, it would be good to go soon.
Other sites along this trek include incredible sites for meditation along waterfalls and fallen rocks, as well as the sacred cave of Zuthal Puk, or cave of miracles. It is here where Milarepa was said to perform countless spiritual acts. Mount Kailash is the threshold to Mount Everest and also has the 19,500-foot Dolma La Pass, named after a Tibetan Goddess with Gaurikund Pond reflecting some of the clearest mountain water imaginable. It is quite a climb, and runs about 3 to 4 miles, with a constant elevation increase, so you should be sure you are in excellent physical condition before you attempt this pass. Lake Manasarovar is also not to be missed, since it is at one of the highest elevations in the world, near 15,500 feet. Hindus believe the water in this lake purifies the body and mind.
No matter what you decide to do when traveling to Mount Kailash, it is certainly one of the holy grails of all spiritual sites in India. Many people believe that geographic sites are like energy vortices that can either uplift your physical and mental states or degenerate them. Yogis like Sri Auribindo believed that the earth had her own energetic field, which you can call the pranic plane, or the vital plane of the planet. A natural vortex such as Mount Kaliash and other specific geographic locations on the planet naturally attract energy, creating a whirlpool of positive prana.
Even if these geographic vortices start as thought forms (as Vedanta calls them, our vrittis) eventually the thought forms of numerous beings create a magnet for energy. In the case of Mount Kailash, numerous spiritual adepts have been known to offer their ‘thoughts’ to the energy of the mountain. It is not only an Indian idea that the planet responds to our thoughts and intentions, since geomancers and dowsers like Sir Lonegren have long-believed we could obtain a great energetic boost from certain topographic and geographic markers.
It is up to you to decide if Mount Kailash has a different energy than other places on the planet. Thousands of spiritual seekers annually are convinced it does.