Trip of a lifetime with stunning scenery, most sacred peak of Asia Mount Kailash and cultural highlights
Mount Kailash, located in far west corner of Tibet is the most sacred peak of Asia. The beauty of the 6700-meter high Mount Kailash, that looks like a symmetrical cone shaped rock capped by pure crystalline ice all the time, is echoed in various mythological and literary works. Dominating the north of the Himalayan Barrier with its spectacular view, Mount Kailash is equally venerated as the holiest pilgrimage site by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bön-Pos. Tibetans regard this mountain as the manifestation of Mount Meru, “the navel of the earth” where founder of Bon religion, Tonpa Shenrab, is believed to have descended from heaven; Hindus as the abode of Lord Shiva; Buddhists as the abode of Samvara and Jains as a scared site where their prophet, Rishaba attained spiritual enlightenment. With its four sheer walls, distinctive snow-capped peak, and valleys interspersed with brightly-clad Tibetan pilgrims, Mount Kailash or Kang Rimpoche (‘precious snow-peak’, as known by the Tibetans) is an awe-inspiring sight. Four great rivers of Asia: the Karnali, the Indus, the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra (Tsangpo) originate from here. A three-day trek (Parikrama or Kora) around Mount Kailash over a 5630 meter Drolma La (pass), clockwise for Buddhists and Hindus, and anti-clockwise followers of the ancient Bon religion, is believed to erase the sins of a lifetime.
To complete the Kailash pilgrimage one should bath in the sacred Lake Manasarovar, stunningly set on the Tibetan plateau bordered by the majestic Gurla Mandata. On the journey to Mt. Kailash across the windswept Tibetan plateau, you will see cliff-top monasteries, wild-looking but hardy and hospitable Tibetans, yak caravans journeying over snowy passes, and the great peaks of the Himalaya with a foreground of grazing herds, yak skin tents and a glittering turquoise lake. Journeying through Norbulingka, Sera and Drepung monasteries, Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Barkhor markets, you gain in-depth understanding of Tibetan ancient cultures and civilizations. On this expertly guided overland tour on 4WD landcruiser, you get to explore colorful mosaic of Tibetan arts, crafts, history, culture, custom, tradition, lifestyle and cuisine and in the process attain profound spirituality. You become a witness to a host of indigenous cultures on your tour to Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and other significant en route cities. Further drive across the wide open spaces of the Tibetan Plateau brings you to Lake Manasarovar, before completing a kora around Mt Kailash. From there, you re-cross the vast arid plains before heading south to the Nepali border and returning to Kathmandu.
This is truly the trip of a lifetime with stunning scenery and cultural highlights. You can join this trip either in Lhasa or in Kathmandu. The tour starts with a comprehensive trip briefing in Kathmandu followed by a sensational trans Himalayan flight to Lhasa that passes over Mt. Everest and many highest peaks of the world (if you join the tour in Kathmandu). In case you wish to start the tour in Lhasa arriving from anywhere in mainland China or taking a new train from Beijing you will be briefed about the tour by your Tibetan Guide.
You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650m). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no fixed program arranged for today. .
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You will also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..
After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day you will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest. Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala palace every day, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide. .
This day is for you to spend as per your wish. Explore and soak in the sights and sounds of the old city, revisit your favorite monastery, go for souvenir hunting in the busy local market at Barkhor Square, or simply sit in a café and watch pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang. There is also the option of an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery. But this additional tour will incur an extra cost..
Moving along the Friendship Highway, you will drive past Khamba La, at 4794m, with a brief halt to savor majestic views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and Nazin Kang Sa, standing at 7252m. On turning westwards, you will come across another pass, Karo La at 5045m. If you look at the road, you can see huge glaciers tumbling down. After driving 261 km, beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages become visible as you enter the town of Gyantse..
Gyantse prides on Gyantse Dzong and Kumbum. Gyantse Dzong, a 14th century historical fort, overlooks the entire Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has a large gold-domed stupa and houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After exploring Gyantse, you take a 90 km drive and arrive at Shigatse (3900m), the second largest Tibetan city. Tashilhunpo Monastery, being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is the major attraction of Shigatse..
Today you continue along the Friendship Highway to Lhaste. 157 km drive finally concludes at a small dusty town of Lhaste. Good restaurants, well-resourced shops and guesthouses are available in Lhatse. This place may arouse special interest for archeologists. You can spot many ruined dzongs and small Changmoche Monastery at the west end of the town..
Heading away from Lhaste, the trail follows a route that brushes past Brahmaputra River. Further ahead, a river valley sprawls over and then traditional picturesque villages come into picture. This scenically rewarding drive provides plenty of opportunities for photography. Thereon, the trail winds towards northern route. On covering 295km, you reach an elevation of 4600 meters at Saga..
Traversing along the extraordinary landscape, this route penetrates the very essence of Manasarovar Lake. As you near this breathtaking sacred lake, historic Chiu Monastery becomes visible on the North West shore of the lake. From this vantage point, you can even glimpse at majestic Mount Kailash. This journey stimulates you spiritually..
Amidst the serenity of this sacred lake, you will do your holy rituals. After some peaceful hours at the shores of the sacred Lake Manasarovar with the snowy massif of Gurla Mandata (Memo Nani) towering at 7694m just across the lake, you drive along the jeep trail to the start of the kora at Darchen..
Early in the morning you will drive to Yama Dwar past verdant meadows and picturesque streams to Lha Chu Valley. The trail overlooks Turquoise River cascading over a narrow canyon with high steep cliffs. En route, north face of Kailash comes into vision. After reaching Yama Dwar, you will trek to Dira which has a 13th century monastery. Visiting this monastery can be one kind of an insightful experience gifted in your Mount Kailash tour..
Lha Chu Valley blurs as you turn towards Drolma Chu Valley. Looking forward to this amazing trip, you ascend to Drolma La (5630m), the highest point of the trip. But soon after sighting breathtaking view of Thukpe Dzingbu Lake, known as the Lake of Compassion at the summit, you realize that this tough and challenging ascent has indeed been very worthwhile and fruitful. Several prayer flags can be seen at the summit. Further on, the trail descends to the flat fields of Zutul-Puk which houses a monastery and several fascinating caves. The caves at this locale are most popular for meditation; Milarepa’s cave being one of them with Milarepa’s footprints and elbow prints believed to be imprinted all over this cave of mani stones..
Away from Zutul-Puk, you follow the trail through Bharkha plain leading to Darchen. It is an easy walk along some impressive gorges and around many mani stones and mani walls back to the Bharka Plains and dusty Darchen. The kora is finished – you have erased your sins, endured cold nights and mornings, crossed one of the highest passes in the world, met countless fellow pilgrims, sent prayers of peace out to the world. Shortly after arriving at Darchen you board the waiting vehicle for a drive to Dongba or Saga..
You will drive to the bordering town of Kerung. The trail further commands far-reaching views of enchanting mountains, as you leave behind arid Tibetan Plateau. After driving for about 6/7 hours, you find yourself in Kerung at 2450m meter. This is your last point in Tibet..
Today, you will part with your Tibetan guide and driver and cross Nepal-China border. Then after, you will meet your Nepali representative who will escort you to Kathmandu. It will take about 7/8 hours to reach Kathmandu (175km)..
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