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, the Mount Kailash (or Mt. Kailas) is equally venerated as the holiest pilgrimage site by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bön-Po. 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 said 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 Nepalese 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.
There is the option of arriving in Lhasa, you can join the trip in Kathmandu and fly to Lhasa or arrive Lhasa from Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or any Chinese Cities or take newly launched train to Lhasa. (Please see option detail on ‘general information’ section) On arrival at Gonggar Airport in Lhasa, you will be met by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities take a 1.5-hour drive along 93 km road leading to Lhasa lying at an altitude of 3660 meters. It’s advisable to rest and take it easy for the remainder of the day due to Lhasa’s altitude. .
Foremost, your tour begins with a visit to SERA MONASTERY. An experienced tour guide also working as an interpreter escorts you to this preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Equally adventurous and exciting tempo builds up while touring NORBULINGKA, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. JOKHANG TEMPLE is another important sacred site which unravels more deep seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. Visit to BARKHOR MARKETS can be quite a change from other visits as you roam around the city savoring every tiny detail from stall hawkers coaxing their clients to purchase their goods to exhibition of Tibetan culture, custom and tradition. Eventually, the tour for the day concludes as you return to the comforts of your hotel..
Like the previous day, you experience invaluable insights during your visits to POTALA PALACE and DREPUNG MONASTERY. This 17th century POTALA PALACE offers an awesome view of entire city and also has private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Ancient history has it that Drepung Monastery which was built in 14th century used to shelter around 10,000 monks but as now there has been quite a declination resulting in only few hundreds. Tibetans’ respect and belief are immensely knotted with this monastery. .
You get an entire day free for acclimatization. After proper rest, you can either indulge in sightseeing, shop or do whatever you fancy. You also get an option of undertaking an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery. But this will incur extra costs. .
Following Friendship Highway, you drive past Khamba La at 4794 meter with a brief halt to savor majestic views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and Nazin Kang Sa standing proud at 7252m. On turning westwards, you come across another Karo La pass at 5045m. If you glance at the road, you can see huge glaciers tumbling down into the road. After hours of driving for 261 km, beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages become visible as you enter the town of Gyantse..
Gyantse prides on GYANTSE DZONG and KUMBUM. Gyantse Dzong is a historical fort built in the 14th century and overlooks a mesmerizing view of entire Gyantse and surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has large gold-domed stupa and houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After you enjoy exploring Gyantse, you will take a 90 km drive to Shigatse. Having driven to an altitude of 3900 meter, you find yourself at Shigatse, second largest city of Tibet. TASHILHUNPO MONASTERY being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is a 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 in archeologists. You can spot many ruined dzongs and small Changmoche Monastry at the west end of the town. You meet your Sherpa cooking team from Nepal here, they cook and do camping chores from this point onwards. .
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 wends towards northern route. On covering 295km, you reach an elevation of 4600 meters. Shortly after finding a right campsite in Saga, you rest the trip as the night approaches. .
Taking another 255km drive from Saga to Paryang, you weave your way through small dusty town of Zhongba amidst enchanting panoramic views. Overnighting in Paryang at a fabulous campsite with high expectation of forthcoming Mount Kailash tour and trek, you bask in the most amazing travel experience. .
Prior to Mount Kailash tour and trek you have to transverse along 270 km distance from Paryang to Manasarovar. This route penetrates the very essence of Manasarovar Lake amid extraordinary landscape. 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. .
Free day in Manasarovar to relax and explore in details the area. .
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 Tarboche. Tarboche is marked by a tall flagpole adorned with thousands of multi-colored prayer flags and kata scarves strung out in radiating lines from the pole. You stay camp overnight here to begin 53km Kailash Kora (loop trek) .
Early in the morning you meet your team of yaks and Tibetan yak drivers who will escort you around the kora. Further ahead from Tarboche, you have to trek 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. The trail will approach 13th century monastery of Dira-Puk. Visiting this monastery can be one kind of an insightful experience gifted in your Mount Kailash tour and trek. Eventually, you will conclude the trek of the day by camping at Dira-Puk..
Lha Chu Valley blurs as you turn towards Drolma Chu Valley. Looking forward to the amazing Mount Kailash tour and trek, 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. Camping at Zutul-Puk for the night can be quite exciting, adventurous and pleasurable. .
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 short drive to Chiu Gompa on the shores of Manasarovar..
After Mount Kailash tour you take a 300 km drive crossing Mayum-la and several rivers. The scenery along this section is some of the most beautiful of the entire journey, and a distant storm drifting in back of Tibetans, horses & sheep is a surreal sight. .
You continue driving for another 255km to Saga passing through dusty town of Zhongba and a few smaller passes. .
Crossing Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River) by a ferry, you continue driving 250 km to Nyalam. Soon after leaving Saga the road opens into a wide flat plain and passes through huge turquoise lake, the Peiku-Tso with spectacular view of Shishapangma (8027m) as the backdrop. Further drive across Lalung La (5200m) through a perfect blend of breathtaking views, alpine meadow trails, picturesque hamlets and an abundance of wildflowers finally brings you to Nyalam at 3750 meter. .
From Nyalam, you drive down to the border town of Zhangmu. From Zhangmu, it’s a short drive to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border where you part with your Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where you will be met by your Nepalese staff. After completing the re-entry formalities you continue the drive to Kathmandu which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about 5-6 hours. .
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