Located to the west of Tibet, Mount Kailash is known as one of the world’s holiest mountains. Tourists visiting Tibet for two weeks or more often make time to take the trek to Mount Kailash.
Background on Mount Kailash
Trips to Mount Kailash are often referred to as pilgrimage treks because Buddhists and Hindus travel there as often as Tibetans do. Chinese and Western travelers also often visit. In general, the altitude when engaging in this trek is close to 5,000m, making it challenging even for those experienced at treks. Embarking on this trek affords participants an opportunity to see snow -capped peaks, beautiful, clear lakes, and spacious green valleys.
Arriving For The Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Trek
A Southern route and a Northern route provide two ways to arrive at the beginning of the trek, which is Lhasa. Those who take the Southern route find themselves traveling along the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway. This is the route most often taking by those making the trek to Mount Kailash. Along the route, trekkers are treated to the sights of the Himalaya and Gangdise Mountains as well as Yarlung Zangpo Valley.
It is not unusual for trekkers to come from Nepal to make the pilgrimage to Mount Kailash. Most arrive in Lhasa via airplane and drive or book a ride to the mountain. Tourists sometimes arrive for the trek by taking a tour bus to a rented car.
Embarking On The Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Trek
The trek to Mount Kailash often begins in the city of Darchen. After walking 4km, trekkers must climb the trail to a cairn 4730m away. When they arrive at the cairn, they will see prayer flags and will glimpse their first view of south Mount Kailash. From there they continue north along the trail to the Lha-chu, a barren valley. Trekkers then follow the water of the Lha-chu River until they arrive at the Dira-puk Monastery. Along the way trekkers will see several long prayer walls. The trail to Mount Kailash leads trekkers to a bridge that crosses the Lha-chu; this bridge is generally reached three hours after departing Darchen. Above the bridge lies the Chuku Monastery. Pilgrim season brings with it nomads that trekkers often enjoy stopping and talking to.
After departing from the Chuku bridge trekkers can choose to walk along the West bank or the East band of the river. Trekkers will find that both the West bank and the East bank are both routes in which it takes an additional three hours to arrive at the Dira-puk Monastery. The Eastern bank trail is the one that is regularly used during pilgrimages. Those that take the Western bank trail will come across several areas where they can pitch a tent and spend the night. The walk from the Chuku Monastery and the Dira-puk Monastery is a very scenic walk that many trek participants enjoy.
Before continuing the trek, some participants choose to make their way to the Kangkyam Glacier; found at the northern bottom of Mount Kailash. The average travel time to go to and from Kangkyam Glacier is two hours each way. When resuming the trek, the next step is to cross the Lha-chu Bridge once again and reach moraine. From there, trekkers can follow the East bank’s trail to Drolma-la.
After a two-hour walk from Drolma-la trekkers come across the Shiva-tsal. When pilgrims arrive there they enter the Lord of the Dead’s Relm and symbolically become dead. When the reach Drolma-la’s top they become born all over again. A thirty- minute walk past Shiva-tsal takes trekkers to the eastern portion of the trail to reach the trail’s highest point, Drolma la itself. The descent back to the bottom takes an hour.
Mount Kailash’s western side also has two routes along each side of the river. Those that take the Eastern route encounter a smaller area of marshy ground than those who take the Southern route. The Eastern route requires trekkers to cross the river via boulder hopping. Three hours past these routes trekkers encounter a camping area that many choose to stop at overnight. The camping area is located approximately a one-hour walk to the Dzutul-puk Monastery.
The final stage of the Mount Kailash Pilgrimage Trek requires trekkers to travel from the Dzutul-puk Monastery back to Darchen. The trail takes trekkers past a river into a canyon. During the final leg of the trek, participants have a distant view of Lake Raksas Tal.
Discover more trails in Amazing Hikes To Do Before You Die