Mount Kailash is located in western Tibet. This is not the highest peak in the region, its height is “only” 6714 m. However, the uniqueness of Kailash lies in the fact that it is a holy place for four religions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Bon. Pilgrims come here to make a kora or ritual detour. The length of the path is 53 km. It is believed that even a single bypass eliminates all life’s sins. Since the mountain is surrounded by valleys, such a hike does not require special training or equipment. With measured walking with halts, the detour will take 2-4 days. There are very picturesque places and several monasteries around the mountain, so the slow progress is fully justified. You can get to Kailash from Lhasa by jeep in about a week.
According to Smber, 100 km west of Kailash, the ruins of the ancient cave city of Kyung Lung, the capital of Shang Zhung, an ancient state that once spread its influence over the entire territory of Tibet, have been preserved. In this place, the remains of the central Bon monastery have been preserved. It is believed that this religion originated here.
About a day’s drive from Kailash are the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Guge. The Kingdom of Guge was once known as a staging post at the crossroads of trade routes between India and Tibet.. Along the busy road were trade caravans and pilgrims following to Kailash. Today you can see what remains of the two Guge capitals – Tholing (Tholing) and Tsaparang (Tsaparang). Tholinga monastery complex was founded in the 10th century. and was once one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. The complex operated until 1966, when the Chinese army almost completely destroyed it. Today the monastery is partially restored. On its territory you can see the Mandala Chapel or the Golden Chapel, built in the form of a three-dimensional mandala, around which there are unique chortens-stupas, made in an Indian style uncharacteristic for Tibet. The walls of the dukang, the main assembly hall, are decorated with murals that preserved the Kashmiri and Nepalese style of the 13th-16th centuries.
Tsarapang ceased to exist in the 17th century. It attracts many visitors due to the surviving examples of early Buddhist art. The ancient ruins are located on the slope of the ridge and, in combination with the surrounding landscape, create a unique spectacle. The best preserved monastery is at the foot of the ridge. From the monastery, the path leads up to the caves that served as housing for the monks. The end point of the trail is the ruined palace, the ascent to which will be rewarded with a grandiose view from above. Dungkar is located in the Tsaparang region, a place where a cave city was discovered just a few years ago. The walls of the caves, located one above the other, keep the most ancient images of the Buddha in Western Tibet. Lake Manasarovar.
Lake Manasarovar is located near Kailash at an altitude of 4540 m and is the holiest lake in Tibet. The area of the lake is 400 km2. The water in it is an unusual turquoise color. According to legend, this water can cure all kinds of diseases, and if you wash yourself with it, worries and anxieties are washed away from people. Believers make a ritual detour around the lake (koru around Lake Manasarovar), which, as a rule, takes several days. The length of the path is 80 km. There are several hot springs in the vicinity of the lake. Cabins with bathrooms and a transparent ceiling are made for foreigners.
Across the ridge from Manasarovar is Lake Rakshas Tal. It is less popular with pilgrims, as it is named after a band of flesh-eating demons. In Hindu mythology, they are said to dwell in the waters of the lake. According to legend, the water of Rakshas Tala was poisonous until a golden fish made a passage from Manasarovar to let some holy water into the dark lake. The created channel is called the Ganga Chu, the Tibetans closely monitor the water level in it, they predict the fate of Tibet from it. For most of the twentieth century, the canal remained practically dry, only in the nineties the water again began to gradually flow between the two lakes.
Between the two lakes on the top of the mountain is the monastery of Chiu. The monastery offers stunning views of the surroundings. There is also a cave where Guru Rimpoche is believed to have meditated. In the monastery you can see his statue and footprint.
Lake Yamdrok-tso is located 50 km south of Lhasa at an altitude of 4488 m. It is one of the four most revered lakes in Tibet. The color of the water surface of Yamdrok is constantly changing, and you will never be able to see the lake “twice”. The shape of the lake is unique – numerous arms, curving between the slopes of the mountains, form islands and bays, making the shape of the entire lake look like a huge scorpion. Scattered across it are 9 islands, which in ancient times were inhabited by yogis who sought solitude from the bustle of the world.
Since Tibet is a region of high mountains, many of its parts are difficult to access. That is why some trips can only be done by jeep. Such tours provide a wonderful opportunity for travelers to visit monasteries and lakes located high in the mountains.