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Located in the Ngari Region of Tibet, Mt. Kailash and Lake Mansarova are famous as Sacred Mountain and Holy Lake respectively. Both have often been chosen as a sacrificial center for Hindu, Buddhist, and Bonist pilgrims. Their spiritual aura and paradisiacal scenery also entice ordinary visitors.

Mt. Kailash
Kailash means 'Treasure or Saint of Snow Mountain' in Tibetan. The name originates from the year-round snow on its peak and its historical religious connections. The mountain is sometimes called 'Mother of Iceberg'. It appears to be gazing at another mountain, Namcha Barwa, or 'Father of Iceberg' in the far distance.

A small temple, Mt. Kailash
   
Mt. Kailash, Ngari, Tibet
                     Mt. Kailash Pictures

Mt. Kailash is the highest peak in the massive Gangdise mountain range with an altitude over 6,600 meters (21654 ft.). The peak is very pointed and looks like a pyramid piercing the sky. Seen from the south the vertical ice trough and horizontal rock formation combine as the Buddhist symbol Swastika '卐', which represents the eternal power of Buddha. More often that not, clouds will gather above the peak, so clear days are thought to be a blessing because local residents can get an unimpeded view.

Legend has it that a high lama named Milarepa competed with Naro Bonchung, the leader of Bon, for supernatural power. Milarepa was triumphant and thus the mountain came under the guidance of Buddhism. However, the mountain is also said to be the gathering place of masses of gods, among which are the highest gods of Hinduism. So it is no surprise that many pilgrims of different faiths visit here.

Walking around the mountain is a popular ceremony despite the length and difficult terrain. According to the sayings of Buddhism, one circle around the mountain can atone for all the sins committed throughout one's lifetime. Completing ten circles will prevent eternal damnation of hell tribulation in one's reincarnations of 500 years. Completing one hundred circles will make a person one with Buddha. While walking, Buddhists follow clockwise while Bonists proceed in a counter-clockwise direction. In the horse year when Sakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, is said to be born, worshippers get credit for thirteen circles for every one completed. Naturally, these years draw the largest number of visitors.

Tips: One circle around the mountain is 52 km (32.31 mi.) long and takes about three days. Because of the high altitude, weather changes frequently. Visitors should bring warm clothes, a tent and sleeping bag, a waterproof mattress or cushion, food items and common medicines. Camp stoves are permitted there.

Lake Manasarova (Lake Mapam Yumco)
It lies about 20 km (12.43 mi.) southeast of Mt. Kailash. It means 'Invincible Jade Lake' in Tibetan. The name originates from a story that Buddhism wins a victory against Bon in a religious match beside the lake. It is the same 'Jade Pool of Western Kingdom' described by the high monk Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in his Westward Diary.

Lake Manasarova, Ngari
   
Lake Mapam Yumco
                  Lake Manasarova Pictures

The altitude of the lake is about 4,588 meters (15,052.49 ft.), making it one of the highest fresh water lakes in the world. The water is very limpid and bright. The Hindu legend has that it is the amrita designed by the great god Brahma that can wash away all one's sins as well as any anxiety or improper thoughts. Many pilgrims bathe in it and take some water back as a gift to their relatives and friends.  The surrounding area is the point of origin for India's two most famous rivers, the Indus and the Ganges.

Walking around the lake also has ceremonial value for the Tibetan and always follows clockwise. There are many temples along the way, the two most notable being the Jiwu and the Chugu.

Tips: Walking around the lake one circle takes about 4 days, 90 km. (55.92 mi.) long in all. Wading in the cold steams along the way is a bit challenging.

Admission Fee: Mt. Kailash: CNY 150
Lake Manasarova: CNY 150

 Related Hiking Tour Itineraries Information:
Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar Tour: 10 days of Lhasa - Pangkog County - Nyima County - Dongcuo - Gegye County - Shiquanhe Town – Guge
Hiking to Lake Manasarovar: Pilgrimage of the Sacred Lake Manasarovar