Mount Kailash, situated in the enigmatic land of Tibet is considered immensely holy by the Tibetan people. As is the ritual, a distinct kora is performed around Mount Kailash. The kora refers to the act of showing respect to the holy aspects of the Tibetan lands by circumnavigating the aspect and chanting prayers.
Often prostrations are done to show utmost reverence. Thus Kailash kora of Tibet is the chief tourist attraction besides being a chief pilgrim attraction, owing to the fact that the Kailash kora includes a mind boggling experience and is considered to be the best experience of a life. Besides the pilgrims, many tourists and trekkers also join in the Kailash kora. It includes a distinct scenic beauty and an adventurous journey.
On the way to Kailash kora, you will come across many monasteries and other scenic charms of Tibet. Not only that, while you take part in the real kora from dawn to dusk, you are bound to feel the exquisite emotion of fulfillment and enlightenment. The mesmeric scenic charm which you are going to witness in your mount Kailash kora journey is bound to leave you speechless. The serene beauty of the holy mount Kailash, standing adjacent to the beautifully sacred lake Manasarovar, is definitely going to sweep you off your feet, once you indulge in the kora journey.
Five Monasteries in Kailash Kora
While you will indulge in the famous mount Kailash kora, you will witness some of the raw beauties of Tibetan nature. The different colours of the sky, the lush alpine scenery, and the snow clad peaks looming over you and the small lakes and their turquoise blue water will leave you mesmerized. However mount Kailash kora enriches you not only with scenic beauty. In your journey of Kailash kora, you will come across five exquisite monasteries on the way. These five monasteries are –
Choku monastery, also known as Choku Gompa, is located at an altitude of 4820m. it stands on the cliff on the western bank of Lha Chu river which has about 2 km distance from Tarpoche. Also known as Nyari monastery, this monastery was founded in thirteenth century by the Drigungpa. The main attractions inside the Choku monastery are the conch shell, teapots and the Choku statue.
It is said that the monastery hordes a statue of Buddha Opame, made of stone. However the pilgrims are more enticed by the silver embossed conch shell and the tea pots. Inside the monastery there is an enigmatic Thangka image of Choku Rinpoche, from where the monastery had obtained its name. This monastery falls in the way to the Kailash kora. The monastery has no entry fee and is open all the day round.
Drirapuk monastery, another famous monastery on the way to the famous Kailash kora is located at a high altitude of 4950m. The name Drirapuk in Tibetan language means ‘cave of female horn’ and the name finds relevance in the painting or the indentations of the ‘dri’s’ horn in the walls of it.
The monastery hordes a few murals, scriptures, historical relics and Buddha statues. But its real importance lies in the fact that it is the resting spot for the pilgrims on their way to Kailash trekking. It provides simple food and basic accommodations for the visitors. The monastery remains open for the entire day and there are no entry charges for it.
The famous Zutulpuk monastery stands at an elevation of 4790m. It is located at a distance of 11 kilometers from Tarchen which is considered to be the starting and the finishing point of the kora. The monastery itself as a religious site holds less significance.
It is more important for the fact that it acts as an accommodation for the pilgrims involved in the kora journey. Also the accommodation in the Zutulpuk monastery is better than that of Drirupuk monastery. The landscape is very beautiful and the place offers you a serene scenic charm.
Selung monastery is yet another monastery located on the way of Kailash kora. the monastery stands at an elevation of 5000m, which is indeed very high. The monastery is not that much important except for the fact that it is located in the inner circuit of the kora route. The place was built some seven hundred years ago, as the meditating place for the monks. Now much of the place has been demolished into ruins. The place till now remains as the place for the meditation of the pilgrims.
Gyangzha monastery is located even at a higher altitude than the Selung monastery. It is located at a height of 5075m. It is considered to be the first monastery, built as early as thirteenth century. Thus it is the oldest and the most significant monastery of the Kailash Inner kora route. The monastery features a very distinct architecture. Inside the monastery you might find murals and relics and also some significant statues.
Best Time for Kailash Kora
Mount Kailash being one of the highest mountains of Tibet, is situated at an altitude of almost 6638m. The kora route mainly passes through an average elevation of 5000m. Therefore it is absolutely comprehensible that the Kailash kora cannot be completed in the winter time. During winter, half of the paths remain closed owing to the heavy snowfall of Tibet. Also winter in Tibet is harsh and windy, therefore completing kora at such a high altitude is practically impossible.
The best time, therefore to complete the kora is between May to September. During this time, the weather remains extremely comfortable and comparatively warm. There might be occasional precipitations but the kora does not become unmanageable.
Where to Stay in Kailash Kora?
While you are involved in the Kailash kora, the five monasteries on the way, especially Drirapuk and Zutulpuk monasteries contain elaborate accommodation facilities. The accommodation might be basic, but the comfort level is high. They also provide the visitors with the basic food facilities.
However, in the journey, you definitely have to rely on camping. As in such high altitudes, the temperature changes are rapid; therefore it is better to carry waterproof and wind proof tents. You can camp beside lake Manasarovar. You can also get accommodation facilities in Gyangzha monastery and do camping in Selung monastery.
Packing for Kailash Trek
Though trekking Kailash is the most enjoying and beautiful experience of a Tibet tour, nonetheless it is very hard and tiring. A slight carelessness might even take a toll on life, let alone health. Therefore it is very important that you pack your materials for the trek properly, paying proper heed to everything. A detailed packing list can be –
• Taking enough warm clothes like woolen coats, woolen socks, gloves and scarves. Also woolen trousers are important.
• Choose a proper hiking shoe with lots of grip.
• However do also take cotton clothes and cotton socks.
• Take torches and a walking stick with you.
• Do positively take every type of medicines.
• Take lots of mineral water bottles and dry foods.
• Take windproof and waterproof clothes and flannels owing to the whimsical weather.
• Do try to take porter animals like Tibetan yaks and horses.
• Do take a well knowledgeable guard with you.
• Do take waterproof and wind proof tents with you.
• Keep some ingredients of food with you.
• Positively keep sunglasses and sunscreens with you.
• Keep all the documents like Tibet Travel permit and the Alien Travel permit with you.
Most Classic itinerary of Mount Kailash Trekking
Day 1-3 Lhasa Tour – Potala Palace, Johkang Temple, Barkhor Street, Drepung and Sera monastery
The whole trip begins at the arrival of Lhasa. Stay in Lhasa for few days and enjoy the famous tourist spots like Potala palace, Jokhang temple, Barkhor street, Drepung and Sera monastery. Acclimatize your body for these three days.
Day 4 Lhasa- Shigatse via Gyantse (360km)
After spending three days in Lhasa, visiting the famous Drepung monastery and the Sera monastery and other famous places, start your journey for Shigatse via Gyantse. The total distance covered will be about 360 km. On this route, you will come across some of the best scenic charms of Tibet namely Yamdrok tso lake, Mount Nyenchen Khangsar, Karola glacier and other such exotic places. In Gyantse, you can visit the famous Gyantse kumbum and the Gyantse palace. After resting in Gyantse for a while and reaching to Shigatse, take rest for the entire day. Stay overnight in Shigatse.
Day 5 Shigatse to EBC (350 km)
Next day, visit the famous Tashilhunpo monastery and soak in the authentic Tibetan religious charm. Then start your journey for Everest base camp. The total distance covered will be 350 Km. You will pass through the famous Tsola pass and the Gyatsola pass. After you reach Everest base camp, you can visit the famous Everest nature reserve to enjoy the panorama view of the entire place. Camp in the Everest base camp region.
Day 6 EBC–Saga (450km)
Next day, before beginning your journey to Saga, do not forget to experience the sunrise on the Mount Everest. The exquisite view of the golden hue on the snow clad mountain is definitely going to be the best experience of your life. Then start your journey to Saga. The total distance covered will be about 45o km. Stay in a guesthouse for the night.
Day 7 Saga to Darchen, via Lake Manasarover (450km)
Then the following day, start your journey from Saga to Darchen, via lake Manasarovar. The journey will include a distance of 450 km. On the way, you will witness the splendid view of Saga valley. You will also get to witness many local villages and pastures and meadows. You can also see Mount Naimonanyi specifically when you will be passing through the Mayomla Pass. Then finally you will arrive at the southern foot of Mount Kailash on crossing the sacred lake Manasarovar. Try to settle in a local guesthouse for the night.
Day 8 Darchen-Drirapuk (driving 7km, Trek 13km)
The next day, the real kora will start. First you have to reach Drirapuk monastery from darchen. On the way, you will come across the famous Sarshung village and witness the yaks feeding on the meadows. From Sarshung your trek will finally begin. The trekking distance will be some 13km to Drirapuk monastery, via the Lachu valley. Stay in the monastery or some local guesthouse for the night.
Day 9 Drirapuk-Dzutrpuk (Trek 18km)
Next day the trek will comprise of a journey of 18km from Drirapuk to Zutulpuk. On the way you will pass through the famous Dromala pass. The route is the highest of all the other kora routes. You will also see the beautiful Kadoe lake and witness the prostration of the pilgrims. Stay in local guesthouse.
Day 10 Dzutripuk-Darchen (Trek 7km, driving 5km)
On the day three of the kora,you will trek 7km to Zongto where you can take bus to Darchen. Along the Kora, you can see piles of Mani Stones. We will end the Trek around noon and rest in the lodging place.
Day 11-15 Darchen-Lhasa (450km)
Travel back to Lhasa and tour ends.