Top 8 Kora Routes in Tibet
Tibet is a breeding ground of spirituality. The biggest evidence supporting the statement is the practice of Kora in Tibet. "Kora" is a Tibetan word which means "revolution". Literally, it suggests a clockwise movement by a person around something that is considered sacred or holy. The term can thus be applied to mean a type of pilgrimage in Tibetan regions.
Kora is a type of sacred pilgrimage for Tibetans
Cultural and Religious Significance of Kora
Tibetans believe that the practice of Kora will release them from all kinds of sins, misfortunes and evil attacks. It is as sacred as performing a meditation or chanting holy rhymes. The ritual of Kora is manifold. It can be performed by revolving around a sacred object, lake, mountain, monastery or even a sacred stone.
The ritual of kora is performed in various ways
Kora in Tibet can be performed by following the top 8 Kora routes in Tibet. Pilgrims often tread upon these holy cities or even prostate out of deep devotion. It includes an action of lying stretched on the ground, rising up and then doing the same.
Another very interesting form of Kora includes putting up flags in the mountain tops. These flags with mantras on it are put up by the pilgrims and it is a popular belief that as the flag flutters with wind, these mantras spread blessings in the region. Tibet is a land of beliefs and customs filled with positivity and an air of goodness and Kora is such an instance.
Kora Routes in Tibet
Kora is considered to be an essential aspect in the lives of the Tibetan folks. Many Tibetans indulge in daily practice of Kora. Tourists find this practice as an amazing experience and their trip often includes following a Kora route to have a glimpse of this age-old practice.
Typical hand-held prayer wheel used for kora
Buddhism and the atmosphere of spirituality are best felt in Lhasa. It is a place where some of the best Kora routes engulf the tourists and pilgrims with a mystic fascination. In Lhasa, the four Kora routes namely Nangkhor Kora, Barkhor Kora, Tsekhor Kora and Lingkhor Kora are the greatest Kora routes in Tibet.
Nangkhor Kora is considered to be the holiest Kora site in Tibet. Jokhang Temple is the only temple in which resides the 12 year old statue of Sakyamuni Buddha. The practice includes circling of the Buddha hall where the statue stood. Every day of the year, pilgrims crowd the Jokhang temple practicing Kora by circling round, spinning the wheels and praying their Tibetan Buddha.
Practice kora around Jokhang Temple
The Kora practice along Barkhor Street is another Kora circuit often visited by tourists and pilgrims. The famous Barkhor Kora route runs in the middle from Nangkhor Kora in Jokhang temple and the district of Lhasa. This Kora starts from the main gate of Jokhang temple and ends in the same. The Kora is practiced along the Barkhor Street. The pilgrims often prostrate back and forth as a way of devotion and worship. It seems that the ambience of holiness attracts tourists from all over the globe. Barkhor place is mainly a business oriented hub but equally true is the fact that Barkhor Kora is the most sacred Kora route preferred by the Tibetan pilgrim.
Kora practice along Barkhor business street
Potala Palace is another site of pilgrimage like Jokhang temple. So Tsekhor Kora is the revolution made by the pilgrims around this palace. Tsekhor Kora extends up to 2 to 3 km and the pilgrims cover this extension. This palace with its sacred visage stands as a magnificent Kora route for the tourists and pilgrims.
Kora around Potala Palace
Lingkhor Kora forms the outer boundary of Lhasa district with the longest route. The pilgrims take nearly 4 hours to complete one circle to finish the circuit. Locals often have to take rest in their on and on journey. While circling around Lingkhor Kora, the Tibetan pilgrims spin the hand wheel and chant Buddhist scriptures. This Kora route and the journey give the pilgrims an essential sense of solace and peace.
A Tibetan granny is spinning the hand wheel and chanting while practicing kora
Most Recommended Tour Itinerary: 4 Days Lhasa Must-See Small Group Tour
Apart from the core Lhasa area, Lhasa surrounding too includes some of the Kora routes. One of the famous ones is Namtso Kora."Namtso" in Tibetan means "a heavenly lake". Namtso Kora includes taking a walk around the lake. This lake is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. There are areas of trek near the lake and the tourists can take a walk through the rocky terrain. The pilgrims may take a holy bath in the lake and prostrate at a place where two rock towers stood like hands.
Well-known kora around Namtso Lake
Summer and autumn are the best time to observe Kora in Tibet. The cool weather accompanied with the sacred ambience of incense and prayer purge half of the human predicaments flocking there. The pilgrims can also come across several mysterious caves in this Kora route. Yangpachen Hot Springs offer the tourists a soothing bath along with a great view of Snow Mountains afar.
Most Recommended Tour Itinerary: 6 Days Lhasa and Lake Namtso Small Group Tour
Tashilunpo Monastery Kora
Tashilunpo Monastery situates at Shigatse district of Tibet. This Kora starts from the main entrance of the monastery, follows its wall and continues through an alley. The pilgrims pass through monks and reach a hill where there are rows of flags fluttering in the wind. The entire circumference of the monastery entangles the pilgrims with beautiful sight and views. The best time to observe this Kora is in the morning. From the Shigatse Dzong, one can have a sumptuous view of Shigatse city which is bewitching and enthralling.
Holy Tashilunpo Monastery kora
Most Recommended Tour Itinerary: 8 Days Lhasa to Everest Base Camp Small Group Tour
Mt. Kailash Kora
Mt. Kailash Kora has one of the most difficult routes for pilgrims. The route includes encompassing Mt. Kailash, sacred not only to Buddhism but also to Hinduism and Jainism. The Hindu lord, Shiva resides here according to Hindu mythology. Travellers from everywhere flock to have a view of this mountain and the world famous Lake Manasarovar. The Kailash kora Trek starts from the village Darchen through winding hilly roads, valleys, lakes, ice-laden mountains with an altitude of nearly 5000 m. It appears to be a true pilgrimage as the pilgrims have to follow an austere journey where their patience and resolution will be tested every hour of the day.
Following the kora route of Mount Kailash needs patience and resolution for pilgrims
Non-pilgrims often join the locals and pilgrims in this journey and share their beliefs and customs. It is often quite bewildering to think that some people save their entire life for one Kora trip. Mt Kailash is encircled by five monasteries which provide accommodations to visitors and pilgrims.
Non-pilgrims are also willing to join the Kailash kora trek
The best time to seek Mt Kailash Kora route is during May-October because during winters it is all snowy and perilous to trek. Mt Kailash is seen to be at the height of its beauty and spirituality around the 15th day of April. It is Saga Dawa Festival, an annual festival of Tibet. And it is the date of birth of Buddha Sakyamuni. Tourists and locals crowd near Mt Kailash at this time and this forms an important aspect of Mt Kailash Kora.
Most Recommended Tour Itinerary: 15 Days Tour Kailash in Saga Dawa Festival
Tangra Yumco Kora
Tangra Yumco Kora Lake is the biggest sacred lake according to Bon religion. It is situated in the Nagqu area, north of Tibet. There is a beautiful temple in a hanging cave near the lake. This lake is a breeding ground of spirituality and Buddhists believe in circling the path around the lake in a clockwise fashion whereas Bonists revolve in an anticlockwise fashion.
Tangra Yumco Kora Lake
Kora in Tibet includes all round human actions in which they move around, chant scriptures and pray. The top 8 Kora routes offer a wonderful pilgrimage experience to the tourists and pilgrims. The sacred sites around which people walk, can range from being as small as a stupa or as big as a mountain like Kailash or a lake like Tangra Yumco. Thus, Tibetan Koras are all about a religious trek, a holy circumambulation and spiritual poise.