Kailash Kora is very attractive to pilgrims, for pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. Every year, thousands of pilgrims throng to the mountain: not just Tibetans, but Hindus and Buddhists from India to Japan, joined by Western and Chinese travellers.
The Mount Kailash kora starts at the charm-free village of Darchen, winding past mani walls and skirting the base of the Kailash massif. To the left, the huge, treeless Barkha plain is dotted with white nomadic tents and herds of sheep and goats.
It's said that Kailash kora can bring good luck.
Everyone comes to Kailash to walk the world's best kora. The peregrination is made in a clockwise direction by Hindus and Buddhists. Followers of the Jain and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counterclockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 mi) long. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete this kora, which is a great challenge for the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions faced in the process. Following a tradition going back thousands of years, many Tibetans do the kora in a single day, while most foreigners take two to three days.
In fact, there is a greater challenge to accomplish this feat. Some pilgrims venture a much more demanding regimen, performing body-length prostrations over the entire length of the circumambulation. The pilgrim bends down, kneels, prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers, rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process.
Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are sacred mountain and lake in Tibet.
The prostrators will take three weeks to complete the circuit. Actually, it requires at least four weeks of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. It is claimed that many people who ventured to defy the taboo have died in the process.
Sharing the path with these pilgrims, often the simplest illiterate nomads who have saved for years to make the trip, is inspiring, whether or not you are a believer. You will meet a huge range of people here.
Though this journey is quite arduous, it is also full of surprises. At first, the beautiful south face of the mountain appears in front of you. Then, the trail passes the famous Tarboche Flagpole and enters the extraordinary glacial Lha Chu valley, a flat, gravelly bottom receding between vast, sculpted red towers, broken crags and huge scree slopes. By mid-afternoon, most trekkers will reach the Dira-Puk campsite at around 5,000m, where you can witness the soaring and resplendent north face of the Kailash.
The second day, you will trudge painfully through rough high valleys, past the Shiwa-tsal charnel ground, where pilgrims undergo a symbolic death, leaving an item of clothing (or hair, teeth or blood) to represent their renounced life, to the Drmla-la pass, festooned in prayer flags, at some 5,630m.
After that, the Kailash kora drops steeply past a turquoise sacred lake Manasarovar to a long, beautiful valley. For many hikers, it is a pleasant trudge in thickening air down to a campsite at the heavily grazed meadow of Zutul Puk, below a recently rebuilt monastery. You can walk out into the open plain and back to Darchen the following morning.