Mount Kailash - The abode of Shiva
Mount Kailash is located in the Kailash mountain range of the Trans-Himalayas. For Hindus, Buddhists, Bonpos and Jains alike it is the most sacred mountain in the world, attracting thousands of pilgrims every year to circumnavigate the holy mountain by foot in the belief that it brings good fortune. In Buddhist and Hindu cosmology, Mount Kailash is the earthly manifestation of Mount Sumeru, which is the spiritual center of the universe. Mount Kailash holds significant power, as the very tip of the mountain is the central point of the cosmos’ rotation. In Sanskrit Kailas means luminous crystal. Hindus believe Mt.Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva. According to legend, the immortal Shiva is enthroned on the top of Kailash and the mountain is regarded as the location of exceptionally powerful transformation. Therefore a Hindu making the pilgrimage to Kailash and having a darshan (divine view) of Shiva's abode is to attain release from the clutches of ignorance and delusion.
Most of the Hindus who have been brought up in a relatively religious family, will hardly deny that they are unaware of Lord Shiva’s mythical abode “Kailash Parvat”. It was indeed quite astonishing to learn that this sacred shrine holds sanctified values for 4 distinct religions –Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon.- Tibetan Buddhists call it Kangri Rinpoche; 'Precious Snow Mountain'. Bon texts have many names: Water's Flower, Mountain of Sea Water, Nine Stacked Swastika Mountain.
According to legend, immortal Shiva lives atop Kailash where he spends his time practicing yogic austerities and making joyous love with his divine consort, Parvati. Its shape is like the pyramids in Egypt with four nearly symmetrical sides. Its glistening snow-covered top makes it the most eye-catching one.
Hindus do not interpret Shiva's behaviors as contradictory; rather see him as a deity who has wisely integrated the extremes of human nature and thus transcended attachment to any particular, and limited, way of being. In the Hindu and Buddhist tradition, pilgrims walk clockwise, while in the Bon tradition they move counterclockwise. One trip around the mountain wipes away all the sins in a pilgrim’s current lifetime. 108 revolutions will erase all the sins of innumerable lifetimes and reach salvation. At the foot of the mountain at about 15, 000 feet are two mysterious shaped lakes - Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshas Tal. Lake Manasarovar (one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world), is the sacred lake, and is round like the sun. The other lake Rakhas Tal (one of the highest salt-water lakes) is the devil’s lake and has the shape of the crescent moon. The two lakes represent solar and lunar forces, good and negative energies respectively. Pilgrims can also reach salvation with only one circuit if they submerge themselves into the freezing cold waters of Lake Mansarovar, located at the base of the mountain.The word 'manas' in Sanskrit means ‘mind’ or ‘consciousness’; thus the name Manosaravar means ‘lake of consciousness and enlightenment’ (it also signifies the spirit of Brahma). In the Tibetan language it is called Maphamyumtso. Considered to be the opposite in quality to Manasarovar is Rakshas Tal, the Lake of Demons or the dark side of being. To ensure a complete pilgrimage, Tibetans also visit the Thirthapury nearby, a sacred VajraYogini place.
Pilgrimage to this great sacred and magical scenery is the most precious of pilgrimages for both Tibetan and Indian people, a journey they hope to experience at least once in a lifetime.
Ideally the majority of the general population visit Kailash Mansarovar between the mid-May to mid-October as the climate conditions are flawless amid this timeframe. As the climate gets fundamentally faithful and relentless, the religious lovers that are there on their journey travel feel honored as the climate completely bolsters them on their salvation to Mt. Kailash. The entire day the temperatures stay sufficiently cool to make the outing beneficial yet amid the night the temperatures plunge down to solidifying icy.