Kailash Mansarovar Yatra: A Complete Guide

The Kailash Mansarovar Trip is a holy experience and the most popular trekking destination in Tibet. Attracting thousands of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims every year, it revolves around the Mt. Kailash (6636m) and the sacred Lake Manasarovar. The trip includes a breathtaking view of Mt. Kailash along with other mountains in the Karakorum Range and Naga Parbat.

Besides, it has been referred to in the Holy Scriptures as the cosmic axis (the center of the world) and is a place where people cleanse their souls. The peaceful Lake Mansarovar is another specialty said to have been first created in the minds of God Brahma and later manifested on earth thus getting the name Maan (Mind) Sarovar (Lake).

Trip Highlights

  • Get to view the panoramic view of Mt. Kailash (6636m), Mt. Everest (8848m), Mt. Cho Oyu (8201m) and others
  • Visit the beautiful Lake Mansarovar and Rakshas Lake
  • Head to numerous monasteries like Dira Phug and Zuthrul Phug on the Kailash Manasarovar trips

Kailash Mansarovar Trip Route

There are numerous ways to reach and travel Lake Manasarovar and Mt. Kailash (6636m). In fact, all of these routes settle at Darchen which is the starting point for Mt. Kailash parikrama and other travel options. The following are some of the routes for the Kailash Manasarovar Trips.

Overland Route from Kathmandu

The Overland Route from Kathmandu passes from the Gyirong port over the border of India and China. The trip starts with a bus ride from Kathmandu to Sino-Nepal Border on Rasuwagadhi fort which will take you 2 days at most. The bus ride will take you to the Gyirong town from where you will travel 593 km to Darchen. You will stop on the way at Saga (4450m) and Paryang (4560m) to acclimatize. Along the way, you will also pass the holy lake of Mansarovar. Finally, you will reach Darchen which is the final destination on the trip.

Also, another alternative to this route is taking a flight to Lhasa which is at the height of 3656m. In fact, it is easier to get used to the higher altitude from this route. The famous Potala Palace along with the holy Jokhang Temple will greet you in Lhasa along with the Drepung and Sera Monasteries. From Lhasa, you will shortly reach Paryang where the route joins to that from Gyirong port to reach Mt. Kailash (6638m).

Simikot/Hilsa Route from Kathmandu

This route is the shortest trekking route for the Kailash Mansarovar Trip. Your trip starts with either a bus ride or a flight to Nepalgunj from Kathmandu, which lies in the western Terai plains in Nepal. From here you will drive further to Simikot. Your adventure on foot starts from the height of 2985m at Simikot.

From here, you will reach the Nara La Pass (4530m) which will eventually lead through the dry Tibetan plateaus. After a four days trek through the plateaus, you will reach the Hilsa border and will trek further to Shear which is the starting point for your Kailash Tour. You can enjoy sightseeing in the Garuda valley and reach Darchen from where the tour kicks off. You will be able to view Mt. Kailash (6636m) along with Lake Mansarovar as well. The trek takes a total of 20 days to complete.

Mt. Kailash via Lhasa

Another alternative for the Simikot/Hilsa Route from Kathmandu is taking a flight to Lhasa which is at the height of 3656m. The journey kicks off from a short plane ride from Kathmandu to Lhasa Gonggar International Airport in Lhasa. The famous Potala Palace along with the holy Jokhang Temple will greet you in Lhasa. Along with these, there are also the Drepung and Sera Monasteries which have huge cultural importance.

From Lhasa, the drive starts as you head west through highways which offer views of the Tibetan Plateau and Brahmaputra River. The drive first reaches Gyantse where you can visit the Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum stupa. Shigatse is your next destination which greets you with open arms.

You can visit the beautiful Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse and then continue your journey to reach Nagari town of Saga. Darchen, the starting point of the Kora can be reached by road from Saga. At Darchen, you can choose to explore the Manasarovar Lake and indulge in other activities.

Helicopter ride via Simikot

Another alternative to the overland trip from Kathmandu is you can also take a helicopter ride to reach the Sino-Nepal Border. It takes a total of 12 days to finish the tour from Kathmandu. If you are traveling from Nepalgunj then it will take only 10 days to complete.

The trip starts from a short flight to Simikot from Kathmandu where you will have to go through the immigration procedure. The road trip starts from Hilsa and you will then take a drive to Taklakot where you will spend your night to get used to the altitude. Finally, you will then take a drive to Darchen with a night’s stop in Purang to acclimatize. Darchen lies at the base of Mt. Kailash (6636m) and is the starting point of the Kailash Kora.

Mount Kailash Mansarovar Kora

Mount Kailash is known as the center of the world, it is the residence of god and a trip around Kailash is said to bring spiritual peace in people. Mansarovar, on the other hand, cleanses your soul of evil and sins. Kailash Mansarovar Kora is famous among the followers of Buddhism, Jain, and Hindu alike to gain spiritual peace. Kora is another name for Yatra, a mix between pilgrimage and meditative practices.

Likewise, these trips are also said to relieve the pilgrims from their mortal sins. All in all, the Kailash Mansarovar Kora is a trip to cleanse your soul and reach spiritual haven.

The Kailash Manasarovar Kora begins at Darchen which sits just a few kilometers northeast from the holy Lake Manasarovar. Pilgrims and travelers can easily reach Darchen from Manasarovar via a short drive or walk. Darchen is officially the starting point of the Kailash Kora and serves travelers with several lodging and dining services.

The Kora follows a clockwise route and passes numerous landmarks like Dira Phug Monastery (4080m), Dolma La (5660m), and Zuthrul Phug Monastery (4835m) on the way. The trip starts from Darchen from where you pass the Seralung Monastery to reach the base of Mt. Kailash. Marveling in the holy view you can then explore the Gyandrak Monastery (i.e. the first monastery in Kailash) as well.

The trail can be difficult and steep at times so, travelers must exercise caution and safety while performing Kora. Continuing ahead, the Kora heads towards Darpothe Sak Dawa Monastery which lies further north from the Seralung Monastery.

As the trip reaches the northernmost rote on the Kora, travelers arrive at the Dira Phug Monastery. The entire trail is made up of rough Himalayan landscapes to make way towards the monastery. From here, the trek heads southeast as the trail ascends gradually to the top of the Dolma La Pass (5660m).

The trail on this part also offers the opportunity to take a detour to Gauri Kunda and Ganesh Kunda. The top of the pass offers surreal views of the Mt. Kailash (6636m) and Naga Parbat range. As the Kora reaches its final section, the trail crosses the Zuthrul Phug Monastery and Gyandrag to return to Darchen.

Tips for Kailash Mansarovar Trip

Kora

Instead of just visiting the land to see the natural wonders, indulge rather in Kora and rejuvenate your spiritual energy while trekking along the trails of Kailash and Mansarovar. It is a good opportunity to learn about Tibetan culture and also to enjoy the pilgrimage along with the others. The majestic views of the surrounding Himalayas and the gleaming lakes are added benefits of Kora.

Best Time

The best time to indulge in the Kora is from September to November and March to May when the temperature is moderate and the roads are less slippery. During the winter season (December to February), the roads are dangerous to venture as they are mostly slippery and covered in snow. Similarly, monsoon season (June to August) should also be avoided since the rainfall can cause major issues for either trekking or touring.

Accommodation and Food

Most of your nights will be spent on guesthouses, monasteries, or small nomad tents. You will be given simple local foods with not much variety so you will have to take what you can get. Taking a sleeping bag and some snacks from the main cities can be beneficial in your trip.

Permits and Visa

The permits that you will need can only be applied by travel agencies on behalf of the travelers. TTP (Tibet Travel Permit) is the most important permit which allows you to enter Tibet. Likewise, all the travelers must procure a Tibet Group Visa via a travel agency before leaving for Tibet.

Clothing

Since you will be traveling to some of the coldest areas in Tibet, make sure you are wearing warm clothes to protect your body heat. Also, be sure to pack waterproof gears as you can never be too aware of the changing weather in the region. It is a must that the travelers remain warm and comfortable during the Kailash Manasarovar trips.

Conclusion

The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is a journey to find spiritual peace and revel in the beauty of the mesmerizing nature. While the trip is one of the holiest to the Buddhist and Hindu devotees, it offers surreal travel experience to all travel lovers. Experience the Tibetan culture and geographical beauty as you head to a destination that oozes beauty, thrill, and mystery.

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