Tibet Travel Coop, a Tibetan-run organization promoted to sustainable and responsible tourism, announces a 16-day journey to Holy Mount Kailash as part of their “spiritual journeys” initiative. Kailash is considered the holiest mountain in Asia, and is held sacred in the traditions of Bon, Hinduism, and Jainism. Pilgrims travel thousands of miles on foot to circumambulate the mountain and gain spiritual merit. Because of its beautiful, remote location, Kailash is also a premiere trekking and adventure destination.
The Holy Kailash tour is one of Tibet Travel Coop’s journeys created for travelers who are interested in Tibetan religious practice and personal spiritual discovery. “Spiritual journeys offer an experience full of inner awakenings,” The organization explained. “They trace the footsteps of Tibetan pilgrims, who often spend six months to a year on the road as they journey to Tibet’s most sacred places.”
The tour begins in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, the religious and commercial center of Tibetan life. Before setting off on the overland journey, travelers will visit the ancient monasteries of Sera and Drepung, explore the iconic 13-story Potala Palace, see the ancient relics of the Jokhang temple, and shop for Tibetan arts and crafts in the traditional Barkhor market.
After a few days exploring Lhasa, travelers will set off on a four-wheel drive expedition through southwest Tibet. Over the course of four days the travelers will pass through the towns of Gyantse, Lhatse, and Shigatse, visit holy sites, chortas and ancient temples, ascend a 5100-meter mountain pass and view high-altitude holy lakes and glaciers.
As the road goes deeper into the remote corners of the plateau, travelers will get to see small mountain villages and the scattered black yak-hair tents of the drokpa, the nomadic herders. After crossing the Mayun-La Pass, the tour arrives at Lake Manasarovar, the most famous holy lake of Tibet. After several days of exploration and a night spent at the lakeside monastery, travelers will embark for the Mt. Kailash kora (circumambulation) trek.
Kailash’s distinctive four-sided summit stands stark against the Gangdise mountain range, also called the Trans-himalya. This area is the source of four of the longest rivers in Asia, the Indus, the Sutlej (a tributary of the Indus), the Karnali (a tributary of the Ganges), and the Brahmaputra (called the Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibetan). The remote, pristine location, along with these singular geographic features makes it easy to understand why Tibetan Buddhists believe Kailash to be the center of the world.
Mt. Kailash is 6,714 meters high, and due to its important religious status, has never been climbed. To Buddhist believers, it is the abode of Demchok, the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Sakyamuni. Zealous pilgrims walk kora around the mountain in one day, but most tours take three days to accommodate sight-seeing and a challenging but not grueling pace. Along the way travelers will visit monasteries and sacred caves, and learn the legends of Tibetan history. Time is set aside for meditation and spiritual practice, and to contemplate the beauty and mystery of this unique place.
Tibet Travel Coop is a collection of Tibetan-owned agencies, tour guides, cooks, drivers and other travel personnel. The organization focuses on sustainable practice, responsible tourism, and keeping local business in the hands of Tibetans. This new tour continues the organization’s emphasis on promoting the livelihood of Tibetan communities, and giving travelers authentic experiences of Tibetan culture and way-of-life.