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In Tibetan it is called: Gang Rinpoche; and in Sanskrit Kailash Parvat; is a peak in the Gangdise Mountains, which are part of the Himalayas in Tibet. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the Ganges River). It is considered as a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism. In Hinduism, it is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and as a place of eternal bliss. The mountain lies near Lake Manasarowar and Lake Rakshastal in Tibet. There have been no recorded attempts to climb Mount Kailash; it is considered off limits to climbers in deference to Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. It is the most significant peak in the world that has not seen any known climbing attempts.
The word Kailash means "crystal" in Sanskrit. Chandra (1902: p. 32) in his dictionary identifies the entry for 'kai la sha' which is a loan word from Sanskrit 'kailāsa'. The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che. Gangs or Kang is the Tibetan word for snow peak analogous to alp or himal; rinpoche is an honorific meaning "precious one" so the combined term can be translated "precious jewel of snows". "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. For Hindus, it is the home of the mountain god Shiva and a symbol of his penis; for Jains it is where their first leader was enlightened; for Buddhists, the navel of the universe; and for adherents of Bon, the abode of the sky goddess “Sipaimen." Another local name for the mountain is Tisé mountain, which derives from ti tse in the Zhang-Zhung language, meaning "water peak" or "river peak", connoting the mountain's status as the source of the mythical Lion, Horse, Peacock and Elephant Rivers, and in fact the Indus, Yarlung Tsangpo, Dihang, Brahmaputra, Karnali and Sutlej all begin in the Kailash-Lake Manasarovar region.
An illustration of the Hindu significance of Mount Kailash, depicting the holy family of Shiva, consisting of Shiva, Parvati, Ganesha and Muruga (Kartikeya). According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva, the destroyer of the evil and sorrow, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailāśā, where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Pārvatī, the daughter of Himalaya. Mt. kailash. According to one description in the Vishnu Purana, Mount Kailash is the center of the world, its four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis lazuli. It is the pillar of the world; is the center of the world Mandala; and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus. The four rivers flowing from Kailash then flow to the four quarters of the world and divide the world into four regions. In fact the Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej (a major Indus tributary) and the Karnali (a major Ganges tributary) all rise near the mountain, making it the hydrographic nexus of South Asia. The Ganges River formed in this mountain. The largest and most important rock-cut temple, Kailash Temple at Ellora, Maharashtra is named after Mount Kailash. Many of its sculptures and reliefs depict episodes relating to Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati, including Ravana's tale. (Ravana was a devotee of Lord Siva. Ramayana does not document Ravan shaking Kailasa mountain.) Ravana's mother had fallen ill, as they were great Lord Shiva devotees, he had attempted to carry the temple on his back to bring it closer to his mother. Shiva being stunned by his bravura, had blessed him with immortality as Ravana had passed Lord Shiva's test on devotion.
Tibetan Thangka depicting Mt. Kailash, The Tantric Buddhists believe that Kailash is the home of the Buddha Demchok (also known as Demchog or Chakrasamvara), who represents supreme bliss. There are numerous sites in the region associated with Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), whose tantric practices in holy sites around Tibet are credited with finally establishing Buddhism as the main religion of the country in the 7th-8th century CE. It is said that Milarepa (c. 1052-c. 1135 CE), champion of Tantric Buddhism, arrived in Tibet to challenge Naro Bön-chung, champion of the Bön religion of Tibet. The two magicians engaged in a terrifying sorcerers' battle, but neither was able to gain a decisive advantage. Finally, it was agreed that whoever could reach the summit of Kailash most rapidly would be the victor. While Naro Bön-chung sat on a magic drum and soared up the slope, Milarepa's followers were dumbfounded to see him sitting still and meditating. Yet when Naro Bön-chung was nearly at the top, Milarepa suddenly moved into action and overtook him by riding on the rays of the sun, thus winning the contest. He did, however, fling a handful of snow on to the top of a nearby mountain, since known as Bönri, bequeathing it to the Bönpo and thereby ensuring continued Bönpo connections with the region
The Bön, a religion which predates Buddhism in Tibet, maintain that the entire mystical region and the nine-story Swastika Mountain are the seat of all spiritual power. Introduction on Lake Manasarovar: Lake Manasarovar lies at 4,556 m (14947.5 ft) above sea level. It is one of the highest fresh-water lake in the world. Lake Manasarovar (Mapam Yumco) is relatively round in shape with a circumference of 88 kilometres (55 miles). Its depth is 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 square kilometres (120 sq miles). The lake freezes in winter and melts only in the spring. It is connected to nearby Lake Rakshastal by the natural Ganga Chhu channel. Mapam Yumco (Manasarovar) is the source of the Sutlej River which is the easternmost large tributary of the Indus. Nearby are the sources of the Brahmaputra River, the Indus River, and the Karnali River which is an important tributary of the Ganges River, so this region is the hydrographic nexus of the Himalaya. The Himalayas, the crown of the Indian peninsula has remained the cultural locus for its teeming millions. It is in the Himalayas, as the Skanda Purana records, where Lord Shiva lives, and there the mighty river Ganges fell from the foot of Lord Vishnu like “the slender thread of a lotus flower”.
The myths descend down from Mount Kailash to the shores of Lake Mansarovar. It is said that Maharaja Mandhata has discovered the Lake. The legend goes: Mandhata had done penance on the shores of Mansarovar at the foot of the magnificent mountains named after him. According to the legend, there was a big mansion down below on its bottom. It is said to be the abode of the king of Nagas – the serpent gods – and in the middle of the arc like surface of the lake once there stood a huge tree. Its fruits fell into the lake with the sound ‘Jham’; thus, the surrounding region came to be known as “Jambu-ling” or “Jambu-Dvipa” in the Hindu Puranas. In some Pali and Sanskrit Buddhist works, Mansarovar is described as Anotatta or Anavatapta – the lake without heat and trouble. Buddhists believe that in its centre there is a tree, which bears fruits of celestial medicinal properties that may cure all known physical as well as mental ailments. The human ideal of mount Meru rising from the descent of the seventh hell and rising to perforate through the loftiest of the heavens – the great mountain at the centre of the universe itself – comes to rest at Kailash. The Skanda Purana therefore acknowledges, “There are no mountains like the Himalayas, for in them are Kailash and Mansarovar”. One myths goes that at the core of the Jambu, the landmass surrounding Lake Mansarovar, stood the glorious mountain of Meru with four colours and faces: white like a Brahmin, the priest, on its eastern surface; yellow like a Vaisya, the merchant, on the south; red like a Kshatriya, the warrior, on the north; black on its western side like a Shudra, the menial.
Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. 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. Some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Kailash should be made in a single day. This is not easy. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek. Some of the devout do accomplish this feat, little daunted by the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions faced in the process. Indeed, other 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. 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.
Location of Mt Kailash:
Following the Chinese army entering Tibet in 1950, and political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimage to the legendary abode of Lord Shiva was stopped from 1954 to 1978. Thereafter, a limited number of Indian pilgrims have been allowed to visit the place, under the supervision of the Chinese and Indian governments either by a lengthy and hazardous trek over the Himalayan terrain, travel by land from Kathmandu or from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Tibet and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan plateau by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving at Darchen at elevation of 4,600 m (15,100 ft), small outpost that swells with pilgrims at certain times of year. Despite its minimal infrastructure, modest guest houses are available for foreign pilgrims, whereas Tibetan pilgrims generally sleep in their own tents. A small regional medical center serving far-western Tibet and funded by the Swiss Ngari Korsum Foundation was built here in 1997. Walking around the holy mountain—a part of its official park—has to be done on foot, pony or yak, taking some three days of trekking starting from a height of around 15,000 ft (4,600 m) past the Tarboche (flagpole) to cross the Drölma pass 18,200 ft (5,500 m), and encamping for two nights en route. First, near the meadow of Dirapuk gompa, some 2 to 3 km (1.2 to 1.9 mi) before the pass and second, after crossing the pass and going downhill as far as possible (viewing Gauri Kund in the distance).
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