Lhasa & Mt.Kailas, Tibet
Pilgrimage, Healing Mission & the Mahasandhi Yoga of Guru Rinpoche
August 21-September 1, 2015
Mt. Kailas is the most sacred mountain in the world for Buddhists, Hindus, Jians, Bonpos and all of the
Himalayan religions. Though it is the most worshiped mountain in the world and billions of faithful
consider it the ultimate pilgrimage, it is only visited by a small amount of people every year. Located in the
Himalayas of North West Tibet at 22,000 feet it is very far away from the reaches of planes, trains and
automobiles. Only the sturdiest of Land Cruisers or six ton trucks can make the week long journey across the
roof of the world to this remote Himalayan region. Mt. Kailas is a desert oasis that is the source of the four
major rivers of the
arising out of the holy waters
of Lake Manasarova and surrounded by many other sacred Himalayan snow peaked mountains.
The Mystical Mountain
the mystical name of Mt. Kailas is Mt. Meru which is known as the cosmic center of the universe and the
mandala of intrinsic awareness. The four divine rivers Indus, Ganges, Yanrlung and Sutlej sprout fourth
from Kailas bringing the nectar of life to Tibet, India, China, Burma and the four cardinal and
intermeditate dircetions. For Hindus Mt. Kailas rises out of Manasarova lake like a shivalingham
arising out of a sixteen petaled lotus. Lord Shiva sits on the peak of Mt. Kailas in continual state
of tantric union and samadhi bliss. Jians call it Astapada where their lord Rishabhdev obtained nirvana.
Bonpos call it Tise where many of there ancestors reached enlightenment. Tibetans generally call it Kang
Rimpoche, the precious Jewel. For Buddhists Mt. Kailas is the mandala of Chakrasamvara and Lake Manasarova
is the mandala of his consort Chakrasamvari and like the union of the sun and moon exist in non-dual awareness.
It is especially sacred to the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism as the site where their immortal saint Milarepa
resides. In a contest with the Bonpo Shaman Naro they decided that who ever could get to the top first
would lay claim to the holy mountain. Naro started up first using his drum as a sled. Milarepa waited for the
sun to rise and jumping on a sun beam instantly flew to the peak. When the Bonpo Shaman saw Milarepa at the
top he fell to the bottom and you can still see the marks in the cliff where his drum scraped the rock. Milarepa
took up residence in the inner-sanctum of the Kailas mandala. The three main mountains surrounding Mt. Kailas are
sacred sites for Manjushri, Avalokitishvara and Vajrapani. Lake Manasarova is a very special sacred site for
Vajrayogini and together represent the non-dual nature of reality. Manasarova literally means, Lake of
The Mt. Kailas pilgrimage
The outer circumambulation of Mt. Kailas takes three days for the average hiker. It begins in a clockwise direction
following a meandering stream surrounded by grassy meadows spotted with various rock formations and fields of flowers.
By the end of the day we'll reach the North Face and set camp for the evening. The second day we will cross the
19,500 ft. high Drolma pass crossing the awesome North Face and hike down to Milarepa's cave for the evening. The
third day is all down hill from there following the main river amongst the many multi-colored rock formations
back to the Tibetan bazaar at the Karchen base camp. Then we will continue on to circumambulate the holy lake
Manasarova and bathe and purify in the sweet nectar of these divine waters. Circumambulating the outer kora purifies
the negative karma of a whole year. Done on holy days multiplies the purification and one hundred and eight
circumambulations is said to guarantee enlightenment and liberation from the realm of suffering, samsara!
The Shang Shung Kingdom
The Shang Shung Kingdom was an ancient Bon empire that consisted of eighteen kingdoms in Western Tibet. The capital
was called Khyunglung, the "Silver Palace of the Guruda" and it's ruins are still located just southwest of Lake
Manasarova and Mt. Kailash. The ancient empire included Ladakh, Mustang, and Jalandhar and its influence extended
far and wide. The Shang Shung Kingdom is mentioned many times in the Annals of Lake Manasarova as a reference to
Tibet's pre-Buddhist cultural and religion.
The Mt. Kailas culture and religion study tour
As mentioned above Mt. Kailas is a holy mountain for quite a few religions and the largest population of people
on the Earth. Therefore, Our journey is a non-denominational Unitarian pilgrimage. However, Tibet is a Buddhist
nation with many extremely sacred places filled with highly realized and enlightened masters. As the occasions arise
we will participate in local religious ceremonies, celebrations, festivals, empowerments and transmissions whenever
possible. We will also be discussing the history, culture and religion of Tibet along the journey so that by the
time we get home we will really know something about Tibet from many different levels. There will also be time for
personal meditation and contemplation as well as group practice. Regardless of whatever masters we run into we
will open our hearts to the great potential of enlightenment for our self and others. All is welcome and encouraged
to attend this pilgrimage - study tour - work shop - healing mission. There are no requirements. Participate as much
or as little as you like. Just being there is enlightening!
The Mt. Kailas healing mission
As with all of our Sacred Journeys missions we will offer our services to the locals when ever we have the chance.
In these remote regions where agrarian life in the desert is tough and access to modern medical health care is
impossible all you have to do is treat one or two patients before you have a line of people around the mountain
that can last for days. A trip to Mt. Kailas is already powerful enough to reach enlightenment. By participating
in the Mt. Kailas healing mission and caring for the faithful pilgrims, monks, yogis and hermits who are also
there to reach enlightenment is truly a meritorious activity. By helping them in their goal to achieve the highest
human potential of enlightenment and liberation offering our services to them is really a blessing for us.
What to expect and what to pack;
This sacred journey is a high altitude pilgrimage, spiritual practice and healing mission full of meditation, yoga,
chanting, hiking high altitude mountains in dry and arid deserts with long jeep rides.
We will get off the plane at twelve thousand feet and spend the first couple of days at about thirteen thousand feet
and gradually go up to nineteen thousand feet when we cross the Dolma Pass on the North Face of Mt. Kailas. This is
the roof of the world! So, dress in layers and bring a winter jacket, a hat and sunscreen. You can take Gao Yuan
Ning or Hong Hua Zhi Chinese medicine to help with altitude sickness, which does help and there are no side effects.
You can also take Diamox which is a western medicine that you can get with a prescription, but it does have side
effects such as frequent urination and head aches. The key to getting acclimated is to pace yourself, drink lots of
water, breath slowly and deeply and rest. People are usually fine after a few days once they get acclimated and
it has very little to do with gender, age or apparent health. It simply affects different people differently.
Bottled oxygen is available too which can take the edge off, but you shouldn't get dependent on it. Once we get
past Shigatse we will be staying in rustic roadside guest houses along the way and sleeping out in tents when we
circumambulate Mt. Kailas. So, some additional gear might include a sleeping bag or a sleeping sock, flash light
or head lamp, toilet paper, wet naps, hand sanitizer, aspirin, and your usual medications if you take them.
|Kali Ma, Troma|
||The gate of Mt. Kailas
And so, the journey begins,
August, 21 - Lhatse to Saga.
Road trip through the high Himalayan mountain snow peaks and desert sand dunes to Saga.
August, 22 - Saga-Paryang-Lake Manasarovar.
From Saga we head off to Zhongba, Paryang and Lake Manasarovar. The road conditions have improved dramatically over
the years so traversing the Himalayas has become much more comfortable. From Zhongba onwards the southern road has
amazing panoramic views of the Himalayan mountains on either side of the road. The scenery is absolutely stunning.
we will make several river crossings and cross Mayum La Pass (4,600 M) as we arrive at the Lake.
August, 23 - Lake Manasoravar.
Lake Manasarovar is the divine nectar of dakini bliss. It is
the holy lake of all the female Buddhas and the Hindu goddess Paravati who is the consort of Shiva. It feeds the
four major river Asia blessing all of its people along the way. Above it sits the glorious Mt. Kailash, which is
the center of the universe and is a Shiva Lingham. Lake Manasarovar is the avudaiyar or consort's yoni and the
that flow from here are the consecrated elixir of immortality.
August, 24 - Lake Manasoravar to Darchen.
In the morning we will wake up to amazing view of the holy lake and its beautiful surrounding landscapes with the
majestic Mt. Kailash in the background. After morning practice we drive 30K to the village of Darchen which is the
gateway to Mt. Kailash. The monastery at Darchen, Darchen Gon, is a part of the Drukpa Kagyu sect and many illumined
masters have achieved high realizations here. The two-story monastery structure in the center of the town serves as
a trading post and shelter for pilgrims. While beginning the kora pilgrimage around Kailas, many pilgrims often
circumambulate the Darchen Gon Monastery and the Mani Lhakhang before setting out for good luck.
August, 25 - Darchen to Dirapuk monastery.
From the Darchen Gonpa we set out on our official kora, or circumambulation, of Mt. Kailash. We will head west in a
clockwise direction the southwest end of the ridge to reach a cairn at 4,730m. Then the trail bends around the north
to the Tarboche flagpole. The flagpole is replaced each year during the Saga Dawa festival where out of nowhere
thousands of people will show up to raise their new prayer flags amongst endless chants from the Kagyu Monks. After
passing the Lhachu valley, we arrive at the Chuku Monastery where we will rest for lunch and practice. Trekking
further along the river, we will spend the night at the Dirapuk Monastery.
August, 26 - Diraphuk to Zutulpuk monastery.
Today We will traverse the Drolma pass with amazing vistas over looking the North Face of Mt. Kailash and reach the
Jarok Donkhang at 5,210m. Along this part of the trail you can see the marks of the Bonpo drum that scraped the rocks
as the Bonpo priest fell from the top after seeing Milerepa who got there first in a competition. Who ever got to the
top first would claim ownership of the mountain and while the Bonpo priest rode his drum up the mountain Milerepa
waited for the sun to rise. The Bonpo priest thought he had him beat but just as the sun came up Milerepa jumped on a
sunbeam and immediately got to the top before the Bonpo priest. When the priest saw him he fell to the bottom scrapping
the rock cliff along the way. Setting out on this part of the trail we will pass the Shiva-tsal at 5,330m, which is
the sacred site of Lord Shiva. It is a rocky expanse dotted with stone cairns draped with items of clothing left by
the faithful to establish a connection with Lord Shiva and return to his holy land. Crossing the Drolma Pass at
5,630m is the highest point of the entire kora, where you can look south at the last glimpse of the Mt. Kailas' north
face. After crossing this path it's all down hill from there. We will pass by Gauri Kund Lake and follow the river
valley to the Zutulpuk Monastery and perhaps one of the most important holy places on the mountain, Milerepa's Cave.
August, 27 - Zutulpuk to Darchen.
The final day's hike begins with an easy stroll down to where the river emerges onto the desert plains. The valley
narrows with prayer flags fluttering across the river. It's just a short hike downhill back to Darchen passing many
mani walls embellished with yak skulls. Finally, our circumambulation of the mystical Mt. Kailas is completed when
we get back to Darchen.
August, 28 - Zhada-Saga.
Road trip through the desert.
August, 29 - Saga to Shigatse, home of the Panchen Lama.
Today we get to stay in the magnificent town of Shigatse, home of the Panchen Lama and his Tashilingpo Monastery. The
Panchen Lamas are considered a reincarnation of the Buddha Amitabha and shared head of the Gelug School along with
the Dalai Lamas. the great 10th Panchen Lama was a powerful official who was instrumental in the resurrection of
Tibetan religion, culture and society after the Cultural Revolution and became known as the "light of Tibet" for
his magnanimous work. The Tashilingpo houses the largest indoor bronze statue in the world, the Meitreya. It is
one of Tibet's largest Gelugpa Monasteries and is a refuge for Tibetan Mastiffs.
August, 30 - Shigatse-Lhasa.
Ah, it's time decompress and rejoice in the merits of the journey. Relax and enjoy the wonderful town of Lhasa with
last minute shopping at the Barkhor Bazzare for statues, tankhas, copalas, kanglings, zi beads or whatever interesting
things you can find. Take in a Tibetan show, dinner at the Snowland and breath in deep the purity of the great Tibetan
air. Depending on what time we get back to town you can also visit some of the monasteries or the Potala Palace where
the Dalai Lama's stupas are each covered with tons of gold and precious stones.
August, 31 - Free day in Lhasa.
Kora at the Barkhor or visit the Potala Palace, Norbulinka Summer Palace, Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery or explore
the many temples throughout Lhasa.
September 1, Return home.
Returning home we will drive down the Yarlung Valley to the Gontok Airport and fly back to Beijing and home, or on
to the holy Wutai Mountain, sacred abode of the wisdom Buddha Manjushri.
To complete a Mt. Kailas kora just once purifies the karma of a lifetime!!!
Linhai & Michael Katz
Pilgrims from West Tibet
The Shang Shung Kingdom
Panchen Lama's Tashilingpo Monastery
The Jolkhang Monastery
||Bosom of Ekajati
||Entering inner cave
||Hand print of Yeshe Tsogyal to protect anyone who enters
||Path to inner cave
||Hung finger drawing by Guru Rinpoche
||Sandalwood Ladder brought by Tara