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2014 – the Year of Kailash Tour to Western Tibet

September 12, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

The upcoming 2014 is the year of the horse in the Tibetan calendar, occurring every twelve years. According to Tibetan tradition, Buddhists make pilgrimages to the holy mountains in the year of the horse and to sacred lakes in the year of the sheep.

As the holiest mountain in Tibet, Mount Kailash (or Gang Rinpoche) in western Tibet receives much more visitors than usual in such a year, especially during Saga Dawa Festival which is held at the Kailash region in each April in the Tibetan calendar (around May or June in western calendar). The festival is also considered the most interesting and authentic tour event in Tibet each year. In the holy year of 2014, the event will be more attractive for visitors. The Kailash is expected to witness over 60,000 pilgrims and visitors, not just Tibetans, but also Hindus, Buddhists and Western travelers.

Background information

Tibetan people believe that circling around holy mountains erases their sins. Among numerous sacred mountains in Tibet, Mt. Kailash is recognized as the holiest mountain in four religions: Buddhism, Bon, Hinduism and Jainism. It is said that a Kora (Kailash Trek) around the mountain erases one’s sins of a lifetime, and 108 Koras break the cycle of rebirth and assures one of nirvana at death. Moreover, it is believed that the Buddha of Sakyamuni was born in the year of the horse. If one goes to make the Kora in such a year, the merits will be doubled. One circuit will be equal to thirteen circuits made in other years.

People will even gain more merits from the Kora during the Saga Dawa Festival. According to Tibetan Buddhism, Sakyamuni was born, became Buddha and died in April. Thus, April is regarded as the holiest month in Tibet. The highlight of this festival falls on the 15th day. A few days before that day, thousands of pilgrims flock into Darchen (a small village at the foot of the mountain) and turn this village into a sea of tents.

Most of the travelers also do the Kora during their Kailash tour. It is about 56 km with average altitude above 5,000m. Generally, it takes 2-3 days on foot and 3-4 weeks by prostrating forwards. The trek starts at the small village of Darchen, opens up unending stretches of barren land, lush green valleys, snow-capped peaks and pristine blue lakes. Though the trek is a challenging task, the services offered by local porters make the trip possible for common visitors.

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