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Western Tibet to See Mass of Tourists This Summer

March 24, 2014 Tour Operator No Comments Email Email

Tibetan New Year 2014 celebrated on March 2 marked the start of the horse year, a holy year for Tibetans to worship mountain gods. “I will go to Mt. Kailash with my family on Saga Dawa Festival this year,” said Kunga, a Tibetan tour guide of Tibet Travel Org CITS. “We have to wait 12 years for a year of horse. We value this opportunity very much.”

Mount Kailash

Due to the harsh environment and lack of scientific knowledge, Tibetans worship nature a lot, like mountains, lakes, rivers and stones. Worshiping mountains is the most important in the year of horse when the merits are believed to be magnified.

Among numerous holy mountains in Tibet, Mt. Kailash, also known as Gang Rinpoche in Tibetan language, is considered as the most sacred mountain. It is worshiped by followers of four religions, Buddhism, Bonism, Hinduism and Jainism. They believe that walking around this mountain for one circle erases all their sins and that 108 circles break the cycle of rebirth and assure nirvana at death. The benefit of a circle in the year of horse is said to be equivalent to that of thirteen made in other years. During Saga Dawa Festival, which will be celebrated on June 13, 2014, the merits will be further multiplied.

Mt. Kailash is located at an altitude of 6,656 meters in Ngari area in western Tibet. It is one of the most beautiful and amazing mountains in Tibet. To the south of the mountain lies the famous holy Lake Manasarovar, at 4,590 meters above sea level. It is also worshiped by believers of the four religions, almost as often as Mt. Kailash.

Besides these two sites, there are many other awesome attractions in Ngari. Situated at an average altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level, Ngari is known as the “roof of the world”. It is dotted with beautiful lakes and rivers, spectacular mountains and glaciers, vast grasslands and interesting clay forests. Sparsely populated, it is a paradise for wild animals. It also has rich historical and religious cultural relics, like the ruins of Guge Kingdom. All these attract tourists, adventurers and photographers around the world.

It is estimated that this area will receive over ten thousand travelers and pilgrims this year. Hindus always constitute a high proportion of the overseas pilgrims to Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar. The year 2014 was designated the Year of China-India Friendly Exchanges last May, which offers a great opportunity for Indian pilgrims to visit western Tibet.

The local government has put great efforts in improving the capacity for accommodating tourists of this area in recent years. However, the facilities in this remote place are still imperfect. Only very simple restaurants and hostels are available. The region’s main road, Xinjiang-Tibet Highway (Lhasa to Kashgar Road), is well paved, but its feeder roads are in very poor conditions. Most importantly, the tour cost is very high for individual travelers. Therefore, it is best to join in a tour group to Kailash. Tibet Travel Org CITS has many groups to western Tibet each summer.

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