Kailash (also Mount Kailasa; Kangrinboqê or Gang Rinpoche
(Tibetan: གངས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ; Chinese:
冈仁波齐峰 (simplified); Chinese: 岡仁波齊峰 (traditional)),
is a peak in the
Kailash Range (Gangdisê Mountains), which forms part
Transhimalaya in the
Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
The mountain is located near
Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal,
close to the source of some of the longest Asian rivers: the Indus,
Sutlej, Brahmaputra, and Karnali also known as
Ghaghara (a tributary
of the Ganges) in India. Mount
Kailash is considered to be sacred in
four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism,
Bön and Jainism.
2 Religious significance
2.1 In Hinduism
2.2 In Jainism
2.3 In Buddhism
2.4 In Bön
6 See also
8 Further reading
9 External links
The mountain is known as “Kailāsa” (कैलास) in
Sanskrit. The name also could have been derived from the word
“kelāsa” (केलास), which means "crystal".
In his Tibetan-English dictionary, Chandra (1902: p. 32)
identifies the entry for 'kai la sha' (Wylie: kai la sha) which is a
loan word from
Sanskrit 'kailāsa' (Devanagari: कैलास).
The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che (Tibetan:
གངས་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་; Chinese: 冈仁波齐峰).
Gangs or Kang is the Tibetan word for snow peak analogous to alp or
hima; 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
Swastika Mountain. For Hindus, it is the home of the mountain
Shiva and a symbol of his power-symbol “Om”; for
Jains it is
where their first
Rishabhanatha 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
begin in the Kailash-Lake Manasarovara region.
Part of a series on
Shiva - Shakti
Scriptures and texts
Agamas and Tantras
Non - Saiddhantika
Veerashaiva - Lingayatism
Nusantara Agama Siwa
An illustration of the Hindu significance of Mount Kailash, depicting
the holy family of Shiva, consisting of Shiva, Parvati,
According to Hinduism, Shiva, resides at the summit of a legendary
mountain named Kailāsa, where he sits in a state of perpetual
meditation along with his wife Pārvatī. He is at once the Lord of
Yoga and therefore the ultimate renunciate ascetic, yet he is also the
divine master of Yoga, Tantra.
According to Charles Allen, one description in the
Vishnu Purana of
the mountain states that its four faces are made of crystal, ruby,
gold, and lapis lazuli. It is a pillar of the world and is located
at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus.
Kailash is also known as Mount Meru. According to Jain
scriptures, Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt. Kailash, is the site
where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhanatha, attained moksha
Tibetan and Nepalese
Thangka depicting Mount Kailash
Kailash (Kailasa) is known as
Mount Meru in Buddhist texts. It
is central to its cosmology, and a major pilgrimage site for some
Vajrayana Buddhists believe that Mount
Kailash is the home of the
buddha Cakrasaṃvara (also known as Demchok), who represents
There are numerous sites in the region associated with Padmasambhava,
whose tantric practices in holy sites around Tibet are credited with
Buddhism as the main religion of the country in
the 7th–8th century AD.
It is said that
Milarepa (c. 1052 – c. 1135), champion of Vajrayana,
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 sunlight, 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.
Bön, a religion native to Tibet, maintain that the entire mystical
region and Kailash, which they call the "nine-story Swastika
Mountain", is the axis mundi, Tagzig Olmo Lung Ring.
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 while
Jains and Bönpos
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, which is not considered an easy task. A person in good
shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the entire
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 a
popular belief that the stairways on Mount
Kailash lead to heaven.
Stupas, with the north face of Mount
Because of the Sino-Indian border dispute, pilgrimage to the legendary
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
Kathmandu or from
Lhasa where flights from
Lhasa and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan
plateau by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving
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
Walking around the mountain—a part of its official park—has to be
done on foot, pony or domestic 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).
Satellite view of Mount
Kailash with lakes Rakshastal (left) and
The region around Mount
Kailash and the
Indus headwaters area is
typified by wide scale faulting of metamorphosed late
Cenozoic sedimentary rocks which have been intruded by igneous
Cenozoic granitic rocks. Mt.
Kailash appears to be a metasedimentary
roof pendant supported by a massive granite base. The
represent offshore marine limestones deposited before subduction of
the Tethys oceanic crust. These sediments were deposited on the
southern margin of the Asia block during subduction of the Tethys
oceanic crust prior to the collision between the Indian and Asian
North View of Mount Kailash
Hugh Ruttledge studied the north face, which he estimated was
6,000 ft (1,800 m) high and "utterly unclimbable" and thought
about an ascent of the northeast ridge, but he ran out of time.
Ruttledge had been exploring the area with Colonel R. C. Wilson, who
was on the other side of the mountain with his Sherpa named Tseten.
According to Wilson, Tseten told Wilson, "'Sahib, we can climb that!'
... as he too saw that this [the SE ridge] represented a feasible
route to the summit." Further excerpts from Wilson's article in
Alpine Journal (vol. 40, 1928) show that he was serious about
climbing Kailash, but he also ran out of time.
Herbert Tichy was in
the area in 1936, attempting to climb Gurla Mandhata. When he asked
one of the Garpons of Ngari whether
Kailash was climbable, the Garpon
replied, "Only a man entirely free of sin could climb Kailash. And he
wouldn't have to actually scale the sheer walls of ice to do it –
he'd just turn himself into a bird and fly to the summit."
Reinhold Messner was given the opportunity by the Chinese government
to climb in the mid-1980s but he declined.
In 2001 the Chinese gave permission for a Spanish team to climb the
peak, but in the face of international disapproval the Chinese decided
to ban all attempts to climb the mountain. Reinhold Messner, who
condemned the Spanish plans, said
If we conquer this mountain, then we conquer something in people's
souls. I would suggest they go and climb something a little harder.
Kailas is not so high and not so hard.
Kailash: A Journal of Himalayan Studies
Sanskrit Dictionary, page 311 column 3
^ Entry for कैलासः in Apte Sanskrit-English Dictionary
^ Williams, Monier. "
Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary".
kelāsa m. crystal W
^ Sarat Chandra Das (1902). Tibetan-English Dictionary with Sanskrit
Synonyms. Calcutta, India: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, page 32.
^ Albinia (2008), p. 288. abc
^ Camaria, Pradeep (1996),
Kailash Manasarovara on the Rugged Road to
Revelation, New Delhi: Abhinav, retrieved 11 June 2010
^ "Mt. Kailash".
^ a b Allen, Charles. (1982). A Mountain in Tibet, pp. 21–22. André
Deutsch. Reprint: 1991. Futura Publications, London.
^ "To heaven and back – Times Of India".
Articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2012-01-11. Retrieved
^ Robert E. Buswell (2004). Encyclopedia of Buddhism: A-L. Macmillan
Reference. pp. 407–408. ISBN 978-0-02-865719-6.
^ "Heruka Chakrasamvara". Khandro.net. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
^ The Sacred Mountain, pp. 39, 33, 35, 225, 280, 353, 362–363,
^ The Sacred Mountain, pp. 31, 33, 35
^ The World's Most Mysterious Places Published by Reader's Digest
ISBN 0-276-42217-1 pg.85
^ The Sacred Mountain, pp. 25–26
Lake Manasarovar pilgrim tour in 2018 - Explore
China Tibet Travel". Tibet &
China Travel Services by
^ Geology and Geography of the Mt.
Kailash area and
headwaters in southwestern Tibet Pete Winn , Science Director Earth
Science Expeditions. Accessed January 2014.
^ Plate Tectonic & northern Pacific Accessed January 2014.
^ The Sacred Mountain, p. 120
^ The Sacred Mountain, p. 116
^ The Sacred Mountain, p. 129
^ a b "
China to Ban Expeditions on Mt Kailash". tew.org. Archived from
the original on 18 July 2011. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
^ "Scaling a Mountain to Destroy The Holy Soul of Tibetans". tew.org.
Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 18 September
Albinia, Alice. (2008) Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River.
First American Edition (2010) W. W. Norton & Company, New York.
Nomachi, Kazuyoshi. Tibet. Boston: Shambhala, 1997.
Thurman, Robert and Tad Wise, Circling the Sacred Mountain: A
Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas. New York: Bantam, 1999.
ISBN 0-553-37850-3 — Tells the story of a Western Buddhist
making the trek around Mount Kailash.
Snelling, John. (1990). The Sacred Mountain: The Complete Guide to
Tibet's Mount Kailas. 1st edition 1983. Revised and enlarged edition,
including: Kailas-Manasarovar Travellers' Guide. Forwards by H.H. the
Lama of Tibet and Christmas Humphreys. East-West Publications,
London and The Hague. ISBN 0-85692-173-4.
(Elevation) Chinese Snow Map "Kangrinboqe", published by the Lanzhou
Institute of Glaciology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Allen, Charles (1982) A Mountain in Tibet: The Search for Mount Kailas
and the Sources of the Great Rivers of Asia. (London, André Deutsch).
Allen, Charles. (1999). The Search for Shangri-La: A Journey into
Tibetan History. Little, Brown and Company. Reprint: Abacus, London.
2000. ISBN 0-349-11142-1.
"A Tibetan Guide for Pilgrimage to Ti-se (Mount Kailas) and mTsho
Ma-pham (Lake Manasarovar)." Toni Huber and Tsepak Rigzin. In: Sacred
Spaces and Powerful Places In Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays.
(1999) Edited by Toni Huber, pp. 125–153. The Library of
Tibetan Works and Archives, Dharamsala, H.P., India.
Stein, R. A. (1961). Les tribus anciennes des marches
Sino-Tibétaines: légends, classifications et histoire. Presses
Universitaires de France, Paris. (In French)
Johnson, Russell, and Moran, Kerry. (1989). The Sacred Mountain of
Tibet: On Pilgrimage to Kailas. Park Street Press, Rochester, Vermont.
Lama Anagarika. (1966). The Way of the White Clouds: A
Pilgrim in Tibet. Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder,
Colorado. Reprint with foreword by Peter Matthiessen: Shambhala
Publications, Inc. Boston, Massachusetts. 1988.
Thubron, Colin. (2011). "To a Mountain in Tibet." Chatto & Windus,
London. ISBN 978-0-7011-8380-6
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Kailash Video and still images illustrating the pilgrimage
route around Mt.
Kailash and parts of Lake Manasarovar, including the
Saga Dawa full moon festival celebrating the life of the Buddha.
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