Almost no one has ever tried to climb Mount Kailash out of respect for its religious significance, which says that it should not be climbed by humans. The only person who ever tried, Colonel R. C. Wilson in 1926, was stopped by sudden, unexpected heavy snowfall. Though it is said that the perfected Siddha and Yogi Jetsun Milarepa did successfully climb Mount Kailash about a thousand years ago.
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:
Why no one able to climb Mount Kailash
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 devotion. 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.
Due to its religious significance, Kailash remains an unclimbed mountain.
In 1926, Hugh Ruttledge studied the north face, which he estimated was 6,000 feet (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.”
15 Things You Didn’t Know About The Mysterious Mount Kailash
1. It’s Unclimbable.
Even though it’s shorter than Mt. Everest (which thousands have scaled), No one has reached its summit so far. Many claim this to be the bidding of supernatural forces, while scientists are left baffled. Many attempts have been made to get to the peak, but almost all of them were thwarted by extreme weather conditions the moment they set foot on the mountain, almost like the mountains didn’t want people climbing it. Several others claim that once on the mountain, navigation becomes impossible as directions become confusing, some even going as far to say that the mountain and it’s supernatural forces twist and turn directions.
2. Lord Shiva’s Abode
According to Hindu Mythology, it is said that Lord Shiva along with this family reside in this mountain of black rock. This is among many reasons why Mt. Kailash is a holy pilgrimage for many. Devotees of Shiva come here for salvation, and feel many supernatural forces when they do so. Some even claim to have seen Lord Shiva himself, in his form as Neelkanth.
3. Known As Astapada By Jains
This mountain isn’t just sacred to one religion, as it revered as the site at which their first prophet received enlightenment. Jains have a different name for this peak, Astapada, and they believe that the first of the twenty-four Tirthankaras, Rishaba, achieved liberation.
4. Also Known As Tise
Along with Hindu and Jain mysticism regarding this mountain, an ancient religion, even before Buddhism came into play, has roots in this mountain. Adherents of Bon, an ancient shamanistic religion, call the mountain Tise, believing it to be the Goddess Sipaimen’s seat.
5. Kang Rimpoche For The Buddhists
The final religious connection to this mountain lies within Buddhism. For them, the mountains is known as Kang Rimpoche, or ‘Precious One of Glacial Snow’.
6. Legend Says Only One Person Has Climbed It
There isn’t much information on this, but it believed that the only person to ever reach its holy peak was an Tibetan Buddhist Yogi, Milarepa, in the 11th century.
7. Kailash: Mountain, or Pyramid?
Dr Ernst Muldashev, a Russian ophthalmologist has theorized that Mt. Kailash isn’t some natural geographical structure, but rather a Pyramid made by some supernatural beings. Not only that, but this theory also claims that Kailash is only the main pyramid in a complex of 100 such structures. This theory also goes as far as to say that this complex is the headquarters of such structures all over the world, where similar paranormal phenomena occur.
8. The Spiritual Center Of The Universe?
Mt. Kailash, by many, is regarded as the Axis Mundi of this earth. The axis provides a connection between the physical world and spiritual worlds. In Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology, the axis mundi is a certain Mt. Meru or Sumeru, and it is said that Mt. Kailash is the earth version of them.
9. Lakes Like Yin-Yang
There are two lakes at the base of this mountain, the Manasarovar and the Rakshastal. These two lakes are like ying and yang. Let me tell you how.
Manasarovar is shaped like the sun. Rakshastal is shaped like a crescent moon. Manasarovar is one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world, while the Rakshastal is one of the highest saltwater lakes.
Manasarovar is always calm and serene irrespective of the weather conditions. Rakshastal however is always stormy and has rough waters.
10. Gauri Kund, The Birthplace of Ganesha
Another lake with mysticism attached to it, Lake Gauri Kund is also recognized as the Lake of Compassion, and Parvati Sarovar. The last name was given to it because it was here that the Goddess Parvati brought Ganesha into this world, creating him from the soap lather on her body, and then breathing life into him.
11. Gratuitous Source Of Rivers
This mountain might as well be the center of all things, as four important rivers flow from it. The Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra,and Karnali (the tributary of our sacred Ganga) all flow from near the base of this mountain.
12. The Four Faces
This mountain isn’t like other mountains, which are roughly shaped like a cone, this one has four distinct faces, almost aligned with the four directions. The Puranas say that it is the center of this world, dividing it into quarterly regions. Perhaps the most peculiar statement, The Puranas also say that each face is made of gold, ruby, lapis lazuli, and crystal.
13. The Seat Of All Power
The early settlers of this region, who followed the religion of Bon, maintain that the mountain and the area around it is very sacred. They called it the Nine Storey Swastika Mountain, and it was the seat of all power (Game of Thrones much?). And indeed, when viewed from the south face, a swastika can be seen.
14. The Gateway Of The God Of Death
The Yam Dwar, the initial point for those who want to circumambulate the mountain, when translated, means the “gateway of the God of death”. It is said that circumambulation of this mountain can wash one of his or her sins, and enough rounds and you could also be set for life with good karma.
15. Siwasthal, The North’s Bodh Gaya
Siwasthal is known as another Bodh Gaya since it replicates the mystic funeral grounds at Bodh Gaya in Bihar. People who come here on a pilgrimage, experience a metaphorical death, and are then in the presence of Yama. After which, they are “reborn” at Drolma La. The grounds here are strewn with clothes, bags and what not. Perhaps the most disturbing, you can also spot bones, hair, and blood. These are regarded as the possessions that people leave behind in their “previous life” and also the offerings made by the pilgrims.