Mount Kailash Culture
Besides the legend, history and pilgrimage, Mount Kailash culture also features local folk customs. You can also visit the monasteries and temples around Mount Kailash, or join the local festivals such as Saga Dawa Festival and Korjak Monastery Buddhist Celebration.
History of Mount Kailash
Kangrinboqe is recognized as the holy mountain in the world, and it is regarded as the center of the world by Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, ancient Zhang Zhung Buddha Dharma “Bonismo” and ancient Jainism. Hindus regard the peak as Shiva's symbolic 'Lingam' and worship Mt Kailash, which is the Sanskrit name for the mountain. Bonpos believe the sacred mountain to be the place where the founder of the Bon religion landed when he descended from the sky. Tibetan Buddhists believe Kang Rinpoche, which means Precious Snow Mountain, is a natural mandala representing the Buddhist cosmology on the earth and the Jains believe this is the place where their religion's founder was spiritually awakened. Shiva, the most powerful of the three gods of Hinduism, lives here. And the upper reaches of the India’s Indus River and Ganges River originate here, so a large number of Indian pilgrims can be seen at Mount Kailash. For centuries, Mount Kailash has been a sacred place for pilgrims and explorers, but no one has been able to climb the mountain, or it can also be said that no one has dared to offend the center of the world.
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Local Tibetan Buddhism
There are also monasteries and templs at Mount Kailash or around for you to learn more about local Tibetan Buddhism culture. Zuchu Monastery(祖楚寺), Dirapuk Monastery(热普寺), Chuku Monastery(曲古寺) and Jiangzha Monastery are the ones you will passby along the pilgrimage tour. Korjak Monastery Buddhist Celebration is another good chance for better understanding of the religion culture.
- Dirapuk Monastery
- Chuku Monastery
- Zhire Monastery
- Zuchu Monastery
- Jiangzha Monastery
- Korjak Monastery
Religious sects that regards Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar as Holy Mountain and Sacred Lake including Hinduism, Bon Religion, Buddhism and Jainism.
In Hinduism, it is traditionally recognized as the abode of Lord Shiva, who resided there along with his consort goddess Parvati and their children, lord Ganesh and lord Kartikeya. 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.
The Bon religion is also associated with the holy place of Zhang Zhung Meri sacred deity. 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.
Mount Kailash (Kailasa) is known as Mount Meru in Buddhist texts. It is central to its cosmology, and a major pilgrimage site for some Buddhist traditions. Vajrayana Buddhists believe that Mount Kailash is the home of the buddha Cakrasaṃvara (also known as Demchok), who represents supreme bliss. There are numerous sites in the region associated with Padmasambhava, whose tantric practices in holy sites around Tibet are credited with finally establishing 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 Bönchung, 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 Bönchung sat on magic drum and soared up the slope, Milarepa's followers were dumbfounded to see him sitting still and meditating. Yet when Naro Bönchung 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.
According to Jain scriptures, Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt. Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva attained moksha (liberation). In Jain tradition, it is believed that after Rishabhdeva attained nirvana, his son emperor Bharata Chakravartin had constructed three stupas and twenty four shrines of the 24 tirthankaras over there with their idols studded with precious stones and named it Sinhnishdha. In Jain tradition the 24th and last Tirthankara, Vardhamana Mahavira was taken to the summit of Meru by Indra shortly after his birth, after putting his mother Queen Trishala into deep slumber. There he was bathed and anointed with precious unctions.
Zhang Zhung Culture
Ancient Zhang Zhung Buddha Dharma Bonismo Zhang Zhung Tibetan tripitaka, Kosha recorded that the “Source of Four Great Rivers” refers to the mother of the sacred lake, Lake Manasarovar. The Bon religion is also associated with the holy place of Zhang Zhung Meri sacred deity. When Tonpa Shenrab, the founder of the Bon religion, visited Tibet for the first time from Tagzig Wolmo Lungring he washed in the lake. To know more about the Zhang Zhung culture, Xiangxiong Cultural Festival is recommended to you. Xiangxiong Cultural Festival (象雄文化节) is a good time to visit the relics of Guge Kingdom, holy Mount Kailash, sacred Lake Manasarovar, spectacular Zhada Earth Forest, beautiful Pangong Tso Lake in Ngari Region. The Xiangxiong festival usually lasts for the whole August.
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. Walking the path around Mount Kailash is called the kora and it's one of the most demanding and challenging treks for pilgrims in the world. There are two routes for Mount Kailash kora, the inner and outer kora. The inner kora is the harder route and it leads directly into the south face of Mount Kailash. Both koras start from Darchen, which is a village at 4675 meters of altitude. The highest point of the kora, Drolma La Pass, is at 5630 meters of altitude. Some pilgrims think that the entire kora around the mountain should be done in one day. It’s told that the secret breathing technique called Lung-gom, which is practiced by very few people, gives the power to circumambulate the mountain in only one day. For most of the people it takes about two or three days to complete the kora, especially westerners trekking with travel agencies usually have a schedule of three days trekking.
The outer kora is 52 km, it takes 3 days on foot, long-kowtow of 15-20 days. Pilgrims generally turn 13 circles of outer line before taking the inner kora. In the year of the Horse in Tibetan Calendar, the number of the pilgrims coming for the kora reaches the highest. It is said that Buddha Sakyamuni’s Chinese zodiac is Horse(Tibetan traditional Chinese zodiac outlook is more influenced by the Han nationality’s corresponding viewpoints, and that the specific arrangement of the zodiac signs is the same as that of the Han nationality. The order is: Rat, Cattle, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. The Tibetan calendar combined with the theories of yin and yang and the five elements is different from the Han region in terms of solar terms and other aspects in the specific years, so the zodiac is also slightly different from the Han region). A circle of Mount Kailash Kora in the year of the horse is equivalent to 13 circles in other years, and is the most effective and merit-accumulated.
Mount Kailash Mystery
The mystical Mount Kailash has been surrounded by several mysteries since the ancient times. The mysteries have been spread by ancient holy texts as well as modern day travelers and scholars. Some of these are stories considering the connection between Mount Kailash and the gods, and some are interesting geographical of mathematical facts of the mountain.
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Ethnic Festival and Religion Activity
Most Tibetan festivals are full of religion features. In addition to annual large-scale worship rituals to Buddha and Buddhist masters, Tibetan people will also hold a series of festivities associated with religious life and agricultural production consisting of religious festivals and folk ones. Saga Dawa Festival and Korjak Monastery Buddhist Celebration are the ones you shouldn't miss if you travel to Mount Kailash during the festival times.
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