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Why should we trek along the Kailash Kora?

Mt. Kailash Pilgrimage FAQ 451

Why should we trek along the Kailash Kora?

The kora, the sacred circuit around the mountain, is a solemn religious ritual that is popular in Tibet. Mt. Kailash, meaning “the treasure of the snow mountains”, is one of the four holiest mountains in Tibetan Buddhism. Every year, a great amount of pilgrims walk the kora in Mt. Kailash.

Why is Mt. Kailash the holiest mountain in Tibet?

As a world-recognized sacred mountain, Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.

Religious significance:

For many religions in Asia, Mt. Kailash is of great importance. 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. Mount Kailash 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.

Jainism, a religion derived in the north area of India, also regards the mountain as its holy mountain. According to Jain scriptures, Ashtapada, the mountain next to Mt. Kailash, is the site where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva attained moksha (liberation).

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.

Geological significance:

Given its normal-size height and form, Mt. Kailash could not be the sacred place for so many religions. But its location confers a special edge on it, contributing to its religious significance. 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. It is in this area that the well-known Xiangxiong Kingdom is established.

Why to walk the kora in Mt. Kailash?

It’s said that circulating the mountain for one circle can wash away the sins of the whole life; 10 circles can spare one the suffering to the hell; 100 circles can enable one rise to heaven. 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.

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