Mt Kailash holds the designation of being one of the holiest sights on earth that is the least visited. The latter being true because of the raw nature of the location. The Tibetan plateau sits above 14,000 feet. The base of Kailash is at 15,600 feet. The actual pilgrimage takes place in this high altitude arena to altitudes above 18,000 feet. It is a true adventure and the pilgrim has to acclimatize properly before attempting the Kora (pilgrimage). This is not a place for ignorance. The combination of altitude, cold, sleeping in tents at these elevations, and of course permit issues make it the least visited but probably the most coveted holy sights on earth. It is like Mecca or Jerusalem but unlike these sees only 2000 visitors a year.
Situated in far Western Tibet it is also hard to get to and Chinese regulation make it impossible to do on your own, literally impossible. One of the newest regulation being that you must have at least 5 in your group with 4 of those being of the same nationality. This is just one hurdle of a myriad of regulation. (If you want to do this trip hire "Four Winds" we will get you there and out).
Now just hours away, breathing the rarefied air, and running the gauntlet of bureaucracy, I and I am sure all in the group felt privileged just to glimpse her slopes. It is a lifetime goal of every Tibetan Buddhist, and Hindu, to walk the Kora. Tibetans will walk the plateau for days with only a blanket, and water container to do the pilgrimage of suffering. The devotion of the Tibetans is made up of surrender, sacrifice, suffering, and runs high. It is not uncommon to see pilgrims prostrating the whole distance of the Kora. A pilgrim would bend to his/her knees, lay on his stomach, stretch his leathery hands as far in front of him as possible, rise to his feet, take one step, and repeat. I questioned weather there was any devotion greater than this and wondered if I would see such raw devotion on the Kora.
In the distance the road emptied into a valley. To the left sparkling brilliant light reflected off of a large body of water. Yes lake Manasarovar the holy lake. I knew Kailash would be west of here and my eyes scanned excitedly. There standing alone amongst the rolling brown hills stood a sentenel. Bright white snows with a soft pallor, a summit touching heavens doors, Mt Kailash! The occupants of the land cruiser grew excited then silent. We were viewing something extraordinary. As if entering a church we spoke very few words, the benevolent was present.
We turned south onto a dirt road. We would be camping next to the Chugu monastery, a place where very few others get to camp, on the shores of Manasarovar. Here we would spend 2 more days acclimatizing in the church of Kailash.