Tibet, the roof of the world and land of the snow. For centuries this mysterious Buddhist kingdom, locked away in its mountain fastness of the Himalaya, has exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the West. For explorers, imperialists and traders it was a forbidden land of treasure and riches. Dreamers on a spiritual quest have long whispered of a lost Shangri-la, steeped in magic and mystery. When the doors were finally flung open in the mid-1980s, Tibet lay in ruins. Between 1950 and 1970, the Chinese wrested control of the plateau, drove the Tibetans’ spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and some 100, 000 of Tibet’s finest into exile and systematically dismantled most of the Tibetan cultural and historical heritage, all in the name of revolution. For a while images of the Buddha were replaced by icons of Chairman Mao.
Today, Tibetan pilgrims across the country are once again mumbling mantras and swinging their prayer wheels in temples that are heavy with the thick intoxicating aroma of juniper incense and yak butter. Monasteries have been restored across the country, along with limited religious freedoms. A walk around Lhasa’s lively Barkhor pilgrimage circuit is proof enough that the efforts of the communist Chinese to build a brave new roof of the world have foundered on the remarkable and inspiring faith of the Tibetan people. SoTibet is without doubt one of the most remarkable places to visit in Asia.
Mt. Kailash is a striking peak in the Himalayan of western Tibet. The source of some of the longest rivers in Asia, Kailash is a sacred mountain for four faiths: Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and followers of the indigenous Tibetan religion. Next to the mountain you will see the beautiful Manasarowar Lake. Every year, thousands make a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating (walking around) Mount Kailash will remove sins and bring good fortune. The pilgrimage around the sacred mountain is called the Kailash Kora. It is said that one trip around the sacred mountain will wipe away all the sins (bad karma) of one's current lifetime; 108 revolutions will remove the sins of all one's lifetimes and bring salvation from reincarnation (moksa). Alternatively, pilgrims who complete one circumbulation of Kailash and bathe in the frigid waters of Lake Mansarovar will also bring salvation.