Day 7 : Drirapuk to Darchen

Mt. Kailash playing hide and seek in the cover image above.

Mount Kailash is a peak in the Kailas Range (Gangdise Mountains), which in turn are part of the greater Trans-Himalaya mountain ranges. It lies near the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia: the Indus River, the Sutlej River (a major tributary of the Indus River), the Brahmaputra River, and the Karnali River (a tributary of the River Ganga). It is considered a sacred place among four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism,  Jainism and Bön, a Tibetian religion, that is derived from Buddhism.

In Jainism, Kailash is also known as Meru Parvat or Sumeru. The Tibetan name for the mountain is Gangs Rin-po-che, when translated means ‘precious jewel of snow’.

According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance and illusion, resides at the summit of a legendary mountain named Kailās, where he sits in a state of perpetual meditation along with his wife Pārvatī.

According to one description in the Vishnu Purana, the four sides of the Mt. Kailash are made of crystal, ruby, gold, and lapis.It is a pillar of the world and is located at the heart of six mountain ranges symbolizing a lotus.

Mt. Kailash is 6,638 m (21,778 ft) in height and its dome is coveted with snow / ice year round.

Photos from day 5 of this trip were of the Southern face of Mt. Kailash. The view that we get to see from Drirapuk is the Western face and this is in fact the closest point during the entire 3 days of the outer parikrama. When one continues on the day 2 and day 3 of outer parikrama, we do not get to see Mt. Kailash at all.

If one wishes to see and photograph the Northern and Eastern faces of Mt. Kailash, they need to go on the inner kora or inner parikrama. May be someday I will get there and photograph those sides as well.

All the photos below were taken on day 2 of the parikrama. We had decided not to go further but head back to Darchen on the second day. So we had a slightly late start, which gave me about an hour in the morning to walk around our hotel to try and photography the West face of Mt. Kailash.

Weather had cleared when compared to the prvious day, but the Kailash was still covered in clouds, parts of it getting cleared every now and then. I never really got a chance to see the mountain without any clouds on it. Here are some of the snaps of the western face of Mt. Kailash, that I shot that morning:

The closest view of Mt. Kailash during parikrama.


Lot of people interpret what they see on the face of Mt. Kailash as different things. Some folks see two eyes in the photo below:


Looks like animals shapes to me…. what do you see ?

Here is one more snap of the western face of Mt. Kailash, partially covered by clouds.


Wide angle view of the valley along with Mt. Kailash to the left, shrouded in mystery. Path of the parikram is from the right of the image to the left, we come up the valley on the right side and then go left. This valley is perhaps my favorite part of the entire trip.


Here is a slightly closer view of the valley.


We got back to Darchen that afternoon, thinking that we had it rough. We found out later on that a lady from some other group had passed away the previous day due to severe altitude sickness.

From our own group of 49, two of them were evacuated because of breathing difficulties and one person fell down from his pony and broke his wrist. First aid was provided at Darchen and he was evacuated to Kathmandu as well, where he was operated on for his fracture. We take x-rays for granted here in our cities, but there was no facility to even take x-ray of the broken hand. He had to travel back, almost 1200 kms, before he could be attended to with proper health care.

So it was a bitter sweet day. We were sad for our fellow pilgrims who had to be evacuated, but happy that we were blessed with enough strength to not only see Mt. Kailash at its closest, but also complete the first day of the parikrama.

We were a content lot and went to sleep that night looking forward to our travel back home. But somewhere at the back of my mind, I knew I was going to miss the 4 magical days / night that we spent in the vicinity of the mystical Mt. Kailash and Manasa Sarovar.