Katmandu, Nepal - Mt Kailash - Lhasa, Tibet
July 16th to July 28, 2019
Cost - Early Bird Price $5495.00 Double Occupancy until 2/1/19 (Deposit Required before 2/1/19)
Starting in Katmandu and touring overland through the Himalayas to Mt Kailash. Enjoying spectacular scenary and visiting many local Buddhist Monasteries including the famous Bon Monastery of Gurugyam. Touring the ruins of the ancient Guge Kingdom along with the Tsaparang and much more. Lastly, trekking around the holy mountain, Mt Kailash for three days before flying to Lhasa for an overnight stay then flying home.
Ask about a tour in Lhasa for 5 more days for an add-on to this amazing journey.
Tibetan Buddhists call it Kangri Rinpoche; 'Precious Snow Mountain'. Bon texts have many names: Water's Flower, Mountain of Sea Water, Nine Stacked Swastika Mountain. For Hindus, it is the home of the wild mountain god Shiva and a symbol of his penis; for Jains it is where their first leader was enlightened; for Buddhists, the navel of the universe; and for adherents of Bon, the abode of the sky goddess Sipaimen.
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. Mount Kailash is considered to be sacred in four religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Bön and Jainism.
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.
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. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. It is a popular belief that the stairways on Mount Kailash lead to heaven.
Day 1, Jul 16th, arrive at Kathmandu airport and pick up and transfer to hotel, Shangri-la hotel
Day 2, Jul 17th , Kathmandu city tour of Kathmandu City, Swayambhunath and Patan City
Kathmandu’s Durbar Square is one of three durbar (royal palace) squares in the Kathmandu Valley. It is the site of the Hanuman Dhoka Palace Complex, which was the royal Nepalese residence until the 19th century and where important ceremonies, such as the coronation of the Nepalese monarch, still take place today. The two-hectare (five-acre) palace complex is divided into two main chowks, or courtyards, and was initially constructed in the 16th century, although subsequent additions were made in the Shah (Gurkha) dynasty in the 18th century and by the Rana rulers in the 19th century. The palace is decorated with elaborately-carved wooden windows and panels and houses the King Tribhuwan Memorial Museum, dedicated to the monarch who opened up Nepal to the outside world, and the Mahendra Museum, dedicated to his son, King Mahendra. It is also possible to visit the State Rooms inside the palace. At the southern end of Durbar Square is one of the most curious attractions in Nepal, the Kumari Chowk. This gilded cage contains the Raj Kumari, a young girl chosen through an ancient and mystical selection process to become the human incarnation of the Hindu mother goddess, Durba. She is worshipped during religious festivals and makes public appearances at other times for a fee paid to her guards.
Swayambhunath the golden spire of the 5th-century Swayambhu stupa is adorned with a colourful fluttering of prayer flags; it crowns a hill overlooking the Kathmandu Valley and offers fantastic views over the city of Kathmandu. Swayambhunath is one of the most recognisable symbols in Nepal and the painted eyes of Buddha watch all who ascend the worn stone steps. It is a World Heritage Site and one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal, and is at the source of the Valley’s mythical beginning. Legend has it that the history of the Valley began with the draining of an ancient lake by an Enlightened Being to reveal the Valley and a lotus flower was transformed into the hill and the shining light became the stupa itself. Swarms of pilgrims and red-clad monks circle the complex, spinning the prayer wheels, while the scores of monkeys that give the temple its nickname, Monkey Temple, prance about in irreverent groups. Interestingly the temple complex is scattered with shrines and statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities and the assortment of pilgrims from both faiths characterises the country’s unique religious harmony
Patan City: Patan is 15 minutes drive from Kathmandu. Lalitpur, the city of beauty is separated from Kathmandu only by the Bagmati River and is the second largest town in the valley. Lalitpur is fragmented from other cities due to its substantive architectural ancient masterpieces. Patan's central Durbar Square is absolutely packed with temples: Its an architectural center point with a far greater concentration of temples per sq. meter than in Kathamandu or Bhaktapur.
Krishna Mandir which is one of the grandeur of the square was built in 1637 by the king Siddhinarsingh Malla. The entire temple is constructed from the stone. Golden Temple which is the unique Buddhist Monastery was founded in the 12th century which is a large rectangular building has three roofs and a copper gilded facade with the images of Buddha and Avalokitesvara where there are Buddha images and illustrations on the walls. The square has been unrestrainedly adorned by the Bhimsen Temple, Manga Hiti, Vishwanath Temple, Jagannarayan Temple, Golden Temple and numerous. Take the pleasure of discovering this Patan Durbar Square which has been entitled in the World Heritage Site.
Day 3, Jul 18th Kathmandu city tour of Pashupatinath，Bodhnath and Bhaktapur City
Pashupatinath the most important Hindu temple in Nepal, its one of the most important Shiva temples on the subcontinent and draws numerous devotees from all over India each year. Pashupati is considered to have a special concern for the kingdom of Nepal. Pashupatinath, an ancient plinth, by the banks of the holy Bagmati River, stands the 16th century of Pashupatinath - Shiva, as Lord of all Creatures. The old buildings on the site were destroyed by Moslem invaders in the 14th century, its stone linga smashed to dust, but it rose again behind their retreating backs. Succeeding monarchs reinstated the temple and the images. The flowing Bagmati is a holy river and the ghats (crematorium) at its bank are the earnest Hindus truest cremation center.
Bouddhanath is among the largest stupas in South Asia, and it has become the focal point of Tibetan Buddhism in Nepal. The white mound looms thirty-six meters overhead. The stupa is located on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and Tibetan merchants rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When refugees entered Nepal from Tibet in the 1950s, many of them decided to live around Bouddhanath. They established many gompas, and the "Little Tibet" of Nepal was born. This "Little Tibet" is still the best place in the Valley to observe Tibetan lifestyle. Monks walk about in maroon robes. Tibetans walk with prayer wheels in their hands, and the rituals of prostration are presented to the Buddha as worshippers circumambulate the stupa on their hands and knees, bowing down to their lord.
Bhaktapur City: Bhaktapur Durbar Square is a conglomeration of pagoda and shikhara style temples grouped around a fifty-five window palace of brick and wood. The square is one of the most charming architectural showpieces of the Valley as it highlights the ancient arts of Nepal. The golden effigies of kings perched on the top of stone monoliths, the guardian deities looking out from their sanctuaries, the wood carvings in every place-struts, lintels, uprights, tympanums, gateways and windows, all seem to form a well orchestrated symphony. The main items of interest in the Durbar Square are:
The Golden Gate: The Golden Gate is said to be the most beautiful and richly moulded specimen of its kind in the entire world. The door is surmounted by a figure of the goddess Kali and Garuda (the mythical man bird) and attended by two heavenly nymphs. It is also embellished with mythical creatures of marvellous intricacy, In the words of Percy Brown, an eminent English art critic and historian, the Golden Gate is the most lovely piece of art in the whole Kingdom: It is placed like a jewel, flashing innumerable facets in the handsome setting of its surroundings. The gate was erected by King Ranjit Malla and is the entrance of the main courtyard of the Palace of Fifty five Windows.
The Palace of Fifty five Windows: This magnificent palace was built during the reign of King Yakshya Malla in A.D. 1427 and was subsequently remodelled by King Bhupatindra Malla in the seventeenth century. Among the brick walls with their gracious setting and sculptural design, is a balcony with Fifty five Windows, considered to be a unique masterpiece of woodcarving
Day 4, Jul 19th , Kathmandu to Syabrubesi 137KM(7 hrs) , guesthouse at Syabrubesi
Drive crossing the deep gorge at the edge of Himalaya – Beautiful Kyirong
While the altitude coming down the mountains turns green and the snow melts into streams and waterfalls. We drive down along winding road to Kyirong, the border city of Tibet. You will see the green gorges at the edge of Himayala mountain, and the landscape makes big change from snow land.
Day5, Jul 20th Kyirong -Saga (200km, 7hrs driving)
Drive across Peiku-tso Lake and view Mt. Shishabangma
40km to the east of Gyirong county and has an elevation of 4600 meters, is a beautiful alpine lake, with a water area over 300 square kilometers. The light salty lake is near the world's fourteenth highest mountain,Shishapangma. Peiku Tso is an ideal place for tourists to enjoy the stunning reflection of Mt. Shishapangmang and listen to the faint whisper of Yarlung Tsangpo, which is 60 kilometers away from Peku Tso.
By the lake are a lot of nesting birds, and other wild animals such as Tibetan antelope, wild donkeys, wild horses, wolves, foxes, deer, gazelle, black-necked cranes as well as yaks and sheep. On the way from Kyirong to Tingri, Peiku-tso Lake is a good scenic spot.
: Saga to Darchen(9hrs, 450km)
Lake Manasarova & Mt. Kailash, moving towards the Drongpa County, the region around the sources of Brahmaputra River, which is about 167km from the Saga town. In late afternoon, we will reach Darchen, a small town at the foot of Mt. Kailash. Tour guide will help clients to make reservation of porters and Yaks if clients need (extra charge) and do some preparation for your following 3 days trekking around Mt.Kailash.
Day 7 Jul 22nd Darchen – Zanda (250km 5hrs driving)
Drive from Darchen to Zanda, visit guge kingdom ruins
Guge was founded in the 10th century. Its capitals were located at Tholing Coordinates: 31°28′55″N 79°48′01″E and Tsaparang. Nyi ma mgon, a great-grandson of Langdarma, the last monarch of the Tibetan Empire, left insecure conditions in Ü-Tsang in 910. He established a kingdom in Ngari (West Tibet) in or after 912 and annexed Puhrang and Guge. He established his capital in Guge.
Nyi ma mgon later divided his lands into three parts. The king's eldest son dPal gyi mgon became ruler of Mar-yul (Ladakh), his second son bKra shis mgon received Guge-Puhrang, and the third son lDe gtsug mgon received Zanskar. bKra shis mgon was succeeded by his son Srong nge or Ye shes 'Od (947–1024 or (959–1036), who was a renowned Buddhist figure. In his time a Tibetan lotsawa from Guge called Rinchen Zangpo (958–1055), after having studied in India, returned to his homeland as a monk to promote Buddhism. Together with the zeal of Ye shes 'Od, this marked the beginning of a new diffusion of Buddhist teachings in western Tibet. In 988 Ye shes 'Od took religious vows and left kingship to his younger brother Khor re.
According to later historiography the Turkic Karluks took the Guge king Ye shes 'Od prisoner during a war. The episode has a prominent place in Tibetan history writing. The Karluks offered to set him free if he renounced Buddhism which he refused to do. They then demanded his weight in gold to release him. His junior kinsman Byang chub 'Od visited him in his prison with a small retinue, but Ye shes 'Od admonished him not to use the gold at hand for ransom, but rather to invite the renowned Mahayana sage Atiśa (982-1054). Ye shes 'Od eventually died in prison from age and poor treatment. The story is historically debated since it contains chronological inconsistencies.
In 1037, Khor re's eldest grandson 'Od lde was killed in a conflict with the Kara-Khanid Khanate from Central Asia, who subsequently ravaged Ngari. His brother Byang chub 'Od (984–1078), a Buddhist monk, took power as secular ruler. He was responsible for inviting Atiśa to Tibet in 1040 and thus ushering in the so-called Chidar (Phyi-dar) phase of Buddhism in Tibet. Byang chub 'Od's son rTse lde was murdered by his nephew in 1088. This event marked the break-up of the Guge-Purang kingdom, since one of his brothers was established as separate king of Purang. The usurping nephew dBang lde continued the royal dynasty in Guge.
A new Kara-Khanid invasion of Guge took place before 1137 and cost the life of the ruler, bKra shis rtse. Later in the same century the kingdom was temporarily divided. In 1240 the Mongol khagan, at least nominally, gave authority over the Ngari area to the Drigung Monastery in Ü-Tsang.
Grags pa lde was an important ruler who united the Guge area around 1265 and subjugated the related Ya rtse (Khasa) kingdom. After his death in 1277 Guge was dominated by the Sakya monastic regime. After 1363, with the decline of the Mongol Yuan dynasty and their Sakya protégés, Guge was again strengthened and took over Purang in 1378. Purang was henceforth contested between Guge and Mustang, but was finally integrated in the former. Guge also briefly ruled over Ladakh in the late 14th century. From 1499 the Guge king had to acknowledge the Rinpungpa rulers of Tsang. The 15th and 16th centuries were marked by a considerable Buddhist building activity by the kings, who frequently showed their devotion to the Gelug leaders later known as the Dalai Lamas.
Tsaparang, the ruins of the ancient capital of Guge
The first Westerners to reach Guge were a Jesuit missionary, António de Andrade, and his companion, brother Manuel Marques, in 1624. De Andrade reported seeing irrigation canals and rich crops in what is now a dry and desolate land. Perhaps as evidence of the kingdom's openness, de Andrade's party was allowed to construct a chapel in Tsaparang and instruct the people about Christianity. A letter by De Andrade relates that some military commanders revolted and called the Ladakhis to overthrow the ruler. There had been friction between Guge and Ladakh for many years, and the invitation was heeded in 1630. The Ladakhi forces laid siege to the almost impenetrable Tsaparang. The King's brother, who was chief lama and thus a staunch Buddhist, advised the pro-Christian ruler to surrender against keeping the state as tributary ruler. This treacherous advice was eventually accepted. Tibetan sources suggest that the Guge population was maintained in their old status. A legend has it that the Ladakhi army slaughtered most of the people of Guge, about 200 of whom managed to survive and fled to Qulong. The last king Khri bKra shis Grags pa lde was brought to Ladakh as prisoner with his kin, and died there. The King's brother-lama was killed by the Ladakhis. Later on the last male descendant of the dynasty moved to Lhasa where he died in 1743.
Tsaparang and the Guge kingdom were later conquered in 1679–80 by the Lhasa-based Central Tibetan government under the leadership of the 5th Dalai Lama, driving out the Ladakhis.
Day 8 Jul 23rd Zanda . visit
Gurugyam Bön Monastery - Tsaparang; - Tholing monastery
Gurugyam Bön Monastery and very close is also Khyunglung which is an amazing complex of caves set in the hills on the north bank of the Sutlej River about 30 km west of the hotsprings and gompa of Tirthapuri and the nearby coal mining town of Moincer/Montser in the modern Chinese prefecture of Ali/Ngari in the Tibet Autonomous Region. There are further ancient ruins on the hilltops above the Bon monastery of Gurugem/Gurugyam which are only 6 km from Tirthapuri. There is very little published about these sites and virtually no archaeological investigations have been carried out.
The caves of Khyunglung are generally small (about 4 square metres) and have a small raised fireplace at the far end. However, almost without exception, they have no chimney and the blackened ceilings make it clear that the smoke exited the cave through the only entrance, making them thick with smoke when the fire was in use. Many of the cave are filled with ancient artifacts dating back to the time of the Zhangzhung. These artifacts include small stones inscribed with ancient Tibetan script, stone statues of Bon deities, and various vases and pots. There is also no obvious recess for a bed or other storage. It seems that these fires were used for sacrificial offerings and some are still in use today as the scattering of bones, feathers etc. make clear.
There are no visible springs on site, no water channels or wells and it is therefore probable that water from the river was used. However the caves are downstream of a large sulfurous hotspring and the water in the Sutlej at this point is barely potable (John Snelling, The Sacred Mountain). In addition the immediate vicinity of the caves show no signs of agriculture - there are no terraces for fields and the grazing land is very poor. All in all this seems a very strange site for a permanently occupied city.
It has been suggested that Kyunglung was never a city as such, but more of a "convention centre for Bonpo magicians" and that the caves were used for ceremonial purposes during times when the clans gathered. Possible camping grounds for the main retinue would be around the modern village of Khyunglung a few kilometres upstream where the valley is somewhat broader or the area between Gurugem and Tirthapuri which is still heavily used by yak and sheep herding nomads today. The ruins above Gurugem appear to be a more likely site for permanent habitation but much more study would be needed to establish this.
Day 9, Jul 24th, Zanda – Manasarovar lake (250km, 5hrs driving)
Visit Manasarovar lake and drive to Darchen for onviernight
According to Hinduism, the Lake Manasarovar was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma after which it manifested on Earth In Hinduism, Lake Manasarovar is a personification of purity, and one who drinks water from the lake will go to the abode of Shiva after death. He is believed to be cleansed of all his sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Nepal, Tibet and neighboring countries. Bathing in Manasarovar and drinking its water is believed by Hindus to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organized regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the yearly "Kailash Manas Sarovar Yatra". Pilgrims come to take ceremonial baths in the waters of the lake.
Lake Manasarovar has long been viewed by the pilgrims as being nearby to the sources of four great rivers of Asia, namely the Brahmaputra, Ghaghara, Sindhu and Sutlej, thus it is an axial point which has been thronged to by pilgrims for thousands of years. The region was closed to pilgrims from the outside following the Battle of Chamdo; no foreigners were allowed between 1951 and 1980. After the 1980s it has again become a part of the Indian pilgrim trail.
According to the Hinduism, the lake was first created in the mind of Brahma after which it manifested on Earth. Hence it is called "Manasa sarovaram", which is a combination of the Sanskrit words for "mind" and "lake". The lake is also supposed to be the summer abode of the hamsa. Considered to be sacred, the hamsa is an important element in the symbology of the subcontinent, representing wisdom and beauty.
According to Hindu theology, there are five sacred lakes; collectively called Panch-Sarovar; Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar. They are also mentioned in Shrimad Bhagavata Purana.
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.
Buddhists associate the lake with the legendary lake Anavatapta (Sanskrit; Pali Anotatta) where Maya is believed to have conceived Buddha. The lake has a few monasteries on its shores, the most notable of which is the ancient Chiu Monastery built on a steep hill, looking as if it has been carved right out of the rock.
The lake is very popular in Buddhist literature and associated with many teachings and stories. Buddha, it is reported, stayed and meditated near this lake on several occasions. Lake Manasarovar is also the subject of the meditative Tibetan tradition, "The Jewel of Tibet". A modern narration and description of the meditation was made popular by Robert Thurman.
In Jainism, Lake Manasarovar is associated with the first Tirthankara, Rishabha. As per Jain scriptures, the first Tirthankar, Bhagwan Rushabhdev, had attained nirvana on the Ashtapad Mountain. The son of Bhagwan Rishabhdev, Chakravati Bharat, had built a palace adorned with gems on the Ashtapad Mountain located in the serene Himalayas.There are many stories related to Ashtapad Maha Tirth like Kumar and Sagar's sons, Tapas Kher Parna, Ravan and Mandodri Bhakti, among many others.]
Day 10 Jul 25th Mt.Kailashi Kora Day 1
Trek day one - Darchen to Drirapuk (6.5 hrs, 11km)
8 kilometers after leaving Darchen with Eco-bus (20minutes), we get to a village called Sershung, where porters are waiting for their clients. From here we begin our trek around Mt.Kailash, during your trek you can see a lot of pilgrims prostrating along the path and plies of Mani stones, small scenic sites and west face of Mt. Kailash. On the way, there are some tent shops you can refresh yourself and drink some soft drinks. First day's trek ends at guest house on the opposite side of Drirapuk Monastery. If you have more energy, you can visit Drirapuk Monastery on your own. from the guesthouse, you can have stunning view of north face of Mt. Kailash.
Stay overnight at the guesthouse.
Day 11, Jul 26th Mt.Kailashi kora day 2
Dolma-la Pass 5630mThe second day is the hardest and most tough circuit with the Dolma-la pass lying 6.4km ahead. The peak of Dolma-la pass is about 5630m above sea level, so it is better to set off early in the morning as the sun rays break over the ridges above. After taking a rest at the peak of Dolma-la pass, you will descend staircase bringing you to Lhachu valley floor, on the way you can see the small beautiful lake called Khandotso. From here it is still four hours trekking to the today's final destination with no shelters on the way. the second day trek's destination is Zutulpuk. if have energy, you can visit the Zutulpuk Monastery and its miracle cave of milarepa.
Stay overnight at the guesthouse
Day 12, July 27th Mt.Kailashi Kora day 3 and transfer to ali town for overnight stay
Trek day three- Zutulpuk to Darchen (11km, 4hours )
We continue our Kora to Darchen, is easy and the exit from the valley can be reached within 4 hours walk. At the ending point of the valley, you can take the ECO friendly bus to Darchen(4km).
(Optional) After trekking we take a drive to Chui Gompa (4560 m). Besides taking bath in the Holy Lake Mansarovar you will also have free time for puja if you are Hinduist or like to do it. After all this if time permits you can have a bath in the hot spring water at the lake side (additional charges for bathing in Hot Spring not covered in the package).
Then transfer you to ali town in later afternoon
Day 13, Jul 28th Fly from Ali to Lhasa and end up the service
Transfer you from airport to fly to lhasa , you will arrive in lhasa in noon time
Non Refundable deposit to hold space on trip: $500.00
All accommodation on twin room sharing
Professional English speaking tour guides
All entrance tickets listed in the itinerary including shuttle bus fee and river cruise fee
Bottled water provided each day
Travel casualty insurance
Service fee & tax
Round-way International airfare or train tickets Sightseeing, service and any other meal not mentioned in the itinerary
Visa fee, passport application or renewal fee.
Tips for guides, escort, drives, bellboy, etc.
Personal expenses such as excess luggage fees, laundry, postage, communications and beverages.
Optional meals and shows mentioned in the itinerary, which will be added up if the clients desire to take the activities.
Applicable taxes or government fees.
Any other changes caused by the acts of God, natural disasters, fires, weather, governmental and local authority orders, political change, strikes, war, riots, quarantine, custom regulations, damages or injury caused by accident beyond the control of the tour organizer and that has incurred due to the tourist action violating the laws.
Any items not specified in the plan.