Mount Kailash, the abode of the venerated god Shiva according to the ancient Hindu traditions, is a major religious site for not only Hindus but also three other religious groups such as Jainism, Buddhism and Bon. Every year, thousands of pilgrims undertake an arduous journey to reach the holy mountain and circumambulate the 52 km path around it and take a dip in the holy Mansarovar Lake. This religious tradition has continued since thousands of years.
Mount Kailash is a pyramidal piece of rock that towers over 22,000 feet in the Trans-Himalayan region of Tibet. The mountain is located near the source of four rivers such as the Indus river, the Sutlej river, Karnaliriver and the Brahmaputra river.
Let’s have a look at the ten interesting facts about Mount Kailash.
1. Pyramidal shape of the mountain
The unusual shape of Mount Kailash continues to intrigue people all over the world. Russian scientists in fact have suggested that the mountain is not natural but a man-made giant pyramid. They also suggested that the mountain is a part of a vast complex of other smaller pyramids. The strict orientation of the mountain to all the cardinal points of the compass also lends credence to this theory.
2. Mansarovar Lake
Mansarovar Lake is a large freshwater lake located under the shadow of Mount Kailash. The existence of a large freshwater lake at such a high elevation of 4,590m above sea level is certainly impressive. The word Mansarovar has been derived from the Sanskrit words “Manas” meaning mind and “Sarovar” meaning lake. The lake is extremely beautiful with an emerald green colour at the centre and clear blue colour at the shores. The devotees make it a point to take a dip in the lake in order to attain spiritual peace.
3. The location
Mount Kailash is located at the axis of the world which is also called the axis mundi by different religious traditions. The mountain is in perfect synchronization with the poles of the earth and other ancient monuments. For example, it is at an exact distance of 6666 kilometres from the Stonehenge Monument. According to Hindu, Buddhist and Jain cosmology, the Mount Kailash connects the physical world to the spiritual world. Mount Kailash is also considered as the mythical Meru Mountain which is the spiritual axis of the world.
4. Rapid aging effect
The mountain is known to cause rapid aging in people who visit the area. People have reported a rapid growth of hair and nails in the vicinity of the mountain. For example, spending a 12 hours period near the mountain causes the length of the nails and hair to increase till a level which is only possible in two weeks duration under normal conditions. Speculations are made about a mysterious energy surrounding the mountain which causes rapid aging.
5. Shape of Swastika
Swastika is an ancient holy symbol in the Hindu traditions. Each and every day, the setting sun casts a shadow on the rocks of the mountain which is in the shape of a huge swastika. This incredible event of a swastika shaped shadow on the mountain is considered by the devotees to be a homage paid by the sun god to Lord Shiva.
6. Four faces of the mountain
The four faces of Mount Kailash are made of lapis lazuli, crystal and gold. This is in accordance with the Vishnu Purana description of the mountain. In the Purana, Mount Kailash has been called the “pillar of the world”.
7. Rakshas Tal and the isthmus of mountains
In addition to the Lake Mansarovar as described above, there is another lake called Rakshas Tal which is located next to the Mansarovar Lake but is separated from it by a thin isthmus of mountains. What is quite intriguing is the fact that while the Lake Mansarovar remains calm under every kind of weather conditions, the Rakhshas Tal is consistently stormy. These twin lakes carry a spiritual significance and are considered to be the symbols of the difference between the good and the bad.
8. The mystery of Shambhala
Mount Kailash has also been called the gateway to the mythical kingdom of Shambhala. The ancient Tibetan texts describe Shambhala as a spiritual country that is located north-west of Kailash. Shambhala is believed to be the land where the Kalchakra is hidden and has been the objective of many explorers who have searched for this hidden kingdom but nobody has been successful with many disappearing without a trace.
9. Isolated Mountain
Kailash Mountain sits in total isolation in the far western Tibet. It is one of the world’s most venerated holy place but also the least visited place. Few thousand pilgrims are able to reach this place every year though it is a place of worship for billions. This is because the treacherous route through the mountains, the absence of railways or air service and the extremely cold weather makes the journey very difficult for pilgrims.
10. Unclimbed Mountain
Mount Kailash has never been scaled successfully by any mountaineering team. There have been numerous attempts made to reach the summit of the mountain but in vain. The mountain mysteriously changes the target position and the climber is left moving in the opposite direction instead of reaching the summit. According to Buddhist legends, a Buddhist monk Milarepa is the only one to ever reach the summit of Mount Kailash. The Chinese government has now banned all mountaineering expeditions on Mount Kailash due to religious reasons.