Best Time to Visit Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar in Tibet
The top of the mountain is 6656 meters above sea level. Mount Kailash is the main peak of the Gangdise Mountains in China and the second peak of the Gangdise Mountains. As one of the famous mountains in China, it is located in the northern part of Burang County, southwest of Tibet Autonomous region. It means “holy mountain” in Tibetan. At the altitude of more than 6000 meters above sea level, there are 28 modern glaciers, mainly corrie glaciers and hanging glaciers. There are more glaciers on the south slope than on the north slope. Manasarovar Lake is 35 kilometers east of Burang County, Ngari region, Tibet, south of Mount Kailash. The natural scenery around the lake is very beautiful. Since ancient times, Buddhist believers have regarded it as the “world center” of the holy land, it is the second largest natural freshwater lake in China, the most transparent freshwater lake in China, and one of the three “holy lakes” in Tibet. It is also the birthplace of the four major rivers in Asia.
Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar are regarded “Holy Mountain” and “Holy Lake” in Tibet. For centuries, Mt. Kailash has been the ultimate destination for pilgrims and adventurers. Prostration is a unique way for Tibetan pilgrims to worship this holy mountain. In the pilgrimage season, pilgrims of different religions from Tibet, India, and Nepal form endless streams along the ancient kora routes. It is said that going one circle round the holy mountain can wash away all sins in an entire year.
Weather of Kailash Manasarovar
Like most areas of Tibet, the Mount Kailash have a large temperature difference between daytime and night. The climate is mild and pleasant from May to August. The average temperature in Summer is around 15℃, which is ideal for outdoor activities, such as going to kora and visiting nearby temples. Heavy rainfall from July to August makes it harder to pass through the rugged path in this area. From September to November, rainfall is less and the average temperature drops to 10℃. December to April in the following year has the coldest days in the whole year. Winter temperatures range from 5℃ to minus 15℃, and the surrounding areas of Mount Kailash are often covered by snow and ice, making it dangerous to get there. During these periods, sharp temperature reduction can often occur.
Best Time to Visit Mount Kailash
The summer months in Tibet is also the rainy season. Although it is not impossible to visit the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar during the summer time, this is not an ideal time. Especially if you’re going to walk the kora routes around the mountain. November to March is also not a good time to visit the mountain, because you may camp during hiking tour and it’s too cold in winter months. The mountain and its pass are covered by heavy snow in winter, making it dangerous to take the Kora route.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar is from April to June and from September to October, because the winter in Ngari is much earlier than in the rest of Tibet. This is the best time to hike on the mountain because the sky is clear during the daytime and it is not too cold at night. More importantly, is the scenery of the mountain. Under the clear sky and warm weather, the mountain seemed to shine with its own light, as if God really lives there, and the most spectacular view could be seen from the famous Dolma La pass. At other times of the year, the areas around the Mount Kailash is covered with snow and ice. Hiking in these places is very dangerous in winter. If you plan to travel to Mount Kailash in June and July, you’d better book at least three months in advance, as a large number of pilgrims always book out all hotels on their way to Mount Kailash.
Also, the Saga Dawa Festival is hold on April 15 in the Tibetan Calendar, which usually falls on May or June of Solar Calendar. It is one of the holiest festivals of Tibetan Buddhists. During the festival, Tibetans will gather together in this area of Mount Kailash to celebrate the most important annual festival there.
Mount Kailash Kora
One of the most popular attractions of Mount Kailash is the 52-kilometer Kora route around the mountain. The route is popular among Tibetans and tourists, and it attracts tens of thousands of people to experience in Ngari of western Tibet. Meantime, the Kora route around Mount Kailash is also one of the most difficult routes in Tibet, which can take about three days to complete if you walk at a normal pace. However, some people in Tibet will complete this long kora route in a short day to gain more merit on their journey towards enlightenment.
There are actually two Kora routes around Mount Kailash, inner route and outer route. The outer route is a common route for tourists and pilgrims, because it surrounds the whole mountain in a large circle, beginning and ending in the village of Darchen. Although the outer kora route around the mountain has been a difficult road, the inner kora route is even more difficult to walk.
Lake Manasarovar Kora
Another sacred place in Ngari, and another kora route walked by many pilgrims right after Mt. Kailash, is Lake Manasarovar. One of the three holy lakes in Tibet, along with Namtso Lake and Yamdrok Lake, Manasarovar is the highest freshwater lake in the world. Located at the southern foot of Mt. Kailash, it has an elevation of 4,590 meters and is a sacred place for the four religions. For religious believers, drinking the water or bathing in the lake is believed to cleanse all the sins of a lifetime.
Kora around Lake Manasarovar is a four-day walking route. Lake water perfectly reflects the blue sky and white clouds like a mirror. Walking 110 kilometers along the lake, you will pass 5 Buddhist monasteries along the way: Chiu Monastery, Langbona Monastery, Seralung Monastery, Trupo Monastery, and Gossul Monastery. Some monasteries have hotels, but most pilgrims camp outdoors, which gives you a better understanding of Kora around the lake. Although it is good to stay in a temple for at least one night, as it is not that often one can spend a night in a true Tibetan Buddhist temple, which is an experience you can’t miss.
Tibetan pilgrims always set out from the Chiu Monastery in the northwest of the lake, which is widely considered to be the best place to start the Kora. Like all Buddhist and Hindu Korans, the walking is clockwise, while Bonpo’s followers are counterclockwise. If you have just completed Mount Kailash kola and continue to do Lake Manasarovar Kora, you will feel a great sense of achievement on completing two of the most famous and respected hiking trips in Tibetan Buddhism.