In the west of Tibet you can find the most holy mountain in the world: Kailash. The mountain dominates the landscape with its distinctive four-sided peak.
The four walls of the peak are facing the cardinal directions, the southern wall is marked by a vertical cleft, punctuated by a horizontal line halfway down. This resembles a Buddhist symbol of spiritual strength, another feature that contributed to Mount Kailash’s mythical status.
The 6,714m peak is covered in snow all year round. Streams coming from it feed into four great Asian rivers that are major sources of water on the Indian subcontinent and the peak is said to be the abode of gods. The summit has not been conquered by any human yet, to confirm whether this myth is true. Some people were close to doing so, but abandoned their attempt when faced with the veneration of the mountain.
Mount Kailash has been an object of worship for four major religions. Hindus see in it the abode of Shiva, to Buddhist it is the home of Demchok. The Jains revere it as the site at which the first of their saints was emancipated and for the ancient Bön of Tibet it was the place where their founder alighted from heaven.
The mountain has been drawing pilgrims and sparked people’s fantasies for centuries. Legend says the mountain is the navel of the world, and it is believed Kailash might be the mythical Mount Meru.
A kora (clockwise circumambulation) of Mount Kailash will, according to Buddhism, erase all the current sins of a person, 108 koras will lead to immediate enlightenment, in some years a kora is worth more than in others.