How and why did Kailash become part of China: A brief discussion

How Mount Kailash become a part of China?: The Ancient History of Mount Kailash and Its Link to China



How and why did Kailash become part of China: A brief discussion

Mount Kailash has a special place in the hearts of devout Hindus of India. They believe this snow-capped mountain to be the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva. Every year, many Shiv-bhakts make the annual pilgrimage to Mount Kailash to pay their respects and seek blessings. If you want to know more about how Mount Kailash became a part of China, then it is best that you know more about Tibet.

Location of Mount Kailash

Mount Kailash is one of the highest peaks of the Kailash range, which forms a part of the Trans-himalayas. The Trans-himalayas are located in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Mount Kailash is thus a part of the kingdom of Tibet, which is under the authority of China. Lake Mansarovar is situated about 20 km from Mount Kailash. Both Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar are considered to be extremely sacred and thus Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is a pilgrimage most Hindus want to go on. The Government of India has routes for the Yatra though there are many private tour operators working in the arena as well.

Mount Kailash has never been a part of India in recent times

There has been no record of Mount Kailash ever being a part of India in recent history. There is no doubt that this is a peak that has been mentioned in several Hindu scriptures like the Vedas and the Skanda Purana, but the fact of the matter is that it was never under Indian control. There has been talk that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was responsible for Chinese occupation of Tibet and thereby Mount Kailash, but that is just political propaganda with absolutely no truth in it. There can be lots of debate regarding Nehru’s role in India-China relationship but when it comes to Kailash Mansarovar, the fact remains that he had no hand in it being under China authority.

British rule and Tibet

The imperial British wanted a hand in the pie that was Tibet and it tried its hand at wanting to gain control over at least a few parts of it. The British basically wanted control over the trading towns of Arunachal Pradesh. In 1904, the British armed with troops attacked the town of Lhasa. The British were not able to gain control over the land and instead a treaty was drawn up in which provisions were made to respect the frontiers of Sikkim and Tibet. It was done to make easy trade possible between the British and the Tibetans. 

The Chinese and Mount Kailash

The history of Tibet, the kingdom where Mount Kailash is located, is very ancient and very complicated. For centuries, it has been fought over by invaders and imperialists including China. The problem is that the history of Tibet is not very clear because of the lack of too many written records. Tibet is now an autonomous state of China and China has infused a lot of capital into it to make it a prosperous state. 

Visiting the “Kang Ripoche’’

That is what Mount Kailash is known as in Tibetan language. It means “most precious jewel of snow’’. Reaching Kailash Mansarovar is not as difficult as it was in ancient times. There are ample resources available to make the journey as easy and convenient as possible. One can go by helicopter or by overland routes on AC buses and cars. However, the ‘parikrama’ or covering the circuit of the mountain by foot is something that can be a difficult proposition for most people. The ‘parikrama’ is 52 km long and it has to be covered on foot because nothing else is available. A lot of pilgrims forego this trek because of time constraints or if they are unable to do it physically. It takes anything between 3 and 4 days to complete the trek.

So yes, Mount Kailash is a part of China but the Indian government has agreements which ensure that Indian pilgrims can visit it and pay their respects. Every year, many people do the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra with the power of faith in their hearts and will continue to do so. If you are planning to go on the Kailash Yatra, there are many avenues available to you that you can use to reach your destination safely. 

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