Shrines At Kailash

Shrines at Mt. Kailash: What are the Places of Interest and Worship near Kailash Mountain?



While going on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, the devotees get the chance to visit many shrines along with Mount Kailash Lord Shiva. The details of various Mount Kailash shrines is mentioned below: 

Lake Mansarovar

Mansarovar Lake, one of the highest freshwater lakes in the world, is situated at a height of 4600 meters towards the west of Rakshastal and north of Mount Kailash. Tibetans refer to Mansarovar Lake as Lake Mapham Yumtso, which translates to "invincible lake."

The Sanskrit words Mana, which means "mind," and Sarovar, which means "lake," are combined to form the word "Mansarovar." According to Hindu mythology, Lake Mansarovar was initially created in Lord Brahma's (the deity of creation) mind before being brought into existence on Earth. Lake Mansarovar has been described as a sacred body of water where Lord Shiva and Lord Indra once swam as swans.

According to Buddhist literature, Queen Maya, the mother of Lord Buddha, took a bath at Lake Mansarovar before giving birth to her son. There is a cluster of 5 Buddhist monasteries on the bank of Mansarovar Lake, namely Chiu Gompa (most popular), Gossul, Seralung, Yerngo and Trugo.

Lake Mansarovar is incredibly alluring with its deep blue water and breathtaking backdrop of snow-capped mountains. While sitting on the bank of Lake Manasarovar, the yatries can enjoy this magnificent freshwater lake changing colour from blue to green as the sun gets closer.

It is believed that taking a dip in the Manasarovar jheel will help in overcoming lustful urges, restless thoughts, and previous wrongdoings, and drinking the holy water will keep you fit and free from disease. The Parikrama of Mansarovar Lake offers pilgrims countless advantages, therefore all the pilgrims coming for the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra regard visiting Lake Mansarovar as their greatest blessing.

Rakshastal Lake

Rakshastal or the lake of the Demon is situated in Tibet near Kailash Mansarovar. The lake is located at south of Mount Kailash and just west of Mansarovar lake bears no significance or relevance to its immediate neighbor. The lake covers a huge area of 250 km at an altitude of 4,575 meters. Even in the absence of grassland and greenery nearby, the deep blue lake looks absolutely stunning and beautiful.

The name Rakshastal comes from Sanskrit and its literal meaning is the lake of the demons or Rakshas. The Lake Rakashtal is known as Ravana Tal as well. The lake itself was the place where Ravana the ten headed Asur had prayed to Lord Shiva. Ravana was a Shiva Bhakt and he wished to take Lord Shiva along with him to Lanka, his home place. He requested Lord Shiva for the same but Shiva refused to the offer and continued living in Kailash. Seeing this denial of Lord Shiva, Ravana decided to bring the whole Kailash to Lanka along with Shiva. But as Shiva was a person who loved nature, loneliness, serenity and isolation, Shiva forced the mountain down in its place. And in order to do so, one of the leg thumbs of Ravana got below the holy mountain and got crushed. But Ravana was such a dedicated devotee; he didn’t bother of his pain and continued praying Lord Shiva. Since Ravana was a Rakash & prayed Lord Shiva with Shiv Tandav Strotam at Lake or Taal in hindi, for residing in Lanka, this place in Kailash area is known as Rakashtal.

Rakshastal Lake

Seeing his sheer dedication and devotion a pleased Shiva gave Ravana a Shivlingam and stated that wherever Ravana place the lingam, it will remain there and the place will be known as Shiva’s abode. During Ravana’s journey back to Lanka God Indra offered him help and put the Shivlingam there on gorund at Rameshwaram, the same place Lord Ram has performed Yagya before attacking Lanka and Ravana. Ram wanted Yagya to be performed by greatest Brahim priest & in that era Ravana was world's most knowledgeable Brahmin .So Ram requested Ravana to perform this Yagya for him. Ravana knew that what this Yagya is about and he understood that the Gods are coming for war against him, still he accepted the invitation & performed Yagya Puja with full vedic rituals in favour of Ram at Rameshwaram. Thus Rameshwaram is known as  1 of the 12 Jyotirlingam.

Difference between Rakshas Tal and Mansarovar Lake:

The two lake at the foot of Mount Kailash are exactly opposite of each other even being so closed at proximity. The Mansarovar Lake is known to be calm and composed where on the other hand, Rakshastal Lake just being 2.7 km away from Mansarovar is known to be stormy and windy. The Rakshastal water is salty which disables it to inhabit any life within itself or near the lake. The peaceful nature of Mansarovar thus associates it with the Gods and the exact opposite stormy nature of Rakshastal associates it with the Demons.

According to Buddhism, the two lakes denote the Sun and the Moon. Mansarovar is circular in shape depicting the Sun and Rakshastal has a crescent providing the image of the Moon: thus these two lakes denote the brightness and darkness altogether. Mansarovar is a fresh water lake where as Rakshastal Lake is said to be so much salty that the local consider it poisonous. There is a small river which connects Mansarovar and Rakshastal known as Ganga Chhu. It is believed that this small linkage is built by the Rishis to add some pure water from Mansarovar to Rakshastal.

Yam Dwar

Yam Dwar, the name sort of describes itself. It is a place where one embraces death or can say the Gateway of the God of Death. This is the place to enter the abode of Lord Shiva. The word Yam means Yamraj the god of death and Dwar is called gate.

Yam Dwar

In Tibet Yam Dwar is known as Tarboche which is the place where they start circumambulation of their lord. IN Hindu, the worshippers of lord Shiva have to pass the gateway of death to reach their lord, one must pass through Yam Dwar to reach Mount Kailash. Yam Dev takes the decision of taking someone life away from this earth by judging and deciding based on the persons sins and merit, and then release the persons soul for further cosmic.At Yam Dwar it is believed that one can actually enter this gate when ones soul is emancipated from  this mortal world.

Gauri Kund

Gauri Kund situated at 5608m when coming downwards from Dolma-La is also known as the lake of Compassion. The lake has a section in the religious book Shiva Purana where the lake was the place where goddess Parvati acquired lord Ganesh the elephant headed God by bathing in the emerald water of the lake.

Gauri Kund

The lake is also famously known as Parvati Sarovar. The tale about Gauri Kund as described in the ‘Shiva Puarana’ is that goddess Parvati created the image of Lord Ganesha from soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. Parvati commanded Ganesha to guard the entrance of the lake and do not let anyone enter no matter what. Lord Shiva somehow returned at that very moment and tried to enter the lake entrance. He was stopped by Ganesha, an unknown child stopping Shiva to go to his beloved wife. Agitated with this hindrance Shiva beheaded the little boy. Seeing this Parvati was inconsolable and demanded Shiva to bring Ganesha back to life no matter what. Helpless Shiva wandered to get a head of any boy he could find, but when he got none, he beheaded a little elephant and placed the elephant head on Ganesha’s body. From this Parvati got her son back and we got our elephant headed Lord Ganesha.

Ashtapad

Ashtapad is at an elevation of 4900 metres (17000 feet) in the great Himalayas . Ashtapad, means Eight Steps, is the place where the first Jain Tirthankara Shri Rishabhadev Bhagwan also known as Shri Adinath Bhagwan attained Nirvana or salvation. At Ashtapad, every stone every carving is considered as incarnation of Gods. The place is considered to be highly religious and spiritual. In Ashtapad people believe that God exist in the form of nature and humans are to give test to prove their courage, devotion and values.

Ashtapad second to Mount Kailash is home and abode of lord Shiva. The basic characteristics of spiritualism, the concept of Indian culture is called superior than Tibetan culture and it is believed that an infinite amount of energy of spiritualism is always flowing in our religion and culture.

Ashtapad

Himalaya is also called Ashtapad because of its eight different mountain range; Gaurishankar, Kailash, Badrinath, Nanda, Drongiri, Narayan, Nar and Trishuli and according to Nirvankand this is also called Adishwar Swami. From there numerous Muni got Moksha or salvation by doing Tapsya or meditation. According to Shrimadbhagwat, at this place Rishabhdev’s father Nabhirai and mother Marudevi had done hard meditation after Rishabhdev’s Rajyabhishek and had taken Samadhi. Footprint of Nabhirai at Neelkanth Mountain attracts everybody towards him as a sign of first man’s footprint.

Also form Ashtapad the southern face of Mount Kailash the Meru Danda can be seen and this face of the great Kailash is known to be the most beautiful face of all.

Sapt Rishi Caves

Sapt Rishi Caves is named after the 7 rishis namely Bharadwaja, Bhrigu, Gautama, Atri, Kashyapa, Vishwamitra, and Vashitha, who are thought to have lived here. These divine sages are believed to be faithful worshippers of Lord Shiva. The Saptrishi Caves hold 13 Chortens or 13 Buddhist shrines and according to Tibetan tradition, its walls are painted red. The Place is now supervised and protected by Gengta Monastery. There is a designated space in the cave where most of the devotees place their books and other valuables with the explicit purpose of honoring Lord Shiva and expressing gratitude to him for his perpetual blessings on them. 

Saptrishi Caves is situated near Nandi Parvat at a height of around 6000 meters and can be visited in the Inner Parikrama of Mount Kailash. The journey to Saptrishi Cave is regarded as the toughest trek in Mount Kailash Inner Kora. However, the Inner Parikrama of Mount Kailash has been banned by the Chinese authority after 2013.

Kailash Mountain is viewed as the Axis Mundi, i.e. the center of cosmic creation, and these seven holy gurus are regarded as the seven fundamental components that compose the universe, namely water, air, nature, sky, fire, spirit, and stone. As a result, Mount Kailash and the Saptrishi of the Himalayas have a long history together. The Saptrishi owned supernatural abilities that allowed them to move around the locus and interact with the devas. In order to unlock the gates of Yamloka and find a way to defeat and destroy the demon Kalkambha, the Spatarishi transported themselves to Mount Meru and united into a single form known as Brahmastra (Weapon of Mass Destruction) to restore harmony and peace to the cosmos.

Charan Sparsh

The Hindi terms Charan, which means foot, and Sparsh, which means touch, are combined to form the phrase Charansparsh. So, to touch the feet constitutes the entire meaning of this word. In the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, Charansparsh is touching Mount Kailash up close. Mount Kailash is shaped like the Shivalingam - the symbol of Lord Shiva. When we perform the Mount Kailash Charansparsh, it feels as if we are touching the feet of Lord Shiva.

According to scientific studies, there is the presence of vibrations in the human body, and touching the foot promotes the flow of energy, joy, and blessings. Thus, participating in Charansparsh during the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra brings Bhole Bhakts great happiness and revives their spirit and mind.

Charansparsh lies at the base of the North face of Mount Kailash. Charansparsh can be performed after completing the first day Parikrama of Mount Kailash from Yamdwar to Diraphuk. To go to Charansparsh, one has to hike for a further 4 to 5 kilometers from Diraphuk. You can take the help of a Sherpa to go there by giving him some tip as Charansparsh is not the part of Kailash Mansarovar Tour Package. The climb to Charansparsh is rather challenging due to the lack of a proper trail and the region's harsh climate. It is suggested that you only participate in Charansparsh if you are physically confident as you might have to trek on snow and there is no facility of a pony or any vehicle to go there.

Nandi Parvat

The Nandi Parvat is named after the sacred bull Nandi who is recognised as the Guardian and a Vahana (vehicle) of the supreme Lord Shiva. As the shape and appearance of this mountain resemble Nandi, hence it is known as Nandi Parvat. 

According to a common belief, it is said that Nandi Ji is present as a gatekeeper at all the places where Bhole Baba is present. Likewise, you can spot Nandi Ji right in front of the South Face of Holy Mount Kailash. The Nandi Parvat is a subject of considerable amazement because a structure of this size cannot have been constructed by humans. It is a unique mountain that was entirely produced by nature.

Nandi ji is regarded as the guardian of Dharma and is a representation of heroism, trust, and righteousness. As a result, it is thought that Nandi Ji is accountable for the adoration of ordinary bulls by the followers of the Hindu religion. 

Nandi Ji is regarded to be the messenger of Lord Shiva. According to legend, Lord Shiva is meditating deeply on Mount Kailash and is unable to hear the petitions of common people. Nandi Ji is the one who hears all of the prayers of Bhole Bhakts and conveys them to Lord Shiva. The reverence of the Nandi Parvat is essential in order to complete the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Shivasthal

Shivasthal is one of the holy sites on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra Route. Tibetans hold this place in high regard and have flooded it with prayer flags and other artifacts from their country. 

On Day 2 of the Mount Kailash Parikrama which is from Dirapuk to Zuthulpuk, you will go through Shivasthal. The pilgrims arrive at Dolma La Pass (the highest point of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra) after climbing 6 kilometers distance from Dirapuk. Shivasthal may be seen about 100–200 meters before Dolma La Pass.

Shivasthal is a representation of life and death. Devotees on Mansarovar Kailash Yatra put a piece of clothing and ornaments on Shivasthal. There are two beliefs regarding this donation. As per one belief, you will get the donation in your next life and as per the second belief the donation is a symbol of leaving the past life behind.

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