Dates: July 3 – 18, 2017
Cost: 4,000 USD (Includes twin share accommodation, flights from and to Chengdu, China, on July 3 and July 18; all land transportation within Tibet; all hotels and guesthouses in Tibet; all travel permits and entrance fees; local Tibetan guides; luggage transfer by yak at Mount Kailash; and all meals except as indicated in the itinerary. $550 Supplementary Fee for a single room throughout the trip. [Please note that a single room may not be possible at Zutrulpuk Monastery Guesthouse].
Mount Kailash in western Tibet is embraced by multiple faiths as the meeting place of Earth and Heaven and is one of the most ancient and spectacular pilgrimage destinations on the planet. Buddhist pilgrims, Hindu yogis, Bon shamans, and innumerable others travel to Mount Kailash for spiritual renewal. Join Tibet scholar and author Ian Baker on a trip of a lifetime to the geographical and mystical epicenter of this sacred mountain and immerse yourself in Tibet’s ancient Buddhist and pre-Buddhist cultures, art, and yogic traditions. Beginning in Lhasa, Tibet’s vibrant capital, this journey to the heart of Tibet also includes a visit to the rarely seen tenth-century Buddhist Kingdom of Gugé and little known cave citadels that inspired the legends of Shambhala and Shangri-La.
This fifteen-day trip to Mount Kailash and the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Guge in Western Tibet begins and ends in Lhasa and includes many of Tibet’s most iconic sites, as well as the possibility of journeying into Kailash’s rarely visited Inner Sanctuary. The trip will include an introduction to yogic practices at the nexus of Vajrayana Buddhism and Tantric Saivism. Both traditions envision Mount Kailash as the axis of the world and the meeting place of Earth and Heaven. As we move through this revered landscape rooted in ancient Tantric texts, we discover that sacred geography lies within. The trip is a spiritual pilgrimage and will be personally led by Ian Baker.
July 3: Morning flight from Chengdu to Lhasa’s Gongkar Airport and transfer to Tibet’s ancient capital for orientation and welcome dinner. (11,975 feet above sea level)
July 4: Morning visits to the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace and the Lukhang Temple. After lunch, visit the Jokhang, the sacred heart of Lhasa, followed by individual exploration in the Old City.
July 5: Drive via the turquoise-colorer Yamdrok Lake to the historic trade and pilgrimage center of Gyantse, crossing the glacier-enscribed Karo La pass along theway. Visit Pelkhor Chode Monastery and the spectacular 77 chapels of the Giants Kumbum.
July 6: Drive to Shalu Monastery, renowned for its sumptuous 14th C.E. wall paintings. After lunch, hike approximately four hours to Upper Lungsang and continue to Shigatse.
July 7: Drive through Tibetan villages and across high plateaus to Saga, a small town near the banks of the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River.
July 8: Drive through spectacular landscapes inhabited by nomadic yak herders and over the Maryum La pass from where we will first see Mount Kailash, rising above the Trans-Himalayan range. Continue westward to Darchen, the traditional gateway for the ritual journey around the sacred mountain.
July 9: Today we begin a three-day circuit around Kailash, camping on the first night above Drirapuk Monastery, with stunning views of Kailash’s northern face. On the way, we will share the path with Tibetan pilgrims from far corners of the Tibetan plateau.
July 10: Trek over the 18,471 feet high Dolma La pass, the apex of the Kailash pilgrimage. Continue past a sacred lake revered as the source of the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River to the ‘Medicine Buddha Valley.’
July 11: Visit Zutrulpuk, Milarepa’s ‘Cave of Miracles’ and associated temple. Hike to Gyangdrak Monastery in Kailash’s Inner Sanctuary.
July 12: Trek into Kailash’s Inner Sanctuary to the Cave of the Thirteen Golden Stupas.
July 13: Drive from Darchen to Tirthapuri, a pilgrimage site associated with Kailash’s spiritual consort Dorje Pagmo. After lunch, continue on through spectacular landscapes to the town of Toling, beautifully situated amidst the remains of the once-opulent tenth-century Gugé Kingdom.
July 14: Visit the artistically lavish chapels of Toling Monastery and then continue on to the citadel-city of Tsaparang, exploring its labyrinth of fresco-lined chapels and tunnels.
July 15: Drive through fluted canyons to Dungkar, the site of a cliff-side monastery that preserves some of Tibet’s earliest wall paintings. Afterwards, continue east to the sacred lake Manasarovar.
July 16: Visit Chiu Monastery, perched on a rocky outcrop with spectacular views of Mount Kailash and the “solar” and “lunar” lakes of Manasarovar and Rakshastal. Then drive across the high Tibetan plateau to Saga.
July 17: Drive to Shigatse, the historical seat of Tibet’s Panchen Lamas. If time allows, visit Tashi Lhunpo Monastery with an optional walk afterwards along the scenic pilgrim’s path to Shigatse’s covered markets.
July 18: Drive to Gongkar Airport for a late afternoon flight to Chengdu and onward travel connections.
IAN BAKER studied art history, literature, and comparative religion at Oxford University and Columbia University and Medical Anthropology at University College London. He is the author of seven books on Himalayan and Tibetan culture including The Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place and a collaborative work with H.H. The Dalai Lama illuminating Buddhist meditation practices. His latest book, Tibetan Yoga: Secrets from the Source, will be published in 2017. A leader of numerous Himalayan expeditions, Ian was profiled by National Geographic Society as one of seven “explorers for the millennium”. In addition to numerous private and group trips that he has led in Tibet through his travel company, Rare Journeys.
Ian has designed and conducted educational travel programs in Tibet and other parts of Asia for Smithsonian Institution, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and National Geographic Society. As the Dalai Lama wrote; “Ian Baker’s journeys . . . inspire others not only to venture into unknown lands on a geographical level, but also to discover the inner realms within which our own deepest nature lies hidden.”
I’m pleased to include Pilgrimage to Kailash as part of my Yoga Adventure series. Questions? Or to receive detailed information about the Kailash pilgrimage, please contact Heather Elton. I will be joining the Kailash pilgrimage as a practitioner and photographer. And acting as Ian’s assistant whenever possible.