Though Mt Kailas is well known among Eastern cultures, the 6,660m peak remains mostly a mystery to Western travellers who often overlook the mountain in favour of summiting the more well-known giants Everest and K2. The peak is thought to be a seat of the gods, and its location near the source of Asia’s major rivers – including the Indus, the Brahmaputra and tributaries of the Ganges – makes it a sacred destination for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Bon followers.
“One of the greatest adventures I’ve ever had was circumambulating this mountain with a whole parade of pilgrims,” said Tyler Baker of San Francisco. “We’d eat and drink together at some of the tea houses along the route.”
Many people do the 52km kora, or the sacred path around the mountain, in a day. For Baker, who was un-acclimated to the high altitude, it took three days. “The amazing views warranted me to walk slower anyway, so I could soak up the surroundings,” he said.