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Importance of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Hinduism – Spiritual Significance and Story of the Pilgrimage

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra in Hinduism includes visit to Mount Kailash – the abode of Lord Shiva – and Manasarovar Lake. The importance of this pilgrimage is mentioned in the holy texts in Hindu religion. It is of spiritual significance to a Hindu for a number of reasons.

Reason for Kailash Mansarovar Pilgrimage

According to Hindu scriptures, those who take a dip in the Manasarovar and complete the parikrama (circumambulate) around Mount Kailash are absolved of their sins and are liberated from the cycle of birth and death. They are ultimately united with Brahman (symbolically represented by Mount Kailash or Shiva).

It is believed that if you walk around the Mount Kailash 108 times, you attain nirvana or salvation.
Kailash is the image of Shiva on earth - the Shivling shape of the mountain makes it prayaksa or manifest form of Shiva.

Meaning of the Name Kailash

Kailash is derived from the word ‘kelasa’ meaning crystal as per many scholars.

The true name is derived from ‘Keli’ meaning ‘play’ and ‘lasa’ meaning dance. Thus, Kailash is where Shiva and Maa Parvati indulges in the divine play.

Stories about Mount Kailash in Hindu Scriptures

The belief is that Shiva created Mount Kailash in the center of the universe and made his mount his abode. It is here he created the first living from a speck of dust taken from his body. Shiva and Parvati have their divine play and dance here.

Yet another belief is that Goddess Parvati did penance here to win Shiva as husband.

It is on Kailash, Shiva revealed all the secrets that are found in Yoga, Tantra and Vedas. Science, arts, dance, songs and medicine were revealed here by Mahadeva.

Vishnu, Brahma, Devas, Yakshas, Gandharvas, Vidyadharas, Kinnaras and Sages assembled here to listen to Shiva and Maa Parvati discussing the secrets of life, sustenance and death. Mysteries of universe were unfolded here.

Adi Shankaracharya did penance at Kailash and pleased with his devotion; Shiva gave him the Sri Chakra for the welfare of all living beings on earth.

It is believed that Ganga first landed on Kailash as Shiva meditates here. Earth did not have the power to contain Ganga, so she landed here on the matted locks of Shiva and later appeared at Gangotri.

It is also the residence of Kubera, the treasurer of Gods. Shiva gave space to Kubera after he was driven out from Lanka. Alakapuri, the capital of Kubera, is located on one of the peaks here.

The white colored Hamsa, the vehicle of Goddess Saraswathi, lives in the Manasarovar Lake near the Kailash Mountain.

Four Rivers – Sindhu, Satalaj, Brahmaputra and Karnali – have their origins here.

Hindu Scriptures that narrates about Kailash

Matsya, Skanda, Shiva and Varah Puranas
Kishkindha Kanda and Uttara Kanda of Ramayana
Sabha, Vana and Bhisma of Mahabharata

Demon king Ravana of Ramayana was an ardent devotee of Shiva. He was also arrogant and proud his powers.

Once he attempted to lift the Kailash Mountain and he was trapped under its weight. To escape from the punishment and to please Shiva, he recited the Sama Veda.

Shiva pardoned him and let him off.

This event happened at Rakshasthala near Manasarovar.

The holiest mountain in Hinduism is located at an altitude of 21, 778 feet in Tibet. The mountain is 32 km northwest of Manasarovar Lake. The pilgrims first worship the mountain and then go round it over a distance of 54 km.

How to visit Kailash?
During the annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra conducted by Government of India. Application for it are invited from the last week of January to the last week of March. It is subsidized and selection is through lottery.

There are also several private tour operators that conduct the pilgrimage from Nepal.

The total journey will cost more than 100,000 rupees.

Health risk as it is a high altitude trek.