Mythical landscapes of the tibetan plateau – a pilgrimage to mount kailash

The Holy Mount Kailash in Western Tibet

“As I circumambulate Mount Kailash, a majestic imposing snow covered dome seated high above the Tibetan plateau, I am deeply moved by a nomadic family’s devotion, whose faith in the sacred mount and landscape has led them to travel here with their children on foot for many months.”

My very first journey to Tibet’s sacred mountain was in the summer of 2005. After an early departure from the airport in Kathmandu, our group boarded two small aircrafts that would eventually take us to a quaint little Nepalese village, a six-day trek from the Tibetan border. While traveling on an ancient shaman trail through remote villages, we were welcomed by a continual diversity of scenery and vistas as the terrain gradually changed from green lush forests to more elevated peaks and dramatic ascending trails carved through gigantic steep cliff formations.

Pilgrims on their way to Mt. Kailash I Soma Journeys

Guided by the sounds of the Karnali river and her rushing waters, I found myself hiking to a meditative rhythm interspersed by the sounds of cooing salt traders hurrying their herd of goats along the winding earthy trail and the laughter of small children rushing to make our acquaintance. My anticipation and suspense of trying to imagine this sacred towering peak situated at 22,000 feet, propelled me forward. It invoked as much an inner as an outer rush of excitement to know that I was to encounter one of the most holiest sites on Earth, highly revered by the Bonn, Hindu, Jain and Tibetan faiths. After a week of crossing precipitous gorges and dramatic landscapes, we finally arrived at the base of this holy mount, believed to be the centre of the world and a meeting place where Earth and Heaven converge.

As we circled Mount Kailash, I experienced an overwhelming connection with its landscape and fellow pilgrims and this is what ultimately led me to return to Tibet several more times in the years following. When reflecting back on my travels to Tibet, I often find myself embraced by the Mount’s graceful presence and by the memories of the soft echoes of Buddhist chants and swirling prayer wheels. I feel comforted to have communed with this mythical landscape and to have observed the dancing mist of juniper incense, rising, ever so slowly, upwards like gentle whispers of prayers praying for blessings for all mankind.

Nomad Tent at the Shang Shung Valley in Tibet I Soma Journeys

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