1300 kilometers west of Lhasa lies one of the most spectacular and sacred sites on earth. Prayer flags are raised in honor of the first glimpse of Mount Kailash, standing alone and distinctive, and the vast blue waters of Lake Manasarovar below. The holy mountain stands at the centre of Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Bon cosmologies, the earthly manifestation of Mount Meru.
The landscape here is stunning and varied. Vast plains, lakes and incredible river gorges. There are ancient capitals, temples (both Buddhist and Bon), intricately decorated cave complexes and hot springs.
Collectively Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash are said to be the heart of the ancient Shangshung Kingdom, the supposed land of origin of the pre-Buddhist Bonpo – and one of the sources of the legend of Shambhala. It is here too that the great rivers of Asia are born. The Indus, the Sutlej, the Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) and the Karnali (tributary of the Ganges) flow from the four cardinal directions. Tibetans consider all these rivers sacred and their sources even more so – named for the animals that provide vehicles for the gods – the horse, the peacock, the elephant and the lion.