Mount Kailash, near the Indo-Tibet border is hallowed to four religions- Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Tibetan Bonpo faith. Hindus regard it as Mount Meru, the divine nerve centre of the universe, and the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. For the Buddhists, it is the navel point of the world. For the Jains, Mount Kailash is the place where their first Tirthankar, Adinath attained enlightenment. Followers of the ancient religion, Bonpo, believe it to be the position where their founder, Shanrab descended from heaven. But, the chief pilgrim`s progress seems to crown the Hindus, who are of the faith that Kailash is the abode of the mythological serpent God, Vasukinagji. The Kailash Kund is located at a height of 16,000 feet above sea level in Doda district, an enchanted crater lake that remains frozen for the greater part of the year. Legend has it that the lake is visited every day by Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati Themselves. The Lord had described this place to the Goddess, mentioned in `Vasuki Puran`.
The yatris (pilgrims), while taking the holy dip, also worship the Lake, Lord Shiva and Lord Vasukinagji. `Parikrama` or walking around the circumference is the most important ritual connected to the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. The parikrama of Mount Kailash covers a distance of about 52km and that of Mansarovar, 75km. A complete walk around the perimeter of the Mount and a bath in Mansarovar Lake is believed to wash away all the sins and liberate one from the cycle of birth and rebirth, according to the Hindu scriptures. The Buddhists also regard Mansarovar as sacred. Queen Maya, mother to Lord Buddha, is believed to have been brought here for a purifying dip in order to prepare her for the conception of Buddha.
The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra is considered to be one of the most gruelling treks in the world. Special arrangements are made for the pilgrims from India by the Government of India by consulting the Government of China. The journey takes one through the Himalayas in both India and Tibet. The best time for this historical passageway is from mid-May to mid-October. The journey commences from Bhaderwah (known as `Chota Kashmir`), and proceeds in the same route, which according to legends, was the very road taken by Vasukinagji to reach Kailash Kund, when Garudaji had challenged Vasukinag into a fight. Mansarovar Lake is the highest freshwater body in the world, located in the middle of Mount Kailash and Mount Gurla Mandhata at a height of 14,950 feet above sea level. Covering an area of about 320km, the circumference of the lake in 88km and the depth is 90m. It is a source of four great rivers- Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra and Karnali.