Being around the mountains is a humbling experience. Their grandiose peaks remind us of our own miniscule, fleeting existence. They, thereby, urge us to embrace our lives, value others and respect the very ground we stand on. They instil in us, a sense of spirituality. Perhaps that is why, mountain ranges are preferred destinations of sages and pilgrims to undergo spiritual enhancement and to attain enlightenment.
Of several mountain ranges, the Kailash has been deemed sacred by multiple faiths since ancient times. Believed to be the axis mundi (cosmic axis), Kailash is regarded as the celestial pole that connects the earth and the sky. It is supposedly here that the four compass directions merge, thus establishing a connection between the physical and the metaphysical realms. Not surprisingly, this mountain range is surrounded by several inexplicable mysteries. In this article, Soulveda explores a few of them.
An unconquerable peak?
“No mortal ever be allowed to walk atop Mount Kailash, where, among the clouds, is the abode of the gods. He who dares to start the top of Mount holy and see the faces of the gods will be put to death!” goes an ancient Tibetan warning. But, despite the warning, history indicates that several mountaineers attempted to scale Kailash, to reach its summit in the early 1900s, only to have their ambitions thwarted. Colonel R C Wilson was a mountaineer who was determined to climb Mount Kailash. But according to his article in the Alpine Journal, just when he discovered an easy pathway to the summit of the mountain, heavy snow began to fall, making the ascent impossible.
A few years later, yet another climber Herbert Tichy attempted to climb Kailash. But according to the book The sacred mountain: The complete guide to Tibet’s mount Kailas by John Snelling and the 14th Dalai Lama, when Tichy was seeking permission, he was told, “Only a man entirely free of sin could climb Kailash. And he wouldn’t have to actually scale the sheer walls of ice to do it—he’d just turn himself into a bird and fly to the summit.”
As of today, Mount Everest in the Himalayan range—the world’s tallest peak—has been scaled several times by mountaineers. Kailash, on the other hand, which is relatively a smaller peak, remains unconquered.