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Travel Story of Saga Dawa Festival Mount Kailash

2014 is the year of horse, the best year to walk around Mount Kailash--once in 12 years opportunity. Mt Kailash, the center of the universe and the paramount Mecca for the Hindus, Tibetan Buddhists and Jains, will burst out with rituals during the Saga Dawa Festival occurring between May to June. (it occurs in June 13,2014). Mt Kailash is the living place of Lord Shiva. It breeds four life-giving rivers in Asia: the Brahmaputra, Indus, Sutlej and Karnali, which support millions of residents.

In June 4,2013, I had the privilege to join this festival. This experience bestowed me with visual shock and lasting memory.

We hired a SUV in Lhasa and traveled for hours before reaching the foot of Mt Kailash. The climate at this time is pleasant. Day is warm and night is acceptably cool. We were surrounded by pilgrims from various countries, mostly India and Nepal. It offers a great opportunity for people watching. Photo chances abound also.

Since Mt Kailash is the most holy abode (dwelling place) of different gods, devotees pay homage to it in unique ways, without getting in others’ hair.

The Tibetans, as a routine, streamed in from all directions, to embrace Saga Dawa at middle night (24:00). They burned the cypress chucks, erected a pray pole decorated with five-color flags, spinned the prayer wheels and circled around it clockwise.

According to the rituals, the old pray flags and banners on the pray poles will be replaced the day before Saga Dawa Festival occurs. These flags and banners, though faded, are much sought-after treasures. Competition for them can be very tense. For they believe those who can gain the prayer items and flags at the summit of the poles, will be blessed with endless blessings.

I sat down in a slope, watching the Tibetans beautiful their poles before erecting them. Each family has brought some Hada ribbons and prayer banners.

According to our guide, two days before, Tibetan monks had purified the festival venue by rituals, performances and music.


Except for the Tibetan Entry Permit issued by Tibetan Tourism Bureau, we also need to apply for Alien’s Travel Permit, Foreign Affairs Permit and Military Area Entry Permission. With the help of our guide, we successfully got all of them ready two months ahead of this trip.

The pilgrimage circuit or kora around Mt Kailash and its 5 temples (Nyari Monastery, Drirapuk Monastery, Songchu Monastery, Gyangzha Monastery and Thailong Monastery) are highlights. We joined the pilgrims and stopped by several temples along the way. You can read my future posts on my memorable temple experiences along Mt Kailash.
Photos of Mt Kailash Saga Dawa Festival
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Author: Sophia         Posted on April 3,2014 
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