Mount Kailash seen from Chiu Gompa on the shores of Lake Manasarovar, western Tibet. The 22,028-foot Mount Kailas is Asia's most sacred mountain, the axis mundi representing the mythical Mount Meru, throne of the gods (and in particular Shiva) and the center of the universe. Pilgrims have journeyed here for more than a thousand years, to make a ritual circumambulation (parikrama) of the snow-capped rock pyramid, but it was first seen by westerners only in the 18th century. It is sacred to four religions — Hinduism, Buddhism, Jain and Bönpo (the pre-Buddhist Tibetan faith) — and from May to September pilgrims make the difficult journey through western Tibet to the mountain.
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