Kailash & Manasarovar Books

The following books about Mt Kailash, Lake Manasarovar and the surrounding area are guaranteed to whet your appetite for adventure.

Charles Allen’s A Mountain in Tibet chronicles the hunt for the sources of the region’s four great rivers and is perhaps the best introduction to the region. Allen’s follow-up, The Search for Shangri-La, focuses on the region’s pre-Buddhist heritage and is also a great read.

The Sacred Mountain by John Snelling reports on early Western explorers, including those who turned up in the early 1980s when the door to China and Tibet first creaked narrowly open.

The Kailash chapters in German-born Lama Anagarika Govinda’s The Way of the White Clouds (1966) include a classic account of the pilgrimage during a trip to Tibet in 1948.

Sven Hedin’s three-volume Trans-Himalaya: Discoveries & Adventures in Tibet (1909–13) will keep you company for many a long night on the Changtang plateau. Hedin was the first Westerner to complete the Kailash kora.

Books such as Kailas: On Pilgrimage to the Sacred Mountain of Tibet by Kerry Moran (with photos by Russell Johnson) and Walking to the Mountain by Wendy Teasdill may make you jealous that you didn’t get to the mountain just a decade or two earlier. Both highlight the much greater difficulties (and, in their eyes, rewards) that one could experience on a pilgrimage as recently as the late 1980s.

The more scientifically inclined can turn to Swami Pranavananda’s Kailas Manasarovar, an account of the author’s findings over numerous stays in the region between 1928 and 1947. The book was reprinted in India in 1983 and you should be able to find a copy in a Kathmandu bookshop or online.

Most recent is Manosi Lahiri’s Here Be Yaks, an unpretentious travelogue that details an Indian pilgrimage to the region, with a special focus on defining the source of the Sutlej.

Finally, Colin Thubron's slender To a Mountain in Tibet details his trek from Humla in Nepal to Kailash, under the shadow of loss and personal grief.