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Most Famous Sacred Mountains in Tibetan Areas

Walking into the snow-covered plateau, you can see towering snow mountains as far as you can. In the eyes of Tibetans, snow-capped mountains are a holy symbol, and many Tibetans are keen to do a kora around the mountains. They believe that one circumambulation around the sacred mountain can wash away the sins of one life; ten circumambulations can avoid the suffering of reincarnation; one hundred circumambulations can become a Buddha in this life. They traveled over a great distance, suffered through hardship, and prostrated themselves to circumambulate the mountain, lake, or pagodas. Great Tibet Tour has listed the most famous four holy mountains of Tibetan Buddhism.

Meili Snow Mountain (Kawagebo)

Meili Snow Mountain is located between the Nu River and Lancang River in the middle section of the Hengduan Mountains about 20km west of Deqin County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province. It is the highest mountain in Yunnan Province. It is 10 kilometers northeast of Deqin County and 184 kilometers away from Zhongdian County. There are 13 peaks with an average altitude of more than 6000 meters, called the "Thirteen Princes". The highest is Kawagebo Peak with an altitude of 6740 meters, which is the highest peak in Yunnan Province.

Kawagebo means "God of Snow Mountain" in Tibetan. According to legend, it was originally an evil god with nine heads and eighteen arms. Later, he was enlightened by Guru Padmasambhava, converted to Buddhism, and became a powerful god under King Gesar - the son of a thousand Buddhas. Since then, Meili Snow Mountain was a pilgrimage site for Tibetan Buddhism.

Meili Snow Mountain
Tibetan Monks Are Praying In Front Of The Meili Snow Mountain

According to legend, Kawagebo is the protector God of Gajuba - a branch of the Nyingma School and is the first of the eight sacred mountains in Tibetan areas. On Meili Snow Mountain, the forest area extending from 5500 meters to 2700 meters above sea level is a rare low-latitude, high-altitude monsoon oceanic modern glacier. The famous Lancang River Grand Canyon located under the Meili Snow Mountain is 150 kilometers long. The elevation difference from the river surface to the top of the mountain is 4734 meters, which is spectacular.

Mount Kailash(Gang Rinpoche)

Mount Kailash is the main peak of Mount Gangdise, north of Mansarovar - a sacred lake in Purang County, with an altitude of 6721 meters. It means "mountain of gods" in Tibetan and is one of the most famous Buddhist holy places.

Kailash manasarovar
Morning on Kailash Manasarovar

The peak of Mt.Kailash is covered with snow and ice in all seasons. The sky above the peak is often surrounded by white clouds, making it more mysterious. The distance for circumambulating the mountain is 51 kilometers, and there are eight temples around. Mount Kailash is a world-recognized sacred mountain. Although it's not the highest mountain in this area, only its snow-covered peak can shine with a strange light under the sun. The four walls of the peak are extremely symmetrical, resembling a round-crown pyramid. The special shape of the mountain is very different from the surrounding peaks, which makes people have to be full of religious piety and wonder.

Mount Kailash is regarded as "the center of the world" by Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, Jain, and Bon. It is said that the most famous Mount Meru in Buddhism also refers to Mt.Kailash. Interestingly, the geography of Gang Rinpoche is highly consistent with Buddhist scriptures. In the Buddhist scriptures, there is Mount Meru in the center of the world and the mountain has four ridges, which originate four big rivers flow in four directions. Mount Kailash indeed originated from four world-class rivers - the Indus, Brahmaputra, Yarlung Zangbo River, and Sutlej in four directions. In Hinduism, Mt.Kailash is the abode of Shiva. Jainism believes that the mountain is the place where its ancestor Rishabhanatha attained the path. And for Bönpo Religion, Mt Kailash is a nine-story swastika mountain that is the seat of spiritual power.

Worshiping at the mountain has become pilgrims' lifelong dream, and after worshipping it has become their lifelong glory. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Bon religion all have legends that Mt.Kailash, a symbol of purity and kindness, can wash away their sins by circumambulating the mountain. Therefore, doing a kora to the mountain is the most common method used by pilgrims from different places.

>>Find more Mt Kailash facts here

Amne Machin(Maqen Gangri)

Amne Machin, also known as Anyi Machen, or Anyê Maqên or Maqen Gangri, at an altitude of 6282 meters. The mountain is a branch of the Kunlun Mountains(a famous mountain range in China and Asia) and is located in the northwest of Maqen County, Guoluo Tibetan Prefecture, Qinghai Province.

The Amne Machin mountain range is 28 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide, with a total of 18 snow peaks above 5000 meters above sea level. The snow and ice remain on the peaks all year round, which never melt. The main peak of Amne Machin, "Maqen Gangri" is consisted of three summits with an altitude of more than 6000 meters, the highest peak is 6282 meters above sea level.

Amne Machin
Amne Machin Mountain Range

The Tibetan people call Amne Machin the "Bokawa Jian Gong", one of the nine great gods of creation, and ranks the fourth among the 21 snow-capped mountains that Tibetan people believe in. It's a god in charge of the Tibetan mountains and rivers, as well as the vicissitudes, especially in the Amdo Tibetan area. So Tibetan people believe Amne Machin is Amdo Tibet’s protector. The epic of "The Biography of King Gesar" called Amne Machin Mountain as "God of War" and said that it's the sacred mountain where the hero Gesar was located.

In the Tibetan areas of Qinghai, one can often see the portrait of Amne Machin mountain god, with a white helmet, white armor, white robe, a white horse under the crotch, and a silver spear in hand. He has outstanding martial skills, conquering demons and helping the poor, and possesses infinite wisdom. Therefore, every year there are countless mountain pilgrims travel over land and water to worship the sacred mountain. The believers walked around the mountain to worship Buddha with tenacious perseverance and firm belief. They experienced the time-space transition between the past life and the next life on the unchanging path of prayer. They can find a beautiful spiritual home and a paradise road to this home in the embrace of the mountain god. They can get a happy regeneration in the painful cycle! This is the wisdom of the mountain and the driving force of the pilgrims to move forward.


Gaduojuewu belongs to Gaduo Township, Chengduo County, Yushu Prefecture. It is a famous mountain that the people of Yushu regard as their patron saint. The entire Gaduojuewu is a group of mountains composed of a series of peaks in various shapes and forms. The main peak is 5470 meters above sea level and the average elevation is 4900 meters. Its main peak is majestic and steep, while other peaks are very pictographic. The peculiar shape of the mountain resembles magical workmanship, creating countless beautiful legends. Gaduojuewu means "the main god of Shangkang District". It is one of the Tibetan sacred mountains enshrined by the Tubo Zanpu Trisong Dezan, the king of many sacred mountains in the Yangtze River valley, an extraordinary sacred mountain that benefits the Yushu area and a legendary hero, and also the god worshipped by the legendary hero King Gesar. According to legend, "Gaduojuewu" was a wise and brave general. He led the soldiers to defend the beautiful and rich "Duo Dui" so that people could live and work in peace and contentment. The surrounding 28 mountain chains are his seven warriors, seven genius doctors, seven swordsmiths, and seven tailors, as well as his grandmother and children.

Gaduojuewu is a series of sharp peaks, as rigid as a Gothic church.


Since there are many religious beliefs coexisting in Tibetan areas, and in most religions, there are some sacred mountains related to gods, so in addition to these four mountains, there are many other peaks also called "holy mountains", such as Mount Benri, Mount MoErDuo, Himalayas, and Yala Mountain. The above four mountains are the most recognized sacred mountains.

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