If we conquer this mountain, then we conquer something in people’s souls …
– Reinhold Messner
Mountains have always had mythological or religious significance in human evolutionary history. Every religion or culture has a mountain associated with gods and have held people in its awe and reverence. The Himalayas has been a source of great religious and spiritual significance among the Hindus and Buddhists.
I have grown up listening to stories of Hindu gods where mountains played a significant part. They have always captured my imagination and kindled my curiosity. Since then, many of the mountains have been climbed and summits have been reached. Yet, a few stand there that are forbidden from climbing today. Not because of its technical complexity or remoteness, but because of the respect for human belief and cultural significance.
Here, i would like to list 4 of the mountains that are forbidden for climbing.
1. Mount Kailash (6,638m), China
Considered the world’s most sacred place. Mount Kailash appears in the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon. For the Hindus, it is the adobe of Lord Shiva. For the Buddhists, it is the central axis of the whole universe and creation. Some of the world’s largest and longest rivers start from the regions of Mount Kailash. Every year, only a thousand or so pilgrims make their way to visit the Manasarovar lake and get a glimpse of the majestic mountain. Traveling to this remote place is more than a physical endeavor. It requires spiritual and mental journey into the soul. It is believed that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot will cleanse your soul of all sins.
in 2001, the Chinese had given permission for a spanish expedition to climb the mountain but due to international disapproval, all future climbs on the mountain have been banned.
2. Machapuchare (6,993m), Nepal
I rather think that it was a goddess of the mountain, for she had lured us on so cunningly, who now drew that effective line just below the top….We decided that just here two respectably married men should leave her to her stormy privacy and get down.
– Climbing the Fish’s Tail
Standing majestically in the Annapurna region, Machapuchare, also known as Fish Tail is another sacred mountain that is forbidden from climbing. It’s twin summits look like the tail of a fish facing downwards into the Earth. It is associated with Lord Shiva in Hinduism and
The mountain is visible from Pokhara, the second largest city in Nepal. Till date, no one has ever reached the summit. The only attempt was in 1957 by a British team led by Jimmy Roberts. Climbers Wilfrid Noyce and A. D. M. Cox climbed to within 150 m (492 ft) of the summit via the north ridge, to an approximate altitude of 22,793 ft (6,947 m). They did not complete the ascent, as they had promised not to set foot on the actual summit. Ever since then, the mountain has been forbidden to climb.
3. Gangkhar Puensum (7,570m), Bhutan
Located in Bhutan, Gangkhar Puensum is the world’s tallest unclimbed mountain. The locals believe that the spirits of their forefathers reside on the mountains. Being religiously significant to the locals of Bhutan, the kingdom has banned all climbs of mountains above 6,000m in 1994 and a blanket ban on all climbing in 2003.
Before the ban, there were several expeditions to the area with the objective of climbing the mountain, but they all failed or were unable to determine the actual summit of the mountain.
4. Nanda Devi (7,816m), India
Nanda Devi, the “Bliss-Giving Godess”, located in the Garhwal Himalaya region of India, is a formidable mountain. Protected on all sides by mountains that are more than 6,000m in altitude and surrounded by a formidable valley of ice, the region is considered a Sanctuary and is a UNESCO preserved region – The Nanda Devi National Park. It is one of the steepest peaks in the world and rises Nanda Devi is the abode of Goddesses Nanda and Sunanda.
Unlike other mountains, Nanda Devi has been climbed several times but as per the religious customs, the climbers promised not to set foot on the true summit. However, due to reliious and environmental reasons, the mountain’s main summit has been banned from climbing. The East summit, Sunanda Devi, can still be climbed and stands at 7,434m.
Tenzing Norgay of Everest fame considered Nanda Devi to be more difficult than Everest itself.
There are other mountains, where climbers are not allowed to step on the true summit due to religious reasons.