I was one of the lucky one who got a chance to undertake this trip to this Holy shrine. As a member of XIV batch of 2005 Kailash-Manasarovar yatra organized by Ministry of External affairs, under the aegis of Kumoan Mandal Vikas Nigam we undertook this yatra. After completing the rigorous medical examination, the selected 32 members from different parts of the country, embarked on the journey on 18th August 2005.
The journey from New Delhi to Dharchula in Uttanachal, situated in the the Kumoan mountains the land of temples and clouds, undulating rivers and high mountains and numerous water falls. The journey on the mountains for the next 25 days started from Kathagodam the last railhead point. On the day one we witnessed the Bhim tal lake and stayed at Ranikhet. The second day was the day of clouds we traveled in bus along the clouds and witnessed breathtaking view of the mountains our plan was to reach Dharuchula that day but because of landslide ahead of Chakori we traveled to Pithoragarh. Chakori offered spectacular view of mountain peaks and green hill sides from its watch tower. Day three was day of land slides and waterfalls. Early in the morning we encountered a small landslide in between Pithogarh and Ogla which was cleared immediately by GREF and our journey continued and we reached Darchula the base camp for Kailash-Manasarovar Yatra and the last big town in the yatra route and did all our last minute purchases. The KMVN cottages are situated on the banks of the River Kali which delineates the natural international boundary between India and Nepal and the river view was spectacular. A friendship bridge connects India and Nepal. Then we traveled along with Kali river the greenery on the Nepal side was better than Indian side may be because of less population. In between we witnessed numerous waterfalls, small, big, silvery, ferocious, narrow of all types. Hydel power stationans , ropeways along the route. Our bus was bathed bu numerous waterfalls in between. Towards evening we witnessed another big landslide and it also started raining. Though GREF men battled valiantly to clear the landslide we they could not do so before sunset hence we were forced to make an unscheduled stay at village Gesku , we 32 yatris spent the night in a small hall of the ITBP, the kindness shown by the villagers by way of food, blankets is worth mentioning here.
In the morning we had the darshan of Nilkant peak the first snow clad peak of the journey. The next day after the land slide was cleared we reached Mangti Nala from which trekking started. Because of the unscheduled stay at Gesku we skipped original route of Mangti to Gala and then to Budhi. From Mangti we trekked straight to Budhi via Lakhanpur, Malpa - the site of tragic landslides in 1998 and Lamari and through the quaint bridge we reached Budhi. This was the day of water falls and hanging rocks, we were bathed by numerous waterfalls, which we took as blessings from the Lord as we were to cross 22Km on the first day itself. The journey along the river Kali was very adventurous, at one side it was a high mountain prone for land slides and down flowed ferocious River Kali flowing in full force and in between just a 3 ft track, at places, just cut across the mountain in which we have to trek in single files, called hanging rocks. In between just ahead of Lakhanpur we crossed on the debris of a big landslide. Also crossed a big waterfall ahead of Budhi. During the night we experienced tremors.
The next day trek started with steep climb of 5 Km from Budhi to Chiyalekh. After which our journey entered into the valley of flowers, the most scenic treks on the Indian side. The valley has the profusion of mountain flowers of different colours such as Cobra flowers, Irises, May Apple flowers, Kasturi kamal etc. On the Nepal side we could witness the grand sight of Annapurna peak. We walked through the green meadows at Garbyang ahead of Kali and Tinker confluence we were treated with the Grand sight of Chotta Kailash or Adi kailash. Then we reached the Gunji Camp. This was the day of Flowers and snow clad peaks. In Gunji situated at 3000 M above men sea level, we stayed for 2 days basically for high altitude medical examination as at high altitudes of Kailash oxygen is less and pressure drops this was necessary. In Gunji we visited the Vyasa temple.
The next journey was from Gunji to Kalapani the journey was along River Kali, but in this stretch the river is flowing quietly. We had the view of the Nag Parvat also enjoyed the gradual changes in gradient and vegetation changes. As we neared Kalapani we witnessed the Sage Vyasa’s cave where Vyasa has done penance . At Kalapani we completed our emigration formalities. Though Lipu Nala comes from Lipu Leh pass, the origin of Rover Kali is considered to be Siva Kund in Kalapani we prayed at the Siva- Kali temple at Kalapani. The next day was a 9 Km trek from Kalapani to Nabhidang an uphill climb on the upper reaches of Himalayas above the tree revealing the face of the mountains. Even at this height we could witness purple flowers and green cacti like plants swaying in the cold breeze. The camp at Nabidhang we are treated to triple enjoyment at the tri (international) border. The three unique mountain peaks, The OM Parvat, has the patterns on the snow which resembles naturally formed OM a rare sight we witnessed to its right the Trishul peak and to its left the Nabhi peak which resembles navel of human body. The next day was the last day of trekking on the Indian side a steep 5 Km trek in the early morning in biting cold and breezy wind conditions and walking across snow we reached Lipulekh pass and crossed over into Tibet, climbed down 2Km and reached Taklahot where we stayed for two days completed the immigration formalities gathered necessary items for the holy parikrama of Kaliash and Manasarovar we were helped by the guide provided by Chinese Government from this point.
On the 11th day the journey for which we were waiting for so long started, we left from Taklahot by bus to our Kaliash Base camp to Darchen, normally the yatris are divided into two groups one undertaking the kailash yatra first and the other undertaking the Manasarovar yatra. as our group was a small group we undertook the yatra in single group. In between we had the view of Rakshas Tal, the lake created by Ravana, though we missed the first view of Holy Mount Kailash because of cloud cover. After we reached Darchen also we could only had the fleeting glimpse of the south face and waited and went to bed with prayers in our lips for a good darshan of the Lord in the days ahead.
The next day dawned with a clear sky and we could enjoy the changing colours of the holy peak as the suns rays bathed the east & south face, from white to yellow then golden and then to white we were happy that our prayers has been answered. South face is akin to an ascetic seated in a lotus position. After that the weather was fine to us till the end of journey. Then we traveled up to Yamdwar and had the darshan of the full south face along with Ganesh and Nandhi and our 52 Km Parikrama started from here along the holy path in which thousands of faithful have trekked thousands of years for salvation. The pilgrimage is truly cathartic and therapeutic. As one treads along the path of Parikrama (kora) one sheds a lot of negativity and confusion. The pilgrimage is an amalgamation and fusion of the physical, the aesthetic and spiritual worlds. The majestic beauty of Kailash–Manasarovar from every angle during the parikrama manifests in plain reverence, “viewed through the right eyes it gives a glimpse of infinity”.
Every step along the sacred route of Kailash–Manasarovar route is suffused with sacredness, emanating from every rock and blade of grass. We can feel the vibrations and the pilgrimage blends the worldly and the divine and we are forever changed. The immensity of the pilgrimage cannot be defined in words. It evokes mystical emotions which often lies too deep for human thoughts. We trekked along always having the darshan of the holy mountain as we trekked in parallel to La Chu river, we witnessed the west face also which rose in ragged splendor from stark granite and we reached the Dheraphuk camp just at the foot of the North face flanked by Avalokiteshwara and Vajrapani . We could witness magnificent view of the holy north face through the window of our camp for the whole night..
( To be continued)