Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Kailash Manasarovar yatra # 4

Gauri Kund 

North Face of Kailash at early morning 

Next day as the first rays of the sun bathed the snake hood of the north face slowly spread down we witnessed one of the most fascinating sights of natural miracle taking place in front of our eyes. The suns rays slowly and steadily bathed the peak with its Golden rays first only at the peak which resembles a snake hood slowly passed down and ultimately turned the whole face in Golden yellow and then turned to white. The suns rays turned the region into a fiery region and led us into a trance , before we could return to consciousness we saw only the silver peak in front. After this grand sight the toughest part of the parikrama started we crossed Dolma Pass, supposed to be guarded by a Tibetan Goddess named Dolma. We and offered prayers to Mother Parvati at Shiv Sthal. The place is full of colored flags and buntings with writings from Tibetan scriptures. and as we start our downward journey, we witness the emerald green Gauri Kund, the lake where Goddess Parvati is supposed to have bathed the lake reflecting the mountain itself.. We collected the holy water of this lake for taking back home, then the parikrama continued among the glaciers and paths filled with boulders and snow till we reach Zongzerbu after a nights halt we headed back for Darchen in the rugged, unfettered and awesome vastness of the great mountains. We also witnessed Tibetans doing the Kora by prostrating along the route and also in many places stone heaps with yak horns and Buddhist scriptures on the way overlooking the Nandadevi peak and Rakshas Tal and Gurla Mandata ranges. As we progressed through the rugged unfettered and vastness of the Kailash circumambulation as if time is suspended between heaven and earth. To gaze at the Holy Kailash is an experience of deep spiritual awareness and profound contentment. In the evening as suggested by one photographer from Mumbai who had undertaken the kora many times we went to Ali road 18 km away from Darchen to have the full view of the south face along with Ganesha and Nandi.

Next day morning we went to Asthapad the nearest point where from we can have the darshan of the Kailash, its also the place where Rishabadeva attained nirvana there we conducted the ritual hawan. Treated for the four days with the most satisfying darshan we continued our journey by bus for parikrama of Manasarovar lake. As we left the precincts of Kailash and inched towards Manasarovar the east face was visible distinctly which was not visible during parikrama. First we reached Serelung Gompa and enjoyed the changing colours of Manasarovar, in the noon sun the waves were glittering like diamonds with Mount Kailash in the background. . In the evening we reached Quhu Gompa and stayed there for two days the sun rise and sunset on the lake were breath taking also in the night the sky opened up with millions of stars in the pollution free environment.

Also experienced the ecstasy of bathing in the holiest of the holy lakes, bathing in this lake is considered to be of enormous spiritual benefit, the icy waters of which many claim contains miraculous powers. Also collected stones and different coloured sand as souvenirs as a gift to the near and dear ones. Also witnesses the fresh snow fall on the Gurla ranges and a hail storm. Our next stay and last one during the parikrama was Qihu , there we conducted the thanks giving hawan overlooking the Kailsh Mountain for giving one of the most satisfying pilgrimage. Then we returned to Taklakot and then crossed the Lipu pass and then safely reached back to Delhi along the same route and the return journey there was no problem any where.

We returned with profound contentment that we have completed successfully one of the toughest journey of faith, which delivers us salvation. With the contentment that we have circumambulated the dwelling of Mahadev and Gods , only abode of God which we can visit in body and taken bath in the sacred lake in which it is believed, celestials take bath in the night till today in the form of stars.

To conclude I quote from Edwin T. Atkinson “Nature in her wildest and most rugged forms bears witness to the correctness of the belief that here is the home of the great God….. All the aids to worship in the shape of striking scenery, temples, mystic and gorgeous ceremonial and skilled celebrants are present, and he must indeed be dull who returns from this pilgrim unsatisfied”.

Best time to visit:

From June to Sep during other times the lake will be frozen and Lipu pass closed.

By Air : We can fly upto Kathmandu and private operators offer 12 day or 9 day packages by air that begin and end at Kathmandu , capital of Nepal. Fixed-wing aircraft are used to fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj and from there to Simikot. From Simikot a helicopter flies to Hilsa. Land cruisers are then used to reach Manasarovar vis Lhasa.

By Road: From Kathmandu by land cruisers to Kailash-manasarovar via Lhasa . private tour operators organize 17 days package tour by road.

The Ministry of External affairs coordinates the Kailash –Manasarovar yatra every year through an advertisement in newspapers in the first half of February. Journey is by bus anf trekking the approximate cost will be about Rs 75000/- ( Rs 15500/- to KMVN, U.S.$ 600 to Chinese Government, about Rs 25000 for porter, pony and other miscellaneous services.). These rates were rates of 2005 yatra. As this yatra is recognised my Mountaineering Federation of India as high altitude trekking expedition all the Government employees are eligible for 30 days Special CL.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Kailash Manasarovar yatra part -3

Annapoorna Peak 

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)

Kailash Manasarovar yatra part -2

                                                          Holy Manasarovar Lake 

The world’s youngest mountain ranges also have the highest peak prominently mark the northernmost skyline of India and figure in the history and mythology of the country. For Hindus Kailsh is the earthly manifestation of Mt Meru their spiritual centre of universe. The Himalayas are central to their cosmology, on one of the peaks Mount Kailash sits Shiva in perpetual meditation along with His consort Parvati , generating the spiritual force that sustains the cosmos. The Jains, who refer to the Kailsh as Ashtapada believe that , at the dawn of the history their first law giver, Rishabadev attained Nirvana on Mount Kailash . The Tibetans call Mount Kailash “Kang Rampoche” meaning “Precious Jewel” where their deity Demchhok, or Pavo and Dorge Phangmo resides. Bonpos- the followers of Bon religion, refer to this mountain as the nine-storeyed Swatika mountain” and call it “Kang Tise.” They believe that the soul of their kingdom resides inside this holy mountain. Buddhists also believe that this mountain is the center of this universe, there are eight monasteries(Gompas) surrounding this mountain, a devotee can come across words OM Mani Padme Hum ( hail to the Jewel of creation in the Lotus) written on stones and taken from Buddhists scriptures. “There is no place more powerful and practice more blessed, or more marvelous than their abode of God,” thus Mount Kailsh is holy to Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and Bons. Thus this unique mountain and lake are attached to our history, culture and mythology.

From the lofty Kailash range around this holy mountain spring four rivers flowing in four different directions: the Indus flows towards north from the noth west corner of Rakshastal floes west through trans-himalayan Tibet , Ladhak in India and southwards in Pakistan and flows into the Arabian sea., the Karnali flows south into Nepal , the Yarlung Tsangpo ( Brahmaputra) flows towards east and Sutlej travels to the west. Mohanjadaro and Harappa were on the banks if Indus. Thus the first civilizations started from the three rivers originating from Kailash.

Manasarovar is holiest, the most fascinating, most inspiring and most famous of lakes and the most ancient that civilization knows , this the Holy lake Manasarovar or Tso Rinpoche ( Precious lake), is majestically calm and dignified like a huge bluish green emerald or a pure turquoise, nestled between two mighty and silver mountains Kailsh ranges on the north and Gurla-Mandata ranges on the south and between the sister lake Rakshas Tal in the west. This circular vast lake is at 15000 ft is a lake of purity and pristine beauty with a depth of 300 ft encompassing 200 Sq miles. Manasarovar is laden with infinite moods which are reflected in its water which changes color with breathtaking speed . Especially in moon lit nights the reflection of snow capped mountains and millions of stars in pin-drop silence transports one to an unseen and unheard world of ecstasy and the scene is simply indescribable. Only an inspired poet or the divine artist with his magic colors can describe the beauty, grandeur of sun rise and sunset at the lake A dip in its holy waters is soul-satisfying.

“When the earth of Manasarovar touches anyone’s body, or when anyone bathes in this lake, he shall go to the paradise of Brahma, and he who drinks its waters shall go to the heaven of Shiva and shall be released from the sins of a hundred births. Even the beast who bears the name of Manasarovar shall go to the paradise of Brahma, its water are like pearls.

- The Ramayana

No wonder Munis, Rishis from the yore sung its praises and great seers from the past have circumambulated this holy mountain and the lake. For thousands of years pilgrims have journeyed to the Kailash-Manasarovar bearing immense hardships to pay obeisance to the mystery and eternal force embodied in the aura of the mystifying mountain. It is also as much an inward journey. The trail continues even today.

Sunday, July 02, 2006




Mountains are there all over the world . But Himalayas are unparalleled for their beauty , ferocity and above all spirituality. It is dotted with a number of holy places Badrinath, Kedarnath, Amarnath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Rishikesh, Haridwar on the west . Khamakya in the east. The holiest of holy peak in trans Himalayan ranges is the Kailash also known as Meru or Mahameru it is the abode of Shiv-Shakthi which represent the cosmic energy of trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. A trip (Yatra) to Holy Kailash Mountain and Manasarovar lake is a yatra of sheer faith. Yatra to the most worshipped peak in the world, a trip to the holy place nestled in the lap of Himalayas in western Tibet. The Holy Kailash Mountain rises in jagged splendour from the surrounding raw rugged and stark granite mountains. Mount Kailash, abode of Shiva and Parvati, circumbulation of which delivers one from the cycle of birth and death and Manasarovar - the Holy lake, formed by Lord Brahma from his mind, a dip in whose waters are believed to wash away the sins of a life time. Laden with eternal beauty, serenity, spirituality and immense natural power, the entire Kailash-Manasarovar is suffused with significance undefined.

Abode of perpetual snow, fittingly called the Lord of Mountains animated by divinity as its soul and internal sprit (incarnate divinity) spanning the wide land from eastern to western seas stands as it were like the measuring rod of the earth. Kailash and Manasarovar are the pious and most beautiful shrines. - Kalidasa in Kumarasambhav

(To Be contd)