Monday, June 16, 2008

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra - An introduction



It is believed that only after severe penance of thousands of births one gets the good fortune to have the darshan of Holy Kailash and a chance to bath in Holy Manasarovar Lake. After that they are relieved of any further birth. It is difficult for even celestials to have the darshan (divine view) of Holy Kailash. So who get a chance to have tha darshan of Kailash are really blessed. The book is about the postings which follow is about the yatra to that Holy Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake .

For the faithful it is the journey of a life time which one can undertake only by the grace of the Lord Shiva because of the accrued merits over many thousands of births. For some, it is an adventurous trip, for some it is a high altitude trekking, for the connoisseur it is a journey through the most beautiful flower valley at an altitude of above 12000 feet un spoilt environment and pure air, and breath taking views of the snow capped peaks of mighty Himalayas. For trekkers it is an ultimate trekking experience. Thus there is some thing for everybody who undertake this yatra (pilgrimage) and all of them return fully satisfied.

The Holy journey to the most worshipped peak , Holy Kailash the abode of Shiv-Shakthi whom represent the cosmic energy of trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra and the holy lake Manasarovar nestled at an altitude of about 20000 ft in the greater Himalayas is popularly known as “Kailash Manasarovar Yatra”.

These sacred places have been talked highly in our puranas (holy scriptures) and they stand showering grace for multitude of millenniums. They stand at the crowns of natural beauty on the Himalayas. Though the journey is tough , the reward of the experience makes these difficulties appear miniscule . Revered by millions, their sheer beauty and magnificence beckons the pilgrims and travelers alike . Magnificent landscapes, sacred mountains and tranquil lakes create an ethereal ambiance.

This is what the classical dancer Sonal Mansingh wrote about this Holy Kailash Manasarovar yatra. “After my recent yatra to Kailash & Manasarovar, I can say the joy I experienced is unparalleled. The five star luxury, exotic spa treatment, designer outfits, executive class travel and dining at up-market restaurants could appear absolutely banal. You realize that what money can buy does not always make for real happiness. The darshan ( holy view) of the towering Kailash and bathing in the freezing cold waters of Manasarovar , it is the close encounter with nature. It was Nritya Seva (Dance Service), dancing at 16000 ft at the foot of the south face of Mount Kailash. A supreme platform and a supreme spectator. I felt my artistic journey had found a new meaning”.

There are many misconceptions about the yatra. No doubt in the past the journey was really difficult, it was considered that taking up the yatra was equivalent to one’s last journey, but now things have changed a lot and there is lot of improvement on both the Indian and Chinese side and every year some new improvements are taking place. So pilgrims need not worry and can take up the yatra.

These postings are intended to help those who plan to take up this yatra in future, to tell in detail the essential things needed to make this grueling and arduous journey to the abode of the Lord and Mother of the Universe an enjoyable one. The procedural requirements, routes and the details of the journey day wise are given for both Indian route and Nepal route. As years pass by, the facilities on both the Indian and Chinese side are improving. So it may not be that much difficult for the pilgrim as it used to be, the aim of these postings is to bring that point to the aspiring pilgrims .

When we were in Delhi for the yatra we were felicitated by Kailash Manasarovar Seva Samiti, during that time the President of the samiti addressed all the yatris, at that time he told these words “ After I had the darshan of the Lord ( Mt Kailash) the sight remained etched in my memory, when our I retire to bed the glorious sight of the Lord only comes to my mind and when I am idle sometimes again the mind homes on Mount Kailash only" . At that time it seemed jovial or little banal , but once we finished and came back only we realized the truth. " No time now passes without thinking about the infinite compassion of the Lord & Mother who gave His darshan ". The truth can be confiremed from my postings that the author is writing these articles after 3 years after undertaking the yatra. There were many in our group who were coming for the yatra for the second time, there are many who are still visiting the Lord’s abode year after year it’s all His grace. So that only this book is written, so as to help those who want to undertake the yatra, to explain them that you leave everything to Him and just ask for His darshan then definitely He will grant your wish.

Holy Kailash mountain and Manasarovar lake are nestled in western Tibet, in the Chinese territory. So Indian citizens need passport and visa from Chinese Government to visit Kailash. As Kailash and Manasarovar are situated at an altitude of about 20000 feet, the weather is highly unpredictable, the journey is difficult as oxygen and air pressure are less at higher altitude of above 9000 ft. Physical fitness is very much important, as, it involves high altitude trekking in inhospitable conditions, the time taken to complete the journey is about a month, the expenditure involved is also high. So an aspirant needs a strong will, a healthy body without any major ailments like diabetics, heart disease, blood pressure, epilepsy, asthma etc, and also should be also wealthy . So one with good health, strong will and wealth only will be able to make this trip.

Indian citizens can undertake this yatra by two routes. One is the central Government sponsored yatra , through India . The pilgrims travel from New Delhi to Dharuchula in Uttaranchal state by bus and then from there they trek along the river Kali, the natural boundary between India and Nepal enjoying the beauty of mountains on both the sides, and pass through Chiyalekh , flower valley and cross into China at Lipulekh pass at an altitude of 12000 ft. In China they stay at Taklakot and then travel to Darchen, Kailash base camp by bus . They undertake the circumambulation of Holy Kailash by trek , passing through Dolma Pass at an altitude of 19000ft, and after completing this parikrama of Holy Kailash , undertake the circumambulation of Holy Manasarovar lake by bus and return back by the same path. In this trip the pilgrims have to trek for about 200 Km in all spread over 10 days and the time taken for the journey is about one month.

The second route is through Nepal, arranged by private tour operators in co-operation with travel operators in Nepal. First the pilgrims travel to Kathmandu then from there they travel in land cruisers and cross into China through friend ship bridge, cross river Brahmaputhra, by the side of Manasarovar lake reach Darchen. Those who are willing and fit to undertake the parikrama of Kailash do the parikrama others stay at Darchen from there after circumambulating Manasarovar reach Kathmandu by the same route The time taken for this trip is about 21 days , trekking is limited to parikrama of Kailash only . The expenditure is also almost same for both the trips.

Also Kailash and Manasarovar remain inaccessible for most part of the year as the whole place is covered with snow, Manasarovar and Rakshas Tal lakes also remain frozen during winter and snow starts melting in summer, so the best time to visit is spring ie July to September while traveling through Indian side . The pilgrims traveling through Nepal can visit Kailash during April to September.

The articles are in English so that the reach will be more, also those who can read Tamil can also read english. Those who are interested in reading in Tamil can mail to the author and he will the book written in Tamil to you.

Then the day to day activities of the Indian Government sponsored yatra is described in detail as the writer undertook the yatra through this route. Then the day to day activities of the yatra through Nepal is also described in brief. Hope these postings will be of a good guide for those who want to visit the Holy abode of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati. If any pilgrim is benefited by reading these postings the author will be happy.

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