Though we had some hiccups by land slides and delays caused because of that, we crossed into China without any problem by the Grace of Shivsakthi for their darshan. As ITBP authorities had instructed us not to use pony for the steep descent of 3 Kms from Lipuleh pass into Tibet, we avoided the ponies though they were available ( many people have broken their limbs while traveling on ponies in this stretch) and started trekking down to the waiting bus parked ready for us with the Chinese officials and our guide. It was one of the hardest days of the journey after the steep climb in biting cold as we had trekked through snow the feet were soggy and it pained a lot , some how we all pulled along and reached the bus parked some 2 Kms away. As we were trekking we could witness the magnificent Gurala Mandata mountains, the magnificent mountain ranges welcomed all of us into Tibet. On the Chinese side there was no vegetation at all and the land was barren in contrast to the Indian side, later we learnt that rainfall on the Chinese side is scanty. One difference we observed was the advancement Chinese side has made on their side , motorable road is there is on the Chinese side almost upto the pass but on the Indian side we trekked for around 6 days before reaching the pass. The bus journey was bone rattling one through streams and rocky paths.
We were taken to the Purang guest house at Taklakot . The Immigration formalities were completed, we paid 601 U.S. dollars as fees to the Chinese Government and our passports were verified but no visa stamp was affixed in the individual passports. We were all given accommodation at the Guest house there in about three rooms 5 yatris were accommodated. Hot water is available for limited period in the morning, only problem here was the toilets which were of vintage ones akin to open ones which we were using in the 60’s . The same was the case throughout the yatra.
Let us now see how this land of Tibet has been described in our anvcient scriptures. Tibet was called Thrivistabam. According to legends the origin of the universe started in this holy land. The three forces Sun. lightning and fire combined here and hence the universe originated proclaim the legends so this land is holy. In the epic Mahabaratham Tibet is mentioned as thirathavibistam and sage Vyasa describes the land as the central part of aryavartham and as the holiest place. For the next twelve days we will be staying in this holy land.
Mr Mudgal told that now (2007) a three storied building is built and only two yatris are accommodated in a room and the room has attached bathrooms and toilets this is really an remarkable advancement on the Chinese side.
After three days of high altitude trekking this day was a day of rest. We converted the American dollars into Chinese yuvans, normally we have go to the bank for currency conversion but on that particular day as it was a bank holiday our guide arranged for the conversion at some local commercial establishment. The exchange rate was 7 yuvans for an American dollar. Every yatri paid about 200 Yuans to Mr. Mudgal for common expenses on the Chinese side. We enjoyed the well deserved rest this day .
Gurla mandata Mountain Ranges
Taklakot in Tibetan Chinese side is a big town on the Kailash Manasarovar yatra route and is situated on the banks of river Karnali. This is a old trading town and consists of many market places, Gompas and Buddhist shrines. As we had been warned not to photograph any buildings we followed the same. International calls can be made from here we found the state owned telecom centre to be cheaper and made calls home and informed them about the progress of the yatra.
One thing the author wishs to mention here is about the food being provided at the Guest house . They are provided at the set time only if we are little late also we have to skip the meals. They provide with Chinese foods which is not very much palatable to us, they provide rice, boiled vegetable and soup and pine apple. There is a difference of about 4:30 Hrs between Indian and Chinese time so normally they provide food according to their time and bell is rung when the food is ready and immediately we have to rush to have the food and once we miss the time later food is not served. On the first day we didn’t do much just visited the Tibetan market for some shopping and bought plastic cans for transport of Holy Manasarovar Water. On the second day we washed all our clothes and then went for shopping of vegetables to the local market with our cooks and our guide accompanied us . For every yatra batch one guide is provided by the Chinese Government who takes care of the welfare of the yatris for the whole yatra period on the Chinese side, our guide was conversant with English and also spoke little Hindi. He called himself David and as it was easy for us to remember that name we all called him by the same name. During transportation the oil pouches provided by Kailash yatra samiti had got damaged and also the sugar packets got soaked in the oil and were not fit for consumption so we bought them at Taklakot then we packed our items. The land is barren here and as they get very scanty rainfall in a year the place was full of dust and we saw that everybody wear dust masks, we also purchased nose masks they costed 1 yuan each. The roads here are just metalled roads and are not tar topped so the journey was bone rattling.
Two interesting episodes happened when we were staying here at Taklakot. As in a big group of diversified personalities there is bound to be some difference of opinion such a thing happened in our batch also. Some of our batch members wanted to do the Parikrama of Manasarovar first and then the parikrama of Kailash as Sep 01 was an auspicious day and a good day in which Pradosham and Shivrathri came together they wanted that it is better that we at the feet of the Lord on that day. A meeting took place and after taking into account many factors and the advice of the guide L.O decided that it is better that we do the Kailash Parikrama first and then go for Manasarovar Parikrama later as the weather was good at that time. Though those who wanted to do the Manasarovar Parikrama first were unhappy at that decision later they agreed to the decision of L.O with reservations with the satisfaction that it is the will of the Supreme that prevails .
Cactus at 14000 ft
The second episode is that we met a group of German tourists who had come for the Kailash trip the group was being lead by an Indian, a photographer from Mumbai was leading the group, he had visited Kailash 15 times and had photographed the abode of the Lord and published books on Kailash. He gave many valuable hints to have a complete darshan of Kailash. We felt was by His grace only we met the photographer. Then we all waited for that moment when we will be leaving to meet the three eyed, blue throated trident wielding Lord of the Universe and Mother who were so graceful and brought us all nearer to them to give their darshan to us.
After three days high altitude trekking the rest did good to all of us and also the body got acclamatized for the next three days Kailsh Parikrama.