Kailash Mansarovar, a journey to the ultimate spiritual bliss!
A year ago when Sam, my husband, told me that he wants to go to Kailash Mansarovar,I was hardly amused.No doubt, it is a desire of many a devout, to undertake the long arduous trek for a dip in the holy lake and a glimpse of the magnificent mountain, but hubby undertaking the journey….
Well, you see he is not a health conscious person or a fitness freak(the gym membership had long expired). Though not a fussy food eater,he always believes that a mighty breakfast in the morning gives one the needed energy for the whole day. And his idea of an ideal breakfast are parathas with “Baigan”(brinjal)or”Parwal(in Assamese, we call it “Potol”) fry and a cup of fresh tea. And no walks(too much traffic), no “pranayams”… and no other form of fitness programme. Medically fit but physically, I had my doubts. A long long journey,difficult terrains,high altitude levels and light food(no heavy breakfasts), got me worried.
But, where there is a will there is a way. And a man with a determination can hardly be persuaded otherwise!!
The Journey as was told to me and as I visualised….
After completing all formalities and getting a visa clearance, he was finally on a plane to Kathmandu,in july 2018.I was not even asked if I would like to come. I do not really have an eidetic memory but Sam is a good story teller and the descriptions of the people as well as the places, they visited; followed by the innumerable photographs via watsap (till network was available) were more than enough to give me the feel of this entire trip taken by hubby and his small group of 12 people to the ultimate spiritual destination, Kailash Mansarovar.
Day 1: The members of the group flew into Kathmandu from various parts of the world.On arrival, they were taken to the luxurious Hyatt Regancy hotel, which would be their home for the next two days and also on return from the Kailash Mansarovar trip.
The Hyatt Regency, Kathmandu
Day 2: The spiritual journey began with a Puja at the famed “Pashupati” temple followed by a visit to the ‘Sleeping Vishnu Temple’ or “Budhanilkantha Temple”.
Day 3: On the third day, they took a chartered flight by Yeti airlines to Nepalgung.(Altitude -450m, Flight Duration – 55 minutes).The group had to leave their luggage at the hotel and just take their minimum requirements for the trip.
Day 4: A 45 minutes flight to Simikot from Nepalgung and an over night stay at Hotel Simikot.
The Hotel’s Dining area
A new friend in Simikot
Day 5: From Simikot they flew by a helicopter to Hilsa. Then cross the Friendship bridge on the Nepal- Tibet/China border to Purang also known as Taklakot.Chinese army officials verify travel documents here.
The helicopter ride to Hilsa
(The View enroute to Hilsa)
Day 6 : They spent the day at the Himalayan Hotel in Purang. Here, the group did a bit of sight seeing and shopping in Chinese yuan(currency).
The hotel in Purang
Day 7: On the 7th day, the group travelled a 125 kms stretch, to Lake Mansarovar. It was a 3 hours ride by bus . Sam and his group were lucky to have been able to take dip in the holy lake as they were told that the previous groups were not given permission by the authorities.They were also fortunate to do Puja and Homa by the calm blue waters of the lake.They did Parikrama of the lake by the same bus.
At Rakshastal enroute to Mansarovar
“Puja and “Homa” by the Lake
The first glimpse of Mount Kailash from Mansarovar Lake
Golden Bird by the lake
It is believed that if one sees a golden bird here,it is auspicious. The group was lucky as they saw one by the waters as they were about to leave after the rituals were over.
The lake as seen from the bus during Parikrama
Day 8: They traveled to Darchen at a distance of about 35 kms from Mansarovar and checked into the Himalaya Hotel. Here, they spent a day, to acclimatize them selves to the altitude and the weather. I must add here that a few members of the group fell ill and could not continue their journey forward. They had to return back.
Days 9, 10 & 11:
The Guides for the Journey, Sherpas and a pony.
Yamdwar, the starting point of the spiritual trek
And the journey begins…..
Day 1 of Parikrama: On the 9th day of their travel, they start their 1st day of Parikrama.Usually the Parikrama of the holy mountain is done over a period of three days. As it starts getting dark they stop over at make shift camps or monasteries for a few hours sleep at night. They travelled for two hours in a bus to Yamdwar (Tarboche) the starting point of Kailash Parikarma. . The Parikrama starts from Yamdwar, the gateway of the God of death.The group was lucky; clear skies and good weather helped them travel through this difficult terrain.
The magnificant mountain as seen on the 1st day of parikrama, The west end of the mountain.
This little bird came and made himself comfortable on Sam’s backpack. The bird wanted something to eat and therefore pecked its way into the half opened bag till it discovered a packet of dried fruits. It was only after it had its share did it fly away.
The first base camp at Dirapuk, where they stay overnight after the first day of Parikrama
Day 2 of Parikrama. The second day is considered to be the most treacherous. The trek from Diraphuk to Zuthulphuk is around 26 kms which also includes the climb over the Dolma La Pass.
The magnificence, the energy, the spirituality……
Dolma La Pass where Goddess Parvati did “tapasya”
The Dolma La pass is at a height of around 19,500 feet, the highest level they climbed on the trip.Dolma la is the name of Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva .
It is in this lake that Goddess Parvati used to bathe. It is here that she manifested Lord Ganesh, her son from the soap suds on her body and breathed life into him while bathing . This lake of Compassion is a revered place for pilgrims. It lies on the way while returning (going down) the Dolma la Pass.
The trek down the Dolma La Pass from Gouri Kund
Day 3 of Parikrama: The last day was relatively easy. The terrain was flat and so within two hours they managed to traverse the distance and return to their hotel.On the way back they stopped at Lake Mansarovar again to have a last look at this beautiful body of blue…pristine and clear, revered and loved.They return to Darchen.
Going down the Dolma La Pass
For the last look at the holy lake…
Day 12: The return journey from Hilsa to Simikot.
Day 13: Early morning flight from Simikot to Nepalkunj. They visit Bageswari temple at Nepalkunj. It is considered a “Shakti Peeth”(one among the 51 peeths). Shakti Peeths are shrines or temples dedicated to “Shakti” ( Goddess).
The final journey from Nepalgung to Kathmandu by a chartered flight ended their 13 days sojourn from a destination that is probably a once in a lifetime experience.An experience that would be cherished and deeply etched in their minds forever.A journey which I believe would be one of enlightment of the mind,the transformation of the body and the awakening of the inner consciousness.For “Kailasm,”Lord Shiva’s abode, signifies the cleanest and flawless crystal…a pure untainted heart where faith and reverence for the Lord resides.