A JOURNEY TO KAILASH MANSAROVAR

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 19 Nov 2017 12:50:04


 

By ARUN KUMAR,

Period of Journey Between June to September every year. Rest of the year is snow covered and non-approachable. How to go Since Kailash Mansarovar falls in Tibet, China, visa or permit is required for Indian Citizens. There are 2 ways to visit this place -

1) Through Government of India, for which one has to apply online on their website in March. There are limited seats and journey takes 22 days from Delhi through Uttarakhand (Presently closed due to landslides.). Another route of 19 days from Sikkim via Nathula pass was closed by China.

2) Private operators through Nepal for journey by bus from Kathmandu via Kerung (15 days) or the shortest by plane/helicopter/bus (9 days) Cost Varying from Rs 1.15 lacs upto Rs1.65 lacs by private operators. Plus Rs 27,500 for pony for parikrama.

 

 


 

 

The magnificent and majestic Mount Kailash with an imposing 21,778 feet height is more than just a mountain. It’s a legend. A revelation. A journey, that is both outwards and inwards. Located in the Himalayan mountain ranges of the remote Southwestern corner of Tibet, Kailash is not just one of the highest parts of the world and the source of four mighty rivers of Asia - the Brahmaputra, the Sutlej, Ganges and the Indus, but it’s also one of the mostsignificantspiritual spotsin the world, revered by millions of people from different religions across the world. And coupled with the presence of adjoining Lake Manasarovar and Rakshastal, the beauty of the area mesmerises each and every one visiting this place. But more than anything, the journey to Kailash Mansarovar isalife-changing experience for the few thousands of pilgrims who undertake it every year, teaching them a sense of self-like nothing else can.

For a pilgrimage to this isolated, timeless, breathtaking and fascinating spiritual spot is like a journey within oneself. Infact, all the travellers who have visited this place will unanimously agree that they all returned from this trip completely transformed. The magical and mystical spot has been drawing people to its divine presence for various reasons. And to makeapoint, here’s why one should not missthe chance to be a part of the Kailash Mansarovar yatra. Hindus believe Mt Kailash to be the abode of Lord Shiva, the holy center of the earth and the manifestation of heaven itself.

Just 20 kilometers away from Mount Kailash, the sacred blue and emerald green Manasarovar Lake that lies at a height of 15,060ft, is known to be an epitome of purity, containing healing properties and the power to wash off all mortal sins. According to Hindu legend, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar, which is a combination of the words 'Manas' (mind) and 'Sarovar' (lake). Tibetan Buddhists professthat Kailash isthe home of the Buddha Demchok who symbolizes supreme harmony. TheTibetan religion of ‘Bon’ believes Mount Kailash as their spiritual seat of power.

In Jainism, Kailash,referred to as Mount Ashtapada, is the place where the creator of their faith, Rishabhadeva, attained freedom from the cycle of life and rebirth. Gauri Kund, a water body that is also known as the Lake of Compassion, lies on the way while going on downwards from Dolma - La (Dolma Pass). The lake is also famous as ‘Parvati Sarovar’ as this was the place where goddess Parvati had acquired her son Ganesha (Elephant headed God). For these reasons and many more,atrip to Kailash Mansarovar is an intense spiritual experience.

 


 

A sojourn to this roof of the world is an arduous, but rewarding one. Every single traveller of this incredible journey undergoes a humbling and enlightening transformation, which cannot be described, but can only be felt first hand. We started our nine day trip from Lucknow to Nepal because this is the shortest trip available by private operators through Nepal. From Lucknow, after 4 hours drive one can reach Nepalgunj in Nepal from where we boarded 40 mins, 20-seater flight to Simikot. This is the smallest airport in western part of Nepal at an altitude of 9550 ft. Our further journey from Simikot was upto Hilsa (altitude - 11940 ft), the border of Tibet, China was through a 6-seater helicopter. Depending upon the weather condition, the rush of pilgrims and the limited availability of planes and helicopters, one may have to stay one night at Simikot or Hilsa.

After crossing to China border, the time immediately changes to +2.30 hrs and one has to set his watch in advance. After immigration, the next stop is Taklakot (Burang) in China, 40 kms from border and at an altitude of 13400ft. Two days of acclimatisation is required before commencement of yatra due to extremely cold weather and very low oxygen level.

Lake Manasarovar is around 40 kms from Taklakot; Manasarovar also has accommodation facility. From Manasarovarfor the parikrama of Kailash one hasto go to Darchen that is about another 40 kms. The tour operators take care of all accommodations, journey and food for the entire trip. The trip to Kailash Manaarovar consists of two parts - Parikrama of Lake Manasarovar with holy dip and puja and Parikrama (kora) of Mount Kailash subsequently. a) Lake Manasarovar is a freshwater lake and is revered as a sacred place in four religions: Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.According to Sanatan (Hindu) divine texts, its water has eternal power enabling personification of purity, and one who drinks waterfrom the lake will go to the abode of Shiva after death. He is believed to be cleansed of all his sins committed over even a hundred lifetimes. It lies at 4,590 m (15,060 ft) above mean sea level.

It is relatively round in shape with a circumference of 88 km (54.7 mi). Its depth reaches a maximum depth of 90 m (300 ft) and its surface area is 320 km2 (123.6 sq mi). It also connects by the natural Ganga Chhu channel to a nearby Lake, Rakshastal, which is a saline water lake but not having a sacred place in any religion. Legend says that this lake was created by Lord Ravana who broughtsea water with himself when he came for worshipping Lord Shiva. People usually take parikrama of 75 kms by bus of Lake Manasarovar, after which a holy dip in the lake at freezing temperature is undertaken before worship of Lord Shiva. b) Kora, or Parikrama of Mount Kailash - Pilgrims and tourists alike perform a seriously challenging kora -awalk circling a sacred site around the base of Mount Kailash.Thisis no walk in the park - the Kailashkora is a 32 mile (52 km) trek that starts at 15,090ft (4600m) and includes an 18,491ft (5636m) pass which takes 3 days to complete. Day1-(12 km walk) After leaving the town of Darchen, pilgrims usually move inabus on pebbled road for 6 kms uptoYam Dwar after which the trekking for parikrama commences either on foot or on horses. Yam Dwar meaning ‘Gateway of the God of Death’, attracts a large number of pilgrims every year. It is the place from where you’ll enter the abode of Lord Shiva.

According to Hindu mythology, Yama is the lord of death, who is responsible for bringing mortal souls in his home. First, Lord Yama takes account of all your good and bad deeds. And then he releases you for the ultimate cosmic journey onward. It is believed that the actual entrance through this gate is possible only when you have detached your soul from the mortal world. After traversing 12 kms for about 5-6 hours, one reaches Dirapuk, which is the Northwest face of Mt. Kailash. This is the nearest point to the mountain and the place from where the best face or darshan of Mount Kailash is possible.

This foothill of Dirapuk at an elevation of 15000 feet, is also known as charansparsh. Many people prefer to go for a puja at charansparsh and seek the god’s blessings thereby so that they can perform the parikrama successfully. People feel surrendered to the super power here. By touching the base of the mountain they feel as if they touch the feet of Lord Shiva Himself. Day2-(22 km walk) The second day walk from Dirapuk is the most difficult, which requires climbing to Dolma La pass, then descending upto Zuthulpuk, on the way crossing the magnificent Gauri Kund. The Dolma La pass is at an elevation of 18591 feet, which is the highest altitude of the entire yatra. Dolma La istheTibetan name of Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva. The pass can be treacherous if the weather is not favourable.

It is said that one can cross only if Goddess Dolma allows you to. Today, she was kind enough to bestow her blessings and we crossed the pass with no hindrance at all and quickly hurried down towards Gauri Kund. Day3-(8 km walk) The third day the yatra commences in the morning as early as5o’clock, wherein the terrain encompasses ups and downs, but takes around 2-3 hours to complete. After which we board the bus for our return journey. With freezing temperature, low oxygen level, changing weather, the walk of 52 kms at an altitude of 15000 - 18491 ftspanning over 3 days in the most difficult mountain terrain is supposed to be once in lifetime experience.

With success rate of about 20-25%, the lucky ones feel elevated and very joyful after completing the entire trek. On the entire route of parikrama, one can also come across devout Tibetans, who perform the Kora by prostrating themselves on ground after each step. With this way of parikrama, they take arohe joy of making its own contribution. ■