Kailas - Manasarovar
God : paramashiva, kailashapati, mahArudra
Goddess : pArvatI
thiirtham : mAnasasarovaram, gaurikuND
Great Saints visited : Very many, the dream abode of the saints.
- Held most scarad by the devotees of Lord shiva. This is considered as the seat of mahArudra.
- The Lord's mountain appear majestic with the surrounding of many smaller cliffs resembling the attendent divines of the Lord.
- The Lord is worshiped by the Buddhists and Jains also.
- gaurikuND, the thIrththa on the parikrama route is one of the ponds at the tallest place (19000+ feet over sea level) in the world.
State : Tibet
Situation: In the Tibeten plateau to the north of Uttar Pradesh. It is
reachable by trekking from Uttar Pradesh or by car through Nepal. It is
about 900 km from Kathmandu. The base camp Tarchen is at an altitude of
about 15000 feet from the mean sea level.
Kailash Manasa sarovar (manasarovar) Yatra
Desire for Kailash Manasarovar yatra
It was a dream. It sparked long time back; continued to grow and at one point of time became vigorous and continually coming to mind. It is the Lord's great abode on earth "The Mount Kailash". The prayers were heard, but not because of the qualification but because of Its immense Grace, the Lord showed the way in 2001. Unless Its permission is there who could enter that Holiest of the Holy place ?! By the Grace of God got to join a group that had planned to take up the yatra via Kathmandu. From that time it was a penance to worship the Lord, Who has taken abode in our hearts, in His own Abode. The thought itself was quite pleasing that the Lord gave such great blessing. When all the yatris assembled a month before the yatra for a briefing, the mental charge had picked up for this great pilgrimage of the life.
There were lots of hurdles forthcoming. The travel schedule was postponed by two weeks just a couple of days before departure because of some visa restrictions. It was really hard to settle the local logistics to accommodate this change in schedule. When things were getting set came the news of Kathmandu royal family massacre ! The status of the yatra was hanging. What can one do other than pleading to the Supreme to shower the divine grace that would take us to have a glimpse of His holy feet. We don't demand that as the right, as the Supreme knows our deservings, but just beg for the Grace like a small child that cries for the mother just putting a step forward. As the situation was slowly returning to normalcy, the hope was returning. Again just the day before departure the flight was cancelled ! Pleaded to the Lord to give strength to cross whatever that comes in the way of worshiping the Holy Seat of God. Of course but for His Grace we won't have done it. Not just these, many times through the journey, it was the strength of His Grace that was taking forward. Somehow managed to get a rerouted ticket the next day to Kathmandu.
The Great Kailash yatra begins
The Rough Terrain on
When assembled with the pilgrims on the Sunday 9 th June night itself, it felt nice. To be in the association of devotees that too who have come with the single mind of having dharshan of Kailashapathi, in spite of all the hurdles, is certainly lovely. The next morning when we started for the Bangalore Airport to catch the flight to Indraprastham (Delhi) - Kathmandu, the mind was full of thankfulness and enthusiasm looking for the most look forward journey. When landed in Kathmandu on Monday evening, the return of slow normalcy in that city was feelable.
The next morning we went to the temple of the God of this Himalayan kingdom, Lord pashupatinAth. Oh, He is Lord of not just this kingdom, He is Lord of all pashus ! The Lord's Holy anointing was so blissful that there was no mood to move out of the altar till they closed the doors at noon. That Lovely Lord's Grace is what should take us to the Holy abode of kailash, the mind prayed the Lord Who makes us pray Him in all directions. Visited couple of other temples also in Kathmandu. The next evening, there was a batch of pilgrims who just returned completing their pilgrimage. They shared their blissful moments at the Feet of the King of mountains.
The glorious Himalayas
Thursday early morning the buses left for the great travel shouting the slogan kAvAy kanakath thiraLE pORRi, kayilai malaiyAnaE pORRi pORRi (Save, the Pile of gems, hail Thee, The Lord of Kailash mount, hail Thee, hail Thee !!). The journey itself was very great, as the discussions centered around the experiences of pilgrims who already had visited this wonderful abode, the Shaiva Siddhantha philosophy, the holy thirumuRais, vedic chantings, pleasant music and the sincere devotion of pilgrims who appeared simple. As the river beTikoshi roaring alongside the road, went discussing the philosophies of relationship between the soul, Supreme and surroundings. Interestingly Shaiva Sidhdhantha claims its origins as kailasha parampara. We stopped at the Nepali border town of Kodari to clear the immigration formalities and shifting of goods from buses to the landcruisers waiting on the Chinese side. Couple of hours later crossed the friendship bridge to get to the Tibeten area - a town called Zhang Mu. From that day the journey was on a set of landcruisers. That evening reached at a hotel in Nyalam. This days journey was quite scenic and impressing all the way through with fibers of water falling from vertical mountain tips, the turbulent stream thundering from many hundred feet down the hill, tiny falls on the way falling above the road, all green and soothing scenes around, mind naturally hailed namaH shIghriyAya cha shIbhyAya cha .
As this place is already more than 10,000 feet from the seam level, the tour operators had decided to make one day additional halt for the pilgrims to get acalimatized. As the tour operator had given instruction not to over relax and advised to take up small treks and strolls around in order to feel more comfortable with the altitude, the next morning went to the nearby hill trekking up. It was a good exercise, after sweating out the stomach was hungry and the body was more comfortable. In the few shops of this small village, pilgrims bought the forgotten items.
The River Brahmaputra
The next morning journey started from Nyalam to climb a bit up and then onwards it was the plateau. There were not much of climb, but the land looked like desert with very little vegetation. The journey from this point onwards continue to be in such a terrain. It can be recollected that in periya purANam it is mentioned that appar crossed the hard deserts on Himalayas on his pilgrimage to mount Kalilash. The geographic knowledge of chEkkizar in southern plains is astounding ! For that hard terrain the cars were giving problems. There was an urge also as the brahmaputra river had to be crossed with the help of boats before they stop at 6 pm. Somehow with the Grace of God just managed to cross it in time to reach in the camp Saga. From here onwards the camps are mud houses with cots and bedding arrangements. Till this point telephone facilities are available. At these heights breathing could be a bit difficult than normal. In the nights to easen the breathing the organizers kept a piece of camphor in all the rooms.
On Sunday morning we started off to the next camp, Paryang. The journey is alongside river brahmaputra initially. As the sun was shining well some of the pilgrims took bath in the river. But in spite of the sun the water was quite cold. That evening we arrived at Paryang. It was a travel of about 200 kms everyday. Totally about 900 km gets covered from Kathmandu to Kailash. From one camp to other for hundreds of kilometers, it is hard to see any inhabitations except really few of the tibetens.
Manasarovar - Darshan of the holy thirtha
The organizer had already told that the next day would be the first dharshan of the Lord's Holy Mount. It created a great amount of zeal, after all the sight of our Heart Stealing Supreme is the whole purpose of this difficult journey. The enthusiasm went up in the afternoon as that is when the dharshan would be seen, we were told. When the eyes closed a bit, the tibeten driver kindled the spirit by saying, "Kang Rimpoche, Tso Mapam (Kailash, Manasa sarovar) approaching !" He probably said for fun, as there was three more hours of drive, but then on each lake looked like Manasarovar and at each turn started expecting the first glimpse of the Lord ! The One, Who came on His own and stole off our mind, was making us run corner to corner in search of Him ! Where can the sleep come then ! There was nice melodious tibeten song praising the Dolma La, the highest point in the parikrama route of the Holy mount, in the car was adding to the spirit. Finally that great Monday's evening, the driver went up a slope, circled a flag mast of tibetens three times and said "Tso Mapam" (Manasa sarovar or mansarovar). The mind was thrilled at the sight of the Great Holy Lake mAnasa sarovar, representing the Goddess on Whose heart is the Merciful Lord ever blessing. The eyes searched for the Lord's Holy Mount. But the Lord had completely hid Himself in the clouds.
The Holy Lake Manasa sarovar
Prostrated to the direction of the Supreme. "If the Forehead-eyed Lord decides not to reveal, who can see Him ?!" The Lord had decided when and how to give the blessing, what can our hurry fetch ? Quite disappointed though, prayed to the Holy Feet of the Lord, to bless as per the Grace of Its own will. That evening the plan was to stay in the Zeidi camp on the bank of Manasarovar, but stayed in the Hore (Hor chu) camp a few miles away as the drivers did not cooperate. The next morning went on our vehicles for the parikrama of the lake Manasarovar. (Many Nepali travels do not take for complete parikrama, but on special insisting this organizer took us). When the focus was completely on the Manasarovar, the sister who was organizing the yatra shouted from our car, "Kailash, Kailash". Virtually jumped out of the car to scan the complete direction she was pointing to have a glimpse of the Nectar, the mind was yearning for. There were a few mountains hazy amidst the clouds. Couldn't clearly see. Bowed down to the Lord, Who is surrounded by His great servants.
The parikrama (Circumambulation) continued a few meters away from the brim of Manasarovar. There is a Tibeten monastery on the bank, to which the guide took around. The sight of the Holy lake was quite impressing. had there been no clouds the shade of the mountains, including the great Kailash would be seen on this dark green water. From the monastery the parikrama again continued towards a hot spring called chiu gompa. On the way to the left was another huge lake called raaxastal. This is the lake created by rAvaNa after his failed misadventure to lift up the Holy Mount Kailash. While people (Hindus and Tibeten Budhdhists) consider the Manasarovar as holy, the adjacent raxastal is not considered good. Before getting to the Holy water of Manasarovar, we wanted to wash away many days' dirt from our body. The hot sulphur spring on the high grounds near the lake, served that purpose.
It was almost noon when we came to Manasarovar bank again at the Zeidi camp. Still the water was chill. The Lord has not given complete dharshan yet. This is the Holy thIrththam of the kailasha xetra. This also is revered as the mother pArvatI, Who is the first and foremost devotee of the Lord shiva; the One with Supreme love for the Lord; Inseparable from the Lord. May that holy water clean away any dirts of the mind that hides the vision to see our Beloved Lord ! Saluting the Lord shambhu, went and had quick dips in the lake. It felt nice. Had there not been much wind it may be nice to be in the lake for some more time. Later having bath in the Holy Ash, finishing the lunch started off to the Kailash base camp Tarchen.
Kailasam Manasasarovar Yatra - Part 2
Continuation from Part 1
The First Sight of Mt Kailash
Very few minutes it would have been as the car just came up from the lake, heard an ecstatic cry from the organizer, "Kailashapati is seen". God, how to express that moment ? The Great Sweat Splendid Magnificent Peerless Glorious All Merciful Gracious Supreme Kailashapati was showing the Gigantic and Majestic Seat of His amidst ranges of small mountains like the deva, muni, asura, nara and various other categories of lives bowing down in front of that One, the God of all. Blessed, the life is blessed, there is certainly something to be proud of, oh dear mind pull this glorious sight in for the rest of the life, there is nothing to thank the God as no words can express the gratitude for the Immense Grace the Lord has shown, it is all because of Its Grace, the only possibility is to salute ! Fell down in that holy land, may the Lord bless one in the last of the last. It was the day and time of pradhosham . Glorious it is for the Lord to bless in that time, when the devas, who forgot Its Grace came to beg Its pardon, worshiped the bholenAth.
There onwards till reaching the Tarchen for about an hour the Wonderful sight of the Lord is filling the heart with delight. Stopped at many places on the way to rejoice the breath taking sight of the South Facing Lord, the Supreme Guide for all pashus. For the next three days the God gave unforgettable marvelous dharshan without the hindrance of the clouds. Again no thanks to the Lord, only salutations to the Immeasurable blessings. The Lord of all divines here is in a royal posture. One could see the mountains very much like a fort in front of the Holy seat of God; There are aShTa parvats around; One could see the mount right in front of Kailash resembling the nandi. It is a majestic posture, gifted are the eyes to see ! From the Tarchen base camp the Lord can be seen. So every now and then one can come out to see the White smeared Mount of the Lord, glittering away the two-fold deeds.
Tarchen Camp at the Feet of Mt Kailash
The following day was also spent in the camp. At the Feet of the God the devotees gave opportunities to discuss the shaivite philosophies and chant the vedas and thirumuRai. The next day was beautiful trek to aShTaparvat (many Nepali tours and the Indian govt one do not take to this place), a place that can take one very near to the southern face of Kailash. It was a not so difficult trek for about three hours by the side of the stream that comes from the Mt. Kailash. At about half the way the group performed the vedic rites in praise of the Lord, Who is at the bossom of the vedas. Then a few devotees continued to trek forward towards the Magnet on the Mount that was pulling. By taking the way to the left of the stream one could reach the Feet of Kailash, apparently. But crossing the stream one group went towards the nandi hill right in front of the Mount Kailash and with another old and virtuous devotee trekked on the hill just behind nandi that resembled the balipITha (sacrificial altar). It was quite steep and tough trek. Instead of climbing the summit went a bit behind and prostrated to the Supreme with the feeling that this is the altar of Its temple. Offering the dry fruits and the love, though coming from the body of shortcomings, asked for Its Grace. (Great deal, giving the foul things get the Flawless Supreme thing in return !!) Very difficult to return back from this place as the Magnet is capturing the mind. With lots of turning back walked back. As we approached Tarchen the clouds again surrounded and spread the wide sky.
Lord, Nandi, Balipith (bit obscured) at Ashtaparvat
The next day was the start of the parikrama (pradaxaNa - circumambulation) of the Great Supreme, Who appear simple to us. This takes three days normally and the experienced devotees and the tibetens complete it in just one day. "This is the outer most kora ( circumambulating path) and there are five inner koras", one sanyasi who has completed more than a hundred parikramas claimed. The inner ones are more difficult. The car dropped us in a place Tar Po Che (valley of god). From here got a good dharshan of Holy Mount appearing as the Three-eyed Lord. The tibetens major worship point is here and there was a prayer flag mast representing that. (Mt Kailash is quite holy for Hindus, Buddists and Jains). Now it was Yak ride, a cattle appearing as something between bull and buffalo. Though many had threatened about this animal, when one holds tightly the holding point on it like holding tight the Holy Five Letters of Lord shiva and sit comfortably, it is quite convenient. The first day parikrama is most look forward one, because only on this day the Kailash mount can be seen. But the clouds were quite thick that day. As we approached the Western face, It was completely covered with cloud and only the Feet was visible. Salutations to that Glorious Feet that ever blesses the devotee ! North western Face would appear like the roof of the Chitambaram sanctum. We couldn't see It.
The Northern Face of Holy Mt Kailash
After about three hours of journey reached Diraphuk camp. This is right in front of the North Face. In between two smaller hills, the Gigantic Hill of the Lord stands assuring the devotee. Though It was quite covered with clouds, as the vedic rites started blessing the worship, though could be with many flaws, the Lord showed the complete Glorious form for a few moments. If there are no clouds the Mount can be seen glittering as gold at the rise of sun. Pilgrims who cannot take up the full parikrama could at least try to come to this point to have all these dharshan. The second day is the cross of Dolma La, the devi worshipped by Tibeten Buddhists and Hindus. There is a climb of 4000 feet up and then 4000 down that day taking to a maximum of 19000 feet, the highest point during parikrama. If there is no snow the crossing could be easier. Started at about 9 am and by noon the Dolma La peak was reached. After this point for the downhill Yaks do not carry pilgrims. So one must trek down. The snow brimming glaciers were quite enchanting. As it was windy and cloudy the tour operators advised not to stay long at the top. So immediately started climbing down.
Just a few steps off saw gaurikunD, the pond associated with Goddess shakti. This was a few hundred meters down from the footpath. The surface was almost frozen except the brims, where there was a nice green ring visible. The Holy Five Letters that synergized the mind, body and soul, helped during this phase also. After a couple of hours of walking reached at a tent shop in the valley to have a hot soup, quite warming. The devotee approaches to the warmth of Its Holy Feet, when the cold worldly issues cloud ! There was 3 more hours of yak ride before we reached the second day camping site at Zutul Phuk. Third day is an easy walk back (or yak back) to Tarchen. The stream that flows next is quite eye-catching. During the second and third day the view of the Holy Mount gets obscured by the other mountains. Arrived at Tarchen camp by noon. Soon the Lord, out of no words to express, Mercy came out of the clouds once in a while and gave the glimpse.
Wanted to stay for at least some more days at that place. The next day was a Monday. Couldn't get the dharshan of the Lord the morning. Our group started off to thIrththapuri, where there are hot mineral springs on the bank of river Satlej. On the way back from thirththapuri to Manasarovar as we were crossing Tarchen, the Lord thrusted in the ocean of delight as He gave the monday dharshan skimming off the cloud, till we could see from the car moving towards manasarovar Horche camp. Collecting the thIrththam and mUrththam from the lake the journey continued the next four days to reach in Kathmandu. Went to the abode of the Lord of all creatures, the Heart of the Nepali kingdom to pray, "Oh God, By the peerless Grace of Thee got to salute Thee at the great Kailash, not easy even for divines, May Thy Grace be that the Kailashapati ever reigns in the mind blissfully."