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Tibet: Mansarovar Kailas Yatra: Preamble, Preparation, The Journey, Lake Mansarovar, Mount Kailas Parikrama

Kailas & Mansarovar, Tibet, China: Heavenly outdoors
by Prakash Bang, Editor in Chief

It’s a 1906 km drive in 4X4 Land Cruiser to heaven and back. There’s an option to add a 48 km trek to circle Mount Kailas. There are 2 routes that can take pilgrims to the abode of the Gods. One, through India and the other through Kathmandu, Nepal. The later route is relatively easy. For the atheist the journey would just be a great outdoor adventure.

Holy Mount Kailas runs across various faiths. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Sikhs have all found peace and serenity around here.

Kailas and Mansarowar Lake are believed to be the center of Creation & the Universe. Thousands of sages, ordinary mortals, philosophers and even the Gods have submerged in the blissful trance at the very sight of this divine grandeur consisting mountains named Meru, Sumeru, Sushumna, Hemadri (Golden Mountain), Ratnasanu (Jewel Peak), Karnikachala (Lotus Mountain), Amaradri, Deva Parvatha (Summit of the Gods), Ganaparvatha and the Ajatadri (Silver Mountain). It is SWAYAMBHU - the Self Created One. Everything emanates from there and finally returns there.

Mansarovar Kailas Yatra - Panorama 1

Mount Kailas is the abode of Lord Shiva and his divine consort Parvati. Mount Kailas is the philosophy of Pursha & Prakriti; Shiva & Shakti. The glowing summit is the throne of Truth, Wisdom & Bliss - quite simply put as Sachidanandam. The resonance of the sound Aum (Nadabindu) from the tinkling anklets of Lalita Prakriti created the visible patterns of the Universe and the vibrations (Dwahni) from the feet of Lord Shiva (Nataraja) weaved the essence of Atman – the ultimate truth.

Out here, the mind that binds consciousness and the matter is set free. This is the centre of Hindu Philosophy and Civilization. Kalpa Vruksha tree is supposed to adorn the slopes. The South face is described as sapphire, East as crystal, West as ruby and the North as gold. The city of Kubera (the treasurer) is situated here.

Legend has it, that Ganga (river Ganges) after originating from the toe of Mahavishnu, enters the lunar circle and descends further down from Kailas after circuiting Kailas seven times. In the process, Ganga divides herself into four rivers. The major rivers of Nepal and India originate from this area; Brahmaputra (Lohita), Indus (Sindhu), Sutlej (Shatadru) and Karnali. Every object in this area is sanctified and each one is related to gripping legends. Ascending through the Parikrama, one encounters the holy peaks of Ravana Parvat, Hanuman Parvat, Padmasambhava, Manjushri, Vajradhara, Avalokiteshwara, Jambeyang, Shavari and Norsend amongst others.

The scriptures reiterate that one, who takes the holy dip at Mansarovar and carries out the Parikrama around Kailas is absolved of his sins through generations and is absorbed into the Supreme Finality. There is no re-birth, sorrows or joys for him or her as the subjects will be with the ultimate – Lord Shiva. In fact, the subject becomes Shiva.

Mansarovar Kailas Yatra - Panorama 3

This is one of the most important pilgrimage centers for the Buddhists. They worship Demchok (Buddha in a forceful form) seated on the summit of Kailas. It is also called Dharmapala. One version quotes the deity as a form of Shiva’s manifestation. The description of the deity is more or less like Shiva. Devi is also given a similar form like Parvati. They adore Kailas as Kang Ringpoche and Mansarovar as Tso Mapham. Guru Rinpoche (the great Indian Master Padmasambhava who introduced Buddhism) and Saint Milerapa are greatly revered here by pilgrims. Since Tantrism runs through the main core of Buddhism here, their customs and practices would be found running close and parallel to Hindu traditions. Like Hindus, they also consider Dolma (Devi) and Thuki Zingbu (Gouri Kund) as holiest of spots. Buddhists strongly believe that pilgrimage to this place liberates them to Nirvana.

The Jains acknowledge Kailas as Astapada and Padmahrada. It is believed that Adinath Vrishabdeva - the first Tirthankara attained Nirvana here.

A few claim that even Guru Nanak meditated here. Across the river Chu, there on the Nyanri range stands an impressive temple. Inside this monastery there is a marble statue radiating peace and compassion. This statue is claimed to be that of Guru Nanak.

Mansarovar Kailas Yatra - Panorama 6

The entire area echoes with spiritual vibrations. Even the agnostics shall discover new balance amidst that fathomless serenity. One has to experience it. The common belief is that those who are ordained only could be at Kailas & Mansarovar.

I was indeed the lucky one. To have bathed in Lake Mansarovar and circled Mount Kailas on foot. I am not sure if I pleased the Gods, but it certainly helped bring down my weight to a slightly manageable level!

The route, distances & elevation:
Day 1, Friday June 18, 2010: Arrive Kathmandu.
Day 2, Saturday June 19, 2010: Drive Nyalam. 175 kms. 3800 mtrs.
Day 3, Sunday June 20, 2010: Acclimatization at Nyalam.
Day 4, Monday June 21, 2010: Drive Saga. 265 kms. 4580 mtrs.
Day 5, Tuesday June 22, 2010: Drive Prayang. 260 kms. 4500 mtrs.
Day 6, Wednesday June 23, 2010: Drive Mansarovar. 235 kms. 4560 mtrs.
Day 7, Thursday June 24, 2010: Drive Darchen. 30 kms. 4540 mtrs.
Day 8, Friday June 25, 2010: Trek Dirapuk. 12 kms. 4765 mtrs.
Day 9, Saturday June 26, 2010: Trek Zuthulpuk. 22 kms. 5610 mtrs.
Day 10, Sunday June 27, 2010: Trek Darchen. 14 kms. 4500 mtrs.

Return journey:
Day 11, Monday June 28, 2010: Drive Prayang.
Day 12, Tuesday June 29, 2010: Drive Saga.
Day 13, Wednesday June 30, 2010: Drive Nyalam.
Day 14, Thursday July 1, 2010: Drive Kathmandu.
Day 15, Friday July 2, 2010: Kathmandu City Tour.
Day 16, Saturday July 3, 2010: Depart Kathmandu.

More on:
The Journey
Lake Mansarovar
Mount Kailas Parikrama

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