(a travelogue to Mount Kailash, by Ms. Deepa H)
Kailash Parikrama Om Sai Ram
First, u will need a doctor’s certificate stating that you are fit and healthy to travel at 20, 000 ft above sea level.. When I say 20,000 ft above sea level, it implies that the oxygen level will be about 50-60% which becomes a factor that can slow you down so people with asthama problems or heart patients are not advised to be at such high altitudes
Anyways, if one is planning to go for this yatra– then one has to go thru a package tour. You are not allowed to travel individually.You have to travel with the group. A lot of visas and permits are involved in this yatra, and the Tibetan government is very strict about it .
While one is in Kathmandu and Tibet, you cannot help noticing a lot of dust around you. The air is polluted to an extent where it is a must for you to wear the dust mask.
Anyways, your actual yatra starts when you head for Tibet since Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash are both in Tibet..
This was the second day of the parikramaand this is the day that no one will ever forget in this life time. It’s a true blessing to be here walking on ice..
If u continously chant the mahamrityunjaya mantra over here– it automatically connects you with all the positive energy.
Thank God , my porter who carried my bag pack was an angel sent from above. He guided me all the way thru out the journey. He told me where to put my step and where not to. At times when it was very very slippery , he held my hand and assured me that he will not let me fall. And above everything, he was very patient with me. I stopped so many times, sometimes just after taking 5-10 steps due to shortness of breadth- I felt extremely tired but he gave me the confidence to move on.This was the time I realized that whether it is a yatra like this or the journey of your life it is important to have a Guru – a guide- who has been there before and knows all the ups and downs. He has the knowledge to tackle a situation and can help us to reach our destination.
The highlight of the day was crossing the Dolma La pass at 5680 meters (19000 ft).
The trek was extremely hard. 10 steps upward demanded a 2 minute rest. And, after every 10 minutes of hike, 5 minute rest was a requirement. Oxygen level was very low at this height and that made the climb daring. It was made even trickier over loose stones, boulders and the sliding gravel..
Here I was complaining that I feel as if my lungs were bleeding and my heart will stop beating at any second. (Technically I know that my lungs were not bleeding but the pain that I felt then was extremely hard to digest…)
And in that pain when my heart was beating very fast– something magical definitely happened. It was like all my past regrets, pains, negative feelings -everything just washed away. Everything made complete sense. I forgave all the people whom I had never been able to forgive for some wrong doing that they did towards me..
I have always felt the peace within me but this was something way different..
One amazing leela happened when I was trekking somewhere at the point that u see in the above picture..
We had to trek on these stones and find our own way and while I was climbing up- at one given point I could not figure out which way to go- there was a stone that I had to hike over and I just did not how to balance myself in order to put my feet on that rock..And besides that I was feeling completely short of breadth and very, very tired with a lot of pain all over my body. I think by this point I had trekked for abt 8 hrs or so ..I was just standing there all confused trying to figure out where to lay my feet so that I don’t lose my balance. And just then a miracle happened– a Tibetian old man put his hand on my back at my waist and pushed me upwards. I reached the top only to figure out in less than a minute that all my pain and tiredness had suddenly vanished. I looked around to find that Tibetan old man to thank him but he had disappeared too. I don’t know what was so magical in his touch that all my pains disappeared and I felt fresh as if I was never tired. My mind and my body was filled with this tremendous energy and freshness that I have never ever felt in my entire life. I was wearing 3 tops and 3 jackets so that man did not actually touch my skin but still his touch was magical and I have no idea where he disappeared in less than a minute..
Miracles do happen and whether it is a yatra or the journey of ur life– God himself does come to help you when you need him the most.. Just have faith in your faith for your creator.
According to what I have learnt– the strength is in the devotion of a devotee along with the faith to gracefully accept God’s will and always remember that what happens will happen for your own good. If something happens that we think is not in our best interest than perhaps it’s our karma of some past life that has made conditions difficult for us.. So leave ur ego behind and make continuous efforts to improve ur karma.
Then no matter how difficult the journey is–if God, the almighty is with you in ur heart –there is just no reason to fear and even if u do get stuck somewhere, – He will surely come to ur rescue..
Tarboche flagpole is one of the most important aspects of Tibetan spirituality. On ‘Saga Dawa’ [4th ofJune 2012] which is an impressive and capturing annual festival of Mt. Kailash this giant flagpole which has numerous prayer flags on it is brought down and replaced.
This annual festival attracts Tibetans from all over along with tourists and pilgrims. This ritual is performed every year on the fullmoon day of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, to celebrate Sakyamuni’s enlightenment. During the flagpole ceremony as the poles tip is raised and pointed east towards Gyangdrak Monastery, monks of that monastery carry out a special ritual. A cacophony ofmusic from long trumpets, conch shells and other instruments welcomes the rising flagpole. It is like a magical event that captures one’s senses. People gathered there attach their prayer flags and help in making the pole rise again. The flagpole should be standing in a perfect upright position or it is believed that things will not be good for Tibet
Gauri Kund, a water body that is also known as the Lake of Compassion, lies on the way while going downwards from Dolma-La (Dolma Pass). This steep descent from Dolma Pass brings a wonderful lake which is at an altitude of 5608m.
As per Hindu mythology, there is a fascinating tale about Gauri Kund and has been described in legend ‘Shiva Purana’. The lake is also famous as ‘Parvati Sarovar’ as this was the place where goddess Parvati had acquired her son Ganesha (Elephant-headed God). Goddess Parvati had formed an image of Ganesha from the soap lather on her body and breathed life into it. She placed Ganesha at the entrance of her home as her protecter to prevent anyone from entering while she was bathing. Now Lord Shiva happened to return at this point of time and was stopped by Ganesha. Offended by this disrespectful act from Ganesha, Lord Shiva cut off the boy’s head. Pravati was grief-stricken and insisted that the boy needs to be brought back to life. Lord Shiva took the head of a wandering elephant and placed it on the body and life was restored and Parvati had her son back.
On my way towards the end of the second day of Parikrama- Life had a whole full meaning..
Some pilgrims that I saw on the way , ventured a much more demanding regimen, performing body-length prostrations over the entire length of the circumambulation. The pilgrim bends down, kneels, prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers, rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four weeks of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen
Om Sai Ram
On the second day of Parikrama , there was another interesting thing that touched my heart. I had walked for close to 12 hrs that day and had drunk a cup of tea in the morning before starting and then during the parikrama- I had just half a glass of water and 2 bites of cadbury’s chocolate (even though all the devotees who continued with the parikrama were given packed lunch which included a slice of buttered bread, a sliced small half apple, cadbury’s chocolate and a pack of frooti.) I guess it is quite normal for people in that situation to lose their appetite and concentrate more on the actual reason they are there for…
Anyways, I reached the camp at abt 6:30pm on the second day of parikrama and I was dead tired..Thanks to my friends (who had already booked a bed for me inside a small restaurant as they did for themselves) I could rest better, since sleeping in the tent made one feel the extreme cold.The restaurant charged 50 yuans for 1 night per person and that was completely ok cos we knew we will be sleeping in a place which will be very close to the oven and the gas. The bed was made of cement and a thin mattress was laid on it. I could actually see the gravel , small stones and the mud next to my mattress but we all were so tired that keeping ur self warm in the night was more important than anything else ..
Anyways, when I came back, I just took off my shoes and my socks and laid flat on that bed on my stomach..My face was hidden but I had so much pain all over – especially in my heart and my lungs -that tears were rolling down my eyes without me even knowing. My feet were hurting so bad that I started stretching my feet and then all of a sudden , one of my friends whom I had met just during this yatra ,who was from Boston, Laxmi, started to press my feet and give me a foot massage. I asked her to stop but she continued. I had all these mixed feelings going on at that time -where the massage felt really good but came from a stranger whom I had met just a few days ago, a person who touched my feet in order to relieve me from my pain without me even asking her to do so. She absolutely was not related to me in any way and nor was she compelled to make me feel at comfort but she saw I was in pain and that care and concern not only made my feet feel better but seeing her Seva bhau (mood of service) made me free from all my pains of my soul. She did not think twice before touching my dirty smelly feet. She taught me the true meaning of Seva. She taught me that day that one should just shred off their ego and be of use to someone in pain. She taught me the true meaning of humanity and to be there for someone without any expectations. I had done the parikrama that day by foot but my heart truly blessed Laxmi for that one amazing gesture of hers..
Isn’t it strange that when we go to the temple, in the name of Seva (service) – some donate in hundreds, some in thousands , some in lakhs and some in millions but how many of us go to an old age home and help a senior citizen… How many of us actually adopt a kid and take care of that kid as our own… How many of us actually go to a municipality hospital and see if we can actually be of any help to a poor or needy person… How many of us will actually take a alcoholic to a rehab center…Very Very few of us !!! We will bargain like crazy with the poor man who sells vegetables on the road but when we go to a restaraunt- we pay the expensive listed menu price when we get the bill and also add a tip to it. We happily leave 50 or 100 or 200 as a tip to the waiter but do we ever give that kind of money to a leprosy patient begging on the road? Think abt it and re-define the meaning of Seva..
By the third day of the Parikrama, none of us remained the same person we had been when this trek started. We all learned several lessons connected to faith , devotion, karma, meaning of Seva, life and much more…
We all started at abt 6:30am or so but the third day was the easiest of all. I think we just trekked for maybe 2-3 hrs but it wasn’t that hard. There were cars waiting for us at a given point to take us into Darchen.
But yes, that 3 day Parikrama to the Holy Mt. Kailash taught me so many new things that it definetly has given a whole new meaning to my life and the way I think. My heart is free of all my past regrets and it is not worried abt the future any more. I have learned to live in the present moment and enjoy the bliss. The changing weather at Mansarovar where in one given hour I saw the sun shining bright, I saw the hail, I saw the rains and the winds which felt like tornadoes—everything in 1 hour! It taught me that nothing is permanent and no one can predict the future so gladly accept what ever comes ur way. Just witness it and let it pass!!!
On the third day of the Parikrama, I was walking somewhere along the route that u see in the above picture with one of my friends and my porter was also walking by my side… and I accidentally dropped my scarf- my porter picked it up and said `I have seen this scarf leave you so many times- hold it tight and tie it tightly on ur neck,’ and I laughed and I said u know what–You are right, in this journey– god alone knows how many times this scarf must have been separated from me–sometimes it falls, sometimes it flies, sometimes I forget it, sometimes my friends see it and give it to me, sometimes u notice it and a couple of times some strangers have signaled me that I have accidentally dropped my scarf but you know what– This is God’s way of teaching me that if something is yours, It will always be yours. Destiny plays a very big role in our life . So no matter what happens, I will not get anything more or anything less than what is truly mine …No Matter if it is just a small scarf like this or some big happiness ….
Whatever the case may be, this was a journey of once in a lifetime..
There are a lot of twist and turns in this yatra and also in the journey of our life but let’s learn to be like this water and serve our purpose in life. Let’s be cool and at the same time strong enough to fight all the obstacles in our life and find our way out. Let’s direct our lives in such a way that with all the twists and turns in our lives, with the help of our karma and god’s grace- we finally reach our destination which is none other than the lotus feet of God..
May the Merciful God always shower His grace on us and our families and remove our problems and anxieties by giving us all strength , good luck, success and happiness with peace of mind.