Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2004

         Previous Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Next Page

| |   

After the meditation before Zutul Puk
The weather was warm enough to warrant lessening of the attire! The place beautiful enough to warrant being lost in the sublime! And get captured in a photo by my fellow-traveller!

In the Morning
Another beautiful day, another opportunity for sublime meditation!

Along the river 'Lham Chu'
Trekking along on the 3rd day of parikrama. Enjoying the aloneness even as there was company in the distance!

Inside the Zutul Puk Monastery
Peace is the reining word here! Prayers are offered to the Buddhist dieties including Sakya Muni (Buddha), Avalokiteshwara and others.

Buddhist Monk Milarepa's Cave
Buddhist legends has it that Monk Milarepa brought this parikrama route into fame for the masses. Here is one of the caves that he stayed and meditated in several centuries ago!

A Fellow Pilgrim resting in the hot sun.
The Parikrama trek could become tiring due to the hot sun above! Plenty of water consumed frequently helps make one progress steadily.

A sheer drop into the river
Photos can be deceptive! This is a gorge way below - the view from a mountain side path few inches away from the edge.

A big Gorge
Not a small gorge! The prayer flag chord is atleast 100 feet wide!

The last bend
Notice the two pilgrims trekking along while a horseman is climbiing up the narrow path. It is difficult to spot.

The parikrama completion point in sight!.
The Parkha plains are visible in the far end. The few white dots at the end of trail and at the start of the dark shadow of the clouds is where our vehicles awaited us!

After the parikrama!.
Well, the animals knew that their time for well-earned rest had come. My co-traveller, Didier and I try posing with (but not wanting to startle) the giant but gentle beast of the high altitudes.

From the Lake Manasarovar
Standing in the lake, our campsite is visible as a bunch of white spots far on the horizon to the right and below the mountains. So how far should I have been into the waters? And how deep could it be? Guess.

The most beautiful sight of them all.
I turned around to capture this beautiful moment! Relish! And my mind said - Meditate.. meditate.. meditate! Ofcourse I was!

On the Holy Manasoravar banks - the Puja.
For someone who just wanted to do 'manasika' pujas, prayers and meditations during this parikrama, I had the good fortune of having a good fellow pilgrim from far, bring the 'vigraha' of Devi Kamakshi, several 'shaligrams' and a big 'spatika lingam' along with 'sri chakra' that he used for regular worship! All these are seen in the photo. He guided the 'sankalpa' and followed it up with 'abhishekam' and all my chantings! A purohit in the making!? Great time! God's grace or incidental happenings?

Sunset on Lake Manasarovar.
Yet another rapturous moment to relish for life! And meditate! "Om bhur bhuvah suvah! Thath Savitur varenyam! Bhargo Devasya dheemahi. Deeyoyonah prajodhayat!"

The Yatra Diary

Day 9: Tuesday 3rd August 2004
From Zutul Puk to Hor-Chu

Day three of Parikrama - the morning was bright with the Sun just behind the peaks. We quickly finished the breakfast, packed up and moved on. On the way we visited the Zutul Puk monastery. The Kailash parikrama trail was said to have been discovered by the noted Buddhist Monk Milarepa. And the monastery had the cave where he had meditated. With several lit yak-ghee lamps lit before the various Buddhist dieties and the Sakyamuni, (including Buddhist paintings from Bylakuppe, karnataka, India) the monastery presented a very different world to that which we had been seeing in the habitations around - broken beer bottles, cola cans (Red Bull energy drinks..), plastics and other non-degradable wastes of the contemporary society. We prayed, meditated and absorbed the ambience.

A Generic Yatra Blueprint

     Can one undertake a yatra in a more organized way? Well, several devotees have put in efforts to document their preparations so that it will be of help to others. Here is one more such attempt:

* Do a complete yatra sankalpa in your mind. Sankalpa as in mentally preparing oneself - ideas wise; not the sankalpa ritual.

** You have come to know about a yatra or place from somebody who has done it. Ask for all the details - the nitty gritty details. Read up the literature, especially on the internet (search google!).

** Ask yourself- does this kind of yatra fit in with your spiritual goals and practices? Are you getting the inner desire or urge to do it as a special seva to your Ishta Devata? If so, desire to undertake the journey - it should be an inner call and journey that goes along with the external yatra. Intensifying your devotion to your Devi/Devata in your yatra efforts is very important.

** Dont get distracted by 'group-think'. "Somebody asked me to do - so am just mechanically doing it - I dont understand the finer points and am not interested in it - I shall blindly follow". This attitude will not get you the inner satisfaction or progress that others have accomplished with such yatras. And it exposes you to arguments of the futility and wastefullness of the effort.

* Start planning about two months in advance.

** Design a 40 day sadhana period (the yatra would be the culmination) - the every day spiritual routine -

***early morning session: prayers (chants, bhajans) and meditations

***the yoga practices, pranayama and dharana / dhyana.

***daily habits

**** to keep the body, mind and spirit in fit form.

***the eating habits

**** think in terms of new philosophy of food intake rather than in terms of restrictions that are being imposed (and carried as a burden - this mind-set / cultural hangover / religious descriptions itself is a self-defeating proposition from a spiritual viewpoint and represents the degeneration of lofty practices to something you are not enthusiastic about. Remember that sadhana enthusiasm is a critical must for any successful yatra - internal and external.)

***evening prayers, chants, bhajans, satsangs and practices.

****the pious folks go in for daily abhisheka, homa etc.

****Has our bhakti increased?

***appropriate upavas and palahar that strengthen the spiritual stamina rather than weaken it. (If needed, with due doctor recommendation, pop in multi-vitamin tablets just so you do not starve yourself off vital nutrients).

This upavas is very true for all the five senses as well.

****Cut the gossip - observe mouna and undertake periodic solitude

****Cut the crap readings (tabloids, stinking politics, greed filled money markets, etc),

****Cut the wrong company instead cultivate satsanga,

****Cut all addictive sensuals: viewings / hearings / smells / touchs / tastes ( the idiot box - TV, FM, the favourite snacking haunt, parties, etc etc),

****Cut the addictive food intake: caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, as well as all the non-veg gluttony,

****Lead a very conscious, goal oriented daily life! Dont drift!

***decide the 'parameters' of your practice to monitor daily. Obviously, you would monitor so you can improve and progress - not get dejected or become antagonistic and therefore fall for comfort of the 'blind-faith' method. It helps to be more conscious in practice. The key words. Shravana, manana and nidhidhyasana as well as the intense Bhakti for Lord Shiva. The satsanga and spiritual readings, writings, chantings, japa and meditations etc.

****Have we done our daily spiritual practice with concentration and with no distractions? What can we do for the next few hours or tomorrow to ensure that the distractions of today / now will not happen. Think & Act.

****Has our bhakti increased during those times that we focus on Lord Shiva?

****Have we spiritualized our daily normal life activities

#did we do our daily activities and work in the spirit of karma yoga?

#did we do things helpful to others? Compassionately?

#did we pray for others? And handle their inter-personal problems affecting us with a composed, cool head and warm heart?

#we need to neither succumb to their machinations nor fill up our minds with resentments and hatred!

#did we pray so that we get the courage and strength to face these situations in the most appropriate way?

#have we kept up our commitments? Followed dharma?

** Plan and execute the Nitty-gritty details of the external journey

***Hear about the experiences of atleast three successful travellers. But do not be carried away by their (exclusive) do's and don'ts. Formulate yours!

***Draw a concrete itinerary - the transportation (buses, trains, flights, taxis, hotels (stay/eating), food points, medical points: the costs, timings, alternatives as well as difficulties and "do's and dont's". Also plan what you will do in case of emergencies (think carefully through each of these possibilities - saying God will take care is NOT an answer (God gave us the brains so that we can use it effectively and not trouble Her with these matters)): accidents, injuries, bandhs, inclement weather, getting robbed, urgent call from home. Neither should worrying and anxiety be the response! Neither Money nor Insurance may be an answer in many circumstances. Fully preparing and planning ahead helps!

***Draw up the itinerary and commitments from the travel agencies

****they 'sell high and deliver low!' - so be careful and do the homework to avoid disappointments.

****choose the right one based on several references -- especially those who think like you and have similar values ( you might discover that the person whom you trusted for the earlier experience might be having a very different level of satisfaction and might be vaguely be very positive -- your assessment of the same yatra after your trip will indicate this).

*** Make a luggage list for packing up for the yatra. When badly done, a lot of unnecessary stuff is carried around and the most useful items are left out.

**** The clothings: Daily wear, externals (coats, sweaters), puja/temple wear, rain wear, shoes, head gear, UV protection, dust protection etc

****The baggage: boxes versus lockable bags versus backpacks versus handbags.Decide. ****Medicine list: Palliatives, Preventives, First Aid, Energy boosters, etc

****Books kit: spiritual readings and writings (diary), guide books (lonelyplanet etc), local language translations book, addresses book, Marking labels etc

****Survival kit: pen knife, scissors, rope, mug, sewing kit, torchlight, pen, paper etc etc

****electronics accessories: camera, tape player, battery charger, batteries, etc.

****the monies + travel documents + identification papers bag.

***Make the purchases.

****advanced reservation tickets, puja items, insurance, medicine, dress, shoes, sandals etc

** On the appointed day / time, start with a simple but effective formal sankalpa - visit a Lord Ganesha temple and start the (40 day) sadhana.

*** do the coordination follow up. Nothing is ever done with out planning for followups..

** Put in all efforts to make your sadhana successful both before and during the yatra. Yes, there will be a number of surprises and a number of hurdles in the practise of the sadhana from people around as well as the circumstances.

*** The more you are dependent on others or on material resources for your sadhana the more the inconveniences - do the mental tapas inside and observe peace outside.

** After the Yatra, close the sadhana with a formal thanksgiving to the Lord - visit the Lord Ganesha temple.

*** Meditate and document the lessons learnt and experiences blessed with. Not many do this vital activity.

*** Ask? Have you become a better human being as well? Better on the virtues of Bhakti and Viveka and wisdom and patience and compassion and understanding?

*** Have we spent the time, energies, opportunities and monies effectively? Introspect! Are there better ways of doing the various activities given a future opportunity?

It is not necessary that the Yatra has to be to a far and inaccessible place. It could the nearest hill town with a shrine to a Devi or Devata. In India, notable are the shrines in Uttaranchal or places down south like Thiruvannamalai. The most important aspect of the yatra is the devotion and the 'tapas' that goes with it.

Moving on in the hot sun, we trekked. I had a nice friendly and faithful yak-dog lead my way from the Monastery (it would walk a few inches in the front and would not budge out of my way for all my stops and out-manouevering overtures). A gaint tibetan mormet (about 3 feet long) added life to the otherwise desolate and sparsely green landscape. After walking for several hours along the gorges cut by the Lham Chu river, we reach the parikrama completion point - again a Buddhist prayer flag marked stupa. The vehicles were there. This is about 6kms before the village of Darchen. After a few photo ops with the yaks being left behind, and an goodbye to the understanding dog, we drove to the distant Lake Manasarovar - to the Hor chu - the place where this river merges into the Lake.

The Lake was very inviting - the sun was shining bright above and the winds were not very cold. So we packed up and went off to the Lake shore - to take good and pious dips, offer 'argyam' to all the Gods as well as our Pitrus and chant our prayers for all our people! Mount Kailash was always visible in the distance, giving a darshan that shall remain etched in our minds for ages. Parts of Hor chu shore was shallow - 3 feet or so - so the water was warm enough for us to be in it for more than 30 minutes. And we did longer than that. Then followed the abhishekam and puja - Rudram, Siva Sahasranamam, Ashtotharam, Lalitha Sahasranamam, and other chants for more than three hours while the Sun started setting down over the horizon and the cold winds were catching us up shivering. O Mind - what a great occasion! To sit in silence and meditate over the setting sun.

Horchu was a welcome place - but between the campsite and the lake shore was a huge sand bank that was infested with a lot of mosquitoes and other insects. Dinner was a break from the combined kitchen that we had with another group - of four good days of 'Dhal-Bhat-Tarkari' during the parikrama. The highlight was a 'desi-pizza' with yak-cheese. Night was very relaxed, very meditative and punctuated by the distant barks of the shepherd dogs. And that of the celebrating sherpas/chinese drivers with loud music, drums and booze. What a contrast!

The Religious and Spiritual Significance of the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra

     While the pauranic and bhakti literature on Lord Shiva is filled with several stories on the significance of this yatra since the times immemorial, our contemporary efforts and travel to Kailash Manasarovar does not come anywhere near the kind of tapas that our forefathers had put in to visit these holy places. That in itself is a great point for meditation and food for deeper thought.

Search our spiritual and religious literature about the Mahima of Kailasa and Manasarovara. There are plentiful. You will get nuggets searching the internet too (examples: Sri Shankaracharya, Saiva Siddhanta (www.shaivam.org), etc).

What then would be the religious and spiritual significance in this modern age? Here are few thoughts in that direction:
v     Lord Shiva as a great tapasavin - the typical popular image that comes to one's mind is of Lord Shiva sitting and meditating in the Himalayas and blessing all. A robust and austere Lord Shiva lost in being one with His true Self - the Para Brahman.
** So can we imbibe that degree of spiritual absorption when we sit for prayer and meditation?
** Can we have our senses (our urges, desires and impulsive thoughts) in cool control like Him? Can we have that peaceful calmness in ourselves too?

v     Lord Shiva - Lord Pashupathinatha to Lord Dakshinamurthy: He is the Lord of the Pashu. The Lord over all our instinctual demons that each one of us need to battle out in our inner journey. From that state of spiritual evolution where the reptilian brain as well as the limbic system rules the roost in us - in other words, the state where we are driven in our everyday life by the urges of desire, anger, jealousy, envy, deceptive scheming and attachments.

With our sincere devotion to Lord Shiva, we get to overcome and keep in check these unconscious emotions from disrupting our daily lives as well as give meaning to a more joyful state - the State of Shiva Ananda. Even as we reach the higher realms of spiritual life, Lord Shiva gives us wisdom as Lord Dakshinamurthy - calm, youthful, blissful and silent! The Dakshinamurthy Stotra beautifully describes the stratospheric heights of bhakti filled adoration of the Lord.

Both during the Parikrama of Kailasha parvata as well as in the Lake Manasarovara we find the sublime in the fullest spiritual glory.

v     Lord Shiva as Mt. Kailasha - Cool, steady and rock solid even as the lesser mountains / hills around crumble into boulders over the time. The heat, the cold, the snow and the waters flowing down - all are crumbling up the lesser mountains around - while Mount Kailasa stands untouched. Steady through the ages.

May we be steadfast in our spiritual sadhana overcoming the waves of emotional ups and downs of our daily life. Weathering the extremes of the climate - the hot sun, the extreme cold, the desert winds and the sparseness of life, Lord Shiva as mount Kailasha stands there inspiring us.

v     Lord Shiva, Kailasha and Manasarovar - may we be pure and open like the waters of Lake Manasarovar steady and solid in our spiritual endeavours as Mount Kailasha and filled with the oneness and the vastness of the space around. In addition, like in the external journey, may we be blessed to plan up and sustain our own efforts for the internal journey as well.

On each of these counts, the inner spiritual journey to experience intense devotion to and oneness with Lord Shiva gets to be powerfully thrust forward by the Parikrama of Kailasha parvata and Lake Manasarovara - the external yatra. Can you capture this kind of experience in your journey?

Packing up for the Trip - Check lists

     One's luggage and belongings for the Yatra can be put under five categories that goes into separate packs or luggage pieces.

1) The shoulder bag for the parikrama - strung diagonally across and in the front (ready access) - carry a lot of vital items.

2) The back-pack for the parikrama - in this you will put in the rain-coat / umbrella / water-proof pant, water bottles for drinking (3 or 4 liters) as well as water bottle to collect and carry back the Gouri Kund water. Perhaps you will also carry the toilet paper and wet-wipes in it.

3) The smaller lockable luggage bag - with other articles that you will need during the parikrama - inner garments, additionals (socks, sweaters, night-wear etc) those that you will need in the night and for about 3 or 4 days.

4) The big lockable luggage bag or case - all things for the yatra go into this.

5) Another big lockable bag perhaps with things to be used in the city (or additionals) that you can leave behind in Kathmandu.

The shoulder bag for the parikrama could contain:
* monies (various denominations), travel papers (tickets, passports, permits, identity, emergency instructions (including medical).
* medicines (tablets, electral packets, syrups, first-aid - bandages, ointments etc),
* emergency eatables (glucose, energy chocolates, dry fruits, candy),
* emergency survival kit (knife/scisors, match box, pen, torchlight, post-it notes, empty plastic bag etc),
* gifts and giveaways for the people on the way (poor).
* electronic gear - cameras, batteries, cd/tape player
* Miscellaneous - wet napkins, comb, etc
* Religious articles.

Back Pack for the trek:
* Additional Medicines and first aid kit (+splints)
* Sunscreen lotion (SPF > 15)
* Diary / pen / pencil
* Comb, cream
* Toilet paper roll + wet wipe
* Sunglasses
* Hand kerchiefs
* Good Umbrella / rain coat (poncho).
* Drinking Water - aluminium bottle / mountaineering water bottle. (2 or 3 liters) Or economy style - 2 liter cola bottle or
* Holy Water - pearlpet bottle (Kailash) + mug - pearlpet bottle (Gauri kund)
* Chocolates and glucose packets

Parikrama Gear
* Balaclava / Monkey Cap / Waterproof Jacket hood. Sun hat
* Scarf - thin cotton (for covering face / nose / mouth to prevent dust from dust storms)
* Scarf - regular woollen, thick
* Sunshades / Cooling glass
* Surgeon's mask / kerchief / scarf to cover mouth
* (Down) Water proof jacket (typically those used in snow countries) with hood.
* Inner sweater (+ full hand cotton / denim shirt + close necked T-Shirt, cotton banian)
* Jeans pant (+ thermal inner)
* Waterproof trekking pant (That goes over your jeans).
* Trekking boots of the kind used in cold countries.(Ensure the size is big enough so that there are no shoe-bites - use and train on them for several weeks upfront - 'breaking the shoes').
* Woollen / thick synthetic cotton nylon socks
* Wollen (Cold country) Gloves / mittens.
* Walking stick (wooden) or Hiking Pole.
* Chappals / Slipper

Some of the gear can be bought on the internet. In India, www.stikage.com supplies to various shops in the country. After ordering over the net, follow up on the phone.

1) Inner Garments = 4+ sets (washable, interchangeable)
2) socks - cotton - 3 / Nylon - 3 / wollen - 3
3) Thermals - 2 sets
4) Full arm shirts - 3 / jeans pants - 2
5) Close neck T-shirts and sweaters.

Bindis / Ball pens ) / Candies / hand kerchiefs

Toilet Articles
1) Tooth Paste / brush
2) bath soap
3) shaving kit (perhaps with a traditional razor to shave off the beard).
4) match boxes (buy in kathmandu)
5) talcum powder
6) wet wipes
7) plastic mug
8) vaseline / lip balm

Kathmandu Purchases
* Sunscreen lotion (>15 spf)
* Chocolates
* Rudraksh Mala Take on hire: Down jacket. Sleeping bag.

Prarthana / Puja items:
* Water bottles - 3
* Rudrasksh malas (I bought 30 at Kathmandu before parikrama)
* cloth bag for lingams from Lake Manasarovar
* vibuthi
* dry fruits - grapes?
* General puja accessories (camphor).
* Angavastrams - two
* Shawls - one
* bedspread (to spread out on ground)
* 2 Ltr pearlpet bottle (Manasarovar water)

* Lots of Plastic bags for used clothes and other items.
* Nylon cord to tie things
* adhesive tape

         Previous Page | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | Next Page

© 2004. T S Mohan, Bangalore. All Rights Reserved.