Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2004

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The Garage components that move in formation, undergoing a fix!
Today's sophisticated aircrafts are called 'a million parts flying in formation'. Well, we did travel on a land based garage with components moving in formation! Just that expert tweaking was needed from time to time while we enjoyed the vast landscapes along the way. In this photo, the valley behind is huge but looks deceptively simple and smooth.

The Rains can be disastrous!
One of the vehicles in our convoy just went across this because the driver did not see it. And broke its springleaf suspension! Notice the little water on the upper left - well thats the river that cut through the 'road' a few feet deep.

Disastrous rains breaches big!
The 'road' has been breached wide and deep. Typically in such situations, the drivers hunt out for a shallow and wide flow of the river along its banks to cross it and get back to the 'road'.

A heavenly road ...!
Road to nirvana and beyond!

Sisha-Pang-Ma mountains!
In evening after the sunset, it was bluish and awesome to watch the mountains disappear into twlight dark.

Back into Nepal
In the mountains highlands, Nepalis live by cultivating on terraced fields even as the waterfalls run down by them. On the way back, it was nice to see the greenery and the gentle human habitations amongst them.

The Yatra Diary

Day 12: Friday 6th August 2004
From Saga to Nyalam-mu

Our trucks arrived late in the night and after a quickly put together meal, we had our dinner almost at midnight. Sleep was difficult and light. And then came the shocker. We were woken up early in the morning at 3 am. There is a huge rush of vehicles that needed to cross the River Brahmaputra - so we were asked to get ready to get our queue slot in the front so we could cross the river early and proceed with the day's drive to Nyalam-mu. We waited and waited. The drivers were too tired and continued to sleep. And when they did get up it was past 9 am local time. And to add to our misery, we were told that they will have to repair a vehicle that broke its springleaf suspension attempting to cross a 'road' breach at high speed (The driver missed seeing the breach! - see the photographs for a look at the breach). God bless us.

The day dragged on while the mind chanted mantras. The vehicles were ready by noon. We started and reached the river crossing at noon. Ahead of us we found about 50 land cruisers and a few trucks in the queue. We settled in the vehicles queue, watching the slow transport of the vehicles across the river. Calculating the mean time to cross over the several batches that did , our estimation showed that our turn would be almost in the evening. Phew!

Patience helped. And we crossed the river by 530 pm. The journey started. Nobody seemed to have understood that night driving over unmarked terrain and with no plans to pitch a camp overnight was going to be an unwelcome proposition we were unwittingly getting into. And the trucks did fail. Vehicles started separating out. It became dark. The Sisha-pang-ma peaks glowed eeriely in the late evening drive. Our driver had put on some Hindi and English pop music loud and was driving like crazy. He would not cooperate to turn down the music nor change it to devotionals - displaying a rather contemptous attitude to non-pop. Time passed by. Stars shone thickly in the clean and clear sky. Midnight arrived.

In the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere with just tyre marks as the guide, headlights peering no more than a few meters ahead, along curvy paths, driving at 70 kms per hour, the driver seemed possessed - he had to reach Nyalam-mu at the earliest. It was past midnight. A checkpost .. in the dark .. had to be cleared. No dinner. Everyone was tired. .. And none dare sleep. Om Namah Shivayah.... Om Namah Shivayah! The chanting within was louder than the lousy music outside.

Day 13: Saturday 7th August 2004
From Nyalam-mu to Zhang-mu to Kodari to Kathmandu

We reached Nyalam-mu without hitch at 2 am. Searched and checked into an inn. And crashed into the bed at 3 am. Later in the morning, we hunted for other members of our convoy - all famished overnight and ate something. Others had a worse time. Vehicles breakdown happened in the night. They reached in the morning around 6am. Driving all night. Drivers were tired and sleep off. The day dragged. We start for the border town of Zhang-mu by noon. We needed to clear the immigration before evening and reach Kathmandu by night.

Missing the flight out of Nepal the next day was just not acceptable - Indian Airlines flies three times a week to Kolkata and we were eight of us with that destination. Miss the Sunday flight and the next possible Indian Airlines flight was on Wednesday. Getting a confirmed seat on it was next to impossible. By 1 pm we reached Zhang-mu. Hurriedly ate some food. Immigration took time. Moved on.

We reached the friendship bridge early before it closed for the day. And then to Kodari - atlast in Nepal. It was great relief. Given the uncertainities posed by our Tibetan guides, it was good to be back in Kodari. After a good lunch of vegetarian dhal-bhat-tarkari, and a drenching rain, we proceeded back to Kathmandu. Enroute there were several checks by the military - the fallout of the maoist insurgency. Back to the same hotel at 9 pm. What a relief! Bath atlast! Yes, I soaked in for more than an hour under the shower. And followed it with a simple dinner. And good night sleep! Next day we caught our flights without problems. The following three days, I spent in the blissful peace of Belur Math, Kolkata and at Kamarpukur and Jayrambati in West Bengal.

The Yatra had been successfully completed. The inner journey was replete with several experiences - silence is all that could be shared. Beyond a point, articulating them defeats and degenerates them. Its like what Sri Ramakrishna says - you go to a Mango orchard with your satsangha friends, choose your pick, eat heartily and after coming out, you don't distract yourself and others with all the analyses - how many trees, what mango colors were there, how many mangoes per tree etc etc. Instead you lose yourself in enjoying the mango to your heartful.

And beyond a point for all questions asked later about the tasty eating experiences - you point the questioning people to the Mango orchard. And say - go enjoy yourself! Each one to his or her own experience. None tangible enough to be shared meaningfully. Could any articulation substitute the first hand experience? A well prepared for experience? Thats the tapas! Bye the way, these mangoes are not available only at Holy Mt. Kailas! Look around near your backyard and you will find several opportunities to do a trekking spiritual yatra!

The Web Pages and the Travellogue Book

     It took a lot of effort in capturing and putting all this information in one place as well as writing my experiences of using it in my yatra. And making these web pages, photos and book.

I did quite a bit of research to make myself informed and comfortable. Especially from the Internet. In that sense I am thankful to several people who had put information and their experiences about this Yatra on the internet. This had been very useful - especially the experience writeups available in the Shaiva Siddhanta website (www.shaivam.org).

Of the several people to whom am indebted to, I should like to thank in particular:
* Swami Shantimayanandaji of Ramakrishna Math, Bangalore for several things.
* Sri Ramesh Iyer who undertook the yatra with his family and who spent a lot of time sharing with me his experiences. He also wrote a quick document giving details of his experiences and recommendations - it is available as a pdf file from him.
* Sreerangarajan, who brought to me a personal message and blessings from Amma for this yatra.
* Deva, who came out of the blue and enriched my parikrama and yatra with all the chantings and puja as well as innumerable questions!
* And the other group members for having made this yatra truly international and memorable.

My sincere request for the reader is to pass on this information to whomsoever is desiring to undertake such an effort. Kindly do not reproduce any of material or photographs in any other form without my express consent. I just want ensure that it goes along in ways I am comfortable with and not otherwise.

For all the mistakes that you might discover, kindly send me a brief email listing them.

T S Mohan

8 September 2004

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