Importance of Maha Shivratri | Places visited in one year

LORD SHIVA

 

Shiva is the start, Shiva is the end

He is the end of every start

He is the start of every end.

He is the truth, he is the myth

He is the tiny particle, he is the unscalable width.

He is the universe, and the universe is within him.

He is the cosmic rhythm, he is the Natraj

He is Vairagyi, but has a beautiful family

He is the ultimate truth, he is the ultimate destination

He lives in Kailash, or he himself is Kailash

He is the phenomenon beyond any human imagination.

He is that which is not.

 

Importance of Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri is the most significant sacred festival of India. It is celebrated on the new moon day of the month of Maagh. Shiv temples accross the country are beautifully decorated and people offer night long prayer on Shivlingam.

There are a lot of legends associated with this festival.

Shiv-Parvati Marriage: According to ancient legend, Shiva and Adi-Shakti(Parvati) got married on this auspicious day. In many places, Shiv linga is decorated as a groom.

Consumed poison: Also, on this day Lord Shiva consumed poison to save world. And, for whole night every person was awake praying and waiting for the Lord to regain conciousness.

Became one with Kailash: In Yogic culture, Shiva is not considered as God but Adi Yogi (first guru). On this night Shiva became one with Kailash As still as mountain after thousands of years into meditation. So, ascetics see Mahashivratri as the night of stillness

Natural upsurge of energy: The planetary arrangement in the Northern Hemisphere is such that there is a natural upsurge of Energy in human body, rising from the Kundalini to your head. So, nature is pushing you towards the spiritual peak. So, to gain maximum out of it, you need to stay awake whole night with your spine erect.

Visited Places in duration of MahaShivratri 2018 to 2019

 

From Mahashivratri 2018 to 2019, I have visited three of Panch Kedar and one of Panch Kailash.

Kalpeshwar – 31st March 2018

Kalpeshwar temple is one of the Panch Kedar where Lord Shiva is worshipped in form of his matted hair. This lies in Chamoli district of Garhwal and is open throughout the year.

 

Kedarnath – 1st October 2018

Kedarnath is the first in Panch Kedar where Lord Shiva is worshipped as the hump of a bull. Temple lies in beautiful Kedar valley at height of 11700 ft. This remains open only for 6 months.

 

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra – 25th May – 7th June 2018

Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva where he lives with his family and other Shiv gans. This was the toughest journey I have done so far. But the reward is just priceless. I have come only in the bodily form, but heart is somewhere lost in Kailash. This lies in an autonomous region of Tibet at height of 22000 ft.

Tungnath – 23rd December 2018

Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple of the world at 12073 ft. This is the third Kedar and Lord Shiva is worshipped in form of hand here. View around the temple is amazing and is open only for 6 months.

 

Happy Mahashivratri. May everybody get blessings from Shiva.

Om Namah Shivaay!

 

References: isha.sadhguru, speaking tree, https://bit.ly/2EvMOx6

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra | Information and my experiences of Mansarovar lake

Importance of Mansarovar Lake

 

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrimage is widely known for its religious significance among people of Hindu, Buddhism, Jain and Bon faith. The word is derived from Mansarovar Lake and Kailash Parvat(mountain). According to Skanda Purana(supreme Hindu text) tells that Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiv, where he lives with family and other Shiv gans. Also, the Mansarovar lake is where Shiv and Indra swim as swans. It is also said in Skanda Purana that ‘Kailash Mansarovar’ is Godly Home of Lord Shiva, which must be visited at least once in a lifetime of earthly birth. And the journey is not an easy feat, you have to trek the rough terrain of rocks, glaciers in extreme climatic conditions at an altitude of 19000 ft.

In this phase, we will talk about the Mansarovar lake, the world’s highest freshwater lake situated at 15000 ft in the autonomous region of Tibet. Here are the most important religious details:

Jainism

Mansarovar is said to be associated with Lord Shree Rishabhdev, the first Tirthankara. Ashtapad Mountain, located close to Mt Kailash, is regarded as the place where Lord Rishabhdevji attained Nirvana (Moksha).

Bon

In Bon religion, the Mansarovar lake is also associated with Zhang Zhung Meri. The founder of religion Tonpa Shenrab visited Tibet for the first time and washed himself in the lake.

Buddism

The lake holds great significance for Buddhists where Queen Maya is believed to have conceived Gautam Buddha near the lake. There are few monasteries on the shore and the popular one is ancient Chiu monastery built on steep rock. It is also believed that Gautam Buddha stayed and meditated here for ages. Lake is also called the “Jewel of Tibet”.

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Hinduism

Mansarovar is the combination of two Sanskrit words – Man (mind) + Sarovaram (lake). The lake was first created in the mind of Lord Brahma and then it was manifested on earth. In Hinduism, the lake personifies purity and one who drinks water goes to Shiva’s abode after death. Also, it is believed that one who takes a dip in the lake is relieved from all sins committed from last even over 100 lifetimes.

The lake lies below the holy Kailash in western Tibet and is the most revered place for Hindu. The lake is known as lake of consciousness as it was created in mind. This is the summer abode of hans(swans), which is a very important symbol of the mythology, representing wisdom and beauty. There are five sacred lakes mentioned in Shrimad Bhagwad Puran collectively named as Panch Sarovar: Mansarovar, Bindu Sarovar, Narayan Sarovar, Pampa Sarovar and Pushkar Sarovar.

This is the lake where all Gods, Goddesses, and sages come for the bath in Brahm Muhrat (2 hours early than sunrise). They can be seen in the form of Divya Jyoti (divine lights) coming down from the sky and then going up after a dip. The lake looks extreme peaceful but a lot of activities happen at the lake, which can be felt by people who are connected spiritually. For those who stay near the lake overnight, they can feel the hulchul (stirrness) in the lake. This lake is said to be the last remnants of Tethys ocean.

Many people have mystic experience because high spiritual energies exist at the lake. That’s not just the simple water body, that’s the lake of consciousness, the lake of supreme power. The place is the beautiful creation of God which is lively with full of supreme energies. As a human, offcourse we can’t absorb everything around this place. Sages who are in practice of meditation from decades staying away from material world connect with the energies flowing around and communicate with God or spiritual Guru. And for the scientific people who try to do research on this place have failed every time. It is the place beyond any science and modern technologies.

Rakshastal near to Mansarovar Lake

Mansarovar is the highest freshwater lake where life exists, you can see birds playing around and a lot of positivity in your surrounding. On the other hand, there is Rakshas Tal less than 1 km distance to Mansarovar where drinking water is prohibited. It is a blackwater lake where life does not exist. It is believed that Ravan meditated here for ages to get blessings from Lord Shiv. People involved in the Tantric activities practice here secretly. There are two water bodies close to each other but totally opposite in nature, one represents good and other represents bad. Mansarovar is sun shaped whereas Rakshas Tal is Moon crescent-shaped and in front of these two lakes- there stands the holy Mount Kailash. Irrespective of its significance, Rakshastal also looks beautiful and breathtaking surrounded by amazing Tibetan plateaus.

Geography

Mansarovar lake lies at 15,060 ft from sea level, which is relatively high altitude for any freshwater lake in the saline cold desert of Tibetan Plateau. The lake circumference is about 95 km and it takes around 3-4 hours for Parikrama on a vehicle. It is connected to RakshasTal by a small river Ganga Chu whose length is only 10 kms. 4 major rivers are originated near this place and diverted to 4 different directions. These are Sutlej, Indus, Brahmaputra and Karnali river.

There is a lot of information on Mansarovar, which are maybe far beyond my understanding now. But I have tried my best collecting the information as per my belief.

My experiences at Mansarovar

3rd June 2018

Divya Jyoti (Divine lights) at lake

3:30 AM:  I woke up in Brahm- Muhrat to witness the divine lights. I wore multiple layers of warm clothes and went outside the guesthouse. It was completely dark outside, no light, no stars, no person. Was I the only one? And yes, certainly it was only me who gone out crazy enough to watch the beautiful night all alone. I started walking towards the lake and I could only feel the icy cold breeze splashing on my face. I covered myself to the best but it was not enough. I stood for some time in front of the lake, then my legs got frozen and I started shivering. Then I decided to continuously walk to maintain warmth. Legs were in rhythm to walk, hands in pocket, my eyes were looking for Gods in form of divine lights and heart was chanting for Shiva. I was determined to see the divine light and continued on my way.

I could feel a lot of positivity and divine feelings, which I never had previously. It was like Shiva was around me in the form of wind or birds at lake. After waiting for an hour, I got to see the light at distance straight in front of me. All the books and articles I read about Divya Jyoti was true. I forget about the freezing breeze and bowed down with folded hands. Yes! That was the Divya Jyoti, where Gods and ancient sages come down in Brahm Muhrat to take a dip in Mansarovar. I was so delighted and felt lucky to witness. But, this was not enough and I was riding on my luck. I saw another light on my right side. My efforts were paid off. After waiting for a few minutes, I started walking back to the guest house. I saw Jayshree aunty chanting songs of Lord Shiva played on mobile. I too sat along with her wrapping blanket around. Even today, I listen to those songs and it still reminds me of the hours spent at Mansarovar lake. After an hour RP Yadav Ji came out, I again went to the lake with him. I could hear birds singing and that peaceful environment still gives the same peace at this time also whenever I close my eyes. I can still feel the heart-filled moment. There are few things which no one can explain because everybody feels differently. You have to come here to find your moment.

Dip in Mansarovar

9:00 AM

This was the most blissful morning of my life. I woke up, came out of the room and saw lucky birds playing and flying. The wind was so high that I could see the difficulty for birds while coming down. The sun was out and the view of the divine lake was awesome. I was amazed looking at the immensity of the lake. It was a bit cloudy so we could not see Kailash for which everyone was waiting and discussing in which direction it would be. There were only a few plateaus and the place was simply very beautiful.

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We had our breakfast and then Sherpas arranged tents at the shore of lake for those who want to take dip. We were waiting for more time so that clouds will shed off and will get more heat from the sun.

Most of the people headed for hot spring shower and I decided to take holy dip in Mansarovar. I took clothes to change and went near the lake. The moment I took my jacket off, dam it was very cold. Then not to wait for more, I went inside the lake. It was muddy at the start but I went little far, I was like Oh My God! It was very beautiful feeling praying upon Lord Shiva right in the middle of the holiest lake of the universe.

 

Sherpas instructed not to stay in the water for long as we might get hypothermia. I came out of lake with a numb body. Immediately I rushed to the tent and changed clothes to get warm. I sat for some time alone, which gave me the feeling of immense peace. In the entire journey, there was no temple so people started offering prayer at the lake itself. Lot of us were sitting, meditating and chanting. Siddharth and his family so graciously arranged havan near the lake. Reciting Mahamrityunjay Jaap for havan was another great experience for all of us. It took around an hour and after some time, clouds started shedding off and we got the first glimpse of Mount Kailash. I was overwhelmed to look at that and tears started rolling down naturally. For all that you have come so far was in front of me. It was the blessings of Lord Shiva himself on us.

 

Mansarovar Parikrama and Kailash darshan

After 12 Now it was time for Mansarovar Parikrama, we sat in the bus to start the journey. Within half an hour the clouds totally went away and we could clearly see Mount Kailash’s south face enroute to Darchen our next hop. I occupied the last seat in bus so that I could open window. I was continuously gazing at the peak in the amazing landscape.

After 1 hour of drive of encircling around lake, we saw Mansarovar lake was crowned by mount Kailash on one side and with Gurla Mandhata mountain range on the other side. It looked so heavenly that I didn’t want to take eyes off. The color of the water was changing from deep blue to emerald green and then again to sparkling turquoise. The mesmerizing tint of water merges beautifully with the sky, erasing the existence of the horizon at the other end.

Please watch this beautiful video taken from the bus while parikrama.

The buses stopped at some point near lake and we got some time to fill water. Pilgrims usually carry stone and water from the lake as prasad of Mansarovar. For continuous 4-5 hours, we had beautiful darshan of Kailash en route to Darchen ( our next pit stop). All I can say this land is not only blessed by GOD but they actually live here. Now it was sunset time, and never in my life, I have seen such a big sun drowning at the horizon. What a wow moment where you see every shade of nature in a single day.

The time we reached Darchen it was dark. After having dinner it became darker and the sky was again full of stars at your eye level. I could spend doing nothing but gazing at the stars if our trek was not planned in next early morning. We settled in the room with excitement to start our biggest journey of the lifetime.

Stay updated for my next post of Kailash Parikrama day -1 which we did on foot and seen 3 faces of Kailash.

If you have missed, then read previous articles in sequence

  1. Planning and preparation for the trip to Mount Kailash.
  2. Arrival in Kathmandu and visit to Pashupatinath as the start of the journey.
  3. Trips within the trip – Days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot.
  4. Survival in no man’s land between Nepal and China
  5. Arrival at Mansarovar lake- first mystic experience.
  6. Complete information about Mansarovar, my experience of parikrama and dip in holy Mansarovar lake.
  7. First day of trek from Yam dwar to Derapuk to reach abode of Shiva.
  8. Second and toughest day of trek to reach 19500 ft at Dolma La pass
  9. Third and the last day of trek and coming back to home with tons of memories of Kailash

Stay fit and happy traveling. I would love to hear your thoughts on this post.

Picture and Information References: wikimedia.com, wikipedia.com, indiapilgrimtours.com and my friend Rupa.

 

GMVN – Partner of Uttarakhand Tourism

GMVN – Uttarakhand Tourism packages

 

Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam (GMVN) is government body of Uttarakhand enterprise and official partner of Uttarakhand tourism for Garhwal region. GMVN has authorized capital of above Rs 40 crores and dedicated workforce of 1200 employees. Now, you don’t need to worry for planning your trip, just explore Uttarakhand tourism packages. GMVN provides various services to travelers mentioned here.

  • Accommodation – more than 90 guest houses and tourist bungalows all over Garhwal region
  • Char Dham Yatra – It provides char dham tour packages
  • Uttarakhand tourism packages guide to get more insights of the place
  • Information on road and weather conditions
  • Snow Skiing activity in Auli
  • Water Rafting Course Program in Rishikesh and Kaudiyala
  • Yoga festival in Rishikesh
  • Customized tour packages
  • Trekking activities

 

Planning trip for Uttarakhand?

Many people struggle a lot while planning trip to Uttarakhand because they are unaware of the places, how to reach, things to do, where to stay and the road/weather conditions. If so, then explore GMVN, a trustworthy Government body provides best services at reasonable price.

All GMVN guest houses are located at the prime location. Whenever I plan my trip, I always prefer to stay in GMVN which provides luxury to budget stay options. And the best part is the booking can be done online and the mobile application is available too. The staff of GMVN is very helpful and cooperative. While coming back from Kedarnath, we got late in evening and had no booking that time. So, I called GMVN Gupkashi and got immediate help. The rooms were available and I got last minute assistance at 10 PM. I have shared website and contact details below.

Have look at GMVN Guptkashi gallery having amazing view of Himalayan peaks.

Stay at prime location

My personal experience has always been very good with GMVN. If you are the person to whom prime location is the primary factor in trip, then you should always go for GMVN. It will never disappoint you.

Locations like Haridwar, Rishikesh, Kaudiyala, Auli, Landsdowne have the best locations with awesome facilities. But if you plan to travel places like Gomukh which lies in extreme difficult climatic conditions, then don’t expect luxury stay and five star facilities. You have to then go for shared accommodation in dormitory and basic food.

Ganga Resort of Rishikesh is actually located on the banks of Holy Ganga near to Ram Jhoola. Its big property and they offer various facilities like Accommodation, Yoga and Meditation programs etc.

GMVN Kaudiyala, which is 40 kms ahead of Rishikesh. Beautiful huts on Ganga river side are made far away from chaos.

Important details

Website

Uttarakhand tourism website- https://uttarakhandtourism.gov.in

GMVN website- http://gmvnl.in

Create your account and book accommodation or tour packages. If you need any assistance to select the rooms, then call directly to that location or on the below number of Dehradun – the GMVN headquarter.

ExploreOuting – Complete travel guide which helps you to discover and explore the places. They take care of everything for you and will help you at every step. ExploreOuting is associated with GMVN and Uttarakhand Tourism.

Website https://www.exploreouting.com/

0135 265 2794, +91-9586006631,  +91-9873090338

Mobile application

Download GMVN official mobile application, a very user friendly app and has great informative content regarding the places, itinerary, travel tips and lot more. Believe me, its worth to explore.

You can download it from here and get ready to explore Garhwal. If you need any assistance regarding Uttarakhand tourism packages, then tap for Request for callback option. I got callback in 15 minutes and solved all my queries.

Download ExploreOuting Application from here and have look at great travel destinations.

Packages

GMVN offers various Uttarakhand tourism packages like Pilgrimage, Adventure sports, Yoga etc.

  • Pilgrimage – Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, Gangotri
  • Adventure Sports- Skiing, White water sports, Still water sports and trekking
  • Yoga – 7 days and weekend program in GMVN Ganga Resort, Rishikesh

GMVN stay options enroute to Kedarnath pilgrimage.

 

Explore and enjoy Garhwal region of Uttarakhand which is very beautiful and unexplored. Do visit GMVN and GoExplore website and mobile application to get an idea of Uttarakhand Tourism packages and services. Stay fit and happy travelling!

Story of Panch Kedar | Shiv temples| Himalayas

Panch Kedar of Himalayas

 

Panch Kedar refers to 5 holy places of Lord Shiv in Garhwal region of Uttrakhand which is related to a great story around 5000 years ago. Pandavas the heros of Hindu epic Mahabharat were guilty after war for killing theirs brothers and Brahmins. So, they went to Lord Krishna seeking for solution. He suggested to visit Kashi (Varanasi) and take blessings of Lord Shiv. But Shiv wanted to avoid them as he was deeply incensed by the death and dishonesty at the Kurukshetra war, hence he disappeared from Kashi.

He took form of a bull and went to Garhwal region. Pandavas were searching hard for him and recognized him near Gupt Kashi. The bull was not allowing to touch himself by Pandavas, so Bhim took giant form and stretched his legs from one to another end of valley and then caught bull from his hump. So, the hump is worshiped at Kedarnath temple.

Still Shiv didn’t want to appear, then he buried himself under ground. And, later he appeared at 4 other different places in Garhwal region and blessed Pandavas. They built temples on all the places and worshiped Shiv. This is how Panch Kedar temples holds an important significance and visit to all temples wipes away all the sins.

How to reach Panch Kedar?

These temples can be reached by trek on beautiful landscape with magical view of mountains of Garhwal region. One should do pilgrimage to all of the Panch Kedar and pay homage to Badrinath in the end as a final affirmatory that we have got Shiva’s blessings.

  1. Kedarnath ( 11,755 ft) – Humps
  2. Tungnath (12070) – Arms
  3. Rudranath (7,500 ft) – Face
  4. Madhymaheshwar (11,450 ft) – Navel and stomach
  5. Kalpeshwar (7,200 ft) -Hair

Worship during winter

All the Panch Kedar remains closed for 6 months except Kalpeshwar due to snowfall. the sanctified symbolic Shiva idol of Kedarnath and Madhymaheshwar are brought and worshiped in Omkareshwar temple of Ukhimath. The representational idol of Tunganath is worshipped at Mukumath. The Rudranath idol is worshiped at Gopeshwar.

 

Reference: The map of Panch Kedar is taken from- http://naturelovers.co.in/uttrakhand/panch-kedar/