Kailash Mansarovar Yatra | 1st day trek | Mount Kailash

Mount Kailash

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrimage is widely known for its religious significance among people of Hindu, Buddhism, Jain and Bon faith. Mount Kailash standing tall at 22,000 ft is known to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Parikrama has to be done around Kailash which takes 3 days. 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. Due to its difficulty and remote location, only a few hundreds of people complete Kailash Mansarovar Yatra successfully every year.

People do circumbulation (parikrama/kora) around the mountain. Many people think, we have to trek to reach peak of the Kailash, but in actuality, we have to do parikrama of the mountain which takes 3 days to complete. In this phase, will only talk about the Mount Kailash.

The religious significances of Kailash

Hinduism

In Hinduism, the Mount Kailash is known to be the abode of Lord Shiva where he lives with his consort Parvati and other gans. He resides on the peak in the state of meditation. Vishnu Puraan describes Kailash four faces are made of crystal, ruby, gold and lapis. The pilgrims do parikrama in the clockwise direction starting from the South face. It is believed that doing 1 parikrama is equivalent to turning 1 round of wheel of life. The mountain is the pillar of the world and the entire universe is operated from this place.

Buddhism

Mount Kailash is the major pilgrimage site in Buddhist traditions. This is the place where Buddha represents supreme bliss. It is said that Milarepa ( Buddist saint) the only person of pure soul who could reach on the peak of Kailash riding on the sun rays. Like Hindus, the pilgrims do Kora in the clockwise direction starting from Yam Dwar facing south face of Kailash.

Jainism

According to Jain, the first Tiranthkara – Rishabhdeva attained moksha (liberation from cycle of life and death) at the mountain Ashtpad which is next to Kailash. He came here to gain knowledge and then wanted to go back. But after being touched by Kailash he left everything behind and decided to merge with the mountain.

Bon

Bon mythology holds that Mount Kailash is where the founder Thonpa Shenrab Miwo came down from heaven and spread his spiritual knowledge. They regard it as a nine-story swastika and a seat of spiritual power.

 

Time flies at Kailash

I have read about the existence of Shangrilla near Kailash Mansarovar but, People have failed many times to find this place. Shangrilla works in 4th dimension of time but still un discovered. Little time spent at this place is equivalent to many generations gone in the time we live. This is far beyond my understanding. Even aging happens at Kailash also due to difference in time frame. Pilgrims experience sudden growth of nails and hair at this place. According to some estimates, 12 hours spent in this area is equivalent to 2 weeks of normal time.

Unscalable

Mount Everest (8848 mt), the highest peak of the world has been conquered by thousands of trekkers successfully. But the Kailash (6638 mt) is unscalable so far. A lot of trekkers from Russia, Switzerland have attempted but failed to climb up. Few started to climb but suddenly they lost their way because mountain changed the direction and their navigation machine stopped working. Few reported that the moment they started climbing they lost their physical energy.

Axis Mundi: Centre of Universe

The Axis Mundi is the place where heaven meets the Earth and also known as the cosmic pillar of the world. There are many spots in world where Axis Mundi is present with high spiritual energies. In India, the place is Mount Meru and in Tibet it is Kailash. Like in our human body, the spine holds all lowest to highest realms of the body. Similar to this, the Axis Mundi is the cosmic connection between all the universal consciousness of heaven and Earth. And this metaphysical axis is found in every religion depicting some form.

My experiences of Mount Kailash

4th June, 2018 (Monday)

After Mansarovar Parikrama, we spent night at Darchen (15,010 ft). I woke up early morning in the cold weather and came out of room to witness sunrise and I saw Kailash at back of our hotel rooms. I could only see 1 snow-covered peak and sun rays falling on it which made it very beautiful. It looked like a jewelled crown in the entire region.

After breakfast, we packed our bags, got ready with trekking clothes and necessary items in a small bag for 3 days (extra 1 pair of clothes, socks, raincoat, thermals, torch etc). Since I hired porter, I gave my bag to him and carried only mini bag with my mobile, wallet, candies and water bottle in it.  As we had to do full day trek, we were given a packet of lunch.

Around 9:30 AM, we handed over our luggage to tour operator and boarded the bus. It takes around 30 minutes from Darchen to the Yam Dwar, from where trek begins. We were very excited to start our biggest journey of lifetime by chanting Om Namah Shivay. As we were going close to Kailash, the kind of serenity was fascinating us. Even after the delay in trip, we were happy that we will be doing Kailash Parikrama on Monday.

Arrival at Yam Dwar

Finally, we reached Yam Dwar which is the official start of the trek. Yam Dwar is the gate of the lord of death. One who crosses the Yam Dwar becomes free from shackles of life and death. It is the gateway to enter the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva. Tibetans call this place as Tarboche and they install prayer flag pole every year on the full moon day of fourth lunar month. They also start and finish their Parikrama (kora) from this point. This place has beautiful arrays of flags all around the Yam Dwar. The weather was in our favour, so we could see the south face of Kailash very clearly.

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From here the group divided into two parts, the one is going for Kora and others who cannot proceed had to return Darchen. The tour guides explained difficulties in advance, so Mauli being hit by AMS and few others from our group returned to Darchen after visiting Yam Dwar. Many of the group members took pony and porter to complete kora.

South Face of Kailash

The trek begins from South face which looked extremely beautiful. As we moved ahead, we simply looked at the gorgeous view. Everything looked amazing around in the entire region. Such a beautiful creation of God, felt like God has opened door for us into heaven. The place was very lively and it was like every mountain is talking to you. Most of the mountains had cave inside them and there must be some sages or God living inside the cave. Even few mountains had faces engraved on them. The imprints of the faces will always make you think to the other dimension.

 

The day was sunny and damm windy too, so all the time we were wearing UV sunglasses and cap for protection. I had nuts and energy bars which I used to eat regularly. Trekking is not the race, so best thing is to walk at your own pace and enjoy the nature. This is the journey of lifetime and nobody knows when we will get the chance to come again. So explore and absorb everything from the surrounding.

 

 

After trek of 1 hour, we saw group of Tibetans doing dandvat pranaam (full prostration) to complete kora. The trail had rocks, rivers, galciers at extreme climatic conditions where it became difficult to walk and breathe. And these people are doing full body prostration. I was amazed to look at them, I don’t know what kind of fire is burning inside them to take that level of the difficult task. We were packed with good trekking gears, had food to eat and booked accommodation for 3 days. Whereas these great people had nothing to eat and no shelter. But still, they were doing this task with unshakable faith and energy. This takes them more than 1 month to complete kora. I can’t even imagine and scale the thoughts of these souls. This is not just the picture, this is LOVE for your LORD!

Such a magnificent view and great place can only exist at Kailash.

West Face of Mount Kailash

After few hours of hike we saw the west face of sacred Mount Kailash. If you concentrate you can see big face on the mountain. I sat on rock and gazed at the mystic mountain. The whole serenity was filled with infinite positivity and bliss because people of all 4 religions have put so much faith into the godly land of Tibet.

All the time Rupa and I were almost at same pace. We had some beautiful conversations which I will never forget. She explained to me the meaning of “Om Namah Shivaay”, it was deep and in some ways it is far beyond human understanding. I was playing the famous “Shiv Tandav Stotram” on my mobile and explained her the story behind it. The one which describes the beauty and power of Lord Shiv. It was composed by great Ravan seeking forgiveness after he tried to lift Mount Kailash. It’s one of the toughest and most beautiful composition that you must listen to. We had these kinds of discussions right during the Kailash Parikrama.

 

After some time we saw a restaurant and had our lunch there. I had no headache or breathing problem, but body was fully tired. I took some energy drink and moved ahead. The beauty of the place and the thought of what is coming next will keep you moving.

North face of Mount Kailash

Subash, Rupa and I were hiking and reached Derapuk. Then suddenly I turned my head to right and saw North face of Kailash. I folded my hands and prayed to Shiva. This face of Kailash has always attracted me which has actually driven me to do Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. It was like my dream has come true and I am seeing Shiva in the mountain. That was the moment when the whole world has stopped for me.

After hiking for a kilometer, the view got more clear and I was in front of the giant, magical, majestic and mystic mountain. Rupa and I sat on the ground at distance. Only the mountain and I with no other distraction. I gazed at the peak and within seconds I got merged with the mountain. I did full prostration and wanted to be taken away by lord Shiva.

 

While I was clicking some pictures of Kailash, I saw a bird flying. These birds must be the luckiest and blessed creature on the planet who live in the region of Kailash and can fly and touch Kailash anytime they want.

 

It started getting dark, so we got up to reach dormitory at Derapuk (16010 ft). Every dormitory had 20-30 beds and whatever bed you get just grab it. No choice, no preference. The rooms were made at the foothills of Kailash and we could see the peak from our window itself. What else do you want if you are getting to sleep at the foot of Shiva. After some time I got soup and a plate of popcorn which gave me enough energy to wear shoes and go out again. But walking for even a few meters took my breath. And this was the only first day, where the second day would be the toughest day.

Briefing for the second day of Trek

I went into the room where Rupa, Jyothi and Sudhakar occupied beds. Everyone was too much exhausted due to high altitude and cold weather. Then few Sherpas came there and explained all the difficulties of the second day of trek which was 25 kms long. We have to start from Derapuk (16010 ft) early morning and cross Dolma La pass (19000 ft). The oxygen will drop and climatic conditions will be worse, also we have to cross big rocks and glaciers. Also, we may not get medical facilities at the time we require. The second day of the trek is known for taking lives of dozens of people every year. So, it was up to our will and medical conditions whether we want to go ahead or not. If anything happens on the route, the tour operator will not be responsible. So, those who wanted to go ahead signed on the agreement and most of the people backed out listening to the Sherpas. I signed on it without giving any second thought.

Then Sherpas served super-hot delicious Khichdi in dinner on the bed itself. And then I went out and saw the sky full of big stars. Looking at the stars at that altitude and drawing out giant Kailash in the night was an amazing experience. I crashed on bed and Krishnee aunty highly positive lady who came from Africa was next to me. We both helped each other to settle with the blanket and a lot of stuff on the bed.

Overall the day went awesome where we had darshan of three faces of Kailash. And more than this, we were sleeping at the foot of Lord Shiva. This was the most peaceful and beautiful night of my life.

There is a lot much about Kailash to feel and express and everybody experiences it differently. You have to come yourself to feel Shambhoo with you. Stay tuned for my upcoming post for the second and third day of trek. And, follow the posts if you have not gone through

  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

Also, read out the great travel experiences of Kailash from Swati-> https://buoyantfeet.com/2018/09/21/why-i-chose-to-do-kailash-mansarovar-yatra-now/

Stay fit and happy traveling. Om Namah Shivaay!

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.