My first visit to Jim Corbett

My first visit to Jim Corbett

 

On Christmas Eve, I went for Tungnath-Chandrashilla trek and my love for mountains, rivers, and the forest started getting more extreme. That was one of the lifetime experience in the mountains.

One fine Friday evening, I was discussing my next adventure trip with my friend. We decided to do a relaxing weekend trip to Landsdowne, Uttarakhand. I started looking for accommodation and places to visit in Landsdowne online and enquiring with few friends, who had been there. While I was exploring options, I went for a tea break with my office friend and informed her casually about our Landsdowne plan. Knowing my taste about travel, she told me to drop Landsdowne and consider Jim Corbett. Suddenly, I started recollecting Kaal movie (Bollywood movie where Ajay Devgan was the ghost and friend of tigers). And next moment she shared the contact number of Salim, guide/driver from Jim Corbett. Now the mission was changed from Landsdowne to Jim Corbett which is a forested wildlife sanctuary in Uttarakhand State.

I spoke to Salim and paid him an advance for safari. Dhikala and Bijrani area (with more dense forest with high chances of spotting a tiger) booking was full, as it required 45 days advance booking but, we were lucky enough to get the booking for Jhirna area.

Safari was booked, travel plan was done and now we must look for accommodation. So started browsing hotel booking sites and I got a very good deal in Wood Castle Spa and Resort on Ibibo.com. Booked 2N/3D two rooms at just Rs 25,742 (taxes included) breakfast and one meal included. Woods Castle is the Beautiful property on Koshi river bank. The river and forest view from the lawn is amazing. Their staff is very welcoming and warm. And the food is the highlight of the stay. Every single dish they cooked for us was just yum. I recommend wood castle if you plan to visit Jim Corbett.

Road trip begins from Noida

We started at 8.00 in the morning by car from Noida and reach Jim Corbett at around 3.00 PM, after taking breaks for breakfast at 10.00 AM near Garh Mukteshwar and then lunch at 2.00 PM near Kashipur. The drive was really good. Initially till Hapur, we got little traffic because of flyover construction on NH-9 but, after crossing Hapur it was very smooth drive till Moradabad. After bypassing Moradabad city, we took a left turn, which was a single lane road alongside the canal. We saw some really good landscapes on that stretch. Trees were planted in a straight line in the square field, where you can see few sun rays are passing between the trees creating a set for a Hollywood thriller. Lush green plants covered with the carpet of yellow mustard flowers. Overloaded tractors carrying sugarcanes and many more. Climate was very pleasant throughout the day from Noida to Jim Corbett. One jacket was good enough to survive the cold weather.

After reaching the resort, we decided to take rest for a couple of hours. So, my friend went slept and I decided to try some of my wildlife photography skill. I took my camera and went to the river bank to click some pictures of birds and a nice river view with sunset in the background.

Lost in Nature

At around 6.00 PM the sun went down and my friend woke up and got all that we would need to party in the hotel lawn. We were feeling totally relaxed to have a drink standing on river bank listing to the water sound and looking at the forest trees which were just across the river and soft gazals of Jagjit Singh in the background. We were completely cut off from our professional life and was just enjoying the beauty of nature. Official targets were replaced by the tiger spotting strategies next days, all the client calls were replaced by the sound of river water and all the presentation and seminars were replaced by the natures perfect picture of forest and birds. It was the perfect Friday evening one could imagine. At around 11.30 pm, we felt a sudden drop in temperature and decided to retire for the day, as it was 7 degrees and we had to spend two more days there.

 

Ready for the open Safari in Jim Corbett

Day 2: I got up at 7.30 and went out for running for a couple of KMs and came back to resort, where I found a bear on chair enjoying aloo parathas and tea on the same place, where we had party last night. Don’t be afraid, that was my friend with bear like structure 😊. Place was the same with different drinks, view, but still, it was very relaxing.
By 10.30 AM, we finished our breakfast. Salim was supposed to come and pick us up at 1.30 pm. So we decided to play badminton till then. After a couple of games, we decided to call off and get ready for the safari. Salim was on time and we were very excited about our first open jeep jungle safari. Lots of thoughts in mind. Will we be lucky to see the tiger, will elephants cross our path and which other animals we will see. With all these excitements, we left the resort and stopped at petrol pump, where Salim filled his Gypsy’s tank and picked up Bobby Singh (Lalit Kumar Singh) our safari guide. Bobby was good and entertaining but, then at the end of the trip he got boring. He instructed that any given point of time we should not get down from the vehicle during the safari.

 

Finally, our safari was about the begin. We reached the Jhirna region check post, where Salim showed our permits and ids to the rangers, Yes! We are in Jim Corbett now and looking for wildlife around. For the first 4 kms it was good tar road and for the next 10 kms its was a muddy stone road but, in good condition. Not much of roll-a-coaster ride.

 

Jungle, Animals and you

Within a KM from the park gate, we spotted deer crossing the road. It was so beautiful. I wanted to test my wildlife photography skills, so asked Salim to stop the jeep and started clicking some good pics.

 

 

We saw many animals and birds on the way and the experience was awesome. It’s hard to describe in words. Our Jeep’s speed slowed down to 10 km/h after getting on to the muddy road. Diving 2 Kms on muddy road, Salim stop the jeep and asked us to keep quiet, as they were listening to animal calls to track the tiger. We waited for 10 mins but, left the place after few other safari vehicles passed by. On the way, we saw some Monkeys and Langurs, Peacocks and Wildbores. It was an awesome experience to see these wild animals in their habitats.

 

Yet to spot the Tiger

Everything was so cool but, we were yet to spot the tiger. Salim asked some of his fellow drivers about any Tigers spotted by them or heard any call. But the response was negative. We moved ahead in the jungle and decided to take a different route in search of the tiger tracks. Suddenly, Salim stopped the car and asked not to move, as he heard a call from barking deer. We could hear too as it was loud and clear. We waited for 5-7 minutes and heard monkey making sound from the other side of the road. We saw another vehicle coming from the opposite direction signaling us that the tiger is crossing the road. Salim moved ahead of the corner but, it was little late to reach the spot.

 

Oh No! We missed the tiger by a few seconds. By the time we reached the spot, the tiger had already crossed the road and disappeared in the bushes. Shit, we missed it. With only 30 mins left in safari, we missed seeing the tiger by a few seconds. How frustrating it could be. I asked Salim, if there is any chance, we can spot the tiger in the remaining 30 mins and answers was not convincing. We started heading back to the gate because we had to be out of the jungle by 5.30 pm or else Salim would have to pay penalty. It was so close yet so far but, we were thrilled with the experience we had of spotting tiger by just listening to the sounds made by the other animals. We returned to the check post with two minutes to spare and took a tea break. It was getting cold and you can well imagine how cold it would be in open Gypsy at 60 km/h speed. The safari was over and we had an experience of driving in open Gypsy in a Jungle, while the cold breeze. We just loved it.

 

We came back to the resort and celebrated the moment with a couple of drinks and some local smoke 😊. Salim asked me if I want to stay in the core Jungle in a guest house in Dhikala region. I am still thinking on taking that offer but not finalized yet. But If I go, I will definitely share my experience.

Story Teller: SATISH SAWANT

I am sure you have liked the journey of Jim Corbett. Please share your thoughts on this and spread the article on social media.

Interested in River and mountains of Garhwal region of Uttarakhand, then please read this article.

Kailash Parikrama | Day 2 at 19500 ft | Toughest day

Mount Kailash – Toughest day of Trek

 

Thank you for being part of my Kailash Mansarovar journey so far. Before I pen down my further Mount Kailash Kora trek here is the link of my first day of the parikrama of Mount Kailash, in case you haven’t read.  This time I am going to write my experience of the second day of outer kora of Mount Kailash to reach the abode of Lord Shiva. This day was full of adventure and peace. Looks strange? Please read the post till the end.

Golden Kailash

5th June, 2018 (Derapuk)

After tiring day, we had a good night sleep till some Sherpas came in and woke us up at around 6.00 AM to witness the Golden Kailash. It’s the term given go Mount Kailash because of the golden color it gets when early morning sun rays fall on it. When Sherpa woke me, I was in half sleep and confused too. But, when I heard one of the Sherpa saying, “It’s time to see Golden Kailash”, I was up immediately. Put on my jacket and shoes and just marched out of the room to witness the golden Kailash. Within a few minutes, everybody was out of the rooms and facing Kailash to witness that breathtaking view. I couldn’t take my eyes off even for a second. It looked heavenly and more than a dream coming true. Things you have read about, you are actually witnessing it. Can’t be better than this.

 

Sleeping peacefully at the foot of your Lord and then wake up to see the gorgeous face of him had filled my heart. We freshened up and had our breakfast. They used to serve cornflakes/muesli for breakfast and a packet of lunch. Before leaving for trek, few sherpas came to check everyone’s oxygen level. I remember my oxygen level was above 70%.  Since this place was at the highest level to spend the night during the entire trip. Many fell sick and decided to return to Darchen. We pushed Jyothi and Sudhakar to complete kora with us, they gathered courage and came. But Rupa and I were determined to complete our journey. We just chanted “Om Namah Shivaay” and got ready for our trek. This was the toughest and longest day of the trip, where we were unsure about the weather at that altitude. So, it is better to leave as early as we could. A lot of people from my dormitory decided to call off the trip and wished me good luck for my journey to complete the kora. Krishnee aunty hugged me and said, “My dear, I know you will do it”. Sometimes it gives you a good amount of confidence when you see others believe in you. Didn’t had a word to reply so I just smiled, looked in her eyes and told myself, “I WILL DO IT” and left.

Finally, We are on the second day of the trek which is the toughest day of the journey. The total length of the trek was 25 km starting from 16000 ft at Derapuk to cross 19500 ft at Dolma La, which will end at Zuthulpuk. This day is known for taking the lives of dozens of people every year. No matter how will be the situations, I am going ahead. That’s the only thought I was carrying.

Trek started

We started our trek in the early morning with chilling wind. I was shivering a lot, then I covered the face and wore gloves. Rupa, on the other hand, started having tickling sensation due to the side effects of Diamox. Jyothi and Sudhakar were also coming along managing cold breeze of early morning. Initially, we had to hike on the mountains, which were hidden from the sun, so it was too cold. I felt like my jacket of -10 degrees was not enough.

 

 

After a walk of 500 meters, it became steep. I saw a lot of zig-zags where people were going by horses. So I asked Sherpas to take shortcuts. After attempting the first shortcut, I got the idea of how difficult it would be going ahead. On such kind of treks, you have to have a good grip over pebbles and rocks. The sherpas were checking our oxygen level and were continuously asking if we have a headache or any problem. The sherpa who was carrying my bag felt sick due to altitude. He handed over my bag to another porter and went down.

 

 

Saw a small shop, which was the last point for one to opt for Pony charging 600 Yuan till Dolma La pass (19500), which is the highest point of the trek. A lot of people faced breathing problem. So Jyothi, Sudhakar and Dato Ji opted for the pony and moved ahead of us. This was the point which separates route of outer Kora and inner kora which points towards the northeast face of Kailash.

Shiva lost in meditation

After 2 hours, we were at some decent height, where we could see magical and mystic Kailash very clearly. The moon was on top of Kailash resembling “Chandrashekhar” form of Shiva. I am a big moon watcher, but that time it was not just a moon, it was holding an important significance to me.  In between all big rocky mountains, there stands snow-covered Mount Kailash as Shiva lost in meditation from ages.

 

 

It felt like clouds are coming, doing prostration to Kailash and going away. The heavenly view leaves one in silence within. No words can describe the incredible beauty around Kailash. Even Vedas and Puranas have failed to praise it. Now there was no doubt in my heart that we were on the land of Gods.

Way to DOLMA LA -19500 ft – the highest point 

Going ahead, the trail became more challenging. All we could see were big rocky stones and we had to trek for several hours till we reach up to Dolma La. With every step up, the oxygen level went down and pulse rate went up. I used to eat nuts/ candies and a sip of water. The only rule while trekking is to stay hydrated and keep walking. Our porter used to point to Dolma La from distance. He said you have to reach where you can see a lot of flags and I said I am seeing flags all the way. Whenever I used to rest, I used to look around. The mighty Kailash, all big mountains, colorful prayer flags fluttering all the way and a lot more. Tibetans carry these huge flags from Darchen to tie and make some wish. People from four religions come here leaving all comforts behind and do a tough pilgrimage.

 

A journey of Soul, not body

There was a time I felt extremely light and free. It was like I have left everything behind, free from my identity, free from all thoughts, free from all pain even. Just kept going where my heart was only beating for my Lord. My pulse rate was too high and oxygen in the body was low which I could feel. The trail was in real sense breathtaking. I just looked at the Mount Kailash which gave me enough energy to keep moving my feet. I was chanting Om Namah Shivaay, that day I got to know the power of this mantra. All the time I had Shambhoo with me holding my hand. One has to go through a lot of transitions between metaphysical energies which surrounds you all time. Sometimes, the trail looks easy, then difficult and then again easy. Our mind is not used to such kind of strange environment. So, its more about the mental than the physical strength I believe. It’s the journey of the soul, not the body. More I was going ahead more I gained calmness and peace within the mind.

Reached Dolma La

Dolma refers to goddess “Taradevi” and the huge boulder is believed to be the sacred seat of the goddess and is revered by people of Tibbet. The place is beautifully decorated with arrays of prayer flags which looked not less than heaven. The moment we reached on top above 19500 ft, we hugged each other first and then spent some time there sitting with local Tibetans. Finally, we were at the place where reaching up took a few hours which felt like ages :). That time I was not having the feeling of conquering a mountain but I conquered myself in another way. You speak, you share joy but you become absolutely still and silent within yourself. The immensity of the place and faith of people speaks so much but can’t be expressed in words.

Gaurikund

Immediately after crossing Dolma La, we saw Gauri Kund, where it is believed that Goddess Parvati comes here for bath. The frozen water of Gaurikund looked like sapphire jeweled in the white snow. The trail was extremely difficult to reach Gaurikund, so I did not dare to go down. We asked our porter Subhash to get water from Gaurikund. We saw him going down and climbing up as if he got some wings. Sherpas are the real heroes on mountains and without them, many people would not be able to complete their journey.

 

Mount Kailash’s East face

After Dolma La, the trail only descends for few km which is very steep. I fell 3-4 times where Subhash laughed at me and said climbing up looks easier for Shruti compared to getting down. We crossed 2 mountains going down, a patch of a mesmerizing glacier and after that, we had to hike on flat for 12-13 km. More I was trekking, more I fell in love with the place. We trekked for a few km and took a halt at a restaurant. We could imagine how difficult it is to run the restaurant in extreme climatic conditions. After this spot, we were hiking in a beautiful valley along with a water stream on our left.

On our right-hand side, we saw Kailash’s east face with extended snow clad mountains looked like Shiva’s hands. You only get to see a small portion of Kailash’s east face in outer kora. Where inner kora takes you closer to the east face. So on the second day, you will get to see mighty Kailash’s north face 80% of the time. While descending, many at times Kailash is hidden so you can not see, but East face gets visible once you start moving on flat.

 

Zuthulpuk, stay in Monastery

I was drained out of energy and I got shoe bites on feet due to sweat and dust. So, at times it became difficult to walk but somehow I managed as there was no option. The magnificent view of the place kept me walking just to see what is coming next.  Finally, we reached to the monastery in Zuthulpuk where we were supposed to stay. Everyone welcomed Rupa and me praising our efforts and dedication doing the journey on foot as almost everybody took horse. I took off my shoes and by that time my feet were in bad condition. I kept it open and lied on the bed. We got soup and popcorn followed by Khichdi in dinner. That was our last night together in Tibet, so we were chilling out cracking jokes and still, I don’t know when we slept talking to each other.

 

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That day will always be memorable to me and I could still feel the same breathlessness while writing this article. That day gave me my life’s best adventurous experience. More than this, I had the highest level of satisfaction and calmness in my heart. Plus, the feeling of oneness with Shiva was truly a blessing by Lord.

Stay updated for the next day of the trek, driving on the amazing roads of Tibet and coming back to Nepal.

Have look at my picture gallery-

 

Special thanks to our porter Subhash for not only carrying the load but also for motivating us all the time. We talked to him like you do with a friend. Even almost all the pictures are clicked by him on the second day.

Follow the posts in sequence 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

 

Stay fit and happy traveling. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, drop your comments.

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OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!

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.

 

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra | Survival in no man’s land

Hilsa at Nepal-China border

 

Hey guys, I hope you enjoyed my last articles on my preparation and start of my journey to Kailash Mansarovar. If not then do read Planning and Preparation of the trip, a day in Kathmandu and days spent in Nepalgunj and Simikot so that you can stay connected with me on my journey. Hilsa was the fourth pitstop of our Kailash Mansarovar Yatra via Nepal route.  Hilsa is at Nepal and China border at an altitude of 3700 mt from sea level. The place is connected by a friendship bridge over Karnali river, which comes directly from Kailash. On the Nepal side, there is no road connectivity, so we had to come by helicopter from Simikot.

1st day of Hilsa – Arrival at the cold desert

30th May 2018

We arrived in Hilsa within 20-25 mins taking off from Simikot, our first chopper ride. I never thought of enjoy flying over lush green valleys with the river flowing down and crossing snow clad mountains. I was awestruck after looking at snow covered peaks from so near. There was a peak, which resembled Kailash in small form and all of us noticed that.

 

After landing in Hilsa we looked around with excitement. Yes! Our actual journey to Mansarovar was about to begin. Hilsa is a cold desert with virgin hills and was damn dusty. We felt a bit of breathing problem initially as we jumped around 900 mt that day. It’s a very small place with 5-6 guest houses and only 2 shops. From the helipad itself, we could look at China connected by hanging bridge with colorful prayer flags tied on the railings. These Tibetian prayer flags have mantras written over it. It is believed that mantras are blown by the wind to spread good will into space. That’s why it is always tied in the open air. These colorful flags have deep meaning inside more than using it for decoration.

 

We walked up to the guest house and suddenly I went into a flashback. I went 6-7 years back in my university days when my dad dropped at hostel. Suddenly I got a push on my back from Rupa and came back to presence. I had the same feeling because it was not less than my college hostel. A lot of rooms in a row and shared washrooms at both ends, that too not in good condition. Anyways, we jumped in first, so we had an advantage of choosing our space and got a 7-bedded dormitory, which looked pretty decent. Our gang including Rupa, Mauli, Jyothi, Sudhakar and I booked that room. Then, Dato Ji and Ashok uncle also joined us. By that time I was totally out of my comfort zone and moreover, I was above the thought of the male or female thing.

All of us settled down and then Ashok uncle asked me if I want to go on hike. I too wanted to explore the place, so we both got ready after wearing jacket, trekking shoes and scarf to cover up face. We hiked for around 2-3 km on road less land with pebbles all around. We covered decent distance on the banks of river Karnali. That was the overwhelming moment when we got to know the river was coming from Kailash. The positive and divine feelings started coming in. On another side of the river, we looked at immigration of Nepal which was not a good site to watch. It was like a temporary tent where our passport had to be stamped. Yes, you read it right. On the other side of the border, China has done great development. Roads were constructed and they had a big immigration building. It was a perfect example of the developed and underdeveloped country 😊.

After that short hike, I wanted to take bath. In the entire journey, I was determined to take a dip in ice-cold Mansarovar lake. So I always used to bath with the cold water to acclimatize for that climate. Now it was time for lunch and sherpa called us. It was simple and tasty food, which I still remember. After that, we had as such nothing to do, so we used to roam around here and there. Almost all of us came solo, but that feeling had gone totally and we were like family.

2nd Day of Hilsa – Waiting for passport

31st May 2018

The best part of such trips is you don’t have any track of date and time. You are completely cut off from the world. No internet, no calls, no traffic, and no pollution. I wish I could live rest of my life like this but, not lucky enough. I was wearing an analog watch, where India time was set. Nepal is 30 minutes ahead of IST, so it was manageable. But Hilsa is at the China border and as per Tibet timing, we were 2.5 hours ahead of IST. We were playing in the time zones of the three countries. Whenever Sherpa used to give instruction about lunch or dinner timing, we had to specifically ask about is it per Indian time, Nepalese time or the Chinese? Rupa and Sudhakar have got International roaming activated and internet(2G) was also working at Hilsa, so it became quite easy for me to contact at home.

We were excited because we were supposed to get our passport today. We were waiting for same but out of frustration, we started cracking silly jokes. I was like, I won’t look at Tibetan cloud till I get my passport. Then Rupa was like, even if Lord Shiva asks for my wish in person, I will say just grant me Chinese visa. I know it sounds silly but even such silly jokes were making our day wonderful. It was very soothing to sit on the river bank, listen to its sound, keep watching those bridge flags flying in air and just doing nothing. I miss that time.

Our trek was about to begin in few days, I decided to do a light workout to stay fit for the rest of the journey. I used to do squats, lunges, steppers, and situps. Jyothi and Sudhakar took lessons on power yoga and breathing exercise, so I just followed their instructions. I never did extensive breathing exercises, so after that, I used to take a power nap and I mastered in taking power naps 🙂 No matter how many people are talking in our room, I could easily sleep.

Due to high altitude Rupa, Mauli and Dato Ji felt sick and they had to take extra precautions. Even I caught cold, but got over it by taking medicines and drinking only hot water. We were already at high altitude and mild cold/fever/headache are the first symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) if not treated that time. And the worst thing is once you get caught by AMS then no medicine can help you. The only way is to come down at a lower altitude.

Instead of wishing good morning it became a practice to always say Om Namah Shivaay. If I keep the sickness aside, I can feel the positivity all around. People were meditating, doing yoga, few were high on spiritual thoughts, some of us were not religious but they were a kind soul. Different people from different places who have different perception about Shiva but everyone has one goal in common, to take a close look at Kailash and feel Lord Shiva. The positivity was so high that we realized that we are the chosen ones to come on this trip. We were so different from each other but that point we all were looking similar. Not physically but mentally, emotionally!

3rd Day of Hilsa – Got Passport and Left Nepal

1st June 2018

It was indeed a beautiful morning when Sherpa announced that our passports and visa are ready and will be delivered by the chopper today. Our excitement was on height when we were waiting for the first chopper sound but it got delayed due to rain in the morning. Finally, it arrived and we hooted out of joy. After breakfast, Purushottam from KailashJourneys called all of us to collect our passports. We had to leave our room after lunch. Sherpa warned us about the strict checking at China immigration office, especially about their scanning all photos in mobile and camera.  Any picture/article of Dalai Lama or immigration building in mobile or camera can end our journey there. So he suggested to hand over the camera and phone which they can bypass though sending in luggage and give it back to us after crossing the border.

We had our lunch, packed our bags and wohooo! We are finally going to cross Nepal-China border for which we were waiting for days. Now all of us were walking on the friendship bridge. This bridge was on the river connecting Nepal and China border. We reached the Nepal immigration and another agency’s batch was ahead of us. So, we had to wait for around 1.5 hours. It was too sunny that time, so I sat quietly near Karnali river, where I could listen to the soothing sound of water and feel the cold breeze. So, finally our batch’s turn came up and Sherpa started calling out names and asked to make a single queue. As I told earlier, this is very small immigration of temporary tent where 10 people could barely stand. So, we had to go one by one and get our passport stamped. That was the first stamp on my passport and it made me feel good. So officially we made exit and after that, I waved my hands to Nepal and said see you after coming back from Kailash.

We were waiting for our turn as there was another batch ahead of us at China immigration. So, all of us knew that the checking is very strict and the process is time-consuming. What we could do is to wait patiently in the no man’s zone between two countries. It was an experience to stand in no man’s land and don’t even belong to either of them. As the sun started climbing up, I started feeling the heat so I sat on the ground covering my head with my scarf. Our Sherpas were in touch with his counterpart on the Tibetan side. So every ten minutes we kept bugging him for updates. Because no one had enough patience to wait in the dust and sun. But, he was so kind and calm, every time we asked him, he replied very politely and gave a satisfactory answer with smile “Don’t worry, be patient and we won’t disappoint you. We will take you to your destination safely and bring back”. That answer gave us some strength and we forgot everything. It was like we were having a small picnic sitting down with everyone. Sounds crazy but it’s true. I was thinking about my entire journey right from start till today and I realized how it started with pain and problems but now everything is positive where I had only thoughts of the dip in Mansarovar and parikrama of Kailash. These feelings kept me energetic and positive that my trek to Kailash Mansarovar is about to begin. We were waiting for more than four hours and was hungry too but was got some packed food and water from Sherpas and we were all up again.

Survival in no man’s land between 2 countries

Sun was going down and clouds were passing by. By now, it started getting cold and we had to wear another layer of warm clothes. We rushed to piled up duffle bags to take out jacket and warm lower. It was very cold as we were in open space near Karnali river where the chilled wind was blowing. Moreover, it was paining to sit on hard surface because of my tail bone injury. I could not sit properly and could not stand also because of cold. We felt the sudden drop in temperature in evening. It was dark now and we were really stuck in the middle of nowhere. Siddharth advised us to sit in close circle and started teaching power yoga which gave some warmth that time.

It was completely dark by now and we saw China immigration office lights switching off. I didn’t want any more surprises that night and just wanted to cross the border. Was bit worried about the thought of spending the night in that cold desert land. Officially, we had nowhere to go. We have exited Nepal and China is not taking us in. Some of us thought of asking help from foreign minister over Twitter, but we already had given our mobiles. We really felt helpless and had no clue what’s happening. I was the youngest one in the group and was feeling too cold, just imagine how difficult it would have been for the elder ones out of which most people were above 50. Now we had the challenge to take care of ourselves and survive for an entire night in open space. Also, how to get into Tibet was still a question that time?

And you know what, it’s not the end here and there was more to come. Lord Shiva was actually taking a final test to check our strength. It started raining. Oh my God, what could be worse than this, you are stranded in no man’s land between two countries, you have no place to hide and now nature plays a game with you. But, it was so kind of our Sherpa, that he took a call and announced that everybody to go back to Nepal side guesthouse. We immediately rushed towards guesthouse through the friendship bridge, which was not at all friendly this time. We reached to the same room and thankfully it was not occupied.

We were actually shocked by the behavior and communication from the Chinese immigration office. It was a bit irresponsible on their side. How could they hold us for so long and did not communicate anything? Nobody had ever thought of this will happen. Maybe it was the test of patience or determination, but that experience was horrible. Our Sherpas started cooking dinner and served in that worst condition. That’s the very friendly relation between Nepal and India I could see. You will never feel as if you are in another country. On the other hand, we had a bad experience with China even before entering their land. We were not sure how things will turn up once we get inside. After exiting Nepal we again entered on the same date, nobody was sure if it was officially right or wrong. We just saved our lives, that’s all we knew. Rest was up to Shiva.

That night we slept with terrific experience of life and also with the hope of crossing border the next morning.

Here are the links of all of my articles on Kailash Mansarovar Yatra, kindly read.

  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