Mansarovar-Kailasha Yatra

Kailasa parvate Rama! Manasaa nirmitam param, Brahmaana nara shardula tenedam Manasah sarah/ (Vishvamitra addresses Shri Rama to say: ‘Rama! Atop Kailasa Mountain, a highly Sacred Sarovara got materialised by the mind and thought of Brahma and thus has come to be renowned as ‘Manasa Sara’- Valmiki Ramayana) Janmoushadhi tapomantra yoga siddhairetaraih, Jushtam kinnaragandharvair – apsarobhi vritam sadaa/(Only blessed persons who are Siddhas and Tapodhanas, Parama Yogis, besides Kinnara, Gandharva, Apsaras and such Celestial Beings could have their abodes at Manasarovara). Hari Vamsha which is a component of Skanda Purana makes a detailed reference to this outstanding Maha Tirtha and an unparalleled Sidhha Kshetra). This Manasaovara Yatra is for sure a far tougher Yatra hardly comparable to Badarinatha, Muktinatha and Kedarnath as the time duration involved in this is far longer; it might well take up some three weeks as it involves halts at Nepal and Tibet and visa restrictions. Yatra to destinations like Manasarovara-Kailasa, Amarnath, Gomukha, Swargarohana and such Tirthas are to be negotiated to heights of minimum twelve thousand feet above Sea level and breathing could be very difficult often having to even carry the weight of oxygen supplies. To reach Manarasovar there could be several routes to be followed such as via Kashmir to Ladakh, Nepal to Muktinath, via Darma Dare and via Gangotri. Some of these approach routes would not only be circutous, but risky having to negotiate freezing cold, subject to vagaries of rain, slippery, lonely routes and such hardships of slopy climbing, besides hunger and thirst, apart from attacks of animals and tricksters quite apart from the risk of losing the way. This yatra is however not as that death knocking as facilities are indeed available like the help, vigil and intermittent presence of Army Authorities, periodical shops for provisions and some food, medical assistance, guides for general assistance, availability of hired labour, dharma shalas or resting places, riding by mules or yaks, personal carriers called ‘dolies’ and so on.The Yatra routes could be normally the Leepu Marg from Tanakpur Railway Station-Pittorgad-Kanaleechina-Askot- Balavakot-Dharchola- Khela-Paangu-Sirakha-Jupati-Malpa-Buddi-Garabyang-Kalapani-Sangchum-Lipu ghati-Pala-Taklakot in Tibet-Mancha-Rakshastaal-Gusul on the banks of Mansarovar-Jyukumpha-Barkha-Bangudu Mandi- Darachin. The best time for this Lipu Marg is from first to end June and this is perhaps the shortest route. Now the Kailas Parikrama or Circumambulation commences from Darchin/ Lingifu or Nandi Gufa- Gaurikund which is 11, 000 feet high from sea level-Jandalafu-Darchin thus the Parikrama distance totalling 20 km.! Another ‘Marg’ is called Jouhar/Jayanti Marg: From Kathgodam Railway Station to Kapkot -90 km. approx. to Maani-Devibagadh-Shyama-Ramari-Tejam- Kuhati-Girgaon- Rathpaani-Tiksen or Manasyari-Bogadyar -Rilkot-Milam-Pung-Chirchun- Thaajaang- Manithanga- Gurthang- Tirthapuru- Nandigufa- Derafu Bouddha Mandir-Gauri kunda. The best season for this Jouhar Marg is from 25th June to 15th August and involves less number of ups and downs and is also of nice scenic beauty. Yet another Marg is by way of Niti Ghat from Rishikesh Railway station to Joshimutt-Tapovan-Surayi Thota- Jumbha-Manlari-Bamba-Neeti-Hoti Ghati- Hoti- Jyutaal- Iyumgul- Amlagtara- Gojeemaru- Dengo- Gurjnaam-Tirthapuri and further way from here to Gaurikund as in the earlier Jouhar Marg. The best time is from end June till mid-August. On this route, Yatris could have the benefit of visiting Haridwar, Rishikesh, Deva Prayag and Badarinath also. It is not necessary that the same route be followed both ways.

Now a days of course, the services of quite a few Travelling Agencies with competing fees and facilities are available and those who could afford are mainly undertaking the Yatra either by Overland or by Air; The former way is less expensive as organised tours over 13 days from Kathmandu, Nepal and the latter comprising a ten days yatra ex Kathmandu is for 10 days and is more expensive ( the going rates for the year 2014 are Rs. 80,000 and 135,000 respectively). The overland way for 13 days is: Day 1: Kathmandu-Day 2: Drive to Kodari to Nyalam-Day 3: Nyalam- Day 4: Acclimitasation and rest at Nyalam-Day 5: Nyalam to New Dongba- Day 6: Dongba to Manasarovar-Day 7: Puja/ holy dip at the Lake and drive to Darchen-Day 8: Kailas Kora and outer Parikrama from Darchen and on to Durapuk- Day 9: Parikrama continues and on to Drolma Pass to Zutulpuk-Day 10: Zutulpuk to Donga-Day11: Donga to Nyalam – Day 12: Nyalam to Kathmandu- Day 13: Transfer to Kathmandu airport. In the overland way there are two packages- one with all facilities and one excluding some facilities; the latter is with three nights at Kathmandu, sight seeing at Kathmandu, coach for China border, Tibet visa, accommodation and coach fromTibet, trekking permit, oxygen cylinders, and all taxi charges but excluding travel insurance, horse riding during parikrama, air ticket to and fro Kathmandu and so on. This package is Rs. 80,000 as of 2014 Yatras during the prescribed timings of May-Sept. On the other hand, the helicopter rate for the 10 days Yatra costing Rs. 135,000 has its itinerary as follows: Day 1: Arrival at Kathmandu and sight seeing-Day 2: Fly Nepalganj-Day 3: Fly to Simikot / Hilsa toTaklakot-Day 4 acclimatisation and excursion, halt overnight at Taklakot- Day 5: Drive to Mansarovar; Day 6: Start for Kailash Kora and commence Outer Parikrama from Darchen to Dirapuk- Day 7: continue Parikrama over Drolmala to Zutulpuk- Day 8: From Zutulpuk monastery , trek back to Darchen and drive toTakrakot- Day 9: fly back to Simikot to Nepal ganj and on to Kathmandu-Day 10: Back to Bharat.After crossing the Himalaya range and entering Tibet on passing some 20 km are two mountain tops one with Raksha Sarovar and another being Manasarovar. It is a legendary belief that Ravanasura performed severe ‘Tapas’ to win over Parameshwara residing on the Kailash Mount. Manasarovar waters are crystal clear of bluish tinge and the Lake is of the shape of an egg stated to have spread over some 15 km. This is one of the Fifty One Shakti Peethas where the right wrist bracelets of Devi Sati’s ‘jeerna sharir’ fell as Lord Vishnu’s Sudarsham Chakra sliced off the body parts at the Daksha Yagna so that Maha Deva’s fury would otherwise have continued at the sight of the body. The Devi at this Shakti Peetha is known as Gayatri and Maha Bhairava is called Sarvanand. In this heavenly Lake, thousands of swans fly along and across, some of crystal white colour stated to be ‘Raja Hamsas’ or Royal White Compexion and the rest of off-white colour. It is believed that at times, natural pearls too are available in the sweet and none too chilled cold waters of the Celestial Lake with plenty of multi-coloured stones and prism like pebbles. There is not much of greenery on the banks and in fact not many trees and flowers up the Mount. Mount Kailas is about 12 km up the Mansarovara. Even while appoaching the Kailash Dham, one can have its darshan from a distance but the Dham becomes clearer from Kungarivingari Shikhar or top of Jouhar Marg if the clouds are not obstructing the view. The people of Tibet are full of devotion to the Dham and swear to complete Parikrama of the 20 km.circumference by ‘sashtangas’ or prostrations and heatfelt ‘namaskaras’all the way. Like Lord Shri Rama at Saketa at the Ayodhya Dham, Goloka’s Vajra dhaam of Bhagavan Shri Krishna as described in great detail in Brahma Purana as also Maha Deva delineated vividly in Shiva Purana and Skanda Purana, Parama Shiva’s abode is Kailasa Dham on the unique Kailasa Mount; indeed this view among the Himalaya Shikhiras is stated to be unusually distinct and unparalleled! The description of Kailasa Mount is akin to that of the Virat Shiva Linga just as the center of a Lotus with sixteen petals all around as the ‘Shikhar Madhya Shringa’ or the raised horn of the Mount being the centre of literally counted as fourteen Shringas. In fact the central Shringa commands spontaneous awe, vibration and arresting attentiveness subdued by ecstasy and fullness of fulfillment. As ‘abhishakas’ or holy baths on the ‘Linga Mastaka’ are led into Gauri kunda. This Maha Linga Swarupa Maha Deva is of Black Stone and its sides are all covered with layers of iced milk. This mountain alone stands out as black but all the surrounding mountains are raw brownish. Kailasa Parakrama of 20 km. is possible within three days but perhaps reaching Kailasha Shikhir of the height of 19000 ft from Sea level is worthy of endeavour by dare devil- mountaineers! Incidentally, Badarinatha Murti which was brought by Adi Shankaraacharya from Tibet was installed at Badari Mandir. Adi Badari in Tibet is of immense significance where at Naani Ghaati Maha Deva’s Dhu Linga is stated to be present besides ancient Murtis of ageless primacy!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at [email protected]