1000 KILOMETERS ACROSS THE HIMALAYA: KAILASH MANASAROVAR YATRA

By Atul Chandra Kakoti


“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving”, said Chinese traveler ‘Lao Tzu’.


The Mt. Kailash
Yes, as says Lao Tzu I fixed a tour programme inconceivably and it was the Kailash Manasarovar. An unforgettable tour of my life. I started my tour; tour! oh no, it will be better to describe an expedition to Kailash Manasarovar through the Tibet plateau in the year 2011.My actual expedition started on 9th August from Kathmandu and it concluded on 21st August at Kathmandu again. Which was the most tremendous adventure of my life till today. In the very beginning of the year 2011 I thought about the Kailash Manasarovar yatra. This was the sprout. I googled for a suitable travel package. After searching few days at last I find out a travel agency named “India Tourism” which is located at the west Janakpuri in Delhi. I communicated with India Tourism. They welcomed us with warm heartfelt hands.But, unfortunately my wife’s Passport was not ready till that time. Anyhow with a great enthusiasm I completed the work of my wife`s Passport at the Guwahati Passport Office within two to three months. At the same time I processed all procedures like filling up the application form, physical fitness certificate which was obtained from Govt. medical officer. As well as I arranged my all necessary things, i.e., warm clothes, shoes, rucksack, etc. Within a short span and swift action I completed my all necessary works. 


Friendship Bridge, Kodari
At last, the day came on which we (me and my wife) flew from the Guwahati “Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport” to Delhi. We arrived at Delhi and stayed at my daughter’s home for few days. Those days we met our travel agent Mr. R. S. Sowhney and process carried out on Visa/ permit work, money exchange and some other important marketing. We paid INR 69000 per person to the India Tourism for our package, all total we paid INR 138000 for both of us. Thus we got ready to proceed to “Kailash Manasarover” which was a spectacular tour throughout the Tibetan plateau. Another world at a height of 4000mtrs to 5630mtrs high altitude. The most memorable tour in my life ever “1000 kilometer across the Himalaya.”

Sayambhunath temple, author with his wife
7th August, Sunday, Delhi (214m), Day-1: We flew from Delhi “Indira Gandhi International Airport” to Nepal at 2.30 p.m. It was a pleasant Weather. The sky was calm and quite. The dark blue sky full of white flourish cloud. After all it was a sunny day. Our flight flew upon the Sivalik range of the Himalaya. Under the sky the great Himalayan Sivalik range sleeping peacefully. With a great enthusiasm we arrived “Tribhuban International Airport” of Kathmandu at 3.45 p.m. After completing the Visa/ permit work (although these are not necessary for Indian People) we came out from the airport we saw a Kailash treks employee who was standing with an invitation board for us, he welcome us cordially. Then he brought us to a luxurious traveler`s cab. Only a few moments our cab filled with some other pilgrims. Who were coming from different places of the world, and then the cab proceeded by the VIP road of Kathmandu city after 45 minutes we reached Grand Hotel which is situated at the Red cross road of Tachachal. In the cab we introduced ourselves to our co-travelers. There are 71 pilgrims in our team. They were from Gujrat, Karnataka, Delhi, West-Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Australia, USA and we are from Assam. In the Grand hotel the Co-Ordinator of Kailash trek Mr. Santosh welcome us with a shout of joy “BOM BOM BHOLE” “HAR HAR MAHADEV” and they garlanded us with a Rudraksh Mala to everyone. 

8th August, Monday,  Kathmandu (1300m), Day-2: Morning after breakfast, we set out for a guided tour of Kathmandu's holy sites, including Pashupatinath (Chaturmukhi Siva Temple), Swayambhunath (Buddha Temple), Patan Durbar Square, Sleeping Bishnu and Kumari Temple – the only living goddess of Kathmandu.  These monuments were built from 4th to 8th century by Lichhavi and Kirat Dynasty. It is notable that all these monument has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. With some fascinated memories we came back to hotel in the evening. In the evening Yoga and briefing session organized by Kailash Treks in the hotel to learn important tricks of handling high altitude situations for a trouble free yatra.  This day was spent making final preparations for the trip. Staff assist us in buying and renting the missing gears and we checked for unnecessary luggage. 


On the way of Tibet
9th August, Tuesday, Kathmandu, Day-3: We embark on our journey at 9:00 a.m. from Kathmandu. Today our destination was Kodari. Kodari is 115km away from Kathmandu. We traveled by Araniko Rajmarg. This is Araniko Rajmarg, who left Kathmandu at 17 years age in the 13th century. He was the only architecture who built Golden Stupa of Lhasa, Miaoying Temple of Beijing, White Pagoda and many more. So, this NH is dedicated to him. After 90 minutes of drive we stopped in Dhulikhel for breakfast. Leaving Dhulikhel within half an hour, the road follows the valleys of Sunkosi and Bhotakosi River, passing through lush green countryside and dramatic cliffs. We passed Dulalghat, it is the confluence of Sunkosi and Bhotakosi. The wind was slow we were able feel the dusk and mist. After few moments of journey we closely affected by landslide area. This was the first time in my life I experienced landslide at hill. Our feet was buried in the mud. Deadness of cold was coming along with darkness. By 8 p.m. we reached the Tatupani. However, night halt at Tatupani. We stay here for another two days (August 10th & 11th) due to non-receiving of Visa/ permit from Lasha for some of our co-travelers. Here we had plenty of time in our hand. So, every day we set out for sightseeing, i.e., Tatupani Hydroelectricity Power Project, Budha Temple, Durga Mandir, Friendship Bridge, etc.   

Thung La Pass
12th August, Friday, Tatupani, Day-6: Morning11 a.m. we left Tatupani Guest House and proceeded for Kodari Tibet border. Kodari is 4 k.m. away from Tatupani. Within 30 minutes we reached Kodari Friendship Bridge. This is the only way where people can cross a border by their own feet. The Chinese army standing tall in the middle of the bridge always. We entered in the “Zhangmu Port” which Nepalese called “Khasa Port”. After fulfilled immigration formalities at 1.30 p.m. we entered into the Tibet. Here we had seen all around, full of Chinese Army. There was a Questionnaire Session in the Chinese Custom Office these are-
1)  Have you previously come to China?
2) Did you know about the present political situation of China?
3) Have you any previous experience of high altitude trekking?
4) Did you know about Hypoxia?
5) Marital status ? 
6) Are you suffering from high BP ?
7) Are you a Diabetic patient?
 Tibetan Nomads couple with kid
………more than 20 questions were there. After this questionnaire session we had to do some physical check-up, i.e., BP, ECG, Diabetic test, Blood test, etc. Carrying out all these necessary tests we authorized to enter in China. We continued our journey to Nyalam by a Japanese Land Cruiser. Nyalam is 35 kilometer away from Kodari. Within a short time we crossed Zhangmu town (2300m). Zhangmu is 5 kilometer away from Kodari. Still we have to travel another 30 kilometer road to Nyalam. The NH 318 which leads to Shanghi city of China. It is also known as Friendship highway. It is the longest NH of China with a span of 5476 kilometer. We were going on ahead, it was a melodious evening listening Lata’s songs while travelling. We were shocked when we heard Lata’s song for first time in such a city like Tibet.  The road was very risky and driving was difficult. We passed through a gorge. In ancient time it was called “Narakar Rasta”. Thus at last we reached Nyalam at 8.00 p.m. Night halt at Nyalam hotel. 

 In-front of Saga Hotel
13th August, Saturday, Nyalam (3750m) to Old Dazungba (4400m), Day-7: This day gives a chance to relax and acclimatize to the high altitude in Nyalam. Yet, this opportunity was not in our luck. Because we had no more time in our hand to stay in Nyalam. We wasted out our precious two days in Tatupani. It is important to stay hydrated and extremely aware of our body's physical condition, our monitor was concerned. Pilgrims went for 2/3 hour acclimatization hike on the mountain. This is important as it prepares the body for the rest of the trip. Most of the Pilgrims already experienced suffering from Hypoxia (high altitude sickness). They had to take Diamoxin tablet. However, we passed Nyalam, the road climbs up to Thong-La pass (5150m) then drops down before entering to the western part of Tibet plateau. The stunning views of the Himalayas particularly Shishapangma peak, which is popularly known as Gosainthan, mesmerized us. It is the 14th highest mountain in the world at 8,027 meters. Nearby the road of the southern part of our left was covered by snow caped peaks and northern part was boarded up to the horizon towards China. From here the Greater Himalayan is divided into two part, i.e., Eastern and Western. Eastern part is known as Jugal where the Greater Himalayan’s eight thousander (above 80000mtrs) high peaks are standing gloriously, and Western part is known as Labuche where the Seven thousander (above 7000mtrs) high peaks are standing. It was mid-noon. Cold breeze outside the
The Paiku Taso Lake
car. Unbearable cold wave pricked us like a spike. We enjoyed the natural beauty of Thong-La pass for a few minutes, after that we got up to our land cruiser and went to the west. By 1 p.m. noon we crossed the Bhramaputra River and a quick drive brings us through the town of Saga. Our Land Cruiser roll through the dramatic valleys following the various rivers through the grazing lands of yaks and sheep. The landscape is highlighted by snowcapped peaks rising out of the distant sand dunes. The sight of huge Sand dunes along the way is a treat to the eyes. Many Tibetan nomads and traders in traditional dress inhabit this area. As time passed we were hungry. At the bank of Peikutso Lake we have our lunch. It is a beautiful lake. Snowcapped peaks surrounded the lake and they are reflected on her blue water. After lunch we start over again. It was about 6 p.m. we reached the Old Dazungba. In Old Dazungba we stayed in mud house. 

The Manasarovar Lake
14th August, Sunday, Old Dazungba to Lake Manasarovar (4500m), Day-8: This was one of the longest drive day of the trip. After half an hour of journey we arrived in a dessert, I astonished to see the desert on the Himalaya. Although it was known by me that Gobi and Taklamakan desert is in Tibet plateau. We stopped here for a few moment. Our Chinese guide pointed out to a huge set of water and said- “these is the Brahmaputra Lake. From Manasarovar to Brahmaputra Lake the river Tsangpo is flowing underground.” This desert has been broad up to Parayng. We crossed Paryang city. Paryang is a beautiful colonalized city and it was established by China for nomads people of Tibet. By afternoon the drive through the green pastures and massive valleys we first sighting the Mt. Kailash and blue waters of Lake Manasarovar. We drived around the lake. Before reaching of the Trugo Gompa on the east bank we took a holy bath in the Manasarovar. Lake Manasarovar is considered as a holy lake by four religion. Hindu, Buddha, Jain and Bon. There are so many lakes in the Tibet plateau. The four great rivers of Indian sub-continent; the Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Karnali, and Indus flows from Manasarovar. But it is notable that none of the above rivers are physically comes out from the Manasarovar. Instead of flowing over ground these rivers flows underground. After flowing 100 to 200 kilometers underground these four river came out to the human sight on the earth. We visited Trugo Gompa before heading to the Chiu Gompa. In the evening we reached Chiu Gompa Guest house. After taking rest we came out from guest house to enjoy the beauty of Manas. Having the opportunity to see the sunset in Manas was a great feeling. Water changes its color frequently. Sometimes it’s blue, sometimes black and sometimes reddish. Horrendous Cold waves, we could feel them. It was very difficult to stay outside. Thermo coated suit & wind cheater, hand glove & musk should wear. We stayed in Chiu Gompa Guest House on the bank of Manasarovar for a night. We heard that in the early morning Deva and Devi took bath in the holly water of the lake, like some cosmic rays come down to the lake and goes back. But I was not privileged to see them.

The Brahmaputra Lake behind the blessed couple
15th August, Monday, Manasarovar, Day-9: “Lake Manasarovar”, Tibetan call it, Mapam Yumtso. It is a freshwater lake at the elevation of 4,590 mtrs. It’s circumference is 88 kilometer with maximum depth of 90 mtrs, which is 940 kilometer far west from Lhasa and 943 kilometer from Kathmandu.On this day tour staff set up private bathing tent on the shores of Lake Manasarovar. Because, we all pilgrims perform a holy bath before starting the Parikrama of the holy mountain. According to Hindu and Buddhist mythology, it has been believed that a dip in the holy water of Manas wash away the Sins of lifetime. So we all pilgrims took a bath in the holy water of Manas, even though it is ice cold chilled. After bath we performed the Fire Ceremony with Mantra Chants. This day offers a wonderful opportunity to vision the great lake and a spectacular views of the mountains which is surrounded by the Manas. As Gurula Mandhata (7728m) to the south and Mt. Kailash (7900) to the north.It is believed that the king Mandhatta meditated in the Gurula Mandhatta parvat and Mt. Kailash is the adobe of Lord Shiva. We enjoy it heart-fully.

Dolma-La Glacier
Rakshash Taal: According to Hindu mythology this lake was created by ‘Ravana’ to get superpower through acts of devotion & meditation of the Lord Shiva. It is notable that Rakshash Taalis only half kilometer away from Manasarovar. Unconventionally the water of Rakshash Taalis poisonous, but the water of Manasarovar is sweet / drinkable. I had seen there all aquatic living creature like - fish, seagull and algae in the Manasarovar Lake and on the other hand none of the above are available in the Rakshash Taal. Our guide strictly prohibited us to don’t touch the Rakshash Taal`s water.

Manasarovar to Darchen (4800m): Later we started towards north. Today our destination was Darchen. We reached Darchen within 2 hours.Darchen is only 53 kilometer from Chiu Gompa Guest House. It is a small town considered the base camp for the Mt. Kailash. Astapad or Nandi Parvat (5000m), it is a part of Kailash Parikrama / Core with a half day hike. We trekked to Nandi parvat, the nearest point of Mt. Kailash. Those who wishes to do the Astapad Parikama they can do it. There is a Rishi Cave in the Mt. Kailash. Those physically fit people can hike up to the Rishi caves and around Nandi Parvat as Part of inner Parikrama / Kora.Mt. Astapad is a spectacular mountain amphitheatre at the base of Mount Kailash, it looks like a bull. From here any one can do inner Parikrama of Mt. Kailash, but it is too difficult. We saw the Mt. Kailash and Nandi Parvat was full of snow. Puja and prayers can be offered to Astapad / Nandi Hill and Mt. Kailash in his foothill. In the afternoon we return to Darchen. Night halt at Darchen.

The Kailash Parikrama map
16th August, Tuesday, 1st Day Parikrama to Deraphuk (4880m), Day-10: Our first day of trekking around Kailash begins at Tarbuche. We started our Parikrama through the “Yama Dwaar”– the Gate of the God of Death. Entrance of the Mt. Kailash. It is believed that, one who passes through the Yam Dwaar, he has no fear of death and release sins of 100 Births. The famous “PARIKRAMA” start through Yama Dwaar. We walked by the west side of mighty Kailash alongside a river. Wonderful cascading rivulets, waterfalls flows from mighty Kailash. Some of the Pilgrims used Yaks & Ponies for carrying them. The sky was covered by cloud and it was raining.  Road was jaggy, so it was very difficult to hike. We passed the Chukku monastery and arrive at the Derapuk monastery within eight hours, total hiking 13km. Due to rough weather our feet had been cold as ice. My wife suffered from frost bite. Her hands and feet were all black and she was shivering numerously. Fortunately a Tibetan guide arises there and served her by giving warm fomentation in an oven. Here we stayed in slat pathar house. Deraphuk Guest House at the elevation of 4880 mtrs high altitude. 

 Author, Kailash Parikrama, Prayer Flags
17th August, Wednesday, 2nd Day Parikrama crossing Dolma La Pass (5650m), Day-11: The 2nd day Parikrama started at 5 a.m. The tremendous cold waves were blowing whole night.From the early morning snowfall, rainfall and hail storm were blown down sparsely. This is the hardest as well as holiest day for the pilgrims. Today before going on to Parikrama we had signed in bond, so that travel organizer wouldn’t be liable in case of any demise of Pilgrims. We crossed a rocky area scattered with stone and prayer flag offerings by pilgrims who has come before us. Later hiking ascents up to Dolma-La Pass (5650m) and a marvelous sight of Gaurikunda. Gaurikund is located just below Dolma pass. The pond in which Mother Parvati took her bath.Dolma pass is the highest point in the whole Yatra. It is also called as Shiva Sakthi Sthal. This is considered to be the sanctum sanctorum of the Lord Shiva & Mother Parvati. There is a place nestled high in the Himalayas. The place is Kailash. Home of Lord Shiva. It’s beautiful, its holly, its spiritual. “Dolma” is a Tara Devi for Tibetans & “Parvati” for Hindu. After a short curvature at the top of the pass we descended down at about 45 degree angle. The whole parvat was full of hoarfrost. Snowfall, rainfall and hailstorm have been showered over our head. Get down from Dolma pass to the downhill we step on Dolma glacier. It was about 3 kilometers’ long and half kilometer in width. Then crossing alongside the Gourikund it heads down the steep trail to our eventual campsite at Zuzulphuk monastery (4790m). This is the site of the cave of miracles where the greatest Tibetan yogi Milarepa meditated and developed the powers of floating in the air. Along the way we were having wonderful sights of high peaks, streams, waterfalls and mountain caves. We reached Zuzulphuk camp after trekking 18 km of jaggy road at 5 p.m. It took 12 hours of journey to Zuzulphuk camp.  Night halt at Zuzulphuk camp.

Sun set at the Mt. Kailash
18th August, Thursday, 3rd Day Parikrama to Darchen (Base camp), Day-12: This was the trek to the end of the valley. We achieved 4kms of trek in 4 hours gentle downhill walk along the river. We arrived on a board hillock on the last day of our Kailash Parikrama. Our cab was waiting for us to transport us to our camp. We took our lunch for the last time in the Darchen base camp. Soon after we drive away to the bank of Lake Manasarovar where we had last bath in the holy waters of Manasarovar again. I’m very obliged and thankful to God to have this opportunity in my life.

Conclusion: 
19th August, Friday, Drive to Saga, Day-13: We hurried back towards Kathmandu after living in low-oxygen levels for so many days.This day will be marked by long hours of driving (8hrs) crossing over the high mountain pass and a majestic view of the Himalayan peaks. This day we traveled 450kms.
The Mansarovar
20th August, Saturday, Saga to Nyalam, Day-14: The day came, the last day of my journey in Tibet plateau. We came back by thanking God that we are totally safe after signing a bond. It was really an unbelievable and amazing journey of my life. A life time experience. At last we came back to my native land Nepal with a sorrowful mind with a lot of un-wipeable memories.

21st August, Sunday, Nyalam to Kathmandu, Day-15: Reached Kathmanduby evening. Stay in Grand Hotel and have a Farewell banquet. 

Note: To Do:-
1. All Indian Passport holders must reach Kathmandu. This itinerary and related cost factor are based on 15 days plan and five star accommodation in Kathmandu, Nyalam and Saga operated by various tour companies in Kathmandu as well as India.
2. You must practice daily yoga and walking to prepare for this holiest and at the same time difficult pilgrimage.
3. The visa fees also differs for different nationality. You have to send your complete Passport information for registration and keep a scanned copy of Passport and a recent photo ready.
4. Warm cloths, water proof shoes and rain suit, hand gloves, monkey cap, etc. must take.
5. Yuan can be exchanged in Delhi, Nepal and Boarder.
6. Tourist Information Center:
Address: 801, 8th Floor, DDA Tower-2, Above McDonald, District Centre Janakpuri, New Delhi, Delhi 110058. Phone: 011 4558 8459. Hours Open: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.


Author Atul Ch Kakoti
About the author: An avid trekker-explorer and mountaineer, Atul Chandra Kakoti is a good writer who has published two books on trekking and mountaineering in Assamese language. The different ranges and peaks of the Himalaya have been the mountaineering destinations for him. With an active personality and dedicated employee of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, who loves his native Kathiatoli, Nambar Gaon, Nagaon, Assam, he is also very much interested to trek more and explore the unseen and share his experiences of trekking and mountaineering. [Read More]

6 comments:

  1. Amazing travelogue! Good to know all about the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. Through the story the author has given a complete Kailash Darshan to every reader. Thank you traveller-author for sharing your experience, it will help many people as it is completely informative.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Simply superb!! Very lucid, thoughtful & informative. Keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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