Monday, August 10, 2009


Holy Mount Kailash is one of the most popular ultimate Hindu pilgrimage sites in Himalayan region dedicated to Lord Shiva where every devotee wants to go. Mount Kailash, which is believed to have been formed 30 million years ago when Himalayas were in their early stage of formation, is one of the most revered places in the Himalayas.Mansarovar and Mt. Kailash are two of the holiest pilgrimage areas to devotees of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Bonism and many other faiths. Each year thousands of devotees undertake the treacherous and rigorous journey through the mountains and plains of Nepal and China ( Tibet) to reach this sacred land.Mt. Kailash, 6,740 mtr. high peak is situated to the north of the Himalayan barrier, wholly within Tibet. It is the perfect mountain with awesome beauty, with four great faces. It is the spiritual centre for four great religions: Tibetan Buddhism, Hinduism, the Jain religion and the pre-Buddhist animistic religion - Bonpo. For the Hindus Mount Kailash is the earthly manifestation of Mt. Meru, their spiritual centre of the universe, described as a fantastic 'world pillar' 84,000 miles high, around which all else revolves, its roots in the lowest hell and its summit kissing the heavens. On the top live their most revered God, Shiva, and his consort Parvati. For the Jains, an Indian religious group, Kailash is the site where their first prophet achieved enlightenment. For the older, more ancient religion of Bon, it is the site where its founder Shanrab is said to have descended from heaven.Spread out on the Tibetan plateau beside Mount Kailash is the giant lake of shifting colors - Lake Mansarovar. Brahma, the creator, had a mind (‘Man’) for the creation of a lake (‘Sarovar’), hence its name ( Mansarovar). A pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and a bath in the Mansarovar is believed to bring about salvation (Moksha) and washed away all the sins of life. Over the centuries pilgrims have constantly journeyed immense distances to achieve enlightenment or cleanse themselves of sin, braving enormous distances, particularly harsh weather and bandit attacks. People have been visiting Kailash - Mansarovar for centuries. It used to be very hard journey in the past; today it is lot easy to reach to the heaven now!
This adventure begins with the drive across the Himalaya west into Tibet to Holy Lake Mansarovar. Here you will join the throngs of pilgrims who, for centuries, have converged on this remote southwestern corner of Tibet to circumambulate the sacred mountain, considered to be the center of the universe by Hindus and Buddhist alike. Kailash enjoys great popularity the folk religion of Tibet - it is the soul of the country and assures protection for all Tibetans. The fountain head of four great Asian rivers ( Indus, Sutlej, Bramhaputra and Karnali), few mountain reveals Kailash for its mystique, isolation and prominence, for 3 days you will walk with pilgrims around this. It is an experience of a lifetime...!
Mount Kailash - The abode of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati : Mt. Kailash is claimed to be the apex of the Hindu religious axis, is also one of the holist mountains in Tibet . Lord Shiva resides in Kailash among the peaceful Himalayas. A mythological story says that Lord Shiva once built a house for himself but gave it away to a devotee who asked for it. Thus without changing his residence he settled in the mountain of Kailash. This is his abode where he stays with his whole family including his wife Goddess Parvati and children Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikiya and the other Shiv Ganas (group of Shiva Devotees) like Nandi and others. According to ancient religious texts, the abode of Lord Vishnu is called Vaikuntha, the abode of Lord Bhrama is called Bhramaloka and the abode of Lord Shiva is called Kailash. Of the three, one can only go bodily and return in this life from Kailash having experienced divinity. The Hindus, buddhist and Jains all alike travel to this place as pilgrims. A journey to Kailash mansarovar is considered as once in a lifetime achievement.
In the northern part there is a mighty mountain by the name Himalaya, the abode of perpetual snow, fittingly called the lord of mountains, animated by Divinity as its soul and internal spirit (or in other words, Divinity incarnate). Spanning the wide land from the eastern to the western sea, be stands as it were like the measuring rod of earth.At the direction of the king Prithu the self same mountain was used as a calf by all other mountains. While the Mount Neru (KAILAS) stood as an expert milker of cows and milched the Mother Earth (as if from a cow) the milk of shining gems and medicinal herbs of wonderful virtues and supreme efficacy (in order to adorn the Himalayas)
865 Kms from Delhi, stand Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar constituting one of the grandest of the Himalayan beauty spots. The perpetual snowclad peak of holy Kailas of hoary antiquity and celebrity, the spotless design of nature's art, of most bewitching and overpowering beauty, has a vibration of the supreme order from the spiritual point of view. It seems to stand as an immediate revelation of the Almighty in concrete form, which makes man bend his knees and lower his head in reverence. Its gorgeous silvery summit, resplendent with the luster of spiritual aura, pierces into a heavenly height of 6690 meters (22028 feet) above the level of the sea.

The Holy Mansarovar Lake The PARIKRAMA or circumambulation of the Kailas Parvat is about 54 kms. Mount Kailas is revered in Sanskrit literature as the abode of the all-blissful Lord Shiva and his divine spouse Parvati, the all-enchanting Nature (Prakriti) which from 32 kms. off is overlooking the Holy Mansarovar and the Rakshas TaI, in the south. The holy Mansarovar or manasa-sarovara is the holiest, the most fascinating, the most inspiring, the most famous of all the lakes in the world and the most ancient that civilization knows. It is a famous lake in the Hindu mythology. The lake is majestically calm and dignified like a huge bluish green emerald or a pure turquoise set between the two mighty and equally majestic silver mountains, the Kailas on the north and the Gurla Mandhata on the south and between the sister lake Rakshas Tal or Ravan Harda on the west and some hills on the the foothills of Mount Kailash, lies the magnificent lake of Mansarovar. The lake changes colour and mood with the passing hours and seasons: placid now, tempestuous the next. The reflection of the sun, the clouds, the stars and even, Kailash, keeps the beholder spellbound. The lake is large, being 88 kms in circumference and with a maximum depth of 300 ft. Its fascinating variety and beauty captures the heart and imagination of the viewers. The water of the lake can be freezing at certain times of the day and during certain seasons and pleasantly warm at others. Regardless of the temperature, most devout pilgrims have an opportunity to take a holy dip in the lake.
The first camp at Qihu, where the yatris spend two days is well-equipped and offers a stunning view of the lake. There you can bathe in the lake and offer puja. It is requested that damage to the pristine surroundings in any manner should be avoided and use of soap or detergent while bathing is prohibited. Those wishing to have a proper bath may visit the baths at hot water springs. Their charges are Yuan 20 per head.
The Parikrama begins with a drive through the vast plains of Barkha to Qugu, a distance of about 85 kms. There will be a brief halt at Hore, which has a basic market where one can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables. The camp at Qugu is located on the banks of the Mansarovar Lake. Yatris can, if they wish, perform their puja here.
The next day you return to Qihu, thus completing the Parikrama of Lake Mansarovar. You will spend one more day at Qihu to get in touch with the other half of your original group, and return to Taklakot together.
Moving Forward...
After a two-day stay at Taklakot to complete emigration and custom formalities, you have to cross back in to India via the Lipulekh pass.
The return journey from Lipulekh to Dharchula is via the same route taken on the onward journey except that from Dharchula, the yatris have to travel to Jageshwar instead of Kathgodam and then to Delhi.
Facilities on the Chinese Side
Taklakot is an important town in the area. Accommodation is provided at Purang Guest House for pilgrims, where regular rooms are available with cots, mattresses, comforters (razai), etc. Electricity and hot water for bathing is available at specific times. The toilet facilities are quite primitive. At Taklakot, the Chinese authorities provide vegetarian food of a Chinese flavour, such as bread, vegetable soup, noodles, boiled rice, etc.
The camps at Darchen, Deraphuk, Zongzerubu, Hore, Qugu and Qihu are basic structures and have several rooms, which are to be shared. Each room can accommodate 4 to 6 pilgrims. Mattresses, pillows and comforters are provided. There is electricity only at Darchen camp. Yatris have to prepare their own food in all these camps. The Chinese side will provide hot water and a stove for cooking.. Yatris are advised to carry some food items of their choice from India.
Medical Facilities
Two medical personnel provided by the State Government of Uttaranchal will accompany each group of pilgrims up to Gunji. Beyond Gunji, Indo-Tibetan Border Police will take over the medical arrangements upto Lipulekh Pass. Pilgrims are nevertheless advised to carry some basic medicines (Appendix – F). Please also ensure that you carry sufficient stock of special medicines that have been prescribed for you. During the Yatra, should the accompanying doctor and the Liaison Officer feel that a pilgrim is not fit to continue, their decision will be final. No refund at all is permissible in such cases. On the Chinese side there is no doctor to accompany pilgrims during the Parikrama of Kailash and Mansarovar.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Volcanic-like activity triggers scare in Lahaul-Spiti

mysterious explosion atop a mountain has sent a major scare across Rangrik village in Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.

With the phenomenon, said to resemble a volcanic eruption, triggering massive landslides and waters to gush continuously, edgy villagers are reportedly left with no option but to trek uphill on Sunday to find a way of stemming the problem rather than wait for the district administration and scientists to heed their cry for help. With 120 houses and 700 villagers, Rangrik is 4,000 meter above sea level and 7 km away from main Kaza town. Fearing a tragedy might strike anytime without timely intervention, village headman Tandup Tashi told TOI, "We have already informed the district administration but nothing has been done so far, except for the assurance that Geological Survey of India has been informed. We can’t keep waiting for officials to come and inspect the site, so we have decided to climb the mountain on Sunday to check what actually happened and what can be done." Banking on a pair of binoculars to assess the situation soon after the "explosion" on July 27, Tashi added, "We saw that a ditch had been created from where water was gushing down. If steps are not taken to check the flow, the situation may become dangerous." But brushing aside fears of villagers, geologists said that in India, sporadic volcanic activity took place only on Barrel islands in Andaman and Nicobar. Pardeep Singh, senior GSI geologist added, "There can be several reasons for such a mountain explosion, including presence of hydro-thermal gases and sulphur. But reasons and factors will be known only after visiting the site." Trying to maintain calm, Chhering, who runs a private school here, "Initially, it looked like some volcano activity because there was smoke-like dust all around the mountain top, followed by bright sparks caused by rolling boulders colliding with one another." However, not ruling out danger to the village and 2-MW Rongtong hydel project nearby, Dr SS Samant, incharge-scientist, GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, said, "There is a risk to the village andproject if the landslides and flow of water are not stopped. It’s important to understand reasons behind the phenomenon."