Saturday, August 1, 2015

Mt. Kailash & Manasarovara Yatra 2014 !!

Hello Friends,

Its about time I wrote about this amazing Trip. Never got the time to write about it. Finally I got all I need to write. Here goes..

Mom and me decided to plan and go for it, even though we knew it was difficult. Months of planning finally paid off. Finally it was decided and we booked our visit to Mt. Kailash with Shankar Treks.

A Map of Mt. Kailash & Manasarovar which I bought @Checkpoint

"July 28th 2014"
Day 1:

Reached BIAL @ 5.30AM. It was our first time on a plane. Was bit scared. The Airport was huge and we spent time seeing around. After some time we said goodbyes to Nirmala and Krishna (Aunt & Uncle) and went inside.
A Long queue to check in the baggage. Managed to send them on the conveyor belt. We then went upstairs towards our boarding point with the passes and passport in hand. It was all new and sparkling. Met few of our fellow travelers and had a brief intro.

We then hear our flight name being called for boarding. Bit scared, we give the boarding passes to the lady at the desk and walk towards the plane which just parked itself near us. It was the first time I ever saw a plane so close. Inside a smiling Air Hostess told us where to sit. I got the window seat.. lol After some time, once everyone got settled, we heard the sounds of engines starting. The turbines started to make noise and we started moving towards the runway. The flight waited in queue for take off. It was a busy Airport. Flight leaves to Mumbai and reaches the airport @ 10AM. It was an awesome experience.

Flight leaves mumbai and reaches katmandu at 2.30.
We settle in a 5 Star hotel "LORDS" for the day. Get freshened up.
A visit to the Pashupathinath temple in the evening. Stayed at temple till night pooja.
Had dinner and group meet at the hotel.

Day 2:

Got freshened up. The plan was to leave the luggage at hotel, checkout and move towards China.@ around 5:30AM, we left hotel and headed towards China Occupied Tibet border. Had lunch en-route and Reached China border by 12pm.
@China-Nepal Border. Pic taken from the Bridge between Nepal-China
After a lot of checks, the Chinese officials allowed us in and we Crossed  Chinese border by 2pm. People who didnt have the Chinese currency had the option to exchange with few con men near the border. We then had to walk uphill on a narrow road to find our bus. (Chinese bus - Left Hand Driving).
It was the first time I got to travel in a left handed vehicle. It was nice. After giving our luggage to the guys who put it in a truck, we climbed our bus. There were two for our group. We traveled through some amazing scenic beauty and Reached Nyalam.  We reached the hotel  "SHI SHA BHA MA" and checked in to it. Got fresh and had dinner. We were tired and so took Rest.

Day 3:

The temperature and the climate was way too different as we were on a high altitude place. We were supposed to get used to this temperature and weather as it will get more dangerous as we proceed further.
Hence, today's plan was to get used to the weather conditions. We got up and saw it was raining. Freshened up and had our breakfast. During breakfast I noticed a cute kitten playing around and soon became close to it. It loved to sit on my lap and never left me. :)

We waited till the drizzle stopped. Our Guide and sherpa had planned a short trek up a mountain as a practice for the coming days. Me and mom were excited. However, mom fell sick and tired and had to stay back. The rest of us started to climb the mountain. It was an amazing sight.

Our Gang on top of the mountain

Me & Sherpa

We headed back down carefully and went back to the Hotel. Lunch was ready and we were starving. The kitten came alone and we all had our lunch. Evening, the ladies including my mom gathered together and started to chant prayers and shlokas about Shiva, Vishnu, Lakshmi and Sai Baba.

Meditating & Praying

I helped gather a crowd as people from other groups in the hotel were eager to join. Made them sit and chant along with us. After meditating and praying, we were asked to have dinner early and took rest for the day.

Day 4:

We got up early and freshened up. It was very cold and few of them were still getting used to the climate. We left in the Chinese buses by 6:30AM towards Mt. Kailash... Well, it was a long way :D

The route had some amazing mind-blowing scenic landscapes. Took snaps on the way and reached a place called "SAGA". Had lunch outside Saga and continued our journey towards Kailash!

Stopped for Lunch near SAGA

 We had a small Pit Stop at the banks of Brahmaputra River. It was awesome.
It was my mom's birthday. We had a small celebration. Everyone wished and greeted mom. Felt happy.

A Mirror Image :-)
Buses in which we traveled from Nepal Border till Entrance to Mt. Kailash Manasarovar
We reached "OLD DOLMA" and halted there for the day. We had to share our room with two others. Freshened up and Had dinner. Took rest in the lodge. One of the uncle's fell sick and lost confidence that he will make it. We helped him boost the confidence and gave him tablets. Rekhi was also performed on him. Massaged his legs and got him back to normal.

Day 5:

We got up and freshened up. Had tea and breakfast. Left Old Dolma by 6.30am to continue our journey towards Kailash. This was Tibet Occupied China. We saw many chinese people, the army. They effectively have learnt to utilize solar energy. We reached our first place of visit "MANASAROVAR". It was a beautiful place with lot of greenary and water. At the far end was the most awaited glimpse of "MOUNT KAILASH". 

Road to the Adobe of Lord Shiva !!

While we were waiting for the new bus to come, we had our lunch at the checkpost. They did not allow private buses inside further. We had to change buses at the checkpost and continue to circle the Saraovar to reach base camp.

First Glimpse of Mt. Kailash.

After taking some beautiful pics, we boarded the bus and circled the sarovar. Stopped at a clean spot to Pray and have a holy dip in Manasarovar. It was bit sunny and the water was ok to enter. Cold still. All ok us took the holy dip and offered prayers. We could see the Holy Mt. Kailash in the backdrop. I took pics and bearded the bus to continue our journey.

Mt. Kailash & Manasarovar

Me with Sherpas and Chinese Guide

The bus we traveled

The water was crystal clear. Had the holy dip and did pooja. The weather by gods grace was sunny and the water was just fine for the dip. Seeing the kailash mountain in front of us, all of us took the holi dip. I even got to do a bit of swimming.

Back in the bus we headed towards our stay for the night. En route we had a pit stop to see the other huge lake named "Rakshasthal". IT was a dark lake and showed signs of negative energy. :D we never went closer.
We then reached "Chumba": A place in front of the Sarovar. We unpacked and freshened up. Had evening tea and took rest seeing the beauty of nature.

Mt Kailash in the backdrop. Chinese Flag in the front.

At night we had dinner and gazed the million stars  on the sky. It was just mind blowing. I reset my Clock on my Mobile to show China Time. 
We slept and got up by 3AM China time to see the SAPTHARUSHI DARSHANA. It is believed that the Rushimuni's come to the Manasarovar to have a Holi dip in the form of stars. And then go up towards  Mt. Kailash for Darshan of Lord Shiva.
With Eyes glued to the lake, we kept seeing. Out of nowhere came a blooming star from the lake came out of no where.. It kept glowing for some time and vanished in the dark. It was hard to believe but yes, it happened. Felt happy and we slept for the night.

Day 6:

We got up and freshened up. Had tea and breakfast. Performed Morning Pooja to Kilash on the shores of Manasarovar. Relaxed for a while and caught a bus towards "DARCHEN- Base Camp of Kailash(4575mt)". We reached Darchen and settled in our cottages provided.  It was a 4 sharing room and we shared it with Lakshmi and Subramaniyam uncle. Took rest and Had lunch. Darchen street had a lot of stalls and so, we went for shopping. I got two show pieces for our cars and a Dragon idol. 

Pooja performed in front of manasarovar

The dog liked to sit there... water was ice cold.

Yama Dwara !!

Around evening, Lakshmi Auntie suggested perform a detailed pooja to lord Shiva. We then had a small gathering in our room. Did pooja to lord shiva and distributed prasadam. Had dinner and took rest for the night.

Day 7:

Packed backpack for the next three days and got ready. Had breakfast and boarded bus to "YAMA DWARA". We gathered at a meeting point. People who preferred a porter and horse boarded their respected horses. We prepared ourselves for the Trek. I was very excited as I had been waiting for this day from a long time. We then started our three day long journey around Kailash.
At yama dwar, we made 3 pradakshinas and started walking. Walked 16kms and took some amazing pics. Saw and prayed lord shiva. We took break for lunch at "CHIKU GUMPA"(4625mt) and continued walking. 

Lets now see a few pics of our trek on the first day of Outer Kora around Mt. Kailash..

Scary mountains surrounding the Yama Dwara.

Pooja @ Darchen

Mom and team mates at YamaDwara.

With the Sisters Maithili and Padmaja.Two very strong ladies i ever met..



A beaver or an otter

Scary peaks surrounding Mt. Kailash near Yama Dwara

The beauty of Himalayas

Trekkinggggggg !!!!

First Glimpse of Mt. Kailash hidden behind clouds

Walking and trekking was fun. For the first time I got to see all kinds of weather at one shot. It was sunny like summer...but the wind was cold like in winter... Every now and then, it used to rain like in rainy season... And some times snow..and hail stones used to fall.. It was nice to walk...

After covering 16Kms by walk.. We finally reached "DIRAPUK GUMPA"(4918mt)  where our guys had booked cottages to spend the night. Me and mom were the last few to reach. Hot Tea and biscuits were waiting. People who went in Horse welcomed us and praised us for completing first day by walk..

After warming ourselves with tea, we freshened up and had dinner.. Took rest for the day at rooms provided. We had a tight schedule and had to leave early tomorrow. With loooot of memories of the trek we went to sleep.

Day 8:

On Day 2 of our trek around the holy Mt. Kailash, we walked around 22kms at a single shot.  Everyone was bit tensed hearing the number. Especially the ones on horse as today they had to walk and cover the distance. The trek included hiking a mountain pass where the horses will not be able to carry them. 

It was A tough trek along the "DOLMA LA PASS"(5490mt). We got to see a small glacier which was melting. Took cool pics of nature. Me and mom walked and trekked slowly. Energy bars and instant energy drinks kept mom active and her will to do it also mattered. We then reached "ZUTULPUK GOMPA"(4795mt) at night after a tiring trek. We were cheered by our fellow mates. Freshened up and had dinner. Very tired, we took rest for the day.

We covered Ganesh Kund, Parvathi Kund, Darshan of Mt. Kailash mountain and some amazing mountains.
There were natural formations on the mountains that looked like the shape of Mother Mary & Jesus, Shankaracharya, Saptharushi standing in a queue facing Kailash, Elephant, Tiger, Rat, Bird, etc. 
And the clouds were also in formation. Depending on ur imagination, the beauty of it could be seen. IT was mind blowing.

An Angry mountain. Below is the Ganesh Kund

Mountains and Parvathi Kund
The above pic is of PArvathi Kund where it is said Goddess Parvathi (Wife of Lord Shiva) came to take bath. The water looks soapy. It is said that here is the place she created Lord Ganesha from the Dirt on her hand while bathing. There was a huge demand for Water from this pool. Me, a sherpa and Naveen decided to get down the deep gorge and get water for everyone.

It was a tiresome task to go down and climb back up..The rocks were lose and dangerous it was. But we did it. Was fun. Everyone thanked us for getting the Theertham from the holy pool of water.

Rock formation - shaped like an axe.

Another view of Mt. Kailash.

Valleys of the Himalayas..

Walking past the streams !!

A Group Pic finally.. of the group who walked. !! Few are missing in this one :D 

Day 9:

On the third and last day of our trek around Mt. Kailash...From Zutulpuk Gompa, we started early and walked an easy flat trek of around 8kms. We reached a place close to Darchen. Waited for everyone to come. A bus then took us back to our rooms at Darchen. Freshened up and had snacks.

We were very lucky to have seen all the faces of Mt. Kailash and we didn't want to go back. Unfortunately it was time to return. We waited outside for few mins for our luggage to arrive and left Darchen. We passed thru several checkposts and reached "OLD DUMBA" and took rest for the day.

Day 10:

We got up and freshened up and left Old Domba early today. Had lunch on the way. We traveled back to 'NYALAM' and lodged in at a good hotel. "SHI SHA BHANG MA INTERNATIONAL HOTEL"
We freshened up and had our lunch. 
Post lunch, we had a small gathering and took group photos. We then gave a small contribution to the seven SHERPAS who helped us a lot during the journey. Took rest for the night.

At the international hotel

Day 11:

We got up early and left the hotel towards the Tibet-Chinese-Kathmandu border for immigration process. Due to a natural disaster, the road connecting Kathmandu and Tibet was destroyed. A Massive land slide had the entire path washed away and it would take months to fix it. There were no alternative roads to Kathmandu from here. After hearing this news, worried and tensed we Got past the border and walked towards a hotel for Brunch at 'TATOPAANI'. 
There were plans being made to have us air lifted to Kathmandu. The Indian Air Force and Nepal Army were working closely to have the pilgrims rescued. However, only 18 from our group got airlift and left for the day. They safely reached Kathmandu by evening.
Rest of us waited at the same hotel to get checked in. We got rooms and freshened up.
We then visited the "HOT WATER SPRING" at Tatopaani. It had been over five days we had a proper bath. The hot spring was a boon to us. Enjoyed a lot in the hot waters of the spring. 

After freshening up, we headed back to the hotel. We saw and heard the River below the gorge behind the hotel. I decided to gather our gang and we all went down. It was amazing. The river was in full fury due to heavy rains. We took pictures and then returned back to our hotel. We all talked for a while during dinner and slept for the day.

Day 12:
We got up early by 6am and  heard that the helicopters have started doing sorties to and from Kathmandu. Freshened up and caught a bus to make shift HELIPAD for our AIRLIFT to Katmandu.
An 25 seater INDIAN Airforce Helicopter arrived at 9am to pick us from Tatopani. 

It was my first ride on an helicopter and i was lucky to ride one that belonged to IAF. We then boarded the chopper and left to katmandu. We reached katmandu airport in 25mins. It was an awesome ride.. loved every second of it. We saw the river overflowing and flooding the areas.
All set to Board the Helicopter

Huge Dog !

IAF Rescue Helicopter

A bus was waiting to pick us up at the airport. We then reached LORDS hotel at katmandu. Took rest for a while. Next up was local sight seeing.  Half the group who reached Kathmandu yesterday had left to Local Sight seeing already and come back. Now it was our turn to see them..

A bus was arranged for this. We got ready and covered SWAYAMBUNATH temple. Then to JALNARAYANA Temple.  Jalanarayan Temple was awesome. The Sleeping Vishnu in the middle of a pond was a mix of Shiva, Buddha, Rama and Vishnu.  Lastly we visited the pashupathinath temple again. Did some purchase and went back to hotel. Took rest for the night.

On the way to Swayambunath Temple

Swayambunath Temple
Antiques market


Day 13:

We got up early and went for breakfast. Anand (Organizer from Shankar Treks) gave us all certificates from trekkers society for completing the Mt. KAILASH Trek. He also gave us a Rudraksh mala and a Spatika Lingam.

We then packed our luggage and got ready to leave Kathmandu. The members who were not part of Mukthinath yatra stayed back at hotel. They left Kathmandu by evening to Bangalore. 

Due to restrictions in the numbers and bad weather, our group going to Mukthinath had to again split in to two batches for today's schedule. Plan was to visit "Mukthinath". Few people had to reach Pokhra airport and go t hotel. Rest, directly to Mukthinath. After breakfast for one last time @Lords hotel, people leaving to Mukthinath packed the luggage and left to airport after saying the goodbyes to each other.
Snow capped mountains.. A view frm the plane enroute to Pokhra..

Once at airport, we caught a small plane from "Simrik Airways" to "POKHRA". It was a wonderful 35min flight. Once at Pokhra Airport, five out of fifteen were immediately taken to a helicopter heading to MUKTHINATH. We were among the five luckily. Rest of them went to hotel in Pokhra city.

A view from Helicopter on the way to Mukthinath

Cockpit of the Helicopter

We five of us headed to "Mukthinath" in helicopter. It was a beautiful scene to watch in helicopter. We landed at the helipad and started walking towards the temple. 

We were given a deadline to return back to helipad due to rigid weather conditions. We hurried towards the temple. It was their yearly festival and the localities were in full swing. Horse riding and other activities were deing performed. We had a brief glance and continued towards the temple. 

An Aerial view of Jumsum Airport

The temple was the adobe of Lord Vishnu. It had been built in the middle of 108 Streams flowing from the mountains. The front yard of the temple has two ponds. The myth says them as Punya Kund and Paap Kund meaning, One is a pond of purity and the other of the negatives.

It was very cold as the altitude was high. Of all the Odds, we bathed at the 108 streams surrounding the temple. It is said that a glimpse of White pigeons is considered lucky in the temple. Watched the white pigeons on the temple structure. We then Had a dip in the paap kund and puinya kund. Changed clothes and visited the temple.

The chopper to Mukthinath

We had to return to the chopper by 1PM and hence hurried back. Returned to POKHRA airport. A car picked us up and we reached the "LAKE SIDE RETREAT hotel". We then took rest and went for a stroll in the evening in Pokhra. Pokhra is a beautiful place to visit. Must see.. :D 

Day 14:

The other half of the team had done local sight seeing already and it was their turn to visit Mukthinath. While they visited mukthinath, we did a local sightseeing at Pokhra. After a good breakfast, We visited VINDHYAVASINI TEMPLE, DEVI'S FALLS, GUPTHESWAR CAVE TEMPLE, FEWA LAKE and VAARAHI TEMPLE. Did some shopping and returned back to hotel. 

Bought a Bronze Idol and a Glow in the dark Buddha face to hang it at home. Had good lunch at hotel and took rest for some time. It had been many days we had good food, so it was pretty much like beggars.. We devoured everything that the chef brought us. Dinner, lunch, breakfast, each went up to one and half hours.

Evening we went for a stroll around the hotel. Visited the KEDARESHWAR TEMPLE and returned back. Had dinner and slept.


Lake Side View Hotel, Pokhra

Day 15:

We checked out early from the hotel by 5AM to "MANOKAAMNA DEVI TEMPLE".  It was a half day journey and we had lunch on the way in bus. The temple is at a hill top to which we need to go by Ropeway. At the base of the hills, we took tickets and waited in long queue for the rope way.. up hill went the car...was fun.

Visited the temple and did some shopping. Headed back to bus. We headed back to Kathmandu hotel. Evening was our flight back to Bengaluru. Got freshened up and headed to the airport.

@Manokamna Devi Temple

At the Airport, we recollected our trip. The most memorable one. Said our good bye's. Boarded flight to Bengaluru. We had a pleasant flight back to Bengaluru. Memories of all the past days flashed past me in the flight.

It was an awesome trip. I Hope you liked this blog :-)

Signing Off .... 
GANU !!!