MOUNT KAILASH AND LAKE MANSAROVAR
Pilgrimage is an effort to cleanse the soul and open the mind. Every year, thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Kailash, following a tradition going back thousands of years. Pilgrims of several religions believe that circumambulating Mount Kailash on foot is a holy ritual that will bring good fortune. Hindus and Buddhists make the peregrination in a clockwise direction. Followers of Jainism and Bönpo religions circumambulate the mountain in a counter clockwise direction. The path around Mount Kailash is 52 km (32 miles) long.
Some pilgrims believe that the entire walk around Kailash should be made in a single day. This is not easy. A person in good shape walking fast would take perhaps 15 hours to complete the 52 km trek. Some of the devout do accomplish this feat, little daunted by the uneven terrain, altitude sickness and harsh conditions
faced in the process. Indeed, other pilgrims venture
into a much more demanding regimen, performing
body-length prostrations over the entire length of the
circumambulation: The pilgrim bends down, kneels,
prostrates full-length, makes a mark with his fingers,
rises to his knees, prays, and then crawls forward on hands and knees to the mark made by his/her fingers before repeating the process. It requires at least four days of physical endurance to perform the circumambulation while following this regimen. The mountain is located in a particularly remote and inhospitable area of the Tibetan Himalayas. A few modern amenities, such as benches, resting places and refreshment kiosks, exist to aid the pilgrims in their devotions. According to all religions that revere the mountain, setting foot on its slopes is a dire sin. A legend claims that many people who dared to defy the taboo have died in the process. Can this be another reason why the mountain is not climbed?
Following the Chinese army’s entering Tibet in 1950, and political and border disturbances across the Chinese-Indian boundary, pilgrimages to Mt. Kailash were stopped from 1959 to 1980. Thereafter a limited number of Indian pilgrims have been allowed to visit the place, under the supervision of the Chinese and Indian governments either by a lengthy and hazardous trek over the Himalayan terrain, travelling by land from Kathmandu or from Lhasa where flights from Kathmandu are available to Tibet and thereafter travel over the great Tibetan plateau (ranging 10,000 to 16,000 feet) by car. The journey takes four night stops, finally arriving at Tarchen (4600 m).
Walking around the holy mountain (a part of its.
official park) has to be done on foot or pony; it.
takes three days of trekking starting from a .
height of around 15,000 ft to crossing the Dolma.
pass (19,000 ft) and encamping for two nights en route. First, near the meadow of Dirapuk Gompa—2 or 3 km before the pass and second, after crossing the pass and going downhill as far as possible (viewing Gauri Kund in the distance).
Lake Manasa Sarovar Hindi Tibetan, Mapham Yutso) is a fresh-water lake in Tibet 2,000 km from Lhasa. It is the highest freshwater lake in the world. To the west of Lake Manasarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Mount Kailash, known in Tibetan as Khang Rinpoche.
The sight of a huge lake with a reflection of snow-capped
mountains in its lucid waters is jaw dropping. Be prepared for a feast for the eyes. Manasarovar Lake lies at 4,556 m above mean sea level. It is relatively round in shape and its circumference is 88 km, depth is 90 m and it occupies a total area of 320 square
The lake freezes in winter and melts only in spring.
The Sutlej River, the Brahmaputra River, the Indus
River, and the Karnali River all trace their sources to
its close vicinity.
Like Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarovar is a place of pilgrimage, attracting religious people from India, Tibet and the neighbouring countries. Bathing in the lake and drinking its water is believed to cleanse all sins. Pilgrimage tours are organised regularly, especially from India, the most famous of which is the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra, which takes place every year. Pilgrims come to take ceremonial bathes in the cleansing waters of the lake.
According to Hindu legend, the lake was first created in the mind of the Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar, which is a combination of the words Manas (mind) and Sarovar (lake). The lake, in Hindu mythology, is also supposed to be the summer abode of swans, which are considered to be judicious and sacred birds. It is also believed the Devas (Gods) descend to bathe in the lake between 3 and 5 am. This time of the day is known as Brahma Muhurta (moment). Buddhists also associate the lake to the legendary lake known as Anavatapta in Sanskrit and Anotatta in Pali, where Queen Maya is believed to have conceived Buddha. The lake has a few beautiful monasteries on its shores. The most notable of which is the ancient
Chiu Gompa Monastery,
which has been built right onto a steep hill.
It looks as if it has been carved right out of the rock.
The Jains and the Bonpas of Tibet equally revere this
spot with great enthusiasm.
After you have measured and felt KINNAUR KAILASH your eyes would be thirsting for more. And in fact, there are more! Adi Kailash is an ancient holy place in the Himalayan Range, similar to Mount Kailash in Tibet. The beauty of the peak lies in its remote location. The best way to see it is to trek and trekking to Adi Kailash in the Himalayan ranges of Kumaun Region near the Indo Tibetan Border in district Pithoragarh, is an experience in itself.
Up to Gunji the route is the same. One walks 14 km, first to the left of Kuti and then right, to reach Jollingkong (4572 m). The river Kuti and its bridge will perhaps may be under a thick blanket of snow. And if they are then you can consider yourself lucky. The thick blanket of snow makes it look magical.
Jonglingkong is called Chhota Kailash (small Kailash) (6191 m) while its relatively small but beautiful lake is called Parvati Tal. The reflection of the peak in the lake will leave you spellbound. There is a temple near the lake, which is sometimes visited by swan-like birds. A little distance from here the remains of a dry lake will leave you mystified. Along the river Kuti are two passes - Lampia Dhura and Mangsa Dhura - leading to Tibet.
The ITBP and SPF personnel will tell whether one can cross the Sinla pass to reach Bedang. If this is not possible one will have to return. If there is little or no snow, one should set out early in the morning to cross the pass. The route to Sinla pass is under a heavy blanket of snow. One can see the Chhota Kailash peak constantly from there.
Mt. Kailash is formidable. But in that region there are other majestic peaks that can take your breath away. One such mountain is the KINNAUR KAILASH (locally known as ‘Kinner’ Kailash). Located in the scenic Kinnaur district of the Indian state Himachal Pradesh, it boasts of a height of 6050 meters and is considered sacred by both Hindu and Buddhist Kinnauris. This mountain is sometimes confused with the Mount Kailash in Tibet. The KINNAUR KAILASH Range borders the district of Kinnaur in the south and is dominated by the KINNAUR KAILASH (elevation- 6349m) and Jonkarden (elevation- 6473m) peaks. The pass accessible on the trek is the Charang La at an altitude of 5300m..
Gods stay in many places including our hearts. SRIKHAND KAILASH is one such place. A place of pilgrimage for Hindus, SRIKHAND KAILASH is considered to be another abode of Lord Shiva. Its peak is 5155 metres high. So it lures climbers as well as religious devotees. To reach to this place one has to reach Jaon village of Nirmand. The Shrikhand peak is visible from the eastern side of the village. And according to the locals there is site to see a miracle here. There is a Shivalinga here. All round the year the snow falls thick and fast here, but it does not cover the Shivalinga and melts to its bottom.
And moreover SRIKHAND KAILASH is a part of the Great Himalaya National Park where the thick mountain forests and the high altitude meadows are protected and hence can blossom into perfection. The long-established villages along the way are far from the roads and have an equally preserved and pristine way of Himalayan life in the mountains. Here architecture, dress and custom haven’t changed for many generations.
26 kilometres from Bharmour in the Budhil Valley lies the Manimahesh Lake, one of the most important pilgrimage spots in Himachal Pradesh. The lake is located at an altitude of 13,000 feet at the foot of the Kailash peak (18,564 ft). Every year, on the eighth day of the half the moon in the month of ‘Bhadon’, a fair is held at this lake, which attracts thousands of pilgrims who assemble here to take a dip in the holy waters.
Lord Shiva is the presiding deity of this fair / yatra.
He is believed to reside in Mount Kailash. A rock
formation in the shape of a ‘Shivling’ on Kailash
is considered to be the manifestation of Lord Shiva.
The local people call the snowfield at the base of the
mountain Shiva’s Chaugan. According to the popular
belief, the Lord is said to sport here with his consort
Mount Kailash is considered as invincible. No one has so far been able to scale this peak despite the fact that much taller peaks, including Mount Everest have been conquered many times. One story goes that once a ‘Gaddi’ tried to climb the mountain along with his herd of sheep. He is believed to have been turned into stone along with his sheep. Even today, the series of minor peaks below the principal peak are believed to be the remains of the ill-fated shepherd and his flock. There is yet another legend according to which a snake also attempted to climb this peak but failed and was turned into stone. It is also believed that the devotees can have a view of the Kailash peak only if the Lord is pleased. Bad weather, when the peak is hidden behind clouds, is a sign of the Shiva displeasure.
At one corner of the Manimahesh lake is a marble image of Shiva, which is worshipped by the pilgrims who visit this place. After bathing in the holy waters, the pilgrims go around the circumference of the lake three times. The lake and its surroundings present a majestic view. The quiet waters of the lake carry the reflection of snow capped peaks that loom over the valley.
Manimahesh is approachable from different routes. Pilgrims from Lahaul-Spiti come through the Kugti pass. Some from Kangra and Mandi come via Kawarsi or Jalsu passes. The easiest route is from Chamba and runs through Bharmaur. At present, buses ply up to Bharmaur, and jeeps go up to Hadsar. Beyond Hadsar, the pilgrims have to trek for 13 kilometres to reach Manimahesh.
Between Hadsar and Manimahesh is an important
halting place known as Dhanchho where pilgrims
usually spend a night. A beautiful waterfall makes
the stop worthwhile.
About one and half kilometres short of Manimahesh Lake fall two important water bodies called Gauri Kund and Shiva Krotri. As per popular belief Gauri and Shiva bathe in these two lakes respectively. The women pilgrims take holy dip in Gauri Kund and the men pilgrims in Shiva Krotri before proceeding to Manimahesh Lake.