Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kailash Manasarovar Yatra via Lipulekh Pass (PART 10)

August 4, 2016 (Day 14) - Rest day at Taklakot

I woke up early in the morning all weary and tired from loose motions since the previous night. I was devoid of energy and medicines were more or less not working. In none of my treks, had I been this sick. I looked at the beautiful morning and found strength in sunshine. After having covered so many miles from Dharchula, I wasn't going to give up at this stage. I had barely eaten anything apart from bananas and ORS. Being a doctor myself, I was able to judge my condition, but despite that the fighter in me did not want to give up. A lot of fellow Yatris also came forward to motivate me. I was crying in a corner thinking about my father and asking him to give me courage to complete the yatra on foot, which would be a homage to him. Perhaps it was destined for me to go through this suffering as part of a cleansing process before proceeding further towards the sacred land of Kailash. I called my husband and my mother who all encouraged and prayed for me. My situation did not improve the entire day, however, by night time my loose motions were contained and I felt better.

First view of South face of Mount Kailash from Darchen after clouds cleared

Hotel at Darchen


Streets of Darchen



Moment at Rakshastaal




Beautiful landscape

As we waited for darshan of Mount Kailash



You need to pay China Visa fees on this day, which was USD $901 for us. Different committees like food, luggage, medical, bhajan were formed. I obviously was in the medical committee. Little did I know, I would be treating case of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) and HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) in coming days of Kailash Parikrama.

Everyone suggested that I take a pony for my Kailash parikrama but I was adamant to go on foot, so I refused. I slept with a prayer on my lips and harnessing my inner Chi in order to complete my Kailash parikrama on foot.

Tips:
  • Do not drink the local water and buy Bottled water instead. I had loose motions after drinking the local water. 
  • Keep your torch and headlamp handy.
  • Carry light baggage because after crossing Lipulekh pass, you need to carry your luggage until you board the bus to Taklakot.
  • Always keep your medicine bag with you preferably on pony of liaison officer. 
  • As China time is 2.30 hrs ahead of IST, you may want to adjust your watch.
  • Drink adequate water and do not take AMS lightly.
  • There is patchy WiFi available at Taklakot, so you may call your friends and family using WhatsApp or other services. 
August 5, 2016 (Day 15) - Taklakot to Darchen via Rakshastaal and Lake Manasarovar

Got up at 5am in the morning and thankfully had no loose motions at night. I awoke feeling weak and exhausted as we were already at the altitude of around 13500 ft. Had 2 bananas for breakfast and someone came and put bhasm (holy ash) on my forehead. At that moment, I knew that divine masters were with me and I would be able to complete my Kailash parikrama on foot. We all sang the Om Managalam bhajan and left in bus at 10.30 am CST (China time) and reached Darchen at 1.30 pm. In bus, I was all exhausted and had little energy to even take out my camera. Darchen is at the altitude of around 15000 ft. It started to rain midway and upon reaching Darchen it felt as if rain gods would never leave us. The landscape was breathtakingly beautiful, dry, barren and enthralling. The cloud patterns, azure blue sky, wild horses and expansive landscapes. At that point, you really wish that time would stand still so you could continue gazing. Enrote I saw Rakshastaal and I was spellbound. It was huge and had little islands in between in hue of vibrant blue. We stopped here for 20 mins. It was bright and sunny as we roamed around.
First View of Rakshastaal from Bus



Rakshastaal means "lake of the demon". It is also known as Ravana Tal, as it is considered to be the place of severe penance by Ravana. In Buddhism, Lake Manasarovar, which is round like the sun, and Rakshastal, shaped as a crescent, are respectively regarded as "brightness" and "darkness". There are four islands in Rakshastal, named Topserma (Dose), Dola (the two biggest), Lachato (Nadzhado), and Dosharba. The islands are used by local people as winter pastures for their yaks. Rakshastaal covers a total area of 250 square kilometres (97 sq mi), at an altitude of 4,575 metres (15,010 ft).
Rakshastaal


Our next stop was Lake Manasarovar. My first glance at Manasarovar transported me to another world and all my illness vanished after washing my face with the holy water. Suddenly the weather deteriorated and our buses took us back to Darchen. We would later spend 2 nights on banks of Mansarovar at Qugu after completing our Kailash parikrama. Finally, we reached Darchen and my room mate was Vaijyanti Aunty. The south face of Mount Kailash is visible from Darchen, but due to cloudy conditions, we couldn't have that glimpse upon reaching. Soon clouds gave way to clear skies and we had our first darshan of the south face of Mount Kailash. That moment can not be described in words, but only experienced.
First view of Lake Mansarovar

Later in the day, there were arguments and more arguments between guides, yatris and our liaison officer. Our guide was extremely rude and he was forcing that the kitchen staff be taken as porters for the parikrama. All your luggage stays at Darchen until parikrama is finished and you are only allowed to take luggage up to 6 kgs with you. Porters would refuse to carry any excess baggage. Hence, I had to leave my tripod behind at Darchen. We had to pay our guide to pay our porters. Since my bag exceeded 6 kgs, I carried camera and some other supplies with myself and gave some rest to my  porter. Tomorrow, our Kailash Parikrama would start and I hope my preparation and determination would carry me forward and help me complete it. 

Tips:
  • Never take kitchen staff as your porter even if they speak Hindi because they will abandon you mid-way and move on to reach the campsite towards end to cook food, which would leave you without your luggage and supplies towards the end.
  • Most of the porters assigned are Tibetan who speak neither Hindi or English, so most of the communication is done in sign language. Make sure your luggage does not exceed 6-7 kgs at the most and tell them to walk with you.
  • Take plastic bottles to carry Manasarovar jal and take M-Seal and tape/adhesive with you to secure the bottle cap.
  • Female porters are more kind and considerate and would walk along with you.Dont forget to tip your porters adequately as they help you in such adverse conditions.
  • For your parikrama lasting 3 days, do not forget to carry energy bars, medicines, warm clothes, rain gear in your day pack.
Next part of blog will be about Kailash Parikrama.

IMPORTANT ADVICE: We should be blessed that we are chosen for this yatra and it is our responsibility to not litter and keep Devbhoomi clean. Carry your plastic wraps that you use with you and dispose them later. Try to clean the trail. Tell your porter not to litter. Gutka and chips packets lie everywhere. Particularly distressing was to see shores of Manasarovar littered with used underwear packets, ghee packets, used sanitary napkins etc. It was distressing and abominable. A place, which is so pious to us must be respected by all of us and deserves a conscious effort by all yatris to lead a cleaning drive as and when possible. Don't forget to do your bit, even if others are not doing it. 

To be continued..
Click here to read previous part of Yatra

5 comments:

  1. Thank you Dr. Varunaji for going through in every detail. For sure You are a blessed soul with great faith in HIM and in your beloved Dad.
    Om Namah Shivay

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  2. Eagerly waiting for the next piece.... when is it coming out?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Varuna Ma'm,

    We've applied for this year thru' Lipulekh. Can you please clarify on these micro things, which will help us in preparing for the trip.

    1. You had mentioned that you could not bath for 4 days. How many set of dresses would we need to take for the trip, considering the possibility of drenching in rain.

    2. You had mentioned that for Parikrama it is 6 Kg. Otherwise, totally how many Kgs we can take?

    3. You also had mentioned that it is advisable to take bottled water. Do we get bottled water enroute or we need to carry a lot from the last place we get, especially when we are supposed to take more water at high altitudes. How this was handled?

    4. You had also mentioned that you had diarhhoea and with that travelled for a day. In such emergencies, are there places enroute where we can attend to the nature's call (and water availability) or we need to have diapers etc.,?

    5. Is travelling by Pony/horse better compared to walk? We had pony trip to Vaishnodevi a few years back, when we felt that it was very painful in the groin area. Do you have any feedback from people using pony/horse? What's your advice about engaging pony/horse - whether required for both up and down? We are 50 years old male - with decent health.

    6. You were seen with walking Stick. Where we need to buy this?

    7. We are from Chennai. Can we get rice and curd in lunch/dinner? If not, as we need curd atleast, do we need to buy it at Delhi itself or we can get it any other point enroute?

    8. What type of warm clothes (and how many) will be required?

    9. Whether the Woodlands trekking shoes / or any Reebok walking shoes fine?

    10. For preparation of physique, I have been walking for 50-60 mins daily. Is that enough or we need to do something more. Of course do some yoga and pranayama. Is cycling must?

    Kindly answer. We also eagerly await your Day 16 and further days travelogues. Thanks in advance.

    -Raj

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