Let’s check out some of the routes to Kailash-Maanasarovar for pilgrims going from India.
As you can see in the picture above….
Route via Nepal: The route is marked in Dark-brown-arrows above…From Kathmandu, cross over to Tibet-China to Nyalam… Go via Saga and Parayang to Manasarovar. Kathmandu to Manasarovar is around 870 Kms…. And takes four days by road. We took this route… If Day-1 you arrive in Kathmandu, you will be back on Day 13…
Route via Lhasa: Route marked in Green till Saga.. From where route is same as above… Total tour will be around 18 days.
And then there is the India route….
This is the route taken by the Indian Government organized tour, via Kumaon region of Uttarakhand.
This year due to the floods in Uttarakhand, the route has been closed down recently… This is said to be a very picturesque route… But takes longer… The tour takes around 24 days from Delhi. And there is lot more trekking to do (Indian side)… But from India border to Kailasa, this is the shortest route… From Navidhang (near the beautiful Om Parvat) to Manasarovar is just little over 120 Kms or so…
It is this route that was taken by Swami Tapovanam (Swami Chinmayananda’s guru) during his return from Maanasa-Kailasa in 1925 (see his book Kailas Yatra)… Swamiji, a Keralite who became a hermit of the Himalaya, has described graphically his whole tour – starting from Kathmandu in April 1925 and reaching Maanasarover and Kailasa in July. Leaving Kailasa in end of July, and walking back to Takkalkot, crossing the Lipu Ghats (Lipulekh pass, which is at 17,500 feet) facing enormous difficulty.,..Reaching Kalapani, considered the starting point of Kali Ganga, tributary of Sarayu…Walking a hundred miles along the banks of Kali river… Reaching a village called Garvyang, where he stayed during Krishna Janmashtami… Then walking on and reaching Dharchula, which is a hundred miles from Almora… Walking on, going past Ram Ganga river…Finally reaching Almora… His walk from Takkalkot to Almora took almost a month… Whole of September he stayed on in Almora… And finally left for the plains and reached Hardwar-Rishikesh in end of October 1925… What an epic Yatra… From April to Oct 1925… A Sadhu with just a kamandulu and a stick, no money or provisions, with one younger Sadhu for company, walking for months, often on the edge of life and death, in total surrender to the care of Lord Siva, basking in the bliss of the beauty of the Himalaya that he had become “One” with…
Here is another map of that route.
As you can see in the map above, there are two routes from Almora to Dharchula. The way up (way to Kailash, marked in red) is via Baijnath… Baijnath one of the very sacred Kshetra-s of Siva. The other route (marked in blue) is via Pithoragarh and Jageshwar. Jageshwar is another ancient temple town which is also believed to be another Jyotirlinga kshetra (for a post on that click here).
Traditional Indian pilgrimage to Kailasa were via these routes. There is an interesting mythological account associated with the Siva temple of Baijnath (Vaidyanath). Ravana, the King of Lanka, a great devotee of Siva, had been to Kailasa. Readers would know of the tale of how Ravana, proud of his strength, tried to uproot Mount Kailasa… Siva pushed Kailasa back down with his toe, and crushing Ravana’s hands.. His pride humbled, Ravana atoned… He sang the praise of Siva, and played the Veena… He then performed severe penance at Kailasa. Pleased, Siva offered him a boon. Ravana asked for an Atma Linga from Siva to take it to Lanka for his personal worship. Lord Siva gave him one, and told him to take care not to keep it on the ground on the way, as the Linga would get fixed to the first spot where it was put down. When Ravana came to Baijnath, he was tricked by the Gods to put it down… And the Linga came to be here forever… So it is that the place has an ancient linkage to Kailasa! And the route too has been around since the most ancient of times!
[btw: there are famous Baijnath temples in Bihar and Himachal Pradesh as well… Both are said to be Jyotirlinga kshetra-s. The Ravana legend is associated with both… The same legend is also associated with this temple in Kumaon (Click this link ). Also, the same tale is associated with the sacred temple town of Gokarna in the western coast of India… Let us say that Ravana made repeated attempts to get the Atma Linga…]
Here is a picture of the Baijnath temple of Kumaon… (Click on picture to see a larger view)
Other than the Kumaon (Almora) route, there is a route from Garhwal region of Uttarakhand as well… From Badrinath… A much tougher route… Said to have been taken by Krishna, Pandavas, and Rama… And by Swami Tapovanam in his second Yatra to Kailasa in 1929…
More on that route, in the next post…
Signing off this post with a verse of the great Tamil Saiva sage, Appar (Thirunavukkarasar)… This is the final verse of his thirukkayilai pathigam in praise of the Lord of Kailasa… (Appar’s journey to Kailasa is a tale of supreme penance… Appar is also believed to be incarnation of Saint Vageesar, who was with Siva in Kailasa… It is he who interceded with Siva to spare Ravana when Siva’s toe pushed Kailasa and crushed Ravana…)…
உண்ணா துறங்கா திருந்தாய் போற்றி
ஓதாதே வேத முணர்ந்தாய் போற்றி
எண்ணா இலங்கைக்கோன் றன்னைப் போற்றி
இறைவிரலால் வைத்துகந்த ஈசா போற்றி
பண்ணா ரிசையின்சொற் கேட்டாய் போற்றி
பண்டேயென் சிந்தை புகுந்தாய் போற்றி
கண்ணா யுலகுக்கு நின்றாய் போற்றி
கயிலை மலையானே போற்றி போற்றி.
Praise be to you (O Siva), who exist without food or sleep;
Praise be to you, who know the Veda without learning them;
Praise be to you, who crushed the King of Lanka when he
with scant respect, attempted to uproot Kailasa;
Praise be to you, who then heard with joy the song of praise reverentially offered (by Ravana);
Praise be to you, who entered into my heart before itself;
Praise be to you, who (eternally) exist as the Protective Eye of the World;
To you, the dweller of Kailasa Mountain, Praise! Praise!
**** To be continued****