Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 6

Here’a picture of the Santoshi Mata shrine at Naga Pokhri…

santoshi-ma

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Returning from the temple, we reached the hotel… To find that the Kailash Tour organizers were having a briefing session for the Yatri-s. I decided to conserve my mind’s energy and gave it a skip. My roommate Shankar went for it and later updated me. Apparently the overall message was:

‘Folks, please do not have any great expectations… Once we cross over to Tibet, the yatra is in China territory and control. We do not have a role to play… The facilities may well not be to your expectations… Sanitation facilities etc will be barely ok.. There is no guarantee regarding Kailasa Parikrama. For the last twenty days, not one batch has managed to do Parikrama. This is because there has been heavy snowfall and the authorities are not allowing Parikrama. So, you folks too may not be able to do it, But if by chance the weather clears and the authorities allow Parikrama, it does not mean that you will  be able to complete it, Weather changes are rapid. You may have to call off the Parikrama at any time. Do get yourself a Poncho raincoat. Your down jackets will not protect you from rain… For the Parikrama you may hire a pony and a porter. Pony, we do not advise. That is because the pony is of use only during uphill climb. Downhill, the pony will not carry you. You have to do that by yourself. Porter is useful. But he will carry a max load of 5 kgs only. So you should pack only a small backpack for the Parikrama, Hey, you will not be needing change of clothes those three days (if the Parikrama is on), You do not need a trekking pole, It is not of much use. As regards stay, we do try and arrange rooms or mud houses. But if there are more groups, then you may be put up in tents. And rooms would have to be shared among yatris, and may be dormitories. Beware of altitude sickness, Start Diamox tablets from Nyalam… You will be going by buses. No Air conditioning. Once you cross over into Tibet, a local bus will take over. All the way to Manasarovar. Bus will have push back seats. So, Net-Net… Please do not have high expectations… As far as the fulfillment of your Yatra and Parikrama are concerned, It is all in the hands of Lord Siva. May you have a great yatra’. 

My friend Siva was livid about the negativity of the message… Be that as it may… We would find later that some of the pointers they gave did not  tally with our experience… But as of now, we yatri-s were a chastened lot…

Dinner was good… For the next day, the tour organizers had arranged some temple visits in Kathmandu…

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Day 2: After breakfast, we got into vans and started off for the first stop… Pashupatinath temple… Through dusty roads we went, and taking some narrow lanes, some forty five minutes later, the van dropped us somewhere near the temple….

Getting down, we had our first darshan of the temple…

first-sight

In the distance, on your left, notice a golden turret… That is the temple… The road in the picture leads one there…

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On the left of the road, a little structure with a Ganesa icon on the side… Auspicious beginning…

ganpathi

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On the pavement leading to the temple, fortunes are being foretold…

IMG_3076 (2)

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As one walks down, one comes across a huge bull ambling down from the opposite direction… A good sign… Pashu from Pashupatinath…. Nandi to welcome us…

IMG_3078 (2)

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When we arrive at the temple premises, we keep our footwear at the designated stall… We see signs saying that one is not allowed to carry camera or wear a belt of other leather items inside the temple. Nor carry a cell phone… These are to be deposited in the safekeeping stall outside the temple…  A young boy does a good sales job and offers to be a guide for Rs 250 (Nepali).. We say ok…

We arrive at the main gate of the temple…

DSC_0797

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Inside the door, you can see the back of a gold plated Nandi….

On the right side of the door one sees Ganesha with the Moon above. And on the left, one sees Kumara (Karthikeya) with Sun above…

Picture below

ganesha-kumara

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As can be seen, the icon of Karthikeya is quite unique. His lower left hand holds a kalasha (presumably with Amruta).. One saw a similar icon of Kumara yesterday when one ducked into a Government building for shelter when it rained… Here’s a picture of that one,

karthikeya2

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It is interesting to see Karthikeya as a prominent deity in Nepal… In Uttarakhand Himalaya too, Karthikeya has been a prominent God… In fact, the Baijnath temple town of Kumaon was originally known as Karthikeyapura during 7th to 11th century AD…. Karthikeya of course has been a core deity in Tamil lands since Sangam period (centuries BC)…

Coming back to the entrance of Pasupathinath temple. Here’a close-up of the design on top of the door, below the temple banner

closeup

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We walked into the temple… Our young guide took us past the Nandi and to the left to a smaller shrine… There on the shrine wall he pointed out a carving of Ganesa and of Nataraja.. And told us that, as per tradition, one should first have darshan of these deities before darshan of Pashupathinath…. One circumambulated the shrine and then walked up to the magnificent central sanctum of the Lord of all Beings – Pashupathinath….

As we step towards the sanctum, our guide tells us that we would be allowed to have quick darshan. That the attendants would keep all the devotees moving… So a darshan of a minute or two at max was what one was hoping  for…. We walk up the steps, and have our first darshan of the Lord. Absolutely awe inspiring! The sanctum sanctorum has large openings on four sides… And the Siva Linga in the sanctum has four faces on four sides and one on top that is not visible..The face facing east is known as Tatpurusha and the one facing south as Aghora, and the ones looking west and north are known by the name Sadhyojata and Vamadeva respectively.  The fifth is known as Ishana.  Four priests, all dressed in red, are in attendance. Each offering worship to one face of the idol… Devotees are crowding around all four entrances for darshan… As we gaze at the Lord, one spontaneously started chanting Sri Rudram…. By His grace, Shankar and I could chant the whole Rudram… There was a Nepali priest sitting there who joins us in the chanting… The priests in the sanctum commenced Abhisheka… We stand there and see the whole ritual while we chant. We end up being there and having darshan for over half an hour, perhaps closer to an hour… Only when the final aarthi is offered, and the sanctum doors are being closed, do we have to move… This is total joy….

As one moves out, the Nepali priest who chanted Rudram beckons.. He conveys his joy and says that he chants Rudri everyday… We exchange traditional abhivadana, which is said in Sanskrit. He is from Atreya Gotra… Here we are, the two of us… I from Tamil land. And he from Nepal… Both very happy to have shared this most wonderful experience of the Grace of Pashupatinath….

As one walks down the steps of the sanctum, one feels so blessed. One feels now in the depths of one’s heart that our Kailasa Yatra has the full blessings of Pashupatinath!

One looks around for the young guide. He is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he went away to get some other fare. A fare that would not take so much time for darshan! Perhaps one will see him outside….

Signing off this post with the first verse of Pashupati-Ashtakam…

पशुपतीन्दुपतिं धरणीपतिं भुजगलोकपतिं च सती पतिम् ||
गणत भक्तजनार्ति हरं परं भजत रे मनुजा गिरिजापतिम् ||
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Worship Pashupati, the Lord of the moon, the Lord of the world, the lord of the world of serpents, the Lord of Sati, the one who destroys the distress of his multitudes of devotees….  O Man!  Worship that Supreme Lord, the Lord of the daughter of the Mountain!  

 

Jai Pashupathinath!

**** To be continued ****

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6 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 6”

  1. highiqmoron Says:

    Fantastic! Do you have a picture of the five faced Linga by any chance? Must be unique!

  2. Raji Baradwaj Says:

    Superb. Thank you very much for this travelog,

  3. ravi anna Says:

    very nice and informative
    ravi anna

  4. Krishnan Mrk Says:

    Kamesh, this travelogue proves more and more true that the journey is more exciting than the destination. Some years ago I spent a few months in a place called julaghat on the kali ganga river that separates India from Nepal. This place was on route to dharchula, taklakot and ultimately to lipu lake pass into Tibet.

    I was involved with a project for a mini Hydel power house on the river. Now I wish I had made the journey then to kailash. But that’s destiny’s design

  5. sivakamasundari Says:

    I went on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra in the first (and only) batch in June 2013. With God’s grace our batch completed Kailash Parikrama and took dip in Mansarovar Lake. I am looking forward to your write up on the Parikrama. Om NamaShivayah!

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