Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 9

Welcome to Tibet… Earlier known as Ti-both and Tu-both… Wherefore perhaps the name Bhota or Botia, which is how Tibet / Tibetans are referred to in Nepal and India…

We are on the way to Nyalam, having crossed over from Nepal to Tibet, across the Bhote Koshi river, into Zhangmu town… And we have taken a short break at a spot near a water falls, which was the last photograph in part-8…

Here is that falls, live, as it thunders down to meet Bhota Koshi…. A short video…

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The road up the Tibetan mountain is nice and smooth… Every five or ten kilometers we are stopped at some checkpoint, and papers are checked. Security, I dare say, is thorough… We have to go some 35 kms from the border to Nyalam… And in that path we shall go up by almost 5000 feet. Steep rise, eh…. Nyalam, a town that was nicknamed  by Nepalese as “The Gate to Hell” because of the treacherous trail between Nepal and Nyalam…

The roads are fine now. Wonderful… Almost feels like one is in some Alpine trail. The small urban towns on the way look neat, there is complete silence… Chinese law and order personnel are in perfect uniforms and such… Almost looks like German efficiency at work here… At one point on the way the road narrows down inside a little town.. Our mini-bus has to stop on one side to let vehicles drive down from the opposite side. This is a long wait. Looks like they regulate the traffic, one way or  the other, for periods of time.

Time being in our hands, and the bus having stopped near some shops, the Yatri-s decide to stretch their limbs and browse the shops,.. Buy something may be.. The usual stuff… Garments, trekking stuff etc… One look at the shop keepers and one knows that one is not all that welcome… Doesn’t like Indian shoppers! “Hey, this is not India, ok?” he snarls… Ho hum…

The wait is for almost an hour. And then the way is opened in our direction… And we move…

We reach Nyalam around 5 pm or so… And now we are at 12,300 feet. The agenda is to stay here for two days, to begin acclimatization to high altitude… Our mini-bus stops at a hotel..

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It is cold…

The hotel front office lady, directs us to go to the second floor, and we go there, hoping to get some rooms, and some hot water, and some decent wash rooms… We are denied these on all counts…

Apparently the place is overbooked… And so our group of 43 will be put up in this hall… On floor beds..

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Nice isn’t it? All of us, ladies and gentlemen, shall bed in this dorm… Lord Siva has switched on the Titiksha tutorial all right…

The mini-bus that we came in ferried only a dozen or so of us. The other thirty or so Yatri-s, plus the cooks, sherpa-s, other tour organizer staff are coming by a bigger bus. And that bus seems to be taking time arriving at Nyalam…  The bus has our duffel bags too… We wait… And try and organize some blankets…  The dorm…

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Evening 7 pm, and still there is no sign of the other bus…

The washroom leaves much to desire in terms of hygiene. Also, there is no place where we can have a bath.. No hot water is available.. It is cold…

And then one notices that in the adjoining corridor, there are some saffron clad people… I go there to find that prayer in Sanskrit is beginning to be chanted… A Sanyasi pontiff and a group of devotees are busy commencing evening worship… We realize that the pontiff is a Shankaracharya… Oh Lord Siva is at work all right! We hear the chant of Rudram, and join in the chanting…

Around 8-30 pm or so, the other bus rolls in… Apparently, the bus had been held up in traffic at many places…

Jagadguru Shankaracharya most graciously offers Satsangh to our group of Yatri-s… Around 9 pm or so, he comes to our dorm…

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He is Jagadguru Shankaracharya Srimad Raghaveshwara Bharati Swamiji of Ramachandrapura Mutt in Karnataka. He and a group of devotees are on Kailasa Yatra as well. They have arrived here the previous day, and shall be proceeding tomorrow from here. We shall be going a day later… His Holiness, the Acharya, is well known for his great work in protection of cows of native Indian breeds. The Mutt has a hoary tradition of worship of Rama, and the Acharya is renowned for his Ramayana discourses. It is our great blessing that we are in his presence today…

Our group has settled down in the dorm, and the Acharya sits among’st us speaking in soft tones..

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From one his associates, we come to know that Jagadguru and his group had visited Milarepa’s cave that day, which is quite near Nyalam. Milarepa, who lived in 12th century AD, was one of the greatest sages that the world has seen… Ramana Maharshi has mentioned him too … Milarepa as a young man went to Guru Marpa, after having spent his earlier life involved with sorcery.. His Guru first put him through years of back breaking labor… And finally, when he saw the pupil was ready, he initiated him into spiritual practice and asked him to meditate in this cave, near Nyalam. Milarepa was sealed off into this cave, and his Master would provide food as needed… Here stayed Milarepa for a whole year, meditating with an oil lamp placed on his head, so that he may remain perfectly still.. And at the end of that year, when the Master opened the cave and asked him about his spiritual realizations, Milarepa burst out with most sublime proclamations about Self-Knowledge… What a transformation! Incidentally, his Guru, Marpa, had earlier made three trips to India to gather spiritual knowledge and treatises. These he translated into Tibetan. Marpa’s Guru was the great India sage Naropa… The spiritual bond of Tibet with India has been there for more than a thousand years now… And that tradition is still alive in Tibet… Whereas in India, it is in much neglect… Sigh….

The Acharya’s associate tells me that they had a most joyous visit to that cave, and that the Acharya had spoken so highly of Milarepa…

Coming to our Yatra… Milarepa is closely associated with Mount Kailasa… He stayed there for years, wearing just a one-piece cotton cloth… Quite like Ramana Maharshi,….

After the Satsangh, I go to him to seek his blessings for our Yatra. And he blesses us with success in our Kailasa Yatra and Parikrama. We still do not know if the Kailasa Parikrama has been reopened…But His blessings should carry us through,

Dinner is late… The bus having arrived late, the cooking is late too… The tour organizers of the Acharya’s troupe offer us food, which we gratefully accept… Someone tells me that the head of that tour organization, who we met, has done 96 parikrama-s of Kailasa… And that he had visited Kailasa this year on Sivaratri night as well… That would have been in March…  Must have been extreme cold…

Night falls…

Folks are settling into whatever bed they can find.. Some don’t have blankets… There is much hooh-ha and confusion.. Slowly, the snores begin..

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The Yatri-s sleep with all warm layers on… Even then, the cold is quite stinging… Past midnight I wake up with a severe headache… The whole head, front to back, is throbbing… Altitude sickness at work,., I have been taking some homeopathy tablets for Altitude Sickness… And avoided having Diamox tablets, which are standard prescription for all Kailasa Yatri-s… Some of the co-yatris have been having Diamox for two weeks before travel.,.. Twice a day… And now, I pop one diamox…. And a paracetamol… And go back to sleep…

Morning sees a rush for the wash room…. Less said the better… But my headache is gone.. Nama Sivaya!

And folks come back to lounge on the floor beds… Many dash back under the covers….

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Some tea or horlicks is available… And then some breakfast…

And then around 8 am or so one hears the morning worship begin, in the section where Acharya is staying… We go there to find Acharya commencing Chandramouleeshwara puja.

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Here is a another picture…

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I like the lamps… With the wicks inside, there is no scope for the oil to drip outside.. Nice..

As the worship commences, the devotees start chanting Rudram / Chamakam and other suktams,… Shankar and I and some others join in.. What a blessing… To be chanting Rudram, while Shankaracharya is doing Chandramouleeshwara puja…. That too during Kailasa Maanasarovara Yatra… And that too at a remote place in Tibet where one would not have dreamed of having Satsangha of a Pontiff of a Shankaracharya Mutt. Every day since we began the Yatra, there has been a special occasion for chanting Rudram…Surely, all this is Siva’s blessings…

Here is another picture of the Acharya offering worship…

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As we see him clad in robes that do not offer any cover from the intense cold, one is in awe…

To realize how cold it is, here is a picture of a co-yatri, taken at that time…

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Time around 10 am… Date, who knows.. Ah yes, by this time, one is in a timeless zone… Who knows the time… Who can keep track of the date… We are in a flow… Time and space, we have let go…

We now have to step out for an important program… The test climb…. Test your stamina… Test your acclimatization…

On your marks… Get Set… Go….Hup two three four… Hup two three four…Brrr…..

** To be continued **

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5 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 9”

  1. Siva Says:

    You have the touch of a travel writer in a weekly; lucid narration, heavy weight information, light titbits, subtle storyline, intresting pictures. Good on you Kamesh.

  2. ravi anna Says:

    as usual wonderful and informative. Shankaracharya demonstrates his yogic power through worship which keeps him warm during pooja rituals, inspite of intense cold.

    this proves the benefits of poojas and rituals we have , and its medical benefits.

  3. Nithya Says:

    Lovely read Kamesh,

  4. Jayakumar Says:

    Wnderful Kamesh..we seem to be travelling with you and staying in the cold dorm sans hygienic facilities…what an overwhelming feeling to join the Shankaracharya and his devotees in Rudram and Poojas! Keep going and sharing.

  5. Dasarathy Says:

    Enjoyed the adventure and the surprises – life seems so much more eventful if we are really aware. Lovely ! (to use your expression)

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