Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 18

Nightfall… Maanas…30/June/2013…




Around 1-30 am…It is an Ashtami night… Ashtami going on to Navami… Month of Ashada…  Soota steps out of the transit house for nature’s call.. He gazes at Maanas, to try to pick any unnatural sightings… He sees none… Dogs are up and are letting out an orchestra of barks… He gets  back in…. Later, around 2:30 am or so, co-yatri-s, Sanjeev and Dasan, step out… There is a Swamiji and his group of disciples who are also staying in the transit house. They too are setting out at that time. Sanjeev and Dasan join them.. The group goes to the banks of Maanas… And they see lights in the sky… On the other side of Maanas… They tell us about that the next morning….

Dawn at Maanas…


316 First rays of Sun on Manas from Zu Gompa

(Pic courtesy Narayan Iyer, from an earlier trip)…


Morning sees us figuring out how to freshen ourselves…. There are plastic drums with ice cold water outside. Some broken plastic bottles to serve as mugs… Folks manage…. Soota has brought darbha, koorcha, sesame and other items needed for performing tarpanam – libations for forefathers. Shankar too is keen on offering tarpanam.. They set out to Maanas… Its biting cold… Winds make the cold icier…. The two yatri-s walk to Maanas… They fill water in a bottle… Sprinkle a bath… And picking up a few stones… Soota sits down for Tarpanam… One has to do it bare-bodied, as the Yajnopaveeta has to shift often from shoulder to shoulder… With a jacket as cover from time to time, the Tarapanam is done.. Brahma Yajnam is done thereafter. Then Shankar is ready for his… He  has not got pavitram (darbha grass ring needed for taking Samkalpa)…. Soota picks up some grass reeds from the shore and makes a makeshift pavitram.. And then he acts as Purohita and guides Shankar through his offering of libations to his ancestors… It is so satisfying… Perhaps these two are the first in their lineage to have had the blessing of coming to Maanas. And to have the blessing of offering Tarpana to forefathers here… What more can one pray for….

Sven Hedin, the Swedish explorer who came to Manasarovar, writes in his book Trans-Himalaya, about a section from Manasa-Khanda of Skanda Purana… The sage Dattatreya describing the duties of a pilgrim at Manasarovar, says: “He should bathe there and pour a libation of water to the shades of his forefathers and worship Mahadeva (Siva) in the form of a royal swan. He should there make parikrama, or the circuit of the holy Manasa lake, gaze at Kailas, and bathe in all the neighbouring rivers.”

We have bathed in Manas. Offered libations to the forefathers…Now to offer worship to Mahadeva…

A hundred yards away from us, a south Indian family is sitting down for Shiva Puja. They are south Indian by origin, but hail now from different parts of the world. They have come together to make this holy trip to Maanas-Kailasa. They send word to us, inviting us to join them in the Shiva Puja, which is being done by the head of the family… He has brought the idols of his holy worship with him, and has brought also, all the articles needed for a proper Shiva puja…




Shankar and Soota join the puja and are blessed to chant Sri Rudram and Chamakam during the Abhisheka of Shiva…. The plate of worship holds several idols.. There is a sphatika (crystal) Shiva Linga. Then there is  a metal Shiva Linga and Nandi. There is a sphatika Meru, which symbolizes Goddess Parvati and Mt Kailasha as well.. There is a silver Hanuman… There is a metal Ganesha… Beautiful archa-vigraha-s…. We come to know that the family offers Puja with eleven times chanting of Rudram, every Pradosham (Thirteenth day of each lunar fortnight, which is sacred for worship of Shiva)…

Here are  a few pictures taken during the puja. Click the first picture, and use arrow keys to browse….



Many of the pilgrims are out now… And are offering prayers… Our co-yatri, Dasan, has brought the Holy Guru Paduka-s of Kanchi Paramacharya… His full name is Kamakshidasan – one who is in the service of Goddess Kamakshi… And he is offering prayers…


It is a fine morning…. Shankar goes gets the Salagrama stone idols that we had been given by the priest at Nagapokhri temple in Kathmandu… I too bring mine and also the little idol of my house-worship kula-deiva… We wash the idols in the waters of Manasarovar….

This is Shankar… And he is bathing the salagrama idols, holding a leaf of holy Bilwa that he has brought from India…



And this is Soota… Bathing the idols with a leaf of the Holy Maha-Bilwa from his home in Chennai… The Maha-Bilwa is a special type of Bilwa… This has eleven or thirteen leaflets to every leaf….


The salagrama that he holds in his hand, has now found its way to the holy sanctum of Sri Parthasarathi temple in Chennai.. That is another story….

The bathing done, one offers the Maha-bilwa leaf to Goddess Saro Devi….


Some of the co-yatri-s have taken the opportunity to visit the Spa nearby the Chiu Gompa… There are hot water springs there, and the spa offers a wonderful alternative to the ice cold waters of Maanasarovar… And one understands that it is not that expensive either… It is from somewhere here that the river Sutlej originates…

One of our co-yatri-s is a mystic healer… He has an inner revelation that the Manasarovar is the source of all fresh river waters of the world…. Maanas-Kailasa region sure is the source of some of the major rivers that feed the Indian sub-continent…. It is the source of four of the greatest rivers of Asia – namely – Brahmaputra, Karnali, Sutlej and Indus… Karnali becomes Ghaghra downstream and then joins Sarayu, which then goes and joins the river Ganga…. The belief of some that Ganga originates in Manasarovar has some real basis in the fact that Karnali -> Ghaghara -> Sarayu joins Ganga… And Ghaghara brings more water from the Himalaya than does Ganga…

In Valmiki Ramayana, when young princes Rama and Lakshmana, are  going with Rshi Vishwamitra, traveling in a boat in River Ganga, they hear a tremendous din of waters downstream. Rama questions Vishwamitra about the noise… The sage tells him:

कैलासपर्वते राम मनसा निर्मितं सर:।
ब्रह्मणा नरशार्दूल तेनेदं मानसं सर:।।1.24.8।
तस्मात्सुस्राव सरसस्सायोध्यामुपगूहते ।
सर प्रवृत्ता सरयू: पुण्या ब्रह्मसरश्च्युता।।1.24.9।।
तस्यायमतुलश्शब्दो जाह्नवीमभिवर्तते।
वारिसङ्क्षोभजो राम प्रणामं नियत:कुरु।।1.24.10।।

Vishwamitra says : “In Kailasa, O Rama, there is a lake created by Brahma by an act of mind, known as Manasarovar. From that Saras, comes the holy river Sarayu, which comes from there and hugs Ayodhya. This river goes beyond and joins the Jaahnavi, the great river Ganga. The tremendous noise that you hear is caused by the tumult of the waters as they crash into each other. Make your obeisance of Rama, with a collected mind.”

Let us offer our obeisance to the Holy Manasarovar, whose waters are the holy Katha of Ramacharita, from where flows the waters of the river that goes to Ayodhya, the land of Rama, and which then goes on to join the mighty Ganga! How can words describe the glory of this holiest of lakes!

Let us then offer a tribute through a stream of photographs…

We begin by joining the joy of some birds in the lake…

Here are some chicks of Brahminy ducks…. Chakravaka birds…

DSC_0101 cropped 2
Chakravaka birds are celebrated in Indian mythology. The birds move in pairs during day time, and are said to stay separate during the night. During the day they are inseparable. In night, the suffer the pangs of separation and yearn for sunrise, so they can join the mate again. Thus they epitomize both aspects of Bhakti – Sambhoga and Viraha…. In Ramacharitamanasa, when Hanuman discovers Sita in Ashoka Vana in Lanka, he compares her plight with that of a Chakravaka, suffering intensely, the separation from her mate…
Next.. Some grey necked gulls…


And out in waters here, a Great Crested Grebe has carefully crafted a nest, and is ensconced on it….



Let us see a little gallery story of these birds… Click on the first picture and browse…It is  a story of ‘Creation’….


When we step away from the nest, the Grebe comes back to the nest and resumes her penance of creation…..

Today, the day of this post, is Nov-17-2013.. It is the day of Karthigai Deepam… It is Guruparb, the most Holy day of Advent of Guru Nanak Dev. It is a day of festivity… In Arunachala, a million pilgrims would have gathered to see the Deepam, the beacon light, that will be lit on top of Mt Arunachala… And they will do parikrama (walk around) the holy Arunachala hill tonight, a full moon night… Haro Hara! Bole So Nihal! Greetings on this very special day to all readers… Signing off this post with a Karthikai Deepam and Guruparb gift…. A photo stream of Maanasarovar… A set taken by Narayan Iyer, Shankar, Siva, and Soota…

Click on the a picture.. Use arrow keys to browse the gallery… Lose yourself in the moods of Maanas…



Signing off this post with one more picture… Photo taken by Narayan Iyer during his trip… Of Mount Kailasa peak, as seen from Chiu Gompa, just after sunrise….

324 Sunrise on Kailash from Zu Gompa


Next stop… Base camp of Kailasa…

Om Nama Sivaya!

**** To be continued ****


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5 Responses to “Maanasa Kailasa Yatra – 18”

  1. Thiru Says:

    Got a feeling of being in Manas. Such vivid description GK. Wonderful. Keep it coming

  2. krishni457s.krishnasamy Says:

    just felt that my family sons & daughters & I were there.

  3. highiqmoron Says:

    Great narration! Mesmerizing pictures! I am dumbfounded by the devotion shown by you and my namesake in performing tarpanam, bare-chested, in sub-zero conditions! Your forefathers are really blessed!

    • gkamesh Says:

      Hi Him!

      For one thing, the temperature was not sub-zero… Else Maanas would have been frozen….

      But it was cold and windy…

      And secondly: My visit to maanas is because of blessings of my forefathers… My prostrations to them!

  4. PVas Says:

    Enjoy your travelogues very much – transports me to these far-away places. PVas

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