We just crossed Friday the 13th, June of 2014. It was a full moon night. That was the date of Saga Dawa or the Tibetan day of Vesak, ‘Vesak’ – or the holy day of the triple events of Buddha – his birth, enlightenment, and release (Nirvana)… It was the day of flag raising in Mt Kailash western valley. The symbolic inauguration of the kora of Kailasha in 2014. For more about Saga Dawa, Click here to read an earlier blog post…
But we are still in our blog journey of the kora of 2013… And we have just crossed Dolma La and Gauri Kund… Time has flown….
Talking of flying, Salim Ali, the renowned ornithologist did a research study of bird life in Maanasa Kailasa region. He did the kora trek too, and says he encountered a couple of pigeons on the very summit of Dolma La, which he says were “attracted there by the grain sprinkled according to custom by pious jatris in thanksgiving for the culmination of the arduous climb.”
Here is a picture of “Blue Tara” or Dolma Devi in her blue form, known in Hindu tantric tradition as Nila Saraswati. Wearing a tiger skin, a necklace of skulls, standing on the body of Shiva… ( Click here for source of this picture, in a wonderful blog about Dolma Devi )
Praying to Dolma Devi, let us continue our journey down the mountain from Dolma La pass.
As we make our way down the mountain, let us pause and take in a few visuals… Photographs taken by Shankar – all but one….
Click on any picture and browse.
Crossing granite boulders of all sizes, one comes down the steep slopes for about two and a half miles, down some 1500 feet or so, and reaches a point where there is a huge rock which has a foot print of Buddha (known as Shapje).
Here is a magnificent photograph of the Shapje and the valley around, taken from the Net ( Click here for source) . Notice the nomads’ tents on the left, which gives us a perspective of how huge the shapje rock is.
Somewhere near here, one had one’s first food stop. A nomad’s tent, eatery. Sanjiv, Bengali Babu and I were together. We entered the tent and took our place on some benches inside. For our Tibetan horsemen guides, the food was heavenly and they dug into bowls of this and that. Soota checked out his little food packet, which had been given by the tour organizers. There was a small packet of biscuits and a fruit. Soota, fresh from the upchucking of the morning, was suspicious of his ability to digest any local food. He was not sure of the biscuits either, in terms of content, and avoided that. The fruit was delicious. Perhaps he could have tried some Tibetan tea, which is made from boiling tea with salt, butter and some form of soda. But not being adventurous in terms of food, the thought did not even occur to him.
After three quarters of an hour or so, the party is ready to move.
Soon, one comes to the bank of Lham-chukkir river.
By now, one feels a huge sense of relief, although a large past of the distance to be covered still lies ahead. Yet, one is down from the cemetery-peace-embrace of Dolma La, and has one’s feet now on gradual slopes having green marsh lands.
Here is Soota, life running through his veins again!
Researching the Net, one understands that descending further through marshy slopes, some half an hour or so before the end of the descent, one comes across a region where Khando Sanglam chu ( river) comes down. This comes from the valley of same name, which falls in the path of the inner kora. Those who traverse the inner kora would rejoin the main trail here (presumably). From here one can have a view of the eastern peak of Mount Kailash. Otherwise, you do not get a glimpse of Kailasa from anywhere else during the second day or third day of Kora.
When we did it, the peak was completely cloud covered. So no darshan. But in this blog journey, let us have a glimpse from the lenses of other travelers. Click on this magnificent photograph from the Net. The Eastern face of Kailasa peak ( Source ).
Descending further, one comes to the confluence of Lham Chu river and Topcchen chu river which comes from the direction of the region of the source of the mighty river Indus.
From hereon, the combined river is known as Zhong Chu.
This eastern valley itself is variously referred to as Lham Chu valley or Zhong Chu valley. Lama Govinda refers to this valley as “friendly valley of the eastern Dhyani-Buddha, Aksobhya” that “welcomes the pilgrim with lovely green camping-grounds and silvery streams of crystal-clear water.”
Here is a short video clip from that day, that welcoming place of Dhyani Buddha…. See the valley, listen to the winds, feel the flow of the river…
Now begins a long trek to the next camp at Zutul puk. One did it mostly on horse back. And may it be mentioned once again that riding on a horse back is not the most comfortable of poses. Except for the fact that Soota was bone tired, he would rather have walked more of this last course than he did. But the trail by the mountain side was gradual and nice,
Some pictures… Click and browse
Sometime around 5 pm, some 11 hours or so since the start of the second day’s trek in the morning, Soota reached his destination for the day. The rest house attached to the monastery of Zutul-puk.
He staggered into a room, and collapsed into a bunker bed, waiting for his co-yatri-s to join. Except for the solitary fruit that he had had during the lunch break, and some munches of dry fruits along the way, Soota had had nothing to eat since the morning. An hour or so later, Shankar walked in, along with his son Dasharath. Somewhere along the way had gotten a message on his mobile phone from his better half who had been forced to return to Darchen… And he also got another message for Siva. There was a personal emergency that needed him back straightaway.
And around 7 pm or so, Siva staggered in. He was in a daze, having fallen off his horse many a time, and had walked the entire distance after the descent… He did not know that his ribs were broken. Even as he came in, and took a few breaths, we had to break the news of his personal emergency to him. This meant that he had to leave for Darchen and thereon to Kathmandu forthwith. The tour organizers arranged for a horse and a guide for him, and he left for Darchen immediately. He fell from his horse again, along the way, but managed to reach Darchen and then on to Kathmandu after some severe trials. Among all of us, it was Siva, who completed the kora in just two days! Om Nama Sivaya!
Meanwhile Soota, Shankar, Dasharath, and Sanjiv were in one room at the Zutul Puk guest house.
For dinner, the food served was rather uninviting. Soota borrowed a fruit from Shankar’s food packet, and that was his dinner for the night… An unseen force had seen to it that he had done the trek in a state of fasting, and had subsisted on just two fruits and some dry fruits during the whole day… He would come to know later that the day was the auspicious thithi of Ekadashi (eleventh day of the lunar fortnight).
Hare Krishna! Hare Rama! Om Nama Sivaya!
** To be continued **