2018 had just began, one morning sitting in a my small cabin I was looking from a porthole, the operation going on deck. After satisfying myself that all going well, resumed to browsing, we were alongside in port docked safely so internet luxury was there. An advertisement by tours and travel company came with this beautiful looking mountain in a golden hue. Had heard about it many times but first time this thing came to my mind, let’s go there and see. Took my wife’s consent and planning began. Got off from ship in mid Feb. and preparation started.

26th April when the trip was about to take off, visa issues and yatra was put on the hold; we came back from starting point Varanasi. Kid’s holiday had begun and so then came to hometown(Palampur is a beautiful town in the foot hills of Dhauladhar range). Next day or so my Mom said we need to visit kul devtata (village or local god) temple in her parental house (my nani’s place) as we are suppose to give (Badhai) celebrations offering to the Gods. She said it was long due for many things (marriage, kids berth etc). So, we planned and completed it.
Within few days email came from our tour operator that Tibet Entry Permit has been issued, on 10th May the 9 days trip starts from Lucknow, meeting point near Charbagh railway station.

Day 1, 10th of May, about 14 of us in a group including me and my wife were on mini bus from Lucknow to Nepalgunj (188 kms) Nepal, Yatra had begun. Overnight stayed in a hotel at Nepalgunj.

Day 2 Next day took flight to Simikot (3224 m) in a small shaky plane, very shaky a times,

Kailash parikrama - walk of faith , once a lifetime. 2

Kailash parikrama - walk of faith , once a lifetime. 3

(real yatra started as all were chanting Om Namah Shiva rigorously). Landed in Simikot {pic left } (beautiful very small town with runway on a mountain) then from there 25 mins helicopter ride to Hilsa (3640 m) {pics on right},
Nepal’s last point, a deep gorge with tall brown mountains all around. From there across a rivulet to Tibet, China border immigration check post. After clearing the formalities we drove to Taklakot {Burang} (3890 mtrs).

Day 3 , Here we had one day stay for shopping and climate acclimatization, started with my high altitude tablets.

Day 4 , Monday – on a bus to Mansarovar (4599 m) 90 km/2 hrs travel. Beautiful scenic drive , on the way bus stopped at a very good point from where Kailash is seen first time for the yatris, although we only saw thick white clouds. Then came to Mansarovar, one of the most crystal-clear water I have ever seen. Bus took almost full round (about 88 km perimeter) of the lake, saw white crows first time (at least sound they were making was of crow for sure) and something mesmerizing about that whole environment.

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It just next to Rakshastal but water is not salty as in Rakshastal. In between the drive around lake bus halted at place from where Kailash is seen while taking dip and we all had quick dips (May it was cold) and some did rituals, Kailash still behind the clouds. Another huge group came (with different tour operator) and many of them were well prepared for the rituals, hawan, pooja etc that is usually done by yatris on the bank of Mansarovar. Ours was small group all first timers. A Nepali traveler in our group had got dough (made of items which we use for Pind dhan ) and offered it. Me and my wife had no preparation for this part so we asked him, he said it very good to do pind dhan here. We (me and my wife) novice, tried to make a round kind of this with sand only and offered. We looked up clouds had cleared and we saw that magical mountain.
(I hear slowly when yatra get in full flow by May end you get pandit also there to perform puja).
In the evening reached guest house for overnight stay next to the bank of Mansarovar lake towards the North end, that is towards Kailash. The other big group also came in to spend the night, they had abundance of experience/stories from near /dear ones about this trip. The lights or we can say jyoti coming into lake at Braham Muhart always drew my attention as I listened keenly to these past experiences or stories (that moment who knew). Altitude effect was getting in, did not felt like eating preferred energy drink. Day over, resting time and all were almost sleep, I could not just in wait of something.

Day 5, Then about 130 am few members of the big group started going to the wall across the compound (just after the wall at few feet was the lake) looking for something. Then not long after that it started, something magical to me. The white lights at other side of lake were coming toward that bank and disappearing, like dipping in the lake, one after another on this Amavasya night. Then a light, like a yellow star kind of, came down from the Skye and stopped in between. This light or Jyothi (had orange color) started doing like a circle kind, it was in front of Kailash right above the lake; meanwhile the white lights continued to take the dip. Many of us saw this thing and then one by one all went back to sleep expect me and a lady from other group. Observing the light in the sky I notice it was making an Om figure again and again (as far as I can make out, it may not be) like when we do during aarati with jyoti; counted and appears it was done about 112 times (again I can’t say exactly). In between a bright light from other end passed over the area pointing towards the Kailash (like a strong car beam light visible at one point before taking a turn). I also thought may be some car passed but at 4 am in that sparsely inhabited place, cannot say, Local village monks do get up early. Had I not seen this then would have never believed these happenings.
At about 430 am this all ceased. The white lights no more coming and this orange light in the sky became steady and I was standing hoping it continues whatever it was aliens or magic who cares. Came to bed for a quick nap as at dawn would start the first day of Parikrama. Morning came in quick; I think I did slept for 2 hrs. By 0900 am all were in bus to Darchen.
Went to Yam Dwar the starting point for the circumambulation (parikrama)Kailash parikrama - walk of faith , once a lifetime. 5
and nearby bus dropped us for further journey by foot or horses. 12 kms trek day one of parikrama begins. Some took horse, some walking, we preferred walking. Slowly covering the way and watching the majestic Kailash (first day you see it maximum times). A small river flow along the path for quite some time. The area is like a cold desert of small brown mountains similar to Ladakh. In this topography the metal grey color, tall pyramid kind shape of mountain with snow on top was standing out.

Walk is slow as breadth comes up. In the afternoon we reached the Darchen camp(guest house as per below pic).

Kailash parikrama - walk of faith , once a lifetime. 6

Meanwhile our helpers, guides were following and material was coming in Yaks. Got settled in our rooms (always shared rooms with 4/5 beds).

Plan was to do Charansaparsh (feet touching) of Kailash mountain immediately, the journey for that starts here. We (me and my wife) and one other guy along with two Nepali guides started. Unaware of the terrain and time it take (even guides didn’t had much idea of time it will take or they over estimate our capacity to walk ). After walking about 1.5/2 kms slope, climbing up more than legs lungs gave away, so dropped the idea to proceed further.

From that point Kailash was closest we saw. At top snow protruding out like a hood of snake. It needs one full day to do Charansaprash.

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In the evening unknown to us, the business tour guides operate came out. It was told that in May snow doesn’t melts from the Dolma pass (highest point of parikrama) and adjoining area so horses and Yaks can’t go all the way, only upto some point , so no food and/or stay at next camp possible and of course also for the third day of parikrama. Those on horse have to walk across the Dolma pass with snow. This second day of Parikarmha is the toughest and the longest 22 kms trek passing the Dolma pass, 5645 mtrs. Many gave away thinking of it. The big group was ready/aware of this and they all have planned to go for Charansparash next day and then back to Taklakot.

So, it was told by our guide that tomorrow we have to return back. (We came to know later that usually yatra at this time of years is up to this point only although charges taken are full even by horses operators and potters).
We protested, from our group four senior citizens dropped out, they already had nose bleeding on first day of parikrama. I became the most adamant one to continue parikrama, never thought it would end up like that, once in a lifetime journey, got angry. An example by tour guide that Europeans and local can trek this high point but Indian usually can’t further motivate me, my Pahari (Himachali) spirt became more alive (in short ego rushed in). After our persistence they said we will go ahead on foot but as majority of group members especially those who had hired horses were not mentally prepared to walk so it was decided that after passing the Dolma pass coming down on other side where again a narrow motorable (unmetalled) road is there for supplies we will cover rest of the parikrama in a vehicle, Had to agree with all otherwise without logistics night stay after 22 km trek was not available.

Day 6 – We started (day 2 of parikrama) walking first few kms at good pace it was nice walk manageable slope. Few locals were zooming past us. A kilometer or two before Dolma pass real climb started, those who riding got down from their horses and all started walking in little snowy path which was slippery at times (melting snow in May month). As we climbed up, slowly steps became shorter to a point where after 10 steps I was lying flat with my heart pounding and lungs falling out. It was a beautiful trek of faith but this high altitude with less air was totally new learning experience. Potters carrying our small bags kept on pushing each of their Yatri and encouraging him/her to continue the walk. For them it was a familiar terrain although they and our Nepali guides also felt heaviness in lungs and tiredness. After couple of hours we (me and my wife leading the group) came to the point where descend starts. Then it was easier although you needed to cross frozen river/glacier with slippery melting thin ice sheet in one leg of the journey (pic below, but it’s only this much). Later in warm months it melts.

Kailash parikrama - walk of faith , once a lifetime. 8Finally came down to a point where road starts and had two/ three stalls selling drinks/ eatables. Quickly gobbled some yummy local veg. noodles.
Waited for others to come one by one then zoomed off in a vehicle and completed the parikrama. So second day one third of trek and planned third day of parikrama (8 kms ) was in a car. {Taxi/cars not allowed for normal yatris, so it came as ambulance to pick). We were back to Taklakot and next day Hilsa and so on back.

The yatra for that year had just started so we were the first group to go for it and complete the parikrama (what a Divine grace ). All along the yatra faith kept us motivated, more than ours, faith of locals who were walking. Tibetans believe in Kailash as Mount Meru in a big way (local say Kang Rinpoche or precious snow mountain). Some even walk the full parikrama in just one day only. Few lie down measure put a mark, get up and again do the same from the mark (featured image) height of faith (many must have seen this in Vaishno Devi Yatra) and doing that for a 52 kms unbelievable. Some were walking with kids tied on back, some were old but they kept on walking. All had a smile and ease on their faces. Very few Europeans were also there trekking. You see in garbage collection point lot energy drink cans, glucose shots etc.

Surprisingly after yatra I didn’t had slightest pain in the legs.
For Hindus, Buddhist, Jain and Tibetean Bon faith this is the most scared mountain.

For me journey of life time. Hope to go again and walk all three days. 

My wife has been ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. It was a call for her to come, I was just lucky, so could go with her like in a buy one get one free offer.

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