House Of Bholenath

When the clouds lifted and Shiva gave darshan from his abode at Mt Kailash, I was overwhelmed and felt minuscule in the larger scheme of things, writes SUBASHINI PRAKASH after returning from the yatra

Iam not religious in a traditional sense of the term. My relationship with God is personal. I talk to him like I would to a friend, and since I think in English, I often talk to him in English. So what prompted me to undertake this yatra to Mt Kailash Manasarovar, that too through Lipulekh Pass, which is considered to be the mother of all yatras? As travelling on this route involves trekking through the most difficult terrain — all of 200 km — encountering dangers such as landslides, flash floods and the possibility of slipping and falling into River Kali, where it is rumoured that not a single body has ever been recovered, I have to admit that I got a call from Bholenath, another name for Shiva, to visit him at his permanent abode. I registered on the Ministry of External Affairs’ website and my joy knew no bounds when I got chosen through a draw of lots.This year apparently there were too many applications because of the subsidy of Rs 1 lakh announced by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.The yatra, end-to-end,was for 26 days, including the medical test at Delhi and a ministerial briefing.The actual yatra is for 22 days. While the same yatra can be undertaken through Nathu La Pass or through Nepal, the main charm in travelling via Lipulekh Pass is that it is said to be the original route — the toughest one involving trekking over high altitudes, and perhaps the longest time taken; so the suspense and fervour it builds up inside you is unfathomable. For 22 days, the only words in your lips would be Om Namah Shivaya. To be able to travel on this route, one needs strong belief in Bholenath and a good deal of physical fitness. The trip packs in many things: the intensity of your quest for Shiva, trekking, adventure, risk and sensational visuals along the way. On Day 11, we saw the Rakshas Tal,which is a beautiful lake separated from Lake Manasarovar. It is believed that the demon King Ravana was not allowed to take bath in Manasarovar, hence he created the Rakshas Tal from his sweat. Shortly after that we had the first sighting of Lake Manasarovar on the way to Dharchun from Taklakot.The moment the bus stopped at Manas, all of us ran into the river and fell on our knees — there was not a single dry eye; people were oblivious of those around them. Some were howling loudly, some cried silently and some were screaming at the top of their voice asking for Shiva’s blessing for the people of this world, for the country. We had still not sighted Mt Kailash but we were all facing the direction in which Google told us Mt Kailash was situated.The same day,we reached Darchun, from where the south face of Mt Kailash can be viewed, but the entire day was cloudy; though we could spot several beautiful mountains, Kailash was not one of them; Shiva does not give darshan so easily, they say.

Ravana’s Devotion

Since the entire scenery was breathtaking,we decided to walk away from Mt Kailash for some fantastic photo shoots. After completing the photography session, when we were returning, at around 7.20 pm,we had a clear and complete view of Mt Kailash. I am not an imaginative person nor given to fantasies, but I can vouch that I saw Shiva seated there, his face was clear, his hair knotted up, lingam nearby and trishul, trident, in his hand. In a second we all fell on our knees and prayed hard; we were too scared to close our eyes as we feared the revered mountain may again be wrapped up in the clouds. The south face of the mountain has several deep lines etched on it. Legend has it that Ravana, a great Shiva devotee, wished to take the mountain to Lanka, and when the lord refused to come, he tied a rope around Mt Kailash and started dragging it; the lines are said to be of those very rope marks. Standing there, I could understand such violent love, as I too wished to bring Kailash to Chennai. The next day,we started our first day of parikrama around Mt Kailash. The entire stretch of 22 km — from Darchun to Diraphuk — is flanked by mountains on both sides.The trek through this area was pretty easy and if you looked close enough, you could see Shiva and his sons — Ganesha and Karthikeya — etched on the face of the mountains. Towards the end of the trek, one can see Mt Kailash in all its glory. This, perhaps, is the closest and clearest view of Mt Kailash one can get.

Shiva Gives Darshan

The second day of parikrama involves 19 km of trekking, a steep climb to Dolma Pass and a steep descent. Once this is done,one gets to see Gauri Kund, which is a small lake where Parvati is believed to have bathed.The colour of the lake is aquamarine, and it is said that if you fetch water from this lake, your wedding bells will ring in no time! The path, thereafter, is rather even and easy to walk. Most of the time you may feel breathless because of the altitude but the only thing to do is to take rest intermittently — the rule in the mountains being:‘Think of only the next step’. The third and final day of parikrama is the easiest as it involves a mere 5 km trek — that too on a flat surface. Once this was completed, we went to Qugu to stay on the banks of Lake Manasarovar.We reached the place around noon, a good time to take a holy dip.The freezing cold water did not deter us from plunging into the lake to take the holy dip so that all our sins are purged. We stayed at Manas for two days but the view of Mt Kailash over the lake remained elusive till 10.30pm on Day 2,when suddenly out of nowhere, Shiva appeared in all his glory and gave the delighted audience, darshan for 10 minutes; then he disappeared after saying “Good Night”. It is difficult to define these moments. When Mt Kailash is visible, it leaves everyone completely overwhelmed. We felt so minuscule in the larger scheme of things. I also spotted Parvati’s face; it had bindi, two eyes and red lips;was it a figment of my imagination? I can’t tell. There was a gentleman in our batch who was doing this trip the 14th time.When I asked him what made him return, he smiled and said that you will get the answer when you see Mt Kailash.Well, I got my answer and am hoping that I too can do it again and again. Om Namah Shivaya….

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