Spiritual Journey to Mount Kailash

Being in Kailash is being with Shiva
Walking with Shiva
Or… Being Shiva… Hara Hara Mahadev….

Mount Kailash Trek Day1d
The Master is expecting you….

Intro

Journey to Mount Kailash, a dream came true. I  never tried something like this before. I don’t remember when the idea of Mount Kailash Yatra came to my mind. The beginning might be the book I read on Kailash Yatra during my college days. The Kailash Yatra package charge was around 1.1 lakh Indian Rupee in 2007. Somehow I couldn’t make the trip then. Recently I came to read Shiva Trilogy series by Amish Tripathi which brings me Lord Shiva and Mount Kailash active to mind. So I started again searching for Kailash packages seriously, sent inquiries for each and every agent on the internet.  Then I came to know the following facts

  1. Kailash Yatra season is from March-October (May-August is preferred)
  2. The Yatra can start from Kathmandu (Nepal) or Lhasa (Tibet). From Kathmandu there are 2 options By helicopter or Overland. Unfortunately overland tours are not happening from 2015 since the Tibet border is closed. It is expected to open June 2016, but still its closed. So this year only the helicopter option is available which is around 40k INR expensive compared to overland tour. Tour from Lhasa adds Kathmandu – Lhasa flight ticket to the package which is around 30k INR.
  3. All packages cover Kailash Kora or Kailash Parikrama around the Kailash area of 52km (Out of which 38km will be covered on foot/horse depending on your choice in 3 days trekking and remaining 14km by bus or van)
  4. Other special packages are Kailash Inner Kora(Nandi Kora) and Charan Sparsh(Touching Kailash North face). This needs some mountaineering skills and will take extra days in addition to 3 days of normal parikrama. The Inner Kora provides the spiritual experience of Astaparbat, Nandi Parvat, Kuber Kunda, Astamatrikagan Parbat, Sapta Rishi caves and Atmalingam.
  5. Agencies from India, Nepal and Tibet offer Various packages. Tibetan travel agencies don’t have authority to organize tours for Indian passport holders. Indian and Nepal travel agency package rates are almost comparable. (In my case I choose Nepal package since they can arrange Tibet visa (Chinese visa) with out passport, while the Indian agency asked me to courier my passport for visa stamping. Package cost for both 1.72 Lakhs INR)
  6. Indian Government also organises Kailash Manasarovar Yatra. But it takes around 23-25 days for the journey and a few more days for the medical and other formalities. The package is almost same as other private agencies. (1.6 lakhs INR and 2  lakhs INR)

I don’t get much responses from most of the travel agencies since I was traveling alone and I prefer full moon trip. Monterosa Treks and Expedition was responding to my queries regularly and I choose to go with them in the last minute. In our package Nandi Inner Kora was included, if we get permission from Darchen Police, Tibet. Everything went as per itinerary except we have delays while coming back  for the helicopter and flight.

Itinerary

  • Day 01 (13 June 2016)
    • Arrival to Kathmandu Airport and transfer to hotel, Briefing for Kailash Yatra by Helicopter & afternoon transfer to domestic Kathmandu airport & flight to Nepalgunja (450m) 55 minutes flight, overnight stay at Hotel
  • Day 02 (14 June 2016)
    • Morning flight to Simikot (2950m) 45 minutes flight time, visit Shiva temple & overnight stay at the hotel
  • Day 03 (15 June 2016)
    • After breakfast helicopter fly to Hilsa, 30 minutes flight time, across the bridge and 1 hour drive to Purang/Taklakot(3800meters).Acclimatization, Overnight stays at guesthouse.
  • Day 04 (16 June 2016)
    • Drive to Mansarovar (4580m) Lake 3 hours drive time, Holy bath, Puja and Parikrama of Mansarovar Lake Overnight sty at guesthouse.
  • Day 5 (17 June 2016)
    • Acclimatization Day in Darchen
  • Day 06 / Parikrama Day 1(18 June 2016)
    • Drive to Yamdwar (Tarboche) 2 hours drive time, the starting point of KailashParikarma. Trek to Dirapuk (4860m). 6-7 hours walking. Overnight at guesthouse
  • Day 07 / Parikrama Day 2 (19 June 2016)
    • Trek to Dolma La pass (5636m), Trek to Zutulpuk (4790m). 10-11 hours walk Overnight stay at basic guesthouse
  • Day 08 / Parikrama Day 3 (20 June 2016)
    • Trek to Chongdo then drive to Mansarovar (4580m) Lake, Overnight stay at guesthouse. Full moon night in Manasarovar Lake (Purnima)
  • Day 09 (21 June 2016)
    • Pooja near Manasarovar Lake and visit Ji Wu temple (Chiu Gompa Monastery)
  • Day 10 (22 June 2016)
    • Drive from Taklakot to Hilsa crossing the friendship bridge. Stuck in Hilsa because the helicopter service stopped earlier than expected due to bad weather.
  • Day 11 (23 June 2016)
    • Fly to Simikot and stuck there too because of bad weather. Explore Simikot in the afternoon.
  • Day 12 (24 June 2016)
    • Fly back to Nepalgunj and then fly to Kathmandu in the night.

The Incredible Journey

Day 01 (13 June 2016)

I have landed in Kathmandu Airport in the morning and checked in to hotel. I met the tour operator and my group there in the hotel. We had lunch and we go to Kathmandu domestic airport and fly to Nepalgunja (Altitude – 450m, Flight Duration – 55 minutes).

Nepalgunj Airport
Nepalgunj airport

Most of the domestic flights we travel were small which can carry 15-20 passengers.

Since the air crafts we fly are smaller, the luggage we can carry is also limited. The ideal weight one can carry was around 10KG for the luggage and 7 kg for hand carry. From Nepalgunja on wards the support team of the travel agency join us. They prepare food for us from here onwards. The support team was friendly, cook us very nice food and help us during the parikrama.

Day 02 (14 June 2016)

On day 2, we fly to Simikot (Altitude – 2950m, Flight duration – 45 minutes), a beautiful village. We don’t find any proper roads there. This is one of the unpolluted villages in Nepal. Agriculture is the main source of income there. The airport is surrounded by scenic mountains. We don’t have much to explore the mountains. We just visited Shiva temple near by. Simikot comes under  Humla District and the hotel facilities available over there is basic. We stayed in Manasasarovar lodge over there overnight.

Simikot Airport
Simikot Airport
Village Lady in Simikot
Village lady in Simikot
Simikot village
Village meets mountains meets clouds
Simikot kids
Buddies from Simikot

Day 03 (15 June 2016)

Next day morning, we fly to Hilsa by helicopter(30 minutes flight time). Then cross the friendship bridge on Nepal-Tibet border. Then travel to Purang/Taklakot (3800meters) by bus.

Simikot Airport Helicopter
Waiting for the pilot to wake up
View from Helicopter Simikot
View from Helicopter
Banks of Karnali River(Nepal Tibet Border)
The energy near the river Karnali was unbelievable
Friendship Bridge(Nepal Tibet Border)
Friendship bridge (Tibet – Nepal Border)

We cross the border on foot. The luggage was transferred across the border by local porters and mules. The bus and our Tibetian guide were waiting over there. The time across the border is 2.15 hours ahead. Chinese army official verified our documents. The customs clearance was on the way to hotel which is around 10 km from the border. We reached the hotel by 10 o clock in the night after customs clearance.

Day 04 (16 June 2016)

Today we are traveling to Darchen. In Tibet, we have to use Chinese Yuan and other currencies are not acceptable while in Nepal almost all popular currencies are acceptable. We need to pay the porter and horseman we are hiring during parikrama. Its around 3000 Yuan in total. Taklakot is the final place for exchanging currency on the way to Kailash. Local people offer you money for higher rates. Luckily we exchanged money from a Chinese back for very good rat compared to other options even in Nepal. On the way to Darchen we stop by Lake Rakshastal and Lake Mansarovar. We had first sight of Mount Kailash on the way near lake Rakshastal. We had lunch near the banks of lake Rakshastal. Since its untouched by living things especially human, Lake Rakshastal is not polluted and appears more beautiful. We didn’t spend much time near the lake Manasasarovar since we were late.

Kailash From Rakshastal
First view of Mount Kailash in our journey (From Lake Rakshastal)
Lake Rakshastal
Fell in love with Lake Rakshastal
Lake Manasasarovar
First sight of Lake Manasasarovar

Day 5 (17 June 2016)

We spent one day in Darchen for acclimatisation before Kailash Parikrama. My group went to Manasasarovar by bus in the morning and I went out to explore Darchen on foot. Kailash was visible from Darchen almost from everywhere. I noticed a temple with lots of Tibetian flags on the top of the hill in the direction of Mount Kailash and started walking in that direction. The local people speak only Chinese or Tibetian that we don’t understand. There was a typical Tibetian temple at the foot of the hill decorated with yak skulls. The flags and temple on the hill were also amazing. Those flags were at the top of Darchen, came to know from the guide.

Tibetian temple
Some Yak heads are fresh
Yak Skull Darchen
Yak Skulls near the temple

Yak Skull in Darchen near the temple

Tibetan Temple at the top Darchen
Temple at the top of Darchen

Tibetan Town

Darchen town (view from the top of the hill)

Usually those who go for height altitude trekking have to take altitude sickness pills  ( Usually Dimox). Our travel agent gave it to all of us. At night our guide measured our heart beat and oxygen level. He recommended some us stay at the hotel because of low oxygen level.

Day 06 / Parikrama Day 1 (18 June 2016)

First day of parikrama. We travel two hours in bus to Yamdwar (Tarboche) the starting point of Kailash Parikarma. Then trek to Dirapuk (4860m). Again the oxygen levels are measured. Still mine was below 70. Our guides warned me and finally agreed to join on me my own risk. The parikrama started from Yamdwar, gateway of the God of Death. I have to be more cautious and careful than usual since I was on my own despite the warning from the guide and my group. Thanks to all my group member for your concern. Mount Kailash was visible through out the walk. Bad weather and clouds never interrupt us during these days. Whenever I feel tired, I look at Kailash. The sight of Mount Kailash energise me throughout the journey. I was not able to stare at Kailash for long, since I feel like something is pulling me towards him and it’s impossible to explain that feeling.It took 6 hours to reach the guest house where we stayed during the night. The lunch was packed and we had it on the way.

Darchen Porter
The horsewomen/porter ( Some of them bring their kids with them)
Yamdwar (Tarboche)
Yamdwar (Tarboche) – Gateway of the God of Death
Mount Kailash Trek Day 1
The journey starts on foot (Me)/on horse (Others)…
Yaks Ready to move Darchen
The yaks are ready to move with our luggage
Mount Kailash Trek Day 1a
Moving ahead…
Mount Kailash Trek Day1b
Getting close… You can feel the energy…
Mount Kailash Trek Day1c
Short break….
Mount Kailash Trek Day 1b
Hara Hara Mahadev…

Day 07 / Parikrama Day 2 (19 June 2016)

Trek to Dolma La pass (5636m) and then to Zutulpuk (4790m) and that was a long day on which we cover around 22km. From the place where we stayed overnight, we were able to see Kailash closer. I even tried to get even closer. But the there was a valley, a mountain and some glaciers between me and kailash. The time was also against me, so next time. I miss the golden glow of Kailash, some of our group members were lucky to witness it. The trek to Dolma La pass was tiring and I have to take frequent breaks to go uphill.  Mount Kailash was hidden by high mountains in some parts throughout the walk. Gauri kund was after Dolma La pass around 500m down. Then we crossed a glacier. The terrain remain tough till the end of the day. The high altitude is very dangerous even for those with minor heart problems. Luckily our team made it without much difficulties. One of our team mate have breathing problem near Dolma La pass and has to give oxygen.

Golden Kailash
Golden glow in the morning(Photo taken by Team Mate)
Mount Kailash Trek Day2a
I noticed only Kailash, all other things are still myth for me…
Mount Kailash Trek Day2b
Yaks and porters working hard for us
Mount Kailash Trek Day 2 Dolma la pass
Dolma la pass, the highest point during parikrama (5636m).
Mount Kailash Trek Day 2 Gauri Kund
Gauri Kund/Parvati Sarovar (5608m)
Mount Kailash Trek Glacier
Crossing the glacier on the way…
Mount Kailash Trek Mountain
The face of small cliffs resembles Lord Ganesh
Mount Kailash Trek stream
Lie down on the grass to recharge yourself….
Mount Kailash Trek Day 2 camp
Finally made it, reached the camp in one piece

Day 08 / Parikrama Day 3 (20 June 2016)

The last day of parikrama(To Chongdo). The terrain was flat and easier. There was some Tibetian stoopas on the way. We go back to the hotel at the end of the parikrama. Then we go to lake Mansarovar, take a holy dip, did the pooja and did the parikrama(90km) on bus. It was full moon day and we had a fantastic view of full moon over Manasarovar Lake (Purnima).

Mount Kailash Trek Day2 campa
The porters were in a hurry on last day
Mount Kailash Trek Day3
The terrain on this day was easy, flat and beautiful
Mount Kailash Trek Day3b
That was epic!!!
Mount Kailash Trek Yak Skull
Yak skulls everywhere…
Mount Kailash Trek Day3 Tibetan stoopas
Tibetan temple at the end of the trekking
Lake Manasasarovar c
Lake Manasasarovar (We did the Lake Manasasarovar parikrama by bus (90Km))
Lake Manasasarovar a
Time for Holy dip in Manasasarovar
Lake Manasasarovar e
Some devotees won’t clean up the remains after pooja, which makes the sacred lake polluted in some places.
Lake Manasasarovar d
That moment!!! Fullmoon at Manasasarovar lake
Mount Kailash Trek Support crew
Hats Off… That’s our Guide and support crew… They have done a wonderful job…

Day 09 (21 June 2016)

We had pooja led by a priest arranged by the tour operator in the morning. I went to Ji Wu temple (Chiu Gompa Monastery) which was located on the top of the hill . That area was fully energised and we can see Lake Manasasarovar and Lake Rakshastal from the top. Ji Wu temple is the place where Legend Guru Padmasambhava stayed to eliminate evil spirit and left his footprint. I went inside the Monastery, met the monks inside and light the candle. Then we go to Taklakot hotel and stayed overnight there.

Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery5
Ji Wu Temple (Chiu Gompa Monastery)
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery2
Ji Wu Temple stupas
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery1
Ji Wu Temple prayer bells
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery
Part of Ji Wu Temple
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery3
Monastery – Ji Wu Temple
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery4
Inside the Monastery – Ji Wu Temple
Ji Wu Temple aka Chiu Gompa Monastery6
Inside the Monastery – Ji Wu Temple

Day 10 (22 June 2016)

We have customs clearance in the morning from Taklakot went back to Hilsa crossing the friendship bridge. We were supposed to fly to Simikot by helicopter. But some of us were stuck in Hilsa because the helicopter service stopped earlier than expected due to bad weather.

Hilsa Village View from Mountain
Back to Hilsa. View of from the top of the hill/mountain
Hilsa Making Home
Someone is building his house
Hilsa Waiting for Helicopter
Waiting for Helicopter, half of us were stuck in Hilsa

Day 11 (23 June 2016)

We fly to Simikot and had to stay here because of bad weather. The flight service stopped because of bad weather. In the afternoon I explored another part of Simikot. I went for trekking on a hill(or mountain) near by the airport on the top of which I have the view I had from the helicopter.

Simikot Airport and Village
Simikot airport and surrounding village
Mountain in Simikot top
Top of the a random mountain… The view is….. I can’t explain
Mushrooms in Simikot
Mushrooms on the top of the hill
Random Plant Simikot
They won’t fit in the frame, so…
Weaving clouds Simikot
Cloud weaver… (Simikot Airport)
Little plant
This plant is everywhere even in Airport.

Day 12 (24 June 2016)

We fly back to Nepalgunj had lunch and then fly to Kathmandu in the night.

 

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